Black Storm (Blurb World Premiere!)


To protect his child, he’s going to have to outrun the apocalypse.

These are the last days. The Black Storm – a permanent state of darkness has engulfed the Earth, plunging the world into eternal night and robbing humanity of both sunlight and hope.

Out of the Black Storm comes the Black Widow. A ghostly figure, she walks the Earth triggering an epidemic of despair – suicides, mass murders and arson attacks. Nobody knows why it’s happening. But it is happening.

Ex Hollywood actor, Cody MacLeod, is a burned out recluse living in Texas. He’s got one chance to protect his young daughter Rachel from the Black Storm.

A plane is taking off at San Antonio International Airport, piloted by Cody’s friend. To get there in time, they must drive through the darkness together. But the road is a dangerous place where desperate people are lurking in wait.

And so is the Black Widow.

Black Storm is a post-apocalyptic survival thriller about a father trying to save his child from the end of the world. If you enjoy apocalyptic, dystopian, horror and supernatural thrillers, don’t you dare miss out.


Black Storm: A Post-Apocalyptic Survival Thriller is out March 13th

Black Storm – Coming in 2018


About three and a half weeks ago I had a writing plan for 2018. It was almost set in stone. I knew exactly what I was going to write and when I was going to write it. Now, after a visit home to Scotland over the Christmas and New Year period that sure thing plan of mine has disintegrated into a thousand tiny pieces.

I changed my mind.

Here’s what I’ve decided – The Future of London, my dystopian series and something that I worked a lot on in 2017, is being put aside for a while. There are five books in that series and while I have an ugly rough draft of the sixth book in place, I’m holding off on that for now. I’m letting it breathe. I want to get more readers and more reviews for the books that are already out there. Having worked so intensely on FOL throughout 2016 and 2017, I’m taking a break from the adventures of Walker, Sumo Dave, Barboza, Kojiro etc…but it WILL be back.

What I’m going to be working on this year instead is a post-apocalyptic series called Black Storm. This has been brewing in my head for a while now. Perhaps post-apocalyptic horror would be a better description. That’s all I’ll say for now but I’m excited to work on these ideas.

I feel like the long break over the holidays has done me good. I leapt back into writing and I’ve also upped my work rate to see if I can be more productive in 2018. My word count goals have doubled. I’m trying to plot a little more and write cleaner first drafts in order to make the writing process more efficient. I know more than anyone how much I faff about during the editing process. It gets petty to say the least. In the later stages in particular, I’m just shifting words around and often it’s to little effect. I liken it to moving the furniture around but not changing the vibe of the room.

Distractions will be minimised. I plan to be a lot stricter about wasting time on social media and emails when I’m supposed to be writing. I’ve been pretty bad with this. With any luck, this’ll become a habit that sticks and it’ll show in the work.

I’m sure you writers out there are way ahead of me on these things 🙂

So that’s where I’m heading. With this in mind, I’m not entirely sure when the first Black Storm book will be available. I’m kind of winging it now. The plan is to work flat out and at the moment, I’d predict early March. But as with all things, that’s liable to change.

Hope 2018 is treating you all well so far.

All the best,


Five of the Greatest Siege Movies Ever Made


Who doesn’t love a good siege story? They feature an overwhelming underdog (whether that’s a group of people or a single person) trying to survive against insurmountable odds. We can identify with this – we’ve all been the underdog at some point in our lives and perhaps that’s why so many of us find these stories so appealing.

Here are (in my opinion) five of the best siege movies ever made.


Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)

Napoleon Wilson: Still have the gun?

Leigh: Two shots. Should I save them for the two of us?

Napoleon Wilson: Save ’em for the first two assholes who come through that vent.

This was John Carpenter’s first professional full length feature film (His first movie Dark Star was originally a short student film that was expanded to feature length). Assault on Precinct 13 also signalled the start of Carpenter’s golden period – a span of ten years when pretty much everything he touched was electric (including Halloween, The Thing, Escape From New York, and Big Trouble in Little China).

Assault on Precinct 13 is a gritty 1970s thriller about a soon-to-be defunct police precinct that comes under attack from a gang of vengeful street thugs. Defending the station are a handful of police officers, some staff, and a couple of prison inmates (including Napoleon ‘Got a smoke?’ Wilson and Duke from the Rocky movies).

The electronic score is one of Carpenter’s finest and most atmospheric. The dialogue is on point too. There’s so much to love about this film. With its merciless depiction of urban violence, Assault on Precinct 13 is a balls to the wall, fast-paced siege movie, and ninety minutes of non-stop thrills.


Zulu (1964)

‘Haven’t you had enough? Both of you! My god, can’t you see it’s all over! Your bloody egos don’t matter anymore. We’re dead!’

From Richard Burton’s opening narration to the exhausting (and entirely fictional) final salute of ‘fellow braves’, Zulu is a tense, exciting and emotional ride of a movie. It’s based on the real-life Battle of Rorke’s Drift in 1879 where 150 British and colonial troops held off an attack on their garrison by approximately 4000 Zulus. This was a ten hour battle at the end of which, 15 soldiers lay dead, two more were mortally wounded, and 350 dead Zulus lay scattered around the garrison.

Zulu was Michael Caine’s first major film role. He plays against type here, cast as Bromhead, a blue-blooded army officer who along with Stanley Baker as Lieutenant John Chard, lead the British soldiers against the Zulu forces.

The film is wide open for interpretation about colonialism. In 1964, the British Empire was crumbling. At first the Brits refer to the Zulus as ‘fuzzies’ and even the Levies on their own side as ‘cowardly blacks’. By the end however, Chard is clearly ashamed at this ‘butcher’s yard’ that he himself has helped to create. Could this be a timely admittance of the horrors of Empire?

Colonial and racial interpretation aside, this is a fun movie. It’s so watchable that it’s a Bank Holiday staple on British television and even if I had other things to do I’d aways end up watching it. It’s also one of the greatest examples of the siege scenario – the underdog coming through against the odds. It’s that bit more poignant because several minor historical inaccuracies aside, it really happened.


The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

‘I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.’

Long quote I know, but well worth it!

There are many people who’ll tell you that The Two Towers was their favourite instalment of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The Battle of Helm’s Deep, which takes place in the latter half of the film, is a big reason for this. It’s an outstanding visual spectacle that never tires with repeat viewings. Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, as well as 300 Helm’s Deep soldiers, 100 Rohan peasants, and about 500 Elves are defending the great stronghold of Rohan against the might of 10,000 Urak-hai.

It’s an epic siege and it blew me away when I first saw in on the big screen. And it’s no exaggeration to say that this is one of the greatest battles ever put on film, both in terms of visual spectacle and emotional engagement.

‘Look to my coming on first light on the fifth day. At dawn, look to the east.’


Aliens (1986)

‘They mostly come out at night, mostly.’

Sigourney Weaver was born to play Ellen Ripley. In this second instalment of the Alien movies, the acid-blooded xenomorphs lay siege to Ripley and a squad of cocky Marines who have been sent to exomoon Lv-426 to supposedly wipe the creatures out.

There’s a great supporting cast with the likes of Bill Paxton, Michael Biehn, and a wonderful performance from Carrie Henn as Newt (Carrie’s a teacher in California now –  probably the coolest teacher ever!) And who can forget Paul Reiser’s excellent performance as slimeball Carter Burke.

There are all sorts of potential allegorical interpretations in the movie. I like this kind of thing so indulge me for a paragraph. Imperialism – the jingoistic, hot-headed Marines have been sent by the big corporation to fight the alien race of another planet and to do so for questionable reasons. It’s been suggested that James Cameron used the Vietnam War for inspiration. The Marines are technologically superior – they have the superior firepower but the aliens have a better knowledge of their landscape and know how to use it – not unlike the United States and North Vietnam. It’s interesting, no?

Aliens was made before CGI became as big as it is today. Remember this was 1986. The film was made using rear projection, puppets and miniatures, along with in-camera effects and clever editing tricks. They did a pretty damn good job too. When I see CGI on the big screen today I usually think ‘there’s CGI’. In Alien, I don’t think about special effects. I’m too absorbed in the film.

Aliens also set the bar high when it came to sequels. Unfortunately the Alien franchise has dipped ever since (although I think the third movie is good!) but  Cameron’s example of how to improve upon a great original is a timeless lesson for filmmakers.


Seven Samurai (1954)

‘This is the nature of war: By protecting others, you save yourselves. If you only think of yourself, you’ll only destroy yourself.’

‘Who’s your daddy?’ Seven Samurai that’s who. Every other action movie that followed owes this classic a debt of gratitude. It’s in my personal top five films (maybe top three) of all time. It’s that good.

The premise is fairly simple. With marauding bandits set to raid their village and steal their crop, a bunch of farmers hire a small band of samurai to protect them. Simple concept yes, but the best thing about Akira Kurosawa was how he could turn simple concepts into fully-formed, satisfying cinematic experiences. He could make a film come alive and touch you.  Think about Ikiru. It’s such a basic idea – a dying man learns to live and yes that’s what the film is about and yet it’s about so much more.

Seven Samurai was remade several times, most notably by John Sturges as The Magnificent Seven in 1960. It’s hard to overstate its influence in terms of making use of action sequences and characterisation – each of the seven samurai have their own personality and skill-set. They’re clearly individuals. There’s also the key relationship between the samurai and the villagers, adding depth, that unique ingredient that elevates a decent action movie and turns it into something special.

And then there’s the rain in the final battle sequence. Has any other film made you touch your head to see if there’s a leak in the roof?

Seven Samurai is glorious. I understand that many people might balk at the idea of watching an old black and white Japanese film that comes in at a little over three hours. But if that’s you, seriously reconsider.


Honourable Mentions:

The Mist

From Dusk till Dawn

Home Alone

Green Room

Dawn of the Dead

Dog Day Afternoon



Kojiro vs. The Vampire People

Hope that post has got you in the mood! If you’re up for something different, Kojiro vs. The Vampire People is my ‘siege novella’ – as inspired by some of the films above. It’s a fast-paced dystopian/action-adventure/horror tale – a one man against the odds thrill ride set in an alternate London.

It can be read as a stand-alone story or as part of The Future of London series.


Other retailers – Kobo, B&N, Apple etc


Kojiro vs. The Vampire People


Hey everyone! Here is the blurb for a novella that I’m releasing on December 14th. Kojiro vs. The Vampire People can be read as a stand-alone story or as book 4.5 in The Future of London Series. It’s a dystopian/action-adventure/horror tale and I’m launching it at a festive price of 0.99, so grab it early if you’re looking for some escapism this Christmas.

All the best!



Kojiro vs. The Vampire People

Christmas Eve, 2020

A lone swordsman is transporting a precious cargo through the urban wasteland of London – a city that’s been cut off from civilisation for the past nine years.

Zander Kojiro is taking this cargo back to his childhood home, all the while doing his best to keep it hidden from the hungry eyes of the city.

But when he arrives in his old neighbourhood, Kojiro discovers that the territory has been taken over by the Vampire People, a ghoulish, ambitious street gang with a fetish for blood, destruction and loud music.

The Vampire People don’t take kindly to strangers. Even worse, they know what Kojiro’s secret cargo is.

And they’ll stop at nothing to get it.

Kojiro vs. The Vampire People is a John Carpenter-inspired dystopian, action-adventure, horror novella. It can be read either as a stand-alone story or as book 4.5 in The Future of London Series.

The Architect (Short Story)


(The Architect is taken from my 2016 collection of short stories – The Outsider Tales. The story was inspired by some weird real-life phone calls that I endured when I was a struggling musician looking for gigs. Enjoy!)

The Architect

Unlike Wilmot Brown, the black ink had not faded with time. As he sat there in a dark room lit only by the faint glow of the streetlights outside, the words on the page were still clear.

‘The darkest hour of the night comes just before the dawn.’

Wilmot had a thing for a good quote. They were his rare stamps or exotic marbles, and therefore his something to be hoarded. Every time he heard a good one, he jotted it down in a small black notebook – his own self-help manual. Hardly a day went past now that Wilmot didn’t feel the need to pick up his book of quotes and take comfort within its pages. In there were the words of the greats: Abraham Lincoln, Sir Francis Bacon, and others whose words of wisdom had outlived the rest of them.

He closed the notebook and put it down on the window ledge. Leaning back on the slim wooden chair that he’d placed by the window, Wilmot Brown continued his vigil over the streets of London. He leaned down and picked out out the last bottle of beer from a six-pack at his feet. Dragging a metal bottle opener from the pocket of his jeans, he gripped the edges of the lid and as he pushed upwards, it hissed like an angry snake caught under his boot. Wilmot closed his eyes and drank in the icy cold liquid.

“Happy New Year,” he said to no one.

He turned back to the window. Down there was a never-ending parade of New Year’s Eve revellers. They were all over the street, pouring out of every nook and cranny like an infestation of cockroaches. They just kept on coming.

One particular group of partygoers caught his eye. They had to be the loudest ones so far, what with their laughing and singing and trying not to scream as they fell down drunk in the middle of the road. And it was all so hysterical that they were still taking selfies even as they lay on the deck, squashed together in one big happy group.

Wilmot leaned forwards for a better look. As his faced pressed up against the cold glass, he reached out and picked up his imaginary rifle. Then he pointed it towards the streets and placed a red target on each one of their little heads.

“This is Agent Brown.” He was talking into the collar of the faded blue zip top he was wearing. “Clean up time.”

He took aim once more and was on the brink of pulling the trigger when he heard a sound. Both the imaginary gun and the hitman persona (one of his favourites) vanished.

His mobile phone was ringing.

Lifting his forehead off the glass, he tried to remember where he’d left the phone a few hours earlier. It was probably still lying under the bed as he’d wanted it out the way. Switch it off, put the world aside and get drunk – too drunk to care. That was the plan at least. Maybe then he could sleep for a day or two straight without stopping to eat or think about food. That was one way to beat the hunger pangs.

What a pity he’d forgotten to switch the phone off.

Who’d be calling him anyway? It was only eight o’clock – midnight, the bells and the bullshit were still hours away. It’s Mum, he thought. Has to be. She does the same thing every year, calling him up before the phone lines get jammed at midnight. He squirmed at the thought of small talk with the old girl. How’s things son? How’s the new house? And worst of all, how’s the acting going?

To his parents, Wilmot Brown had always tried to convey the image of being at least a mildly successful actor. His mother – a nervous woman by nature – would have a fit if she found out how dire things were for him career-wise. For his part, he was sick of lying – to her, his dad, his successful brother. Telling them that everything was okay when it wasn’t. That was the Wilmot Brown guide to fooling your family. Suck it up, smile, and act cool – which funnily enough was the only acting he ever did these days.

He walked over to the single bed, which was tucked up against the wall of the bedsit where he’d been living for the last five months. Wilmot hoped that if he walked slowly enough, then maybe she’d hang up. So he tried, but the phone kept ringing.

Wilmot dropped onto his knees. He thrust his head into the space under the bed and looked around. “Jesus,” he said. The phone was dead centre, a lone wolf drowning in a sea of dust and God knows what.   He reached out and wrapped his fingers around the phone, pulling it out of the mess.

He glanced down at the screen: ‘Unknown number’.

That’s not Mum, he thought. Wilmot snorted in annoyance. Nobody else ever called him except salespeople. But who on earth was trying to sell him shit at eight o’clock on New Year’s Eve?

Usually he didn’t answer withheld numbers. This time, his curiosity got the better of him.

He hit the green button.

“Hello.” He sat down on the bed.

“How’s it going?”

Wilmot didn’t know the voice and yet somehow, maybe he did. The voice had an accent and it was either American or Canadian. It was a deep voice too, not booming but hushed, and with a quirky snarl that reminded Wilmot of the way Humphrey Bogart used to speak.

“What can I do for you mate?” Wilmot said.

“Are you the actor? The gentleman with the ad in The Stage newspaper – male actor, North London – looking for work?

Wilmot sighed. Here we go again, they call you up, promise you the earth and hand you a dry turd.

“Yeah that’s me.”

“Pleasure to talk to you Mr Brown.”

Wilmot ran a hand through his black hair. “Look mate, it’s New Year’s Eve. What can I do for you?”

“Well, maybe I can do something for you?”

“Yeah?” Like fucking off?

“I’m an actor too Mr Brown. I’ve just been looking at the classified ads in your British trade paper. There are a lot of people looking for work. It’s hard for young actors today, wouldn’t you agree?”

“I’m thirty-nine,” Wilmot said. “Not that young.”

“Young enough.”


“I’ll get to the point Mr Brown as I can tell you’re not a man who likes to play the waiting game. I just called to give you some career advice.”

Wilmot shook his head back and forth. Not again. “Look mate. My ad says looking for work. Not looking for advice. Do you have work to offer me?”

“Just think about this for a second,” the caller said. “There are other actors in the paper with ads just like yours. They’re all looking for work too. Those are the guys and girls you want to get it on with.”

“What? What are you talking about?”

“Join forces. Form strength in numbers. Do what large groups of actors do and form your own independent theatre group. You could do street performances or make a short film on a low budget. You’ve got more options that way. It might seem like hard work, but you’ve got to think like an entrepreneur as well as an artist.”

“And who’s going to round up all these actors?” Wilmot said. “You?”

“No. I live in the States.”

“So why are you reading a British trade paper?”

“It’s something to do.”

Wilmot’s thumb hovered over the red button. “That sounds hunky-dory mate. I’ll be sure to think it over yeah?”

“I want you to remember something,” the caller said. “You are the architect of your imagination. You sculpt dreams out of thin air and fashion them into the reconstruction of your choice.”

“Uh, okay.”

“You understand Mr Brown?”

“Sure mate. Look I’ve got to go yeah?”

“Go then. And good luck to you sir.”

Wilmot hit the red button and threw the phone onto the bed. He reached out for a bottle of beer that wasn’t there and then fell back on the bed. He spent some time there, looking up at the ceiling until his eyelids grew heavy and pushed themselves shut. Wilmot surrendered without a fight and enjoyed a rare moment of peace. Even the streets outside had fallen silent and everything was –

The phone was ringing again.

Wilmot opened his eyes and cried out in frustration. He caught a whiff of his own breath and ducked for cover. His mouth reeked of the tacky aftertaste of the cheap beer he’d been guzzling all day.

He grabbed the phone.


“Alright mate? You got an ad in The Stage?”

Wilmot laughed out loud. Not a happy laugh. Why couldn’t they just leave him alone?

This speaker had a cockney accent and the words came out like bullets from the magazine of a machine gun. His voice was so high-pitched that it wouldn’t have been absurd to think there was a woman on the other end of the line. It was fast and frantic and such a long way away from the laid back Bogart-esque growl of the last caller.

“Yeah,” Wilmot said. “The Stage.”

“An American geezer just called me. Gave me your number, didn’t he? Said I should call you.”

Wilmot brought the phone tighter to his ear. “He gave you my number?”

“Yeah.” And then there was a pause, the kind that should never happen between two strangers talking for the first time. “You do know who that was don’t ya?”

“The American?”

“You don’t know, do you?”

“I know.”

“You don’t know?”

“Fuck sake. Alright, I don’t know.”

“Take a deep breath mate,” the caller said. “Because you just spoke to Henry Wade and yes – I do mean theeee Henry Wade. Two-time Oscar winner and the King of Planet Hollyweird.”

The next thing Wilmot knew he was sitting on the floor. Somehow he’d fell off the edge of his bed and hadn’t seen it happen.

“HENRY WADE?” Wilmot cried out. His voice splintered and he fought for breath to get the words out. “You’re taking the piss.”

“Honestly mate. I know it’s hard to believe but he’s only sitting in some bleedin’ hotel room in LA reading The Stage. I mean, what the fuck right? Making long-distance phone calls to unemployed actors in London. Fuck knows why. He’s probably stoned out of his head.”

Wilmot didn’t answer right away because he was too busy berating himself. I should have known. That voice. You FUCKING idiot!

When Wilmot didn’t say anything, the caller kept talking.

“Henry Wade’s my hero. Nah, more than that he’s my idol. Fuck, I can’t stop shaking…sorry man I’m rambling, aren’t I?”

“Did he tell you?” Wilmot said. “Did he tell you his name?”

“No. But if he was trying to stay anonymous then he called the wrong geezer. I’ve seen all his films at least a dozen times and well, I know the guy inside out, don’t I? I base my acting style on his, I study his speech, his mannerisms, everything. When he let it slip that he was calling from LA, well, I just confronted him with it. You’re fucking Henry Wade aren’t you, I said?”


“I’ve had worse days.”

Wilmot felt sick to his stomach. His own conversation with Henry Wade had been scant in comparison to this guy’s. This guy, who didn’t sound like the sharpest tool in the box, had picked up on it right away.

What does that make you Wilmot Brown?

 The caller once again filled the silence.   “So what did he say to you?”

“Same as you I guess,” Wilmot said. “Told me to get off my arse and get something going. To join forces with all the out of luck actors in London.”

“That all?”

“He threw a bit of inspirational cheese in there too. Fucking yanks, eh?”

“What did he say?”

Wilmot racked his brain for the right words. “Oh what was it? You are the architect of your imagination and some other bollocks.”

“I don’t remember him saying that to me,” the caller said.

Wilmot allowed himself a smile.

“So what now?” he said to the caller.

“Dunno mate. He suggested I contact you. That’s as far as I’ve got.”

“Think it could work?” Wilmot said. “His great idea?”

“Dunno mate.”

Wilmot thought about it and spoke out loud at the same time. “I haven’t done any decent acting for ages mate. All my energy goes into looking for work these days. And there ain’t none of that kicking about.”


“If we could persuade other actors to get involved…”



“You still there mate?” the caller said.

And then it happened.

As if struck by divine inspiration, Wilmot Brown was suddenly a rock spewing forth a river into the desert of his own half-life. For the first time in a long time, he was alive and ideas and words exploded into existence as one.

“Street performances! We could do street performances mate. You know like busking but acting and we could do Shakespeare and contemporary urban material and think about it the opportunities are limitless and we could get gigs in schools and tour around the country and who knows it might even become fun again and we could get a cool troupe name and well just see what happens it might work might not what do you think man? Eh?”

The caller giggled. “Shit. You sound up for it.”

Wilmot grinned on the other end of the line. “Yeah. That’s the spirit. C’mon let’s do this.


“Did he leave any other numbers with you?”

“About four or five actors in North London.”

“That’ll do for starters,” Wilmot said.

“Yeah,” the caller said. It sounded as if he was latching onto Wilmot’s newfound enthusiasm at last.

“That’s the spirit mate,” Wilmot said.

The caller, no doubt in a fit of overexcitement about life’s new possibilities, then burst into flawless impersonation of his hero, the great Henry Wade.

You are the architect of your imagination. You sculpt dreams out of thin air and fashion them into the reconstruction of your choice.”

Wilmot laughed, for real.

“You sound just like him.”

“Let’s swap numbers, eh?” the caller said. “And oh yeah, what’s your name again mate?”

“Wilmot. Wilmot Brown.”

“Call me Loki.”


“Yeah I know. A nickname from my younger days.”

Wilmot and Loki exchanged numbers, made plans to talk again, and then said their goodbyes.

Wilmot dropped the phone on the bed and headed straight to the fridge. An overwhelming thirst had come from nowhere and he grabbed a beer from the second six-pack that he’d bought to get him through the night.   This one, he thought, is for celebrating. He yanked the lid off and didn’t hear it hiss. Then he went back to the window and sat down in his chair.


It all made sense. Wilmot Brown had always believed that he was destined for great things in his life and he’d never been able to figure out why great things hadn’t come. Life was always too busy kicking his arse it seemed, but now it made sense. Here he was hobnobbing with the King.

He brought the beer bottle to his lips. His hands shook and not just from the cold.

Wilmot replayed the conversation with Henry. Two-time Oscar winner Henry Wade. And all the while he drank, filling his belly and soaking his brain cells with sweet beer. He then replayed the conversation with Loki and fantasised about himself as a famous actor in the future. Next a drop-dead gorgeous female presenter was interviewing him on television. What about the blonde one from the breakfast show – what’s-her-name with the nice teeth and big tits? She would ask the questions and her legs would pry further open with his every word.

It’s an unusual story Wilmot, isn’t it? The way you got your life back on track.

 Very unusual. It was New Year’s Eve and I was down on my luck. I was alone, completely alone. And then the phone rang…

Wilmot stopped to look down. A massive erection was pushing at the crotch of his jeans. It was ridiculous and wonderful and he laughed. Godzilla was stirring in the deep blue sea and he hadn’t stirred like that in years.

The desire to masturbate was overwhelming. Wilmot’s hand moved down to the zip of his jeans but for some reason, it was at that moment that Loki’s impromptu turn as Henry Wade bounced back into his head:

“You are the architect of your imagination. You sculpt dreams out of thin air and fashion them into the reconstruction of your choice.”

 Man, he did a good Henry Wade.

But wait a minute.

Wilmot’s eyes narrowed. How could Loki have known what to say whilst impersonating Henry’s bullshit? Hadn’t Loki told Wilmot that Henry Wade hadn’t shared all the self-help motivational Oprah crap with him? How could he have known about the architect thing? And to recite it perfectly, almost too perfectly, word for word.

What else had Loki said?

“I’ve seen all his films at least a dozen times and well, I know the guy inside out, don’t I? I base my acting style on his, I study his speech, his mannerisms, everything.”

 When the truth landed, it hit Wilmot Brown like a monster truck to the solar plexus.

 He leapt out of the chair. But as his leading foot made contact with the wooden floor Wilmot slipped on a small puddle of spilled beer. He fell hard, landing on his right knee. Wilmot screamed as he rolled about the floor, cradling his leg as if it were a fragile child.

But he had to keep moving. Wilmot forced himself to sit up and he straightened out the damaged leg. He howled in pain. It felt like a million sharp needles clamping down on his knee all at once. But he fought through the pain and kept moving, not walking but slithering across the floor like a wounded man-snake. He was crawling towards the bed and by now sweating not just buckets but tyrannosaurus sized beads of perspiration. He came to the bed and reached up, pulling at the sheets to use as a climbing aid. He slowly hauled himself onto the bed, biting hard into the thick fabric of the mattress. His phone was there, tucked in between the folds of the sheets. Grabbing it, he fell back onto the floor and searched for the number that Loki had given him.

Loki. How had he not seen this coming?

Wilmot found the number and called it. He put the phone to his ear.

“You prick,” he said, waiting for someone to pick up. “Some people just love to cause shit, don’t they? The mischief-makers and timewasters. Here’s to you Loki and your band of merry men. Fuck all of you. Fuck you who drove a double decker bus over my dreams. Fuck all of you!”

Still, Wilmot hoped he’d got it wrong. Maybe it was still possible. Maybe one of the world’s most famous actors really had called him up from Los Angeles on New Year’s Eve. If you want something bad enough, you know?

Wilmot heard a brief click followed by the sound of a familiar voice on the other end of the line. It wasn’t Loki. And it wasn’t Henry Wade either.

The number that you have dialled has not been recognised. Please hang up and try again…the number that you have dialled has not been recognised. Please hang up and try again…

He hung up.


Later that night, Wilmot Brown resumed his vigil over the streets of London. He leaned back on the chair next to the living room window and with great care, straightened out his damaged leg. Wincing in pain, he folded it back up and then opened it out again.

Happy New Year, sucker.

Still, Wilmot smiled. He took comfort in the fact that somewhere out there, someone else was even lonelier than he was. This someone was so lonely in fact, that he was browsing the classified ads of newspapers and magazines, looking to feed his lonely heart on the dreams of others. Looking for somebody to talk to.

He heard something outside. It was screams or laughter or both. People were still swarming all over the streets and from up there, they looked like ants. Wilmot reached for his imaginary gun. He reached out to pick up the weapon but instead noticed the black notebook lying on the window ledge where he’d left it earlier. So instead of the gun, he picked up the book and opened it at a random page.

The words were still clear.

‘The darkest hour of the night comes just before the dawn.’


The Outsider Tales is available on Amazon and other retailers for 0.99



The Lone Wolf in Fiction


In real life, we’re not sure what to make of loners. The media would have us fear them and if you believe what you read or hear on mainstream news outlets, every mass shooter, murderer and all-round creep is an unhinged loner. Back in 2012, I wrote an Op-Ed article about the media’s misrepresentation of loners (The Loner Myth), which was inspired by a book called Party of One by Anneli Rufus. So I won’t go into all that again here. The quick version – loners choose to be alone and aren’t the angry psychopaths you’re supposed to believe they are.

But fiction is different. We love the lone wolf in fiction. In The Future of London Series that I write, Mack Walker is a classic loner. Elsewhere, almost every character that Steve McQueen ever played was a loner. And remember, he was the king of cool. Mad Max, Dirty Harry, Beatrix Kiddo (aka The Bride), Jack Reacher, James Bond – the list is a long one. All fictional loners, all characters we love (well most of us!)

So in tribute to the fictional lone wolf, here are five examples from books, movies and TV, of some of my favourites. Enjoy.


Miyamoto Musashi (Musashi 1935)

Yes, I’m well aware that Miyamoto Musashi existed. He was a real man who lived in the late 16th and early 17th century Japan and was pretty much the most renowned swordsman who ever lived. The reason I include Musashi in this list of fictional loners is because there was a novel based upon his life.

Any excuse to talk about the man, right?

Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa is a great big sprawling read of a thing. This doorstopper-sized novel is loosely based on the real life of Musashi – very loosely. Don’t expect much historical accuracy here. It’s well over nine-hundred pages long and follows Musashi as he travels across Japan, perfecting his skill with the sword and seeking enlightenment. The relationships in Yoshikawa’s novel are there to make it more dramatic for the reader. The real Musashi however, rejected the patterns of conventional life such as marriage, to follow the Way of the Warrior, aspiring to great things not just in swordsmanship but in other arts too such as painting.

A few recommendations: If you’re interested in a biography of the historical Musashi, check out William Scott Wilson’s The Lone Samurai: The Life of Miyamoto Musashi. If you haven’t seen the classic movie trilogy from the 1950s, check out The Samurai Trilogy, starring the great Toshiro Mifune. And of course, there’s Musashi’s own timeless book of strategy – The Book of Five Rings.


Rorschach (Watchmen – 1986)

Rorschach is the anti-hero in Watchmen, a landmark graphic novel set in an alternate 1985 and featuring a collection of fallen superheroes. When a law is passed to outlaw masked vigilantes, Rorschach keeps fighting crime anyway and to hell with what anyone else thinks. That’s because the man in the inkblot mask is a loner and one of the typical features of fictional loners that we see time and time again is that they generally don’t give a shit about things like rules.

Meet Rorschach.

He has his own moral code. He’s confident in his abilities to solve problems and he’s fuelled by a hatred of conventional society. He’s a complicated guy, a violent and damaged human being.

In real life we’d stay well away from the likes of Rorschach. Most of us are probably glad that he’s an entirely fictional creation, albeit one with recognisably human flaws. We like him, but from afar. We admire him because whatever his morals are he sticks to them and he doesn’t play politics. These are admirable traits and they’re the foundation of a truly memorable character.  Rorschach is the embodiment of the lone wolf at its most savage. And what a wolf he is.


Snake Plissken (Escape From New York – 1981)

I could have added Jack Burton from Big Trouble in Little China here too. Maybe a few other Carpenter characters? Michael Myers?

We’ll stick with Snake for now.

We don’t know much about Snake. He’s a former US Army Lieutenant who at some point turned to crime. He’s a loner who doesn’t have much time for authority (sound familiar?) During the course of Escape From New York, Snake is forced to work with a colourful collection of characters (RIP Harry Dean Stanton) to help the President of the United States escape from within the walled city prison that is New York.

This is definitely a character that should come again. There are a series of comics – John Carpenter’s Snake Plissken Chronicles. I also remember hearing about a crossover comic featuring Snake and Jack Burton in the same book. Sounds incredible! In terms of film, a remake of Escape From New York is in the works, possibly with Robert Rodriguez directing. Who’s going to play Snake? It’s undecided at the time of writing who’s going to be picking up the eyepatch. I wish them luck.


Bartleby (Bartleby, the Scrivener – 1853)

Bartleby the Scrivener is a novelette by Herman Melville. It’s the unusual tale of a clerk hired by a Wall Street lawyer who after a short period of time in this lawyer’s employment, refuses to perform his duties. He does this much to the bewilderment of the man who employed him. Whenever something is required of Bartleby, he says no. In fact, his stock response becomes something of a mantra that’s repeated throughout the story:

“I would prefer not to.”

The story takes place in mid-19th century New York. The Big Apple was by then an increasingly industrial and dehumanised environment. Lots of people, lots of hustle. Amidst all this busyness, Bartleby becomes a passive rebel.

What exactly is going on with Bartleby? Is he clinically depressed? Is he enlightened? Has he seen the futility of performing mundane and repetitive tasks and trying to pass it off as life? Whatever the truth about the character, this is one of the great stories of alienation.


Omar (The Wire – 2002-2008)

The greatest TV shows have great characters. When it comes to The Wire, Omar Little is on almost everybody’s shortlist of favouritesWhile so many of the show’s other characters were motivated by greed and power, Omar was like a breath of fresh air – a man with genuine principles who lived by a strict moral code.

Omar is a gunslinger out of the Wild West. He stalked the streets of Baltimore with a sawed off shotgun and his trademark whistle. He ripped off big-time drug dealers like a cult folk hero. He wasn’t afraid to tackle anyone as long as they were in the game (Omar didn’t go after civilians). He was a loner who worked for no man – if anything, Omar was working for a higher cause.

He didn’t swear either. No mean feat in The Wire.

Omar did find love on two occasions but his first boyfriend was brutally killed, which went a long way to fuelling his motivation to go after the Barksdale gang. Late in the show’s run, it looked like he’d gotten out of the game by retiring to Puerto Rico with a new partner. But…(and SPOILER ALERT)…the murder of his father figure and friend Butchie, pulled this lone wolf back into the game. One more time.

Any more loners you want to add to the list? Let me know in the comments below.


For some more fictional lone wolves, check out The Future of London Series (Grab the first three books in a handy Box Set, as well as Sleeping Giants – Part 4)

(Click book covers for Amazon links)

Non-Amazon Links – FOL Box Set/Sleeping Giants.


The Future of London Box Set (Books 1-3)

Sleeping Giants (Future of London Book 4)



Sleeping Giants – The New Future of London Novel


Sleeping Giants – the new Future of London novel is coming!

The fourth instalment of this dark dystopian series will be released on Wednesday October 4th. Now it’s time for the blurb ‘World Premiere’ (yes I really just wrote that) and I’m happy to share it here with you.

Run blurb:


“Life being what it is, one dreams of revenge.” – Paul Gauguin

Mack Walker is wandering across the London wastelands, looking for Hatchet – the man who destroyed his life. The man who destroyed everything.

It’s a search that leads Walker to ‘The Sleeping Giants’, a low-ranking street gang based in the Hole, formerly South London. The Sleeping Giants know where Hatchet is, but they’re only willing to tell Walker on one condition – he must prove his worth to them and join their ranks.

It all starts with a shocking ‘initiation task’.

But how far is Walker willing to go in his quest for revenge? And can the lone wolf, cast adrift for so long, ever rejoin the pack?

Sleeping Giants is the fourth book in The Future of London series – the perfect binge-reading experience for fans of dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction.

Sleeping Giants (The Future of London #4) – October 4th

Previous books in The Future of London Series:

L-2011 (#1)

Mr Apocalypse (#2)

Ghosts of London (#3)

New L-2011 Cover – Why I Changed It


Hi everyone,

Today I’m proud to show off the new cover art for ‘L-2011’.

Why did I change the existing cover? To put it bluntly, the first cover was a mistake – my mistake. That’s nothing whatsoever against the person who designed it for me, who happens to be a very talented designer. That person was only following my instructions, which were vague and flawed. I guess I didn’t really know what I wanted back then and settled for something average.

One of the great things about indie publishing however, is that we can actively learn from our mistakes. And we can update our covers whenever we want (allowing we can afford it of course!)

Just before the publication of Ghosts of London (Future of London #3), I started working with South African artist Vincent Sammy. Vincent’s a talented artist who has a great list of credits to his name, designing artwork for a wide array of science fiction and horror magazine, as well as books – he even worked on a limited edition Stephen King cover recently. Nice addition to the CV that.

And he’s a top bloke!

The main thing is that Vincent creates original art. With recent books, I’ve had specific ideas for covers that could only be translated by an original artist rather than using someone who uses pre-existing web-sourced images. Is it more expensive to hire an original artist? Yes, but I believe it’s worth it. As we all know, the cover is the first point of contact for a potential reader – perhaps more than anything else, it’s the difference between a sale and a no thanks.

While the first L-2011 cover showed a generic London skyline, this features one of the more recognisable characters from the story, Chester George, standing in Piccadilly Circus, where a major scene unfolds near the end of the book. Punk rock plays a part in the story too (it’s the background music to Chester George’s YouTube broadcasts) and that’s something else we’ve used on the cover, specifically in the excerpts from Chester George’s speeches, shown in a punkish font.

You see what I mean? It’s the little things. You can do more with an original artist and by using one I believe it’ll make your cover that little bit more unique and special in the long term. Not to mention marketable too.

Just my thoughts of course.

So here it is, the new cover. I hope you like it.









L-2011 (The Future of London #1) is free to download


All other retailers

The Coolest Gangs on the Big Screen


Street gangs.

They’re colourful and funky. Who here remembers Swan and Ajax strutting their stuff on the dark streets of 1970s New York in The Warriors? And the other gangs, remember them? The Baseball Furies? The Electric Eliminators? Of course you know what I’m talking about.

Well what about dystopian street gangs? Remember the Duke of New York (aka Issac ‘Chef’ Hayes) lording it up over a twisted, futuristic version of the Big Apple in Escape From New York?

Then there’s the apocalyptic gangs. You must recall the wild antics of the Toecutter and his merciless motorcycle gang, the Acolytes, as they caused havoc on the streets of pre-apocalyptic Australia in Mad Max. And remember how after that, the series went full batshit post-apocalyptic, serving up the likes of Lord Humungus and then Tina Turner in a platinum blonde wig?

Yes indeed. It’s time to give props to a few of the films that have inspired The Future of London books that I’ve been writing lately. I’ve wanted to do this post for ages and before anyone gets antsy,  I’m not saying these are the best ‘gang’ movies out there (or maybe I am!) The above three films are dear to my heart that’s all. So take a few moments to appreciate these classics.

By the way, if you’re hoping to see Marlon Brando and The Black Rebels Motorcycle Club here, you’re out of luck.


The Warriors (1979)

“I’ll shove that bat up your ass and turn you into a popsicle.”

So many one-liners worthy of repeating.

Remember Cyrus and that speech? ‘Can you dig it?’ Or how about the  ‘Warriors, come out to play’ scene? Now if you’ve got a few empty beer bottles lying around the house, I do suggest you put on the long-haired wig and partake and clink along with the scene at home. You know, it doesn’t matter how many times I see David Patrick Kelly acting like a spaced out, born-again hippy in the Twin Peaks reboot. He’ll always be Luther to me.

There’s a clear difference between Sol Yurick’s 1965 novel and Walter Hill’s 1979 movie. The novel is grittier and darker. It’s angrier too and it feels a lot more real, more like a piece of social commentary than the fantastical, theatrical movie that followed fourteen years after the book. The characters are different too. Both are brilliant but this is one of those rare instances where I prefer the movie over the book. (Jaws is another)

The film is cool and super-dated but in a good way that reeks of the 1970s. It’s creative too with a wide variety of uniquely dressed and titled gangs who take over the city streets at night. If that isn’t enough, the soundtrack kicks bottom. In fact, while you’re reading the rest of this section, you should check out the excellent theme song. Caution – it’ll make you want to strut.

The Warriors – just in case you don’t know what I’m talking about here – follows the adventures of a New York street gang who get wrongly accused of murdering a major gang leader (Cyrus) at a mass meeting designed to unite all the city’s gangs. For the rest of the movie, The Warriors are chased across the New York, battling through hostile, gang-infested territory as they try to to make it back to their own turf in Coney Island.

The film has gathered a well-deserved cult status over the years and here’s an extra bonus fact you may or may not know: the original novel was based on an Ancient Greek text, Anabasis, by the philosopher and historian Xenophon. In Anabasis, a band of Greek mercenaries are fighting their way back home through hostile Persian territory after their leader (Cyrus) is killed.

Now I’m sure Xenophon’s text is well worth a look but if you’re in the mood for something a bit lighter, why not check out The Warriors?


Escape from New York (1981)

“It’s the survival of the human race, Plissken. Something you don’t give a shit about.”

This movie is a dystopian classic.

Some observers have commented that the walled city prison in Escape from New York is an allegorical endorsement of how to treat poor communities that are riddled with crime and deemed beyond hope. Others shoo away such lofty, English-lit heavy interpretations like an annoying fly that lands on your dinner plate. After all, if Isaac Hayes is playing a character called The Duke of New York, shouldn’t you just sit back, smile and enjoy?


Escape From New York is set in an alternate 1997, one in which the Big Apple has been transformed into a maximum security prison that holds over three million convicted criminals. When Air Force One goes down over the city and the President (played by a distinctly non-American Donald Pleasance) is taken hostage, it’s up to Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) to get the POTUS back out in one piece.

The Duke’s gang are known as the Gypsies. There are other gangs in the city too including the Turks, Skulls, and Crazies. But it’s the Duke and his followers who rule the roost in this fictional 1997. These are the guys after all, who drive around the city in limousines with matching chandeliers attached to the hood.

The Duke doesn’t give a shit about anything. He wears a Naval Officer’s tunic and shades. He uses the President for target practice – “You’re the Duke of New York. You are A-Number One!” There’s Romero, the Duke’s hissing sidekick and the man with the electric shock hair and gaunt features. Romero is post-apocalyptic New York personified, a man so futuristically punk that if he wandered onto a Mad Max set by mistake he wouldn’t look out of place, not for a a second.

The supporting cast is top drawer too, including the legendary Lee Van Cleef, Harry Dean Stanton, Ernest Borgnine, and Adrienne Barbeau. The soundtrack is another of Carpenter’s own efforts, a tense and futuristic synth score that captures the mood perfectly.

Here’s an interesting, in-depth fan breakdown on Escape From New York if you want to read more about the movie. Well worth a look.


Mad Max (1979)

“The chain in those handcuffs is high-tensile steel. It’d take you ten minutes to hack through it with this. Now, if you’re lucky, you could hack through your ankle in five minutes. Go.”

Who remembers the opening of the original Mad Max? The Nightrider is tearing along the Aussie highway in a stolen MFP (Main Force Patrol) vehicle. He’s easily getting the better of the numerous cops chasing after him. Looks like he’s going to win the day. He eludes all pursuers and then…

…and then Max Rockatansky gets in on the chase.

Cue a fantastic, low budget Australian movie and the start of a long-running franchise that will go on to introduce some of the punkiest post-apocalyptic gangs onto the big screen.

In the original Mad Max, the antagonists are a vicious motorcycle gang led by Toecutter. This gang, also known as the Acolytes, are a psychotic mob (possibly of Italian heritage – look at their names!) who engage in frequent road wars with the cops and bring terror to the local communities. Toecutter (portrayed by Hugh Keays-Byrne, who also played Immortan Joe in the fourth Mad Max movie) takes a terrible revenge on Max for the death of his friend, The Nightrider. It’s Toecutter’s revenge that leads to the moment where family man Max Rockatansky finally becomes the Road Warrior.

Other memorable gangs come along in the later films. Who can possibly forget The Humungus (or Lord Humungus if you prefer) and his punk rock biker followers in The Road Warrior? And although the third film is arguably the weakest of the four, I do still like Aunty Entity (Tina Turner) and her Bartertown cronies. And there’s also the aforementioned Immortan Joe and his War Boys in the excellent Fury Road.

The entire Mad Max universe is the perfect scenario for inventing imaginative gangs, many of them lingering on the border between the post apocalyptic and horror genres. You have to love it.


The Future of London Series

As I mentioned in the intro at the top of the page, The Future of London books draw heavily on the above movies for inspiration, especially as I go forward with the series and things get a little wilder. Gangs such as The Bedlamites, The Obituaries, The Sleeping Giants, Ferals, and Ghosts of London – all of these are inspired by the likes of the above movies. And for that, I salute them.

The Future of London Box Set (Books 1-3) is out now.

‘This is the best thing I’ve read in months. The best this year.’ – Amazon Review

Amazon Link

Non-Amazon Links


Cannibals in Fiction




For some, it’s the ultimate taboo. It’s something not to be discussed, let alone spoken of by decent people in civilised society. It hasn’t always been like that though. At one point in human history – peaking in the 16th and early 17th centuries – certain methods of cannibalism were considered medicinal and even encouraged by experts as a standard cure for particular ailments. Epilepsy – the ‘falling sickness’ – was often treated by drinking hot blood. Skull was a supposed healer too, crushed into powder form and drunk, occasionally with chocolate, often with alcohol. Human fat – you get the idea.

Now we may groan from a twenty-first century perspective but cannibalism, as well as being considered a healer, has literally been a lifesaver too. Who can forget the thrilling and tragic story of the Uruguayan rugby team whose plane crashed in the Andes mountains in 1972, close to the border between Argentina and Chile? 45 people were on that plane when it went down and 27 survived the initial crash. 16 people survived the entire ordeal and they lived through those 72 days on the mountain because they made the decision to eat the flesh of their dead companions.

Cannibalism therefore, is a complicated subject. There’s a little more to it than what you might think. Having said that however, it’s still pretty gruesome especially when we encounter it in the news . So let’s forget the real life stories and instead, turn to fiction. Let’s look at a few characters who’ve dabbled in a bit of human flesh in their time. Fortunately all the people listed below are make-believe.

At least we think they are.




Sawney Bean appeared in Samuel Rutherford Crockett’s 1896 novel, The Grey Man. But that’s not his main claim to fame. Sawney Bean is much more than just a character out of a late 19th century novel. His story is well known in Scotland and dates back to long before The Grey Man was even published. Today, there are people who are still convinced that he was an authentic, historical figure who lived, breathed and ate people.

I was born and bred in Scotland, so this is the earliest cannibal legend I can personally recall hearing about. The story of Alexander ‘Sawney’ Bean is a grisly one and although accounts of when he was supposed to have lived vary, his story is usually set around the turn of the 17th Century.

Sawney Bean was an outsider. He wasn’t interested in living like everyone else and at some point, he made the decision to withdraw from the rest of society. When he met a likeminded woman – Agnes Douglas (sometimes known as Black Agnes) – they got married and set up home in a sea cave, believed to be Bennane Cave, located on the Ayrshire Coast in between Girvan and Ballantrae.

The location of Sawney Bean’s Cave (South Ayrshire, Scotland)

(If you want a ten-minute tour of the cave from the safety of your living-room, click here.)

Not long afterwards, Sawney Bean was robbing travellers on the quiet roads that ran in between the local villages. He didn’t just rob them though, he murdered them because that way they couldn’t talk. And of course, he ate them too, guaranteeing that the bodies were never found by the authorities. This also allowed the Beans to stock up on provisions and eliminated the need for money or to travel into town for supplies.

The Bean family grew larger. Over the years, Sawney and Agnes had 8 sons, 6 daughters, 18 grandsons and 14 granddaughters. Incest was involved much of the time, and all the little Bean children grew up to be every bit as cannibalistic as their parents.

With more mouths to feed, it was getting harder to bury (or swallow) all of the evidence. Human body parts began to wash up on nearby beaches. Some of the disappearances were noticed by the nearby villagers but due to their secret location, the Beans weren’t caught.

Still, they couldn’t evade justice forever. It all went wrong one night when the Beans attacked a couple who were returning from a nearby fair. The man they attacked turned out to be a highly skilled fighter and although his wife was killed by the cannibals, he managed to fight them off until a group of people returning from the fair forced the Beans to flee into the night.

Their existence was made known at last. A huge manhunt was launched, consisting of a party of over 400 men, supposedly led by either King James I or King James VI (depending on the date) with bloodhounds and volunteers from the local area. The Beans were caught and taken to the Old Tolbooth Jail in Edinburgh. There was no trial – such a formality was considered unnecessary given the nature of their foul deeds. The Beans were executed and so gruesome were their deaths that you’d think it was George RR Martin who wrote them. The men had their hands, feet and genitals cut off and were left to bleed to death. The women and children? They were all burned at the stake.

The Old Tolbooth, Edinburgh

There is little documented evidence on the trial or even the existence of Sawney Bean, which leaves most historians believing that it’s just a fictitious tale. Some people have even suggested that the story was written by the English (during the time of the Jacobite Rebellion) as a piece of ‘political propaganda’ designed to ‘demonstrate the savagery and uncivilised nature of the Scots in contrast to the superior qualities of the English nation’.

Those wee English rascals…

True of false, Sawney Bean and his murderous clan have made their mark. Wes Craven’s famous horror movie, The Hills Have Eyes, was inspired by the Sawney Bean story. The novel Off Season, by Jack Ketchum, was similarly inspired. There are others.



Some might say there’s a little nugget of truth in the story of Sweeney Todd. For most historians however, he’s entirely fictional. The Demon Barber of Fleet Street first appeared in a penny dreadful serial (cheap, sensationalist fiction) in 1846-47. The story was called The String of Pearls: A Romance and anyone familiar with the legend of Sweeney Todd will know that it’s all about a barber who murders his customers and with the aid of  Mrs Lovett in the pie shop next door, then deposits the human flesh into pies and feeds them to unsuspecting customers.

Grisly, but it’s certainly possible the story was inspired by real events. In the 18th and 19th centuries, there were often newspaper reports about body snatching, dodgy medical practices and cannibalism. Take a look at this excerpt from the Weekly Journal, or, British Gazetteer, dated Saturday 3rd May, 1718:

‘We have Intelligence from Lincoln, that a man being hanged there the last Assizes, within three days after his execution, a couple of apothecaries contracted with a butcher for a sum of money, to take the body out of the grave, and cut off all the flesh, fit for them to make a skeleton of; which flesh he sold for venison to an inn-keeper; who making it into a pasty, invited many of his neighbours to the eating of it; but sometime after the villainy being detected, the butcher and the two apothecaries were committed to Lincoln Goal [sic].’ 

The above report might be true. It might also be a load of rubbish designed to sell newspapers. But if such stories were going around it’s not hard to see why a Sweeney Todd-like tale would end up in the pages of a penny dreadful. Of course, no one could have foreseen how popular the character would become over the years. The 2007 film, directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp, is well-known but if you can find it, check out the 2006 TV adaptation starring Ray Winstone.



Hannibal Lecter (by Freddy Agurto Parra)

Hannibal Lecter is so charming he can talk you right onto his dinner plate. That’s how good he is. He’s the pop culture cannibal, your favourite Lithuanian-American psychiatrist with a penchant for fava beans and Italian wine. He’s super intelligent and as readers of the books and viewers of the movies and TV show will confirm, somehow we all fall under his spell a little bit – just enough to sort of like him despite the fact that well, he’s a cannibal.

Lecter was first introduced to the public in the 1981 novel, Red Dragon, written by Thomas Harris. Since then he’s featured in four novels, five films and a well received TV series. And as mentioned above, he’s ingrained in society as part of the pop culture fabric, which is kind of impressive for a cannibal when you think about it.

Maybe we like him because he’s the anti-cannibal in some ways. This is no brute or mindless savage. Lecter’s a bonafide bright spark – he’s smarter than the rest of us and being so smart of course, he knows it. You might have noticed if you’ve read the books or watched the films that he revels in getting the better of (and eating) authority figures, such as the poor census taker whose liver he so famously consumed with the fava beans and chianti. Also, who can forget that final scene at the end of The Silence of the Lambs where Anthony Hopkins as Lecter, is casually pursuing Dr. Frederick Chilton, the man who so gleefully oversaw his incarceration in the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane?

Remember that? Of course you do.

‘I’m having an old friend for dinner.’



Cannibal horror in fiction is mostly seen as a bit of gruesome fun. It’s nothing more than a nightmarish fantasy far removed from the reality of our everyday lives. That’s what we like to tell ourselves anyway.

But what you might call ‘serious literature’ delves into the subject occasionally. The ‘heavy’ books, if you know what I mean. For example, there are cannibals in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.  If you’ve read the book, you might recall that cannibals serve as part of Marlow’s crew during his voyage upriver to the Inner Station. There’s no blood and guts horror here, but the novel is instead full of complex ideas that ask interesting questions about civility and savagery. It’s an English Literature student’s wet dream. So many questions and interpretations await the reader. For example, while we might view the African savage as cannibalistic, what about the white European imperialist and his desire to consume? It’s an interesting book and one that makes you think.

There are also cannibals in Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer-Prize winning novel, The Road.  In this story, a father and his young son are travelling across post-apocalyptic America, trying to make their way towards the dream that is the ocean. During this journey, father and son are not only at risk of being captured by people who have resorted to cannibalism, but they’re also trying to resist succumbing to the urge themselves. The Road is a horror novel (and movie!), as well as being an excellent work of post-apocalyptic fiction. It also highlights one of the most fascinating things about post-apocalyptic fiction – what happens to otherwise decent human beings when there’s no longer any food on the supermarket shelves? When there’s no hope and civilisation is gone? What would you do if you and your loved ones were starving and you saw somebody else with a precious slice of bread? When you’re that hungry, what do you see when you look at a stranger? The answer is in The Road, and it’s not a pretty one.

A few other noteworthy examples of cannibals in literature:

Patrick Bateman (American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis)

Charles Burnside (Black House by Stephen King and Peter Straub)

Kevin (Sin City by Frank Miller)

Dead River Clan (Off Season by Jack Ketchum)


And just to finish off, here are a few of the best (or most infamous) cannibal movies (for those of you who haven’t already seen them):

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) – “I just can’t take no pleasure in killing. There’s just some things you gotta do. Don’t mean you have to like it.”

A classic, still disturbing in so many ways. And it has Leatherface in it. Enough said.

Ravenous (1999) – “He’s licking me!”

Ravenous features one of my favourite cannibals – Colonel Ives/F.W Colqhoun (played by the great Robert Carlyle). I love this dark and weird film. It’s a sort of horror and black comedy mix topped off by a great soundtrack by Damon Albarn and Michael Nyman. It’s loosely based on the real-life Donner Party tragedy of 1846/1847 when a bunch of westbound emigrants on their way to California became trapped in the Sierra Nevada mountains and were forced to consume the bodies of the dead for food. It’s a great movie – go find if you haven’t seen it.

Cannibal Holocaust (1980) – “I wonder who the real cannibals are.”

Insane, controversial movie. Not easy viewing.

Alive (1993) – “Are we supposed to fly that close to the mountains?”

This is the movie based on the real-life story of the Uruguayan rugby team whose plane crashed in the Andes. It’s a brilliant film and one of my earliest memories of a ‘what would you do?’ in this deep shit scenario. Plus it has John Malkovich sitting by a fire, talking more deep shit.

That’s just a few movies. There are lots, lots more cannibal flicks out there to get your teeth into.



And finally, I was inspired to write this post by Ghosts of London. This is the third book in the Future of London series and yeah, there are a few cannibals running around in this one too. Check it out and don’t worry if you haven’t read the first two. It’s never been easier (and cheaper) to climb aboard the Future of London series. You can now get L-2011 (Book 1) for free here. And Mr Apocalypse (Book 2) is down to 0.99.

Thank you and enjoy.