How I Spent September 2020

Naturally, I’ve been working on essays to be posted over the Halloween period – and in the process, it came to me that the articles I have underway right now are probably the last articles of mine for 2020. After that, I’ll be cracking on with my longer-form projects – which, at the time of writing, includes one novel, two non-fiction books and a couple of short film ideas I’m playing with. So, you can expect to see my vanishing into hibernation somewhere before the year’s close as I stick my nose into my work. On the other hand, inspiration might hit for a new spate of blog posts. Who knows? Either way, Halloween beckons…

Articles of mine published elsewhere this month:

Article topics for October and Beyond:

Werewolf Wednesdays: Hammer Horror

It’s Wednesday, so here’s another entry in my Killer Horror Critic series about the history of werewolf cinema. This time I’m arriving in the sixties, when Hammer gave lycanthropy a full-colour makeover in The Curse of the Werewolf. Read on…

Past instalments:

How to End an SF/F Story

In an earlier post I went over some recent novelists honoured at two very different SF/F awards – the literary-minded Hugos, and the bloody-minded Splatterpunk Awards – and looked at how their opening lines worked. It was an interesting exercise, so I’ve decided to follow it up with a look at the opposite subject: ending lines.

This time, I’m going with short stories rather than novels. Why? Because the shorter the story is, the more important the last line. A novel can have hundreds of pages to win over its reader, but with a short story, the final sentence or two can make all the difference between the reader remembering the tale or merely shrugging and moving on to the next story.

So, here are the endings to the six most recent finalists for the Hugo Award for Best Short Story…

Continue reading “How to End an SF/F Story”

How to Begin an SF/F Novel

I’ve been thinking about one of the golden rules that all writers are taught: grab your reader with the first line. It’s good advice, but (like so many golden rules in writing) can be followed badly. Writing a dull opening is bad – but so is writing a opening that yells at the reader for attention but does nothing to set up the novel as a whole. Writing the ideal first line is a craft in itself, and it can be interesting to see how different writers have tackled the challenge.

With this post I decided to look at the openings to a selection of fairly recent SF/F novels – specifically the first sentence or, if that’s too short, the first two sentences. For a little variety, I’ve gone with the novel finalists for two very different awards: the literary-leaning Hugos and the down-and-dirty Splatterpunk Awards.

Let’s start with this year’s Hugo finalists…

Continue reading “How to Begin an SF/F Novel”

Werewolf Wednesdays: How to Make a Monster

Another week, another chance to take your mind off the apocalypse with an instalment of my Killer Horror Critic column on the history of werewolf films! This time I’m looking at the little-known meta-horror sequel to I Was a Teenage Werewolf: How to Make a Monster

Past instalments:

Fight Comics #1

Having looked at Jungle Comics #1 I was curious enough to dig into some of the sister titles that came out of Fiction House, a prolific publisher of Golden Age comics. Amongst these is an action-oriented number by the name of Fight Comics. The debut issue was cover-dated January 1940 and the comic as a whole had a good run, eventually ceasing publication in 1954.

Readers who picked up that first issue would have been confronted with an all-new set of two-fisted heroes. And for those of us in 2020, well, each of these characters is out of copyright, so anyone who wants to shoot their own comic-book movie will be spoilt for choice…

Continue readingFight Comics #1″

The Pumpkin Period Approaches


We’re more than halfway through September, and if you’re a horror-blogger, that can mean only one thing: time to get stuck into some content for the Halloween season.

For me, writing in the lead-up to Halloween is more than an opportunity for nostalgia about pumpkins and pick-n-mix. I like to dig deeper into horror, exploring cultural influences on the genre and shining a light on lesser-known and under-explored areas. I’m planning to do so this year, but until then, here are some past pieces of mine that you can peruse over your pumpkin… or perhaps even your turnip. I like to think that my readers are that hardcore.

Continue reading “The Pumpkin Period Approaches”