Books on Film: THE TERROR

“This place wants us dead…”

 

Tonight, AMC will air the first episode of The Terror, adapted from Dan Simmons’s novel of the same name. I haven’t yet had the chance to read the novel, but I know many people who love Simmons’s work. The adaptation stars the always excellent Jared Harris and Ciarán Hinds, and executive-produced by Ridley Scott (among many others).

SimmonsD-TerrorUSHere’s the synopsis:

The men on board Her Britannic Majesty’s Ships Terror and Erebus had every expectation of triumph. They were part of Sir John Franklin’s 1845 expedition — as scientifically advanced an enterprise as had ever set forth — and theirs were the first steam-driven vessels to go in search of the fabled North-West Passage.

But the ships have now been trapped in the Arctic ice for nearly two years. Coal and provisions are running low. Yet the real threat isn’t the constantly shifting landscape of white or the flesh-numbing temperatures, dwindling supplies or the vessels being slowly crushed by the unyielding grip of the frozen ocean.

No, the real threat is far more terrifying. There is something out there that haunts the frigid darkness, which stalks the ships, snatching one man at a time – mutilating, devouring. A nameless thing, at once nowhere and everywhere, this terror has become the expedition’s nemesis.

When Franklin meets a terrible death, it falls to Captain Francis Crozier of HMS Terror to take command and lead the remaining crew on a last, desperate attempt to flee south across the ice. With them travels an Eskimo woman who cannot speak. She may be the key to survival — or the harbinger of their deaths. And as scurvy, starvation and madness take their toll, as the Terror on the ice become evermore bold, Crozier and his men begin to fear there is no escape…

The Terror is published by Little, Brown in North America and Bantam in the UK. Simmons’s latest novel is The Fifth Heart; and his next, Omega Canyon, is due out in May 2019.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads

Excerpt: THE WATCHMEN OF ETERNITY by Paul Witcover

WitcoverP-2-WatchmanOfEternityUKHere is an excerpt from Paul Witcover‘s anticipated sequel to The Emperor of All Things, The Watchmen of Eternity. Published this week by Bantam/Transworld Books in the UK, here’s the synopsis:

In the seventh year of its war against France, England faces threats from abroad and at home, from above – and below. Buoyed by a series of military victories on land and at sea, French forces are gathering for their final push across the Channel. In Scotland, Jacobites loyal to Bonnie Prince Charlie plot to restore the Stuart dynasty to the throne. Beneath the bustling streets of London, a subterranean race prepares to rise. And in the realm known as the Otherwhere – home to dragons, demons and gods – civil war has erupted, causing a great and powerful weapon to be cast into the world. That weapon is a clock – a watch, to be precise, of a size to fit comfortably in a man’s hand…a watch with a taste for blood – a mechanism that contains the doom of all that lives.

Daniel Quare, of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers, was sent by his masters to find that deadly time- piece. But he was not alone in his pursuit: both the mysterious thief Grimalkin and the ruthless French spy and assassin Thomas Aylesford were on its trail. But with the help of Lord Wichcote – an aristocrat of many talents and more disguises – Quare succeeded in seizing the watch. But not for long: Aylesford took it from him – and with it, Quare’s hand. And now the French spy is on his way back to his masters, Lord Wichcote lies gravely wounded and Daniel Quare has vanished . . . which would seem to mean that all hope for the world is lost…

Also on CR: Interview with Paul Witcover

And now, on with the excerpt! Continue reading

New Books (November-December)

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Featuring: Guy Adams, Alex Bell, Peter V. Brett, Brenda Cooper, Kate Ellis, Tess Gerritsen, Alex Gordon, Eric Kaplan, Sarah Pinborough, Daniel Polansky, Gareth L. Powell, Michael Robotham, Peter Swanson, Peter Terrin, Fred Venturini Continue reading

An Interview with SIMON BECKETT

BeckettS-StoneBruises

Simon Beckett’s Stone Bruises is one of my most-anticipated thriller novels of 2014. I was very happy, therefore, to get the chance to interview the author. Read on, fair reader, for Beckett’s thoughts on writing, his latest novel, and more.

Let’s start with an introduction: Who is Simon Beckett?

BeckettS-TheChemistryOfDeathI’m the author of four crime thrillers featuring David Hunter, a British forensic anthropologist. I’ve worked as a freelance journalist for most national newspapers and colour supplements, and the idea for the Hunter series came after I was commissioned to write a piece on the Body Farm in Tennessee, where real human cadavers are used to research decomposition. It was a gruesome but fascinating experience, and provided the basis for the first David Hunter novel, The Chemistry of Death. My aim was to draw on some of the forensic techniques I’d seen used in the US but with a British main character and a British setting. And to make it scary, as well.

I thought we’d start with your fiction: Your latest novel, Stone Bruises, will be published by Transworld in January 2013. How would you introduce the novel to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

Stone Bruises is a standalone novel rather than part of a series. It’s a psychological thriller that opens with a young British man, Sean, abandoning a bloodstained car in rural France. He’s obviously traumatised and on the run, although we don’t know what he’s trying to escape from. When he’s badly injured in what might be described as “suspicious circumstances”, he regains consciousness to find he’s being cared for by two young women on a dilapidated farm. He’s not sure if he’s a patient or a prisoner, but despite falling foul of the women’s violent father, he begins to regard the farm as a perfect hiding place. Except that he’s not the only one with secrets, and as his own story emerges we come to realise this might not be the idyllic retreat that Sean imagines.

What inspired you to write the novel? And where do you draw your inspiration from in general?

I don’t think I could say anything inspired me, as my ideas tend to come from a variety of different sources. But when I was younger I hitchhiked in France myself, so I know how remote some parts are – and how difficult it can be to hitch a lift. So I came up with what I thought was a strong opening scene, and then built the story and character from there.

BeckettS-StoneBruises

How were you introduced to genre fiction?

I read a lot of horror and science fiction as a kid, and then started reading crime after someone recommended Raymond Chandler. That was quite an eye-opener, as until then I’d thought crime was all fusty, murder-in-the-drawing room-type-stories. It made me realise that what’s loosely categorised as “crime fiction” can cover a huge range of different styles and stories.

How do you enjoy being a writer and working within the publishing industry? Do you have any specific working, writing, researching practices?

I’m lucky being able to make a living doing this, although it isn’t something I take for granted. I always try to make each book better than the last, which can make life difficult sometimes but stops you becoming complacent. I try to work more or less office hours, but that often goes out of the window. The main thing is to be disciplined, and keep going.

SimonBeckett-AuthorPicWhen did you realize you wanted to be an author, and what was your first foray into writing? Do you still look back on it fondly?

I’ve always enjoyed writing, and took an English degree that had a creative writing element. But after I graduated I found I’d nothing to write about and stopped altogether for a few years. I wound up doing various jobs, from playing in bands to property repairs, but at the back of my mind I still had an urge to write. Then I got a job teaching English as a foreign language in Spain, and since I only worked evenings I had a lot of free time. So I started writing again, but even then it still took me several years to actually get anything published. 

What’s your opinion of the genre today, and where do you see your work fitting into it?

I think crime fiction seems very healthy at the moment. It’s hugely popular and I think maybe there’s less literary snobbery towards it now than there used to be. Which is only right: some crime fiction is good and some isn’t, just like anything else. As for where I fit in, I don’t really think of it in those terms: I just write the best stories I can, and try to make them as believable and unpredictable as possible.

What other projects are you working on, and what do you have currently in the pipeline?

At the moment I’m working on the next David Hunter novel.

BoydW-007-SoloWhat are you reading at the moment (fiction, non-fiction)?

I’m reading Solo, the new James Bond thriller by William Boyd. I’m a long-time fan of Ian Fleming’s original Bond novels and Boyd is a very good writer, so I have high hopes.

What’s something readers might be surprised to learn about you?

Hard to say. I play percussion – congas and bongos – though not as much as I used to. I suppose that might surprise a few people.

What are you most looking forward to in the next twelve months?

I try not to think too far ahead. But I’m looking forward to Stone Bruises being published in January.

***

Stone Bruises is published tomorrow in the UK, by Bantam/Transworld Books.

Upcoming: “Innocence” & “Wilderness” by Dean Koontz (Harper Collins/Bantam)

KoontzD-Innocence

Dean Koontz is an author who I have been familiar with for years (it’s hard to miss his novels in the SFF and Crime sections of any bookstore in – at least – the English-speaking world). And yet, I have never read anything by him. I think this novel, though, could change that. It sounds great. And, I’ll admit, the UK cover caught my eye – well played, Harper Collins Design Team. Well played. Then I saw the US cover (on the right), and I was even more smitten. Here’s the synopsis:

Addison Goodheart is not like other people…

Addison Goodheart lives in solitude beneath the city, an exile from a society which will destroy him if he is ever seen.

Books are his refuge and his escape: he embraces the riches they have to offer. By night he leaves his hidden chambers and, through a network of storm drains and service tunnels, makes his way into the central library.

And that is where he meets Gwyneth, who, like Addison, also hides her true appearance and struggles to trust anyone.

But the bond between them runs deeper than the tragedies that have scarred their lives. Something more than chance − and nothing less than destiny − has brought them together in a world whose hour of reckoning is fast approaching.

Innocence is due to be published in the UK December 10th 2013 (eBook), and on January 2nd 2014 (Hardcover) – according to Amazon UK. The novel is due to be published in the US by Bantam, also on December 10th 2013.

KoontzD-WildernessIn the meantime – and, if like me, you’ve never read anything by Koontz – the author has written a prequel novella! It’s called The Wilderness, and is published on October 29th 2013 in both the UK and US. Here’s the synopsis for the novella:

Addison Goodheart is a mystery even to himself. He was born in an isolated home surrounded by a deep forest, never known to his father, kept secret from everyone but his mother, who barely accepts him. She is haunted by private demons and keeps many secrets—none of which she dreads more than the young son who adores her.

Only in the woods, among the wildlife, is Addison truly welcome. Only there can he be at peace. Until the day he first knows terror, the day when his life changes radically and forever…