The Horror Zine
Simon Clark

A Simon Clark Special
The Final in a Series of Four

The Simon Clark Special Part 4

Blood and Grit

Simon Clark and Books



(and how to promote your own book)

My first book became invisible. Not straight away, but down through the years since its publication in 1990 the atoms have become transparent, its characters seeped into walls until I can see them no more. Invisible, that is, until I began writing this article, then for the first time in five years I noticed the thin yellow spine almost hidden by novels that came after Blood & Grit, that first book of mine. Don’t get me wrong, I love the book. It’s just that Blood & Grit is sixteen years old and as I got caught up in the hell-for-leather-work-like-a-loon world of being a professional author I -- and I feel guilty even writing these words -- I stopped noticing the book was even there.

But now I’ve eased it from the shelf, I’m falling in love with it all over again. Here it is, a banana-yellow paperback with Dallas Goffin’s illustration of an inhuman face peering out at me as if to say, “Simon, how could you have forgotten all about me?” Okay, that’s my tell-tale heart guilt-thing, isn’t it? And while I’m at the confessional I can admit that Blood & Grit earned me very little cash, the film rights didn’t sell, there were no translation sales, and yet the book might as well have possessed magic powers: it opened the hitherto locked (for me) doors to the big commercial publishers, I found myself in radio studios talking about Blood & Grit, then in front of TV cameras, then appearing in national newspapers. Then being invited to London to discuss my future as a novelist with a top publisher’s editor in the intriguingly named Green Man Tavern.

For a book that became invisible that’s pretty good going.

But how did the book happen? In my teens I decided I’d become a writer. The decision part was easy, it was succeeding that was hard. So I wrote short stories and horror poetry. I got rejections, including one from a guy who described my fiction as ‘too far-fetched;’ he later went to jail for perpetrating a fraud that was so far-fetched his would-be victims saw through it and he was promptly arrested. By the time I hit twenty I was placing tales with the small press and radio. One of the magazines that regularly featured my work was a bright yellow journal by the name of Back Brain Recluse, later to become BBR Magazine. One day its editor, then just graduating from university, suggested that I might consider writing stories that would then appear in a collection. I hadn’t written a book at that time. Chris Reed hadn’t published one. Heck, it looked like a disastrous teaming from the start.

Yet this was the important part of my nascent writing career. This was where the magic began, because Chris shrewdly set out the parameters of the book and its publication. He didn’t have the resources to issue a mass-market edition, and had no money to promote it; like commandos with our backs to the wall we had to make every bullet count. So this was the plan: I’d deliver six new stories. They would be illustrated by Dallas Goffin, introduced by cutting-edge rock-journalist/poet Andy Darlington, then publish a few hundred in paperback. Chris’s key to making the book a success was to market it as a publishing ‘event,’ and to drive the message through my skull that the tales I produced must not only be the best I’d every written, but be different -- explosively different from what was appearing at the time. He encouraged me to make them more brutal, more horrific, more a grab-ya’-by-the-balls-and-erupt-in-your-face style of fiction. When the slim yellow volume appeared in 1990, a time when the horror small press in the UK barely existed, we promoted Blood & Grit as hard as we could with a mass-mailing of flyers and review copies.

If there’s a message for anyone reading this with their own first title in production it’s this: sweat that book hard. Promote it with great cunning and energy. Don’t expect it to make millions. But treat it as the key that will unlock your writing career.  We targeted the local media. And it worked. I was interviewed on radio; I appeared on TV; they even animated scenes from one of the stories. And here’s one technique that worked for me: if you’re starting out as a writer set one of your stories in your hometown -- a town where nothing much happens is ideal. Have fantastic events occur in recognizable locations. The local newshounds will find it irresistible.

So this is the story of my first book. A little paperback that, as far as the bookstores are concerned, is not only out of stock, it’s invisible. Sometimes it’s even invisible on my own bookshelf. But do you know something? It’s still working its magic. It helped get me where I am now: I’m writing fiction all day -- and I’m still loving it.

See all of Simon's books HERE.




























SIMON CLARK lives in Doncaster, England with his family. When his first novel, Nailed by the Heart, made it through the slush pile in 1994 he banked the advance and embarked upon his dream of becoming a full-time writer. Many dreams and nightmares later he wrote the cult zombie classics Blood Crazy, Darkness Demands, This Rage of Echoes  and The Night of the Triffids, which continues the story of Wyndham’s classic The Day of the Triffids. His revival of the wickedly ambulatory plants won the British Fantasy Society’s award for best novel.

Simon’s latest novel is a return to the much-loved Vampyrrhic mythology with Whitby Vampyrrhic. He has also recently published The Midnight Man, a story of murder, madness and ghosts, featuring Vincent Van Gogh in the most turbulent year of his life; and Ghost Monster, about opening graves in a cemetery for an archaeological dig.

Simon also experiments in short film, one of which, Dear Simon, Where Do You Get Your Ideas From? has been featured in the UK’s Channel 4 ShortDoc series, and earned the accolade ‘the ultimate in TV democracy.’ He also created Winter Chills for BBC TV. More films, with tips on writing horror fiction, plus articles, stories and Simon Clark news can be accessed at his website.

Simon’s Website

Whitby Vamphyrric Cover



"Don’t you dare touch me." Mary had detected the predatory menace in their posture. "Don’t you dare!"

The figures approached, eyes ablaze with ferocity, their faces smeared with a rich, dark liquid that could be nothing else but blood. Gustav reached out to touch the side of her neck. The cold-as-ice sensation of his fingers on her bare skin did it.

In an explosion of movement Mary raced through the alleyway to Henrietta Street beyond. If the back door had been blocked she could beat on the front door to alert her husband.

Yet the creatures anticipated her move. And, yes, they were creatures… they were inhuman… no living men possessed eyes like that. When she dashed toward the front door Gustav smoothly sped by her to block the way. He smiled. His teeth were pointed yet evenly shaped. The other creatures possessed the same kind of teeth, as if God in a moment of reckless abandon had snatched up different animals, then moulded them into something that, at least outwardly, resembled a man.

Running became her mission. Nothing less. If her feet pounded Whitby’s cobbled streets, it proved she hadn’t been caught yet. Because that was their intention. She knew they wanted to lay hands on her. To bundle her roughly away. But what then? What would the creatures do to her?

Brand new and available in hardcopy HERE.





Whitbhy Vampyrrhic Vampyrrhic