Interview with GAVIN G. SMITH

SmithGG-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Gavin G. Smith?

Just some guy… I am a science fiction, fantasy and horror writer. I tend to write quite action-oriented stuff and inject a bit of humour in often gritty stories.

Your novel, Spec Ops Z, will be re-issued by Abaddon next month. It looks really interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

I’m not a great respecter of tight genre boundaries and I think Spec Ops Z straddles a few. It’s set in an alternate 1987 where instead of Glasnost, Russia was taken over by hardliners and launched a first strike against the US using a zombie-inducing “bio weapon”. The protagonists (rather than heroes) are the Spetsnaz (Russian Special Forces) squad tasked with infecting New York. The squad are a crew of somewhat embittered misfits led by led by Vadim Socorlenski a tired and disillusioned officer once hailed as a “Hero of the Soviet Union”. The squad get infected in New York and then it’s all about them trying to get home in the face of WW3 and a zombie outbreak. It’s kind-of apocalyptic post-survival action horror, I guess. Continue reading


I loved M.R. Carey‘s The Girl With All the Gifts. I read it shortly after it was published, and consider it to easily be one of the best books of 2014. Above is the first full trailer for the movie adaptation, which will arrive in theatres soon. It is directed by Colm McCarthy, and stars Sennia Nanua, Gemma Arterton, Glenn Close and Paddy Considine. Here’s the synopsis:

The near future; humanity has been all but destroyed by a mutated fungal disease that eradicates free will and turns its victims into flesh-eating “hungries”. Only a small group of children seem immune to its effects.

At an army base in rural England, this group of unique children are being studied, subjected to cruel experiments by biologist Dr. Caldwell. Despite having been infected with the zombie pathogen that has decimated the world, these children retain normal thoughts and emotions. And while still being subject to the craving for human flesh that marks the disease these second- generation “hungries” are able to think and feel making them a vital resource in the search for a cure.

The children attend school lessons daily, guarded by the ever watchful Sergeant Parks. But one little girl, Melanie, stands out from the rest. Melanie is special. She excels in the classroom, is inquisitive, imaginative and loves her favourite teacher Miss Justineau.

When the base falls, Melanie escapes along with Miss Justineau, Sergeant Parks and Dr. Caldwell. Against the backdrop of a blighted Britain, Melanie must discover what she is and ultimately decide both her own future and that of the human race.

The novel is published by Orbit Books (UK/US), and is a must-read. You can read my review here. Carey’s latest novel, Fellside, is also published by Orbit, and is out now (UK/US).



Last week, Alyssa and I went on a short trip to Vancouver. It was excellent (read that in Wayne Campbell’s voice for proper effect), and I think we’re going to do our best to make it an annual thing. Anyway, that’s all beside the point. On Friday, we had the pleasure of meeting up with authors Rob Boffard and David Towsey, two author’s I’ve “known” via the Twitters for what feels like ages. There was talk of books, there was beer, there was clam juice, and there was much merriment.

I thought, therefore, I would just let everyone know (again) about their books, which I think everyone should try…

Rob Boffard’s TRACER, ZERO-G and IMPACT (Orbit)


A huge space station orbits the Earth, holding the last of humanity. It’s broken, rusted, falling apart. We’ve wrecked our planet, and now we have to live with the consequences: a new home that’s dirty, overcrowded and inescapable.

What’s more, there’s a madman hiding on the station. He’s about to unleash chaos. And when he does, there’ll be nowhere left to run.

Tracer and Zero-G are out now — in both eBook and print in the UK, and eBook in the US (print arriving in June and July). Impact is due to be published in August.

Also on CR: Interview with Rob Boffard; Guest Post on “What to do if You’re Set Adrift in Space?”; Review of Tracer

Links: Author Website, Twitter, Goodreads



No one knows who will become a Walkin’ — one of the living dead — when they die, but everyone knows it’s a curse

The earth is a wasteland, with no technology, science, or medicine — but the dead don’t always die. Those who rise again are the Walkin’…

Thomas is thirty-two. He comes from the small town of Barkley. He has a wife there, Sarah, and a child, Mary; good solid names from the Good Book. And he is on his way home from the war, where he has been serving as a conscripted soldier.

Thomas is also dead — he is one of the Walkin’.

And Barkley does not suffer the wicked to live.

All three novels in the Walkin’ series are out now.

Also on CR: Interview with David Towsey; Excerpt from Your Brother’s Blood; Guest Post on “When Reading Habits Become Writing Habits”

Links: Author Website, Twitter, Goodreads

Mini-Review: KILLCHAIN by Adam Baker (Infected Books)

BakerA-KillchainWould you complete a mission if the world was collapsing around you?

Elize arrives in Mogadishu with instructions to assassinate a Russian embassy official. She has tactical command of a US kill-team, CIA operatives, rookies and veterans of a dozen war zones. It should be a straightforward hit but her luck is about to run out. She will soon find herself trapped in a city gone to hell, struggling to complete her mission in the face of betrayal, a spreading pandemic and a population hungry for flesh…

Killchain is a short story that takes place in Adam Baker’s post-zombie apocalypse setting, as featured in his superb series that began with Outpost. The world is being overrun by an interstellar virus that turns victims into strange, metallic-mineral-based zombies.

This short story is set in Mogadishu, and focuses on a CIA operation that is unfolding as the outbreak is occurring. It’s a tense, fast-paced tale. Despite the minimal length, though, Baker does a fantastic job of writing three-dimensional, realistic characters — whether the operatives or their coerced local recruits. They are determined to complete their mission, despite the likely irrelevance of the outcome — as they guide an operative to a planned assassination, the neighbourhood in which they’re hiding out is overrun by ravenous zombies…

This is a great, short and tense story. If you’re a fan of Baker’s series, then I would certainly recommend you give this a read. It should hold you over until the next in the series (hopefully) comes out.


Killchain is published by Infected Books, as part of their Year of the Zombie initiative.

Baker’s series includes: OutpostJuggernautTerminus, and Impact — all published by Hodder in the UK.

Also on CR: Interview with Adam Baker (2012); Guest Post on “Trauma”; Reviews of Terminus and Impact


Interview with GUY HALEY

HaleyG-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Guy Haley?

I am British, from Yorkshire to be precise. I have a kid, a big dog, a fierce wife and lots of brothers. I’m fine, how are you?

Your new novella, The Emperor’s Railroad, will be published by in April 2016. It looks really cool: How would you introduce it to a potential reader?

Global war devastated the environment, a plague of the living dead wiped out much of humanity, and civilization as we once understood it came to a standstill. That was a thousand years ago, and the world is now a very different place. Conflict between city states is constant, the dead are an ever-present danger. Superstition is rife, and machine relics, mutant creatures and resurrected prehistoric beasts trouble the land. Watching over all are the silent Dreaming Cities. Homes of the angels, bastion outposts of heaven on Earth. Or so the church claims. Very few go in, and nobody ever comes out. Until now…

That’s the blurb. It’s an SF/fantasy/horror/western hybrid, where advanced technology, primitive cities and strange creatures exist alongside knights in armour, and there are zombies. Did I mention the zombies? Sounds complicated? It’s not, actually. I have an underlying history for the whole thing, and it’s sweet as a nut, if I say so myself. The protagonist is a knight of the angels named Quinn, he’s got a gun, two swords, a quest, and a whole lot of secrets besides. Continue reading

Interview with PAUL STARKEY

StarkeyP-LazarusConundrumLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Paul Starkey?

Who is Paul Starkey? I’m just a regular guy with a very irregular imagination. Aside from three years at University in Wales I’ve spent my whole life in the East Midlands. I was born in Derby, I live in Nottingham and I work in Leicester. I’m still amazed people like reading the words I put down on paper, but I’m even more amazed that I have the dedication to write entire novels given how lazy and easily distracted I am!

Your latest novel, The Lazarus Conundrum, will be published by Abaddon. It looks pretty cool: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

The premise of most zombie fiction is ‘what would happen if the dead started coming back to life?’. For my story the flipside is the hook, ‘what would happen if the dead stopped coming back to life?’ Its set in a near future Britain where zombies are a fact of life and the NHS has never been so well funded, when a young woman named Trinity Brown is murdered and doesn’t come back it has the potential to cause chaos and the story follows Detective Inspector Helen Ogilvy as she tries to work out who murdered Trinity, and why she didn’t come back. It’s part of a series only insofar as it’s one of the Tomes of the Dead, otherwise it’s a completely standalone story. Continue reading

Quick Review: THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNEW IT by Nick Cole

ColeN-EndOfTheWorldAsWeKnewItAn interesting post-zombie apocalypse novel

In the future, an artist specializing in historical records creates a piece of art based on three separate accounts of the Pandemic. What follows is a patchwork tale of survival and horror as two lovers struggle to survive the undying dead and the collapse of an America turned charnel house. Told as memos from Ground Zero, and later in the journal of a Dark Tower-like quest by train and foot across a nightmare landscape of ruined cities and raving corpses, the three accounts reveal more than just the grim realities of society’s collapse. The Notebook meets The Walking Dead in this stained glass depiction of the end of the world as we knew it.

After learning about this book via a Tweet from BoingBoing, I promptly headed over to Amazon and bought it. I started it that same day, and blitzed through it pretty quickly. It’s an interesting read, offering something new for a genre and threw out some surprises. It’s an engaging, ultimately uplifting post-apocalyptic tale. Continue reading

Excerpt: ACAPULCALYPSE NOW by Alison Littlewood (Robinson)

LittlewoodA-ZA-AcapulcalypseNowToday, Robinson has allowed me to share an excerpt from Alison Littlewood’s contribution the the publisher’s Zombie Apocalypse Series (created by Stephen Jones): ACAPULCALYPSE NOW. Here’s the synopsis:

The Hotel Baktun is an exclusive vacation complex that is about to open on the coast of Acapulco, Mexico. Owned by a mysterious multi-millionaire businessman, it is shaped like an ancient Mayan pyramid and its halls are lined with rare and expensive artefacts.

For Stacy Keenan, the hotel’s new Head of Security, things are already chaotic as the locals continue to put the finishing touches to the festivities while VIPs begin to arrive for the grand opening. When a Russian cruise ship turns along the shore and disgorges its cargo of flesh-eating zombies, the guests and staff soon fragment into various factions as they struggle to withstand the spread of HRV (Human Reanimation Virus).

As the armies of the dead conquer all that stand before them, and the human survivors prepare for a final battle against an unstoppable enemy, a horror even more ancient and terrible is revealed when ‘The Death’ comes to Paradise… Continue reading

Interview with NATE CROWLEY

CrowleyN-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Nate Crowley?

He is a guy who tweets as @frogcroakley, and is probably best known for Daniel Barker’s Birthday, a prank on a friend that somehow lurched into being a 75-day serialised space opera. He lives in south London and is getting a bit uncomfortable about talking himself in the third person.

Your debut novel, The Sea Hates a Coward, will be published by Abaddon in October. How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

It’s the story of a rebellion among dissidents who have been executed, then reanimated to work as forced labour aboard a city-sized whaling ship. On an alien world. As such it’s a zombie story, but it’s also a whaling story and a sort of dying-world dystopian story too. At the moment it’s a standalone, but the setting is a corner of a much wider world I’ve got in mind, so there are potentially lots more stories to tell. Continue reading

Guest Post: “When Reading Habits Become Writing Habits” by David Towsey

TowseyD-AuthorPicCropA few months ago I stumbled across a Twitter discussion that changed the way I look at my reading habits – both past and present. I have since forgotten who was involved, which is unfortunate because, like a good academic, I prefer to cite my sources. Essentially, ideas of “deep” and “shallow” reading in genre circles were tabled (without attaching any value judgements to either term). In this sense deep meant reading all the works and series of relatively few authors – typically favourites – and shallow referred to someone who reads single texts by a lot of different authors. This was something I hadn’t really thought about. I started asking those difficult questions – the kind we aim at ourselves. What kind of reader am I? What kind of reader have I been in the past? Continue reading