Thursday, 18 December 2014

Biosphere 2

There's a rather interesting pair of podcasts on Biosphere 2 from the people at 'Stuff to Blow Your Mind.

If you're not familiar with the project, Biosphere 2, built on three (and a bit) acres, was a self-contained environment in which volunteers lived, grew their own food and struggled for survival (and this was back in early days of the 1990s before reality-TV had been invented.)

The show is in two parts and covers the failures and successes of the experiment and how the lessons learnt can and are being used in the development of the upcoming Mars missions.

They've also got a great photo gallery, and I've just spent a rather fun half hour flicking through, imagining the students from the university which now operates the site fleeing there after the outbreak, struggling to keep the crops growing whilst the undead bang on the windows outside...

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Warning! Looking at the Meteor Shower may cause blindness!

Tonight, if you look up, you’ll see the Geminids Meteor Shower.

It’ll be visible in both Hemispheres and is being touted by some as a ‘must-see’ event. But in case you haven’t read The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham, you may be unaware that this may cause blindness.

This book, the pre-cursor to most Apocalyptic Fiction, begins when a similar meteor shower causes all those to see it to loose their sight. This provides the opening for the Triffids - genetically modified plants, bred for their oil as a cheaper, greener alternative - to take over the Earth.

It truly is a great book. It begins in a hospital, and is the very reason that, when writing 28 Days Later, Alex Garland set the opening scene in a hospital.

(Book 1 shares that opening setting, but in my story our hero has everything that happened explained to them. I make no secret of the fact my book wouldn’t have been written without Mr Wyndham’s inspiration). So, tonight, if you are like me and in reading apocalyptic fiction have become superstitious to the point of paranoid, then don’t at the skies. Otherwise, do make sure and look up.

Friday, 12 December 2014

No Mummies were harmed in the printing of this book.

There was an urban legend about Mummies (you know, the Egyptian kind) being used as fuel during a snowstorm somewhere in upstate New York back in... gosh... eighteen-something-or-other. As you can tell, I can't remember the details. In my search for them I've found this rather fascinating article on Mummies as fuel and in the manufacture of paper:

I thought I'd share.

(Book 5 update - Half way through first draft, current word count = 35,000 words.)

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Book 4: Unsafe Haven on Itunes & Drive Thru Fiction

Book 4: On Kobo

Book 4 is now out on Kobo. Happy reading!

epub's available from Libiro & Smashwords

For readers who want an epub version, Book 4 is now available from Libiro at $0.99 and Smashwords at $2.99 (other sites will follow during the day) Due to Smashwords distribution system, I'm afraid it's not possible to offer the book at a discounted rate during the first few days.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

It's (a)Live!!! Book 4: Unsafe Haven - Out now!

Surviving The Evacuation, Book 4: Unsafe Haven is now available to purchase on Amazon (only £0.77 until Wednesday)

Click here for Amazon UK

Click here for Amazon Everywhere else. 

I've submitted it to the other sites, and expect it to be up on Kobo, Itunes, Nook and others soon. The paperback should be available from tomorrow.

Happy reading!

Brrr, it's cold!

The first proper frost of the winter hit last night. Everything is covered in a thick coating of ice, and the street is filled with the sound of frustrated scrapping, as drivers try and clear their windshields.

I write outside. I find, surrounded by the coughing of birds and predatory snickering of spiders (I've been breeding them for size), that I get more done. So, it's a good thing that I've just hit publish on Book 4. If I had to do any actual writing today, even wrapped up in scarf and gloves (and have you tried to type in gloves? It's not easy), I'm not sure I'd get much done.

It can take up to forty-eight hours for the books to be reviewed and approved for distribution. I'll post up the links just as soon as I have them.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Work Rest Repeat - Free Until Sunday

Work Rest Repeat - A Post Apocalyptic Detective Story is free until Sunday.

Over the last twelve months I've been promoting the books I've written quite heavily. Whilst at least something that I've done must have worked, having run two or more promotions per week it's rather tricky working out exactly what. Following a thoroughly disastrous marketing campaign in September/November, I thought I'd see how effective it would be to give a book away for free without any promotion whatsoever (I don't count social media as this doesn't cost me anything but time).
So this is the first stage of the plan, justing putting the book up for free on Amazon for a few days and seeing how many (if any) downloads it gets by virtue of being free. The next stage (Launching Book 4 without any promotion) should follow in a couple of days. And speaking of which I should really get on with some work.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Book 5: Reunion

Book 5: Reunion, the conclusion to the story begun in Book 4: Unsafe Haven will be out early in 2014. It currently stands at 23,000 words, beginning just outside of Penrith a few months before the end of Book 4, then following the journey south. The story then switches point of view, and follows a journey to Hull.

The above will make more sense when you've read Book 4. So will my choice of a working title  for Book 6, I've been calling the draft document Svalbard.

I've a title for the US spin off, but I'm keeping that one under my hat for now.

Book 4 - Update

I've had the book back from the final proof-reader. All that's left now is to go through it one last time. This should only take a few days, so the book will be released next week at the latest.

In the meantime, Work Rest Repeat will be free on Amazon from tomorrow until Sunday.

Click here to grab a copy in the UK

Or here for everywhere else

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Book 4: Unsafe Haven - Cover

The novel has gone off for the final proof-reading, this should take a few days, then I'll need another two just to go through it one last time. In short, it will be out soon.
The story takes place in Cumbria, Scotland and Anglesey, from the outbreak up until September. Though this isn't a story about Bill, Kim and Sholto - they will return (and with a vengeance) in Book 6 - there are some familiar faces.

On release it will be priced at £0.77 for the first three days (and Book 1 is on sale at £0.77 until Book 4 is released)

I'll post up the prologue, and first few thousand words over the next few days, but in the meantime, I thought you might like a look at the cover.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Book 4 - Update

Just a quick update. I was hoping to get my side of the editing finished today. There was something about the last quarter of the book that wasn't sitting quite right. Books 4 & 5 feature a (mostly) new cast of characters, which tie into the wider story in Book 6, which will see a return of familiar faces (and perhaps an absolutely final end to the series. It's too early to say)

This section I was unhappy with  isn't that important in the terms of the story for Books 4 & 5, but it deals with Kim, Svalbard and what happens on Anglesey after the end of Book 3, neatly setting everything up for Book 6, so it's important that I get it right. To that end I ditched what I'd written and have spent the day rewriting it. 

And it is re-writ, and all is now good with the world, but I am worded out for the day, so am off to find a biscuit and something in which to dunk it.

(publication date - the end of this month or the beginning of the next. Book 5 will be out (maybe) 10 weeks after that and Book 6 out in time for the summer holidays.)


The Freakonomics of the Undead

Just heard a great episode of Freakonomics about the undead. It's great to hear academics talk about zombies and vampires, and the economics of the genre. Take a listen.

The show references a book on the subject. (one of the first academic texts to deal with the real-world impact of the undead. For instance, would a zombie outbreak be good for the economy? Well, would it?)
One worth adding to the Christmas list.

The Economics of the Undead: Zombies, Vampires and the Dismal Science

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Book 1: London - Featured on Annelie Wendeberg's blog

Annelie Wendeberg, author of the "Anna Kronberg" series is featuring Book 1 as her Indie Book of the Week. This is very cool, not just because it's always great to get some recognition, but she's one of the best writers of Sherlock Holmes & Victorian England Thriller books in the business. I'm quite a big Holmes fan myself, which you might have gathered from the references, some subtle others not so much, in all the books so far.

And the first book in the series, The Devil's Grin, is currently free. So if you like all things Sherlockian, grab a copy and give it a try.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

London's Housing Crisis - Solved!

I just saw this photo-article about the tunnels under London.

I love the tunnels under London. Book 3 originally had a chase sequence in it set within the disused tube tunnels. It got cut, but expect to see it in some future book - it's far too cool to remain on the cutting room floor. I digress. During World War Two, as you probably know, they built air raid shelters under London. It turns out that they left the bunk-beds in some.

Yup, those are bunk-beds, in a section of tunnel that was built but never used for transport. And it's in Clapham. AND no one is sleeping in them! With studio apartments at £400,000 a pop, I think that you could easily charge rent for one of those. Probably quite a high one since it's so close to the tube.

And whilst I'm on the topic of air raid shelters, I'll recommend the book The Blitz by Juliet Gardner. It's without doubt the best book on the subject that I've read (and recommend every chance I get. It's brilliant!)

Work Rest Repeat - Free on 2nd & 3rd November

The novel will be free on Amazon for the next two days (and on unlimited for the next six weeks).

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Why can't you buy low calorie snacks?

I'm just back from a rain-drenched walk to the shops. Whilst seeking inspiration amongst the aisles I started picking up the snacks and examining the calorie content. I noticed a very weird thing. Crisps, chocolate, biscuits or sweets (or chips, cookies, candies and... chocolate. Is there a thing in the US that all types of snacks must be spelled with the letter 'C'?), it didn't matter what I picked up, each had between 450 and 550 calories per 100g.

Why? There has to be a reason. Is it something to do with manufacturing methods? Has  market research discovered that anything less than 450 (like the bag of popcorn I bought at the weekend) leaves a customer so unsatisfied that they won't buy it again? Or is it just a coincidence, some quirk caused by a confluence of halloween treats and limited shelf space, and next week I'll go in and find a variety of foods to fill every caloric gradation.

I don't think it's the latter. The cost of re-printing the packaging would be too great. But it does remind me of a rather interesting programme on planet money that solved a similar puzzle, as to why peanut M&Ms come are sold at a different weight to milk chocolate ones;

Anyway. That's enough procrastination. I went out in search of inspiration for a way to describe a ship's passengers travelling down from Svalbard, approaching Holyhead (on Anglesey) and being presented with a flotilla of small ships huddling against the shore. I should have written this part on the ferry over from Ireland, but instead I've got to try and find my muse in the puddle-filled pavements of London. Lesson learnt for next time.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Want to make your own dinosaur?

Just heard a great TED talk on how to make your own dinosaur (ok, so not really how to make one at home, but close enough.) very very cool!

Renowned palaeontologist Jack Horner has spent his career trying to reconstruct a dinosaur. He's found fossils with extraordinarily well-preserved blood vessels and soft tissues, but never intact DNA. So, in a new approach, he's taking living descendants of the dinosaur (chickens) and genetically engineering them to reactivate ancestral traits — including teeth, tails, and even hands — to make a "Chickenosaurus".

Jack Horner is a consultant on the upcoming Jurassic Park IV, so expect the Chickenosaurus in the movie. 

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Books now available in WH Smith's

My writing 'process' (which is an incredible organised sounding phrase for what is really a frenetic assault on a keyboard) involves a notebook and a computer. Into the notebook goes every cool line, important scene, character name and so on. When I go off on a field trip, travelling the country working out which route the characters will take to or from Anglesey (or from Washington to the remote spot in Maine), the notebook comes with me, and the directions get scrawled down.

So, last night, I was looking through the notes for Book 5: Radio Free England. Underneath a line that read; "Look at him! You know how I'd describe him? A guy in desperate need of a belt."
I found another note saying that, by the end of the year, I should aim to get the books into Smith's, Foyle's and Waterstone's (they're the three largest bookstores in the UK). I'd become so lost in getting these stories written that I'd completely forgotten about that.

Well, I went online this morning and found that the books did get into Smith's. Or, the ebooks, at least. Next stop is getting the paperbacks in there, but that'll have to wait. Book 4 is heading towards completion. I've got another 10 pages to read through and then it's just the prologue and epilogue to finish. Time to get on.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Free Ebook Code For Inktera & Caffeine Nights

The kind people at pagefoundry, the operators of the Inktera store and the Caffeine Nights app have given me 10 free ebook codes. This will definitely work with Book 1: London, and may work with other books.

The Code: TAYELL

This is a first come first serve deal, there's only 10 of them.

The Inktera store link link:

The apps:

The apps are genre specific, and I have to say this has to be the next generation in book purchasing, cutting down on the whole  click-wait-sync time. So, give it a try, I think this is a really neat idea.
(prices for non-US readers may work out cheaper here than on other stores, as they are set using US dollars, then converted.)

Friday, 17 October 2014

Heath Robinson Mornings

I thought I'd been clever. At night I've taken to leaving the curtains open, so as to be woken by the first light of dawn. In this way I can capitalise on those oh-so-productive early hours of the day. It worked brilliantly in the summer, not so much these days. As I look at the clock here, and see three hours already wasted, I'm resolved on buying a new alarm clock. Something like this one designed by Heath Robinson, perhaps;

"The secret of getting ahead is getting started" - Mark Twain said that. So I should probably stop browsing the web and get on. Today we begin the final draft-edit of Book 4.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Book: 0.5 Free (again) on Amazon          

The glitch has been fixed. The book is now free on Amazon again. Sorry for any inconvenience.

How (not) to start a business - Start Up by Alex Blumberg

I've just listened to all five episodes of this podcast. It's brilliant. It's presented by Alex Blumberg, formerly of Planet Money and This American Life, charting his ongoing journey to achieve fame and riches by setting up a podcast company (meta, right?)

So it's a fun listen, but it's a pretty informative step by step guide to how you do actually create a business. From sourcing venture capital to choosing names to hiring a business partner. Well worth a listen. So persuasive, in fact, if I'd signed my movie deal by now, I'd be down as an investor.

(PS: One of the names he ends up not using for the business is 'The Global Listening Service'. I'm definitely stealing that as the plot for the next book.)

Monday, 13 October 2014

Zombies vs Living Dead free on Kobo & Itunes

Hi, I've just seen that the Book 0.5: Zombies vs The Living Dead is currently not free on the UK Amazon store. Amazon don't allow authors to permanently set the price to 0.00, but price match against other stores, and reserve the right to raise the price as and when they wish.

I'm not sure if this is a temporary glitch, but you can find the book elsewhere for free.
Whilst I'm appreciative of the £0.20 a copy I get from each sale, I really think you'd enjoy Book 3 more if you've read this short story. You're certainly going to have want to have read it before Book 4: Unsafe Haven and... (though I'm not confirming this as definite until I've got the covers)... Book 3.5: Svalbard, Book 4.5: AWOL, Book 5: Return and the absolutely final book in the series Book 6: The Blood Red Line.
(I'm also planning a separate 1 novel, 1 short story spin off set in the US, but more on that closer to the time.)

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Check out Limerence 2 - A new release (& a freebie)

Claire C Riley, another of the authors with whom I'm collaborating on the 'At Hell's Gate' project has a new release out this weekend. (and the first book in the series is free!)

Limerence 2 (The Obsession Series) by Clare Riley 

When you see life through the eyes of a vampire, you see the true colors of the world. 

It’s been almost a year since Mia’s life was forever altered, and each day is a battle as she fights the dark vampire trapped within her. She is strong, and powerful, and she wants control. She will do anything to be free. Even if it means destroying them both.

Link to book 1:

Braineater Jones - A weekend recomendation

I've been putting together (on top of editing the next Evacuation book, and a short story staring Kim) a  story for the next volume of the At Hell's Gate Anthology. Stephen Kozeniewski, one of the authors I'm collaborating with has a book on offer this weekend. Thought you might like to check it out.

Braineater Jones by Stephen Kozeniewski

Braineater Jones wakes up face down in a swimming pool with no memory of his former life, how he died, or why he’s now a zombie. With a smart-aleck severed head as a partner, Jones descends into the undead ghetto to solve his own murder.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

A note on publishing (alright, marketing)

Writing is my full time occupation. I wake, I write until the words lose all meaning, then I get on with the marketing. And there’s as much marketing in books as there is in any other product under the sun.

I had a chat the other day with a chap who’s somewhat of an expert in advertising. He finds my foray into self-publishing fascinating. As in “And that promotion cost you $200 and netted only an additional 4 sales per day, fascinating. Why do you think that was?”

The answer is I don’t really know (nor why a $25 promotion a couple of months ago netted 300 sales in an hour. A lot of people would say it’s down to luck. I’m not sure I believe in luck. Circumstance and coincidence, sure. But luck? No.)
"Why do you think?" I asked him. "You are, after all, meant to be an expert in this sort of thing."
"Well," he said, "there was <name redacted>, they launched a £25,000,000 marketing push in Russia, timing it to coincide with the winter Olympics. Then came the Crimean Crisis."
He sipped on his coffee for a while, as I waited for him to continue.

“Timing,” I said when it was evident he was finished. “You’re saying that’s what it’s all about.”
“Being at the right place, just before the right time, so that when the perfect moment comes around, you’re already there.”

Good advice for some, perhaps, but not so much for a writer of post-apocalyptic fiction. I mean, if I were to write a prescient novel, there wouldn’t be anyone left to notice how foresighted I’d been. But Timing does have a part to play. I’ve noticed that. With a book about zombies with ‘London’ in the title, it’s no wonder I noticed sales collapse on those warm summer evenings.

Knowing that doesn’t help me improve my sales figures to the point I could afford a <name redacted> myself, though. But I need to be pro-active. As I see it, I’ve two choices. Either I stop global warming, so Britain returns to that damp miserable weather I remember as a child, or I build a machine to bring on a new ice age. Or maybe I can just buy a machine like that. I’m off to ebay to check.

[to other authors who are interested, the $25 promotion was with, I highly recommend their services. I’d also recommend The Fussy Librarian and The $200 was spent across about 30 different sites, during a week long promotion. I won’t name them here as I and others have had great success with them in the past.]

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

A thought (Elbert Hubbard's) on reviews

I was looking up the origin of a quote for a short story I've just finished; 'Life is just one damned thing after another.' 

Thanks to the marvels of the internet I quickly confirmed it's from Elbert Hubbard. In my search I came across this other quote of his:

"Most Authors cringe and flatter and Fish for compliments. If they fail to get Applause, they say the World is a Scurvy Place and those who dwell therein a Dirty Lot: if they succeed, they give thanks to Nobody, saying they got only what their Meritt entitles them to. But I rather like the World. The Flesh is pleasing and the Devil does not trouble me."
 Love Ballads of the Sixteenth Century (1897)

That made me smile. 

He is a fascinating chap, though. If you're not familiar with him I do recommend spending a few minutes just reading about his life. Seriously, one of the most interesting potted biographies I've read.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Hollywood and Dystopian Fiction

My take; An image of a half-submerged landmark will intrigue people more than some alien ruins. I want to know what happened to the Statue of Liberty. How did the seas rise up so much. That's easier to sell, and can be sold with that single image.

Now, I'm off to rent that movie.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Simultaneous Translations & The Nuremberg Trials - PRI's The World

Just heard this on public radio international's 'The World'. Very interesting piece about how simultaneous translation came about, and how it works. Something I'd never thought of before. Worth a listen!

Sunday, 28 September 2014

The Evacuation on Scribd

KU isn't the only subscription service on the net. Scribd is another, (and if you're in the UK, it works out cheaper at $8.99). Almost all the books not exclusive to Amazon can be found there, like the Evacuation Series.

ebooks unlimited - new service for Kindle Unlimited

If you're signed up to Kindle Unlimited, you might want to sign up to this newsletter (I have). It's brand new, but as I understand it will be a moderated & genre specific list. Looks pretty cool.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Are you reading wrong? - New Tech City

Just listened to a very interesting episode of New Tech City, a podcast from WNYC, on how the way we read is changing the more we move from reading on paper to screens. Very interesting (and a very interesting show).

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Work. Rest. Repeat. - Out Now

Only $0.99 (also on Kindle Unlimited in the US) 

It is sixty years since The Great Disaster laid waste to the Earth. Outside the city walls, the rising seas have long since flooded the toxic desert that once was humanity’s home. Inside, the descendants of the few that survived that terrible apocalypse strive day and night to complete construction of the colony ships. An evacuation to Mars is the species’ only hope. It is a desperate plan but, after generations of labour, the first of the ships is nearing completion. 

A launch date has been set. There is to be an election to choose a new Chancellor, to lead the people during this last exodus. But, with only twenty-four hours before voting begins, two workers are murdered. It is the first serious crime since the survivors retreated into the Towers of The City of Britain. 

It is down to Ely, Constable of Tower-One, to solve the crime and apprehend the killer. No matter what, the workers must be protected, production must come first.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Work. Rest. Repeat. - Inspired by Planet Money (partly)

I listen to a lot of podcasts. One of my favourites is planet money from NPR. One of their recent episodes played a significant part in the development of this story. 

It's the story of the delivery drivers. The terrifying part, the line I can't get out of my head, is that the drivers were told in which pocket they should store there pens, in order to ensure maximum efficiency when they reached for them.
Truly disturbing. (but a brilliant episode)

Amazon Packaging - My solution

Right, so in the UK (and in the borough in which I live) we have separate bins for garden, domestic and recyclable waste. And these are large bins. Mine is currently full of brown cardboard from Amazon. Don't get me wrong, getting sent a free storage box with every purchase has saved me a lot of money this year, but I've packed away everything I own, (and then packed the small boxes into large boxes) and I'm still left with a bin full of cardboard.
And sure, it's going to be recycled, but it's still a lot of water and energy that's going to end up wasted.

I've a solution. A while back I heard an episode of Peter Day's BBC podcast, in business: 
(it's dated Saturday 30th May, and titled Packaging in a pickle)

or direct link to the mp3 here:

In the episode they talk about edible packaging. The reason given to why it's not used is that when cooked (to sanitise it) the nutritional value is lost.
So, my solution, packaging that is soluble in water, made of some cellulose type material dosed with plant food. 
Plants don't mind if it's sanitised, or care what it tastes like. Brilliant, right?

Of course, this might be a problem in the rain (we could solve this by using hot water, perhaps redirected from the out-flow from the washing machine, say.). 

I say it's worth a try.

Castle #2 - Eltham Palace

t's been a busy day. I've been crossing out i's and tweaking the t's in Work. Rest. Repeat. and working on Unsafe Haven (it's at 37,000 words, so about half done), and plotting out the rest of the series. Like I said. Busy day.

I don't know if I'll write all theEvacuation books for which I have ideas, certainly the one set in the US featuring the Last President (and Sholto's connection to him) may end up turning into a different story for a different series, but I do plan a book about a siege. And I mean a proper siege, one set in a castle. My big problem here is picking the right one.

Eltham Palace is my current favourite. It has a moat, filled with the largest fish I've seen in London outside of the Aquarium

But it's too close to London.
I love this place, one of the reasons being that, when it was rebuilt/restored in the 1930's, the owners wanted to have all the mod cons. Those included a central vacuum cleaner system. So in each room there is a little nozzle to which you can attach a vacuum hose, the dust and dirt then gets sucked up into some central repository. Very cool, but not very helpful when trying to withstand a siege by hundreds of thousands of the undead.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Work. Rest. Repeat. - 8,000 word excerpt

An 8,000 word excerpt (this is the prologue to the story) can be found at the above link. The book is currently back at the editors, and is waiting for the final proofreading. All should be complete to have the book out on Amazon in the next few weeks.

Castles, castles, everywhere...

After I sent ‘Work Rest Repeat’ off to the editors last week, I took six hours off. Then I went back to Unsafe Haven. I’ve finished the outline and am now going through it, fleshing out the story.

There’s a couple of things I’ve noticed that I thought I’d share. For one, (just like ‘Work Rest Repeat’), this was meant to be a novella. It’s already turning into a novel.

More interestingly, you wouldn’t believe the number of great castles there are near the Scottish border where survivors could hold off a zombie horde. But I can't set this story in a castle. Why not, you ask? 

Ah, because Chirk castle is referenced in Undead Britain, a short story that’s going to be released in a horror anthology coming out this autumn.

I’ve plans for this castle, you see, and don’t want to dilute the plot by setting any of the other stories in a similar place.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Life Under Mars

In Work Rest Repeat, the last remnants of humanity are in a desperate race against time to complete work on colony ships to evacuate humanity to Mars. I based the technologies used on those being developed and trialled for the worlds various upcoming missions to the red planet. When I saw this article I thought I'd have to share it.

Essentially, it comes down to this. The missions so far have been focusing on whether life existed (past tense) on Mars, not whether it still does. This proposed experiment would search for life under the surface.

Fascinating stuff!

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Zombies vs The Living Dead - Now Free

If you've not read it yet, the short story prequel, Zombies vs The Living Dead is now free (and will be for the foreseeable future).

Amazon UK
Amazon Canada

And a reminder that Work Rest Repeat (and all other new releases) will be released at £0.77 for the first few weeks of release. Thanks.

Work Rest Repeat - It's gone to the editors

The title says it all.

Fully aware of the irony, I'm going to put my feet up for a bit.

Friday, 29 August 2014

What would Kurt Vonnegut say?

The news is pretty grim at the moment, so I've been changing my morning routine. Instead of trawling through the increasingly bleak headlines, I've been reading up on authors whose work I don't know well enough.

I found this, in the onion, on Kurt Vonnegut;

And you know what he'd say about times like these?
"So it goes."

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Great piece on the Evacuation series on

The series has made the press!

Big thanks to the author of the piece, Autumn Turner

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

The cover designs I wish I'd thought of

Now I've found this site, please expect a slight delay in publication as I read through all the cartoons.

Work Rest Repeat , Unsafe Haven & Undead Britain, All Out Soon

Just a quick update to say that 'Work Rest Repeat - A Dystopian Detective Story' has been booked into the editors for next week.

I'm hoping to get the book out before 27th September. I'll be able to confirm this when the editor has taken a look.

After this, I've got another Evacuation book coming out, titled Unsafe Haven, it's the story of Nilda, a woman betrayed, abandoned and left for dead.
The story begins a few weeks after the outbreak, and concludes at the end of the summer (after the events of Book 3)

There will also be a 10,000 short story coming out later this Autumn, titled 'Undead Britain'. More on that in the next few days.

Monday, 25 August 2014

It takes 556 bees to make a jar of honey

I thought it would interesting to tell the story of the outbreak from a different perspective. Obviously, the first idea that came to mind was to tell if from the point of view of a hive of bees. 

Sadly, I came across a number of stumbling blocks. That number was Five Hundred and Fifty-Six, the number of bees it takes to make one pound of honey, and thus the number of central characters I would have to create and (and this is where the idea for the story collapsed) the number for which I'd have to come up with names.

The number of bees needed to make a pound of honey came from here:

And to quote from another site I came across during my research;
"Honey bees will tap about two million flowers and fly 50,000 miles (80,000 km) to make one pound (454 g) of honey."

This is from the Honey Council of Canada. Now, personally I think the idea that Canada actually has an official Honey Council is even more interesting than the fact about the bees.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

An Interview with Frank Tayell, by birt.

[interview transcribed as recorded, by birt, at 08:15, August 11th, 2014]
b - Hey Frank. You busy?
F - Very.
b - Really? The screen’s reflected in the window behind you. You’re on youtube.
F - It is work. I’m trying to find appropriate music that can be played from a helicopter to lure zombies away.
b - Well, the obvious one would be...
F - No! Don’t suggest ‘Ride of the Valykries’, that’s been done so many times it’s gone beyond satire, through pastiche and out into the netherworld of ‘the expected trope’.
b - [presses play] That’s Johnny Cash.
F - Folsom Prison blues. Picture it; a Sea-King helicopter, approaching with the dawn. At first you hear the some of the blades. The zombies’ heads turn. First looking around, then looking up. Months of dust have scratched their desiccated corneas, making them next to useless. Slowly, their arms clawing towards the sound, they begin to move away from the tower block that has become the prison for the handful of survivors who had taken refuge there. And then, there is a loud crackling sound. A cheer. Then a voice. “Hello. I’m Johnny Cash.”
b - OK, that’d be very cool in a movie. A very special type of movie. In a book, though? I’m not so sure. Where does the Tower block feature in the series?
F - That would be in ‘After The Evacuation’ Book 2. I don’t have a name for it yet. Or a name for any of the books set after that first series. Essentially, having found refuge of a kind on Anglesey, the survivors now need to go out and rescue all those people trapped on the mainland.
b - That’s the plot of the next series?
F - Um... no... not really. It’s just one of the events that occur. Anyway, what are you doing here?
b - You agreed I could interview you.
F - Oh.
b - You promised me twenty minutes.
F - I knew giving you a back door key was a bad idea. Did you bring coffee?
b - Why would I bring coffee?
F - Or water. When I watch those interviews on the TV, they always give their guests water. Or that’s what they say it is. Have you noticed, it’s always in a mug? I bet it isn’t water.
b - You want some water?
F - No. Not really. I wouldn’t mind a coffee.
b - I’ll make one when we’re done.
F - That’s got to be soon, right? The twenty minutes must be nearly up.
b - [sighs] we’ve not started yet. We need to talk about your next book.
F - Work. Rest. Repeat.
b - Nice title.
F - Thanks. But it was originally going to be called ‘Death Came To All.’
b - I’ve heard that name before.
F - Most recently you read it in Book 1. When Bill goes rummaging about, and ends up reading all of his tenant’s books he discovers one called ‘Death Comes To All’, by ERK Daley. That’s a book written between the late fifties, early sixties, that’s as much an allegory on the collapse of the localism as it is a post-apocalyptic story. The whole book takes place in a Tower block in Birmingham, one built in that brutalist style, [i.e.] with each chapter being set five years apart. The technology behind how the Tower actually works is a bit ropey, borrowing as much from science fiction as it does from science fact, but there’s an underlying message that’s quite interesting. It’s about how ideas and structures that are thought to bring us closer together end up dividing us further.
[below is the passage from Book 1 that Frank was talking about]
16:00, 18th March.
I fell asleep reading a book this morning. It's called “Death Comes To All” by an E.R.K. Daley. I’m sure that the title is a quote, but without the internet I couldn’t tell you whose. Probably it's something Churchill said, either him or Shakespeare. Most quotes are. The book was written in the 1960's and is about a post-apocalyptic dystopian society surviving in a tower block and, as the story progresses, in underground farms beneath it. Each chapter advances the story five years, and at the end, well, no, I won't spoil it, you might want to read it someday.
It's an interesting enough book, an allegorical take on isolationism, but what's grabbed my attention are the ideas on farming. In the story, since the inhabitants are trapped inside with no access to land, and with their only resource being the light constantly streaming through their windows, they turn to hydroponics. They make a good go of it too, but I think only because the author wanted generations who'd never been outside, to grow old enough to rule.

b - And that’s the theme of ‘Work. Rest. Repeat?’
F - No, not really. ‘Work Rest. Repeat.’ is set sixty years after The Great Disaster. The world has been destroyed by a series of wars and famines. Humanity has been reduced to 300,000 people living in three cities about as far from each other as they can be. There is the City of Rights to the west, The People’s City to the east and The City of Britain, where the story takes place. The world outside the cities had been turned to a desert, then fifteen years ago the rains started. Whether the rains caused the sea levels to rise or the encroaching oceans caused the rains, no one knows, but the waves are now lapping at the city walls. The only place still above ground is at the launch site, where three of the first great colony ships are being constructed. Humanity’s only hope is to leave Earth and attempt to colonise Mars. And, when the story begins, it looks like they might be able to do it. A launch date for the first ship has been set for one year hence. There is hope. And then, there is a double murder.
b - And what, other than “Death comes to All,’ was the inspiration
F - It was something you said over Sunday lunch, back on June 8th.
b - It was? What did I say?
F - Honestly? I can’t remember. Sorry, I wasn’t really listening to you.
b - Oh, thanks!
F - I was tired. I’d just published book 3 and wasn’t happy with the notes I had for the next book. I was looking for some spark of inspiration, and then you said something...
b - which you can’t remember.
F - Right, but then I started wondering about a world that was so crowded a home would be used by multiple families. I don’t just mean that you’d have people sleeping on the sofa’s and floors and wherever else. I mean that multiple families would share the same house, the same beds, wardrobes, picture frames and so on. One family sleeps, whilst another is at work or school, yet both call it home. That was the starting point. Years ago, there were a brand of work boots, I think it was Tuff, though it might have been someone else, and they offered a lifetime guarantee. Labourers would often share their boots on a day shift, night shift system. The manufacturer only found out when they sent someone to investigate why the shoes were wearing out at twice the normal speed. Of course hot-desking is commonplace, and hot-bunking is common enough on submarines, so this isn’t a new idea. What I needed was a motivation that would cause them to abandon many aspects of society that we take for granted. There would be no despotic rulers, no opiates to keep the masses subdued, just a shared belief in the pursuit of that phrase we here far too often, ‘The Greater Good’.
b - It doesn’t sound like there are many jokes in this one.
F - No.
b - So, you started it on June 6th...
F - June 8th.
b - OK, but it’s two months on, why’s it not finished yet.
F - It started out as a novella. I was aiming for around 30,000 words. But that turned out not to be enough words to explain how the city works.
b - And do we get to see the colony ships?
F - The story is set in the thirty six hours leading up to the election. It’s mostly set in Tower 1, where the components for the colony ships go through a final round of testing before being taken to the launch site for assembly.
b - And then there’s a murder?
F - Yes, but this one’s more of a detective story than a murder mystery. The only reason for that is that I spent the first half of this year writing a draft for a detective novel set somewhere in middle England. That book has been put on hold for now. Let’s just say I had detectives on the brain at the time.
b - Is this the start of a series?
F - No. Not really. There won’t be a sequel. But it is part of a very loose series of books that are all completely unrelated, except that in each there will be a homicide. I’m calling it ‘Murdering The Genre’. Next year there will be a First-Contact novel about the first ever inter-species homicide, but before then there will be ‘A World of Magic’, that’s a comic fantasy featuring the trials and tribulations of a newly elected Prime-Minister in a world very similar to ours, except where magic is real. That’ll be out before next year’s election.
b - That sounds utterly amazing. Far better than anything else you’ve been writing. In fact, you should abandon everything else and get to work on that right now.
F - You’re just saying that because you’re helping to write it.
b - It’s still true.
F - Well, why don’t you go and get on with it then. I’ve still not seen the first three chapters you promised. Then I can get back to rescuing survivors from the ruins of Newcastle.
b - Get back to watching youtube, more like.
F - I heard that.
b - but I’m writing this up, so I get the last word.

Zombie Lego

Lego has officially jumped the shark. And it's a zombie shark. A zombie shark made of lego...

I honestly don't know how I feel about this. On the one hand all those childhood memories seem shattered, but on the other, I so want one of those!

Have you scribd

The series is now on scribd. If you've not heard of it, this is a subscription service (described as the netflix of books) for $8.99 you can borrow any books you like. (Like mine.) Due to territorial restrictions some titles aren't available in the UK, but most are.

The Evacuation Drives Through

The Series is now out on Drive Through Fiction; 

Kobo Survives The Evacuation

The Evacuation series is now available on Kobo as an epub:

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Great Review on Random Redheaded Ramblings

I just got back from a long day researching locations for the next book, to discover a great review of Book 1 has been published on the 'Random Redheaded Ramblings' blog:

Friday, 11 July 2014

What next?

I'm going to alternate books from now on. One zombie book to one absolutely-no-undead-whatsoever book. 

The first of these is a novella titled 'Work, rest, repeat...' and is a dystopian murder mystery set fifty years after The Great Disaster ravaged the Earth. 
It's about three quarters of the way finished, and I'm hoping to get it out in August.

In the Autumn I'll be publishing the next Evacuation novel. The prologue and epilogue are set on Anglesey, a few days after the events of Book 3, with the main story set in during the first few weeks after the evacuation. It'll feature a couple of characters you'll recognise and quite a few you won't. 
More will be posted when I get more written, and that will probably be on the new website. 

For now, can I just say thank you?
Thank you.

Twitter and New Website

I'll be retiring this blog shortly (which is one of the reasons I've not been posting much. Sorry about that) and moving onto the imaginatively titled website;

I'm also on twitter. Don't expect me to tweet very often, but I will use it, like facebook (and a mailing list which is the next thing on my list) to inform readers of new releases. @FrankTayell is the handle. You can tell it's me by the avatar and the fact I've not posted anything yet.

Zombies vs The Living Dead - New Cover

I've tweaked the cover for the short story a little. When I wrote it, I thought that I'd release one novel and three short stories per year in the Evacuation series. It's worked out the other way around. There will be more stories published, both set during the first few months after the outbreak, and the years that follow, but more on that when I'm closer to publishing them.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Book 3: Family Out Now In Paperback

Book 3:Family is now out in paperback.

With all my paperbacks I've chosen the paper size, typeface margins, gutter, layout etc to keep the total page count down, and so keep the books as reasonably priced as possible. Book 3 is slightly more expensive because I've included the short story Zombies vs The Living Dead with this volume.

Amazon UK
Amazon US/Worldwide
Amazon France
Amazon Germany
Amazon Spain
Amazon Canada

Monday, 9 June 2014

Surviving The Evacuation, Book 3 Out Now

Book 3 is out now and on offer for 77p (or local equivalent) for the first week of release


Friday, 30 May 2014


Please note that this is an unproofed excerpt. It comes from the beginning of the book.

Part 1
River, Road & Railway

Day 127, River Thames

17:00, 17th July

“I’ll go and see if there are any supplies in the lock-keepers house,” I said, as I limped away from the boat.
“Why bother?” Kim asked. “We don’t need anything.”
“Well you never know,” I muttered. I don’t think she heard me.
She was right, though. We’ve enough food to keep us going until Christmas and enough petrol to get us anywhere in the British Isles. Not just on the mainland but, if we’re careful, enough to get us across to Ireland. We worked it out. It’s not like there’s much else to do.
We’ve finally got the supplies to get us anywhere we want to go, and finally we know where that is. But for now we’re stuck on the River Thames, travelling no faster than driftwood as we let the current drag us back towards London.
We left Lenham Hill yesterday and made a paltry ten miles before darkness fell. We had to stop. If we’d gone on, we risked passing the boat that Barrett used when she, Stewart and Daphne kidnapped Annette and Daisy. There was no sign of it yesterday and none so far today.
It was anger, that’s why I needed to get away from the boat.
It wouldn’t be so bad if we could just turn the engine on. We can’t. The River Thames is full of locks. At each we have to stop, operate the gate and wait for the water levels to equalise. It takes an age. We wasted about a hundred rounds from Sholto’s M-16 yesterday evening finding out what we should all have realised. If we motor up to a lock, with the boats pitiful engine going at full blast, we find the zombies waiting for us, and the ones we’ve past catch up before we can get away. That only leaves us two hundred rounds for his semi-automatic, eighteen for the sniper rifle and eleven for the pistol. It’ll have to be enough.
What makes it worse, especially for Kim, is that we only went to Lenham Hill in the hope of finding enough fuel to catch up with Barrett and the others. Since we can’t use it, all that those wasted days mean is that the children just got further away. I know Kim blames herself for not following Barrett straight down the river. I think she blames me too.

It’s odd that as long as we stay inside this tiny cabin, the smattering of undead along the banks and bridges pay us no heed. There’s probably something important in that, something to do with the boats size and motion that we could use to our advantage, but right now I just don’t care. It’s been ten days since Barrett took the girls and if they’ve left the river they could be anywhere in Britain by now. They might even have found a way past the demolished bridges around central London and be out at sea. I don’t know which of those two prospects scares me the most. I try not to think about.
And whilst all of that is frustrating, it’s not the cause of my anger. Nor is any of it the reason why I needed to get away from Kim and my brother, if only for a few minutes.

The lock-keepers cottage was twee. That’s the kindest word I can think of to describe a post-war prefab built to last a decade but which perennial local-council austerity meant was never replaced. Ringed with a miniature white picket fence, barely a foot high, the garden was mostly gravel except where it was gnomes. Plastic, ceramic or metal, no two were alike, and each stood guard over a withered plant. Someone had cared deeply for this house. It had been their home, and it must have been a lonely existence, living in a house lost amongst the towering steel and concrete of the nearby industrial estate. It should have been a poignant sight, that fading echo of someone’s dreams, but I was unmoved. I’ve seen the like too often.

I picked my way around the side of the house, careful not to disturb any of the ornaments. Call that superstition, I’ve adopted a lot of those in the last few months.
At the front of the house lay the river. At the back, beyond the picket fence, lay a path that led to a road that, eventually, led to the bridge half a mile downstream. On the other side of the path stood a fence, covered in a patchwork of red paint that didn’t quite mask the graffiti underneath. Behind that fence were the roofs of warehouses and factories on the industrial estate. They were of no interest to me.
I turned back to the cottage. It appeared deserted, but that didn’t mean anything. I looked at the lush canopy of the London Plane trees lining the footpath. There were no birds. I half closed my eyes and listened. I could hear nothing but leaves blowing in the gentle breeze, and the sound of water slowly churning through the sluice gate.
My hand ached. My leg ached. My back ached from sitting on the boat’s absurd little bench seat. My stomach ached, rebelling against the unfamiliarity of a high quantity of high calorie food. Even my head ached, from all that Sholto had told us.

I looked at the cottage again, but it was as uninspiring as any of the other dead little houses in the dead little towns in this dead little island. There was nothing to stay for, there, here or anywhere else in Britain. Nothing. And once we find the children, no reason to linger. We’ll leave. On the second of August.
I should be happy. I should be grateful. I’ve spent five months scrabbling about, trying to do more than just staying alive. Then we went to the one place that logically I should have gone to straight from London. We find Sholto and all of a sudden every idea and plan is cast to the wayside. I suppose I should be happy, but I’m not. Perhaps part of it is that out of all the things he’s told us, there’s only one piece of news that anyone could call ‘good’.

I took one last look around, but it did seem truly deserted. I started walking back to the boat but thought, since I was there, I might as well have a look inside the house. Why not? I’d said I was looking for supplies, after all.
My hand had barely touched the door when it swung inward. I took a step back and levelled the pike. There was no movement from inside and enough light coming through the windows that I could be certain. The cottage was empty. Judging by the dirt, the musky smell and the pile of discarded belongings from a hasty packing, it had been empty since the evacuation.
There was a sudden, loud, startled ‘caw’ from a tree by the road. I spun around. A zombie lurched though a gap in the fence, next to the tree. Its mouth opened and snapped closed. Its arms waved and clawed at nothing as it spasmodically staggered towards me. I stood my ground, waiting and, for once, wishing They weren’t so slow.
Its right leg kicked forward, splintering the white picket fence. Then its left leg knocked a gnome from its perch on an ornate toadstool. At that my simmering anger boiled over into rage.
It wasn’t right, this creature doing that. The superstition that had kept me from knocking those ornaments over now meant I couldn’t let this creature damage them.
The zombie lurched forward and I swung the blade up. The weight was too much, the balance wrong. Without the two fingers from my left hand I couldn’t handle the weapon properly. It slipped and twisted, the flat of the blade hitting the creature’s cheek, ripping off a chunk of flesh before bouncing down across its body. The tip of the spear point scored a line across its chest. The zombie was knocked backwards. It was off balance. The problem was, so was I.
I managed to half twist and push the blade. The creature fell backwards and sideways a few steps. I fell flat on my back, and I fell hard. Pain shot up every worn and damaged nerve. I saw stars and as they dimmed, I saw the creature getting closer.
My good hand was still gripping the pike. With no real thought I twirled it round in a long sweeping arc. The zombie stepped forward, and the wooden shaft, thumped against its leg. I started to roll, wanting to get out of the way and find the room to stand up. I was still gripping the pike and as I rolled the axe head hooked under the creature’s leg, pulling it up. Now it was the zombie’s turn to fall down onto its back.
I scrambled to my feet and managed to thrust the spear-point through the creature’s temple before it managed to rise.
It died.

I’d killed a zombie. I could still do it. I wasn’t useless. I repeated those words a few times, but I still didn’t feel any better. I’d only managed it by luck. Somehow it just didn’t count. I looked down the path and through the gap in the fence, in the direction the zombie had come from. There was another creature less than fifty yards away, and another a hundred yards behind it. Behind that one, on the edge of the car park near the warehouse were three dozen more. All were heading towards me, all strung out in a line, a good few seconds between each of Them. This was it, then. This would be the proper test. If I could dispatch all of Them, then I would have proved it. I started counting, sizing Them up, gauging the ground, assessing the footing... Everything seemed suddenly quiet. No, everything was quiet. The gurgling of water at the lock had ceased.

“Hey, C’mon Bill. The... What the hell are you doing?” Kim snapped. I hadn’t heard her approach.
“I was...” I couldn’t think of a simple way of explaining it.
“Well let’s go,” she said tugging at my arm, pulling me backwards. Reluctantly, I let her.

Sholto was standing on the boat, shifting impatiently from foot to foot.
“Zombies,” Kim said as we half-clambered, half-fell on board.
“Right,” he muttered, picking up his M-16, and aiming it the way we’d just come.

“No,” she snapped, pushing the barrel away, “you’re as bad as him. Let’s just get out of here.”

to be continued...