Posts tagged March 2012 Star Author

Doom Rider

This year, I’ve got something new and exciting coming out: Doom Rider! With my Dead Trilogy done, I wanted to do something different, but stick with a dark, horror-esque story line. This actually started out as little more than a note at the end of an email to my editor. I didn’t really think anyone would take my idea seriously. A kid who’s been murdered a 1000 times and finds out he’s the first rider of the apocalypse with the power to destroy the world? Really?

From the off, I didn’t want to do something comic. The Apocalypse Riders are great fun to send up, but I wanted to do something serious. And I also wanted to play with the whole notion of free will verses destiny in a world where religion holds sway.

The blurb goes like this: Seth Crow has lived a thousand lives, and in each one he’s been murdered before he turns thirteen. And now he’s being hunted again. But this time it’s different … Enter Lily, who tells him of his fate: Seth is CONQUEST. The first of the four riders of the Apocalypse. And people want him dead, before he can fulfil his destiny. Seth’s only hope lies in finding the other riders – Strife, Famine and Death. Together the fate of the world will be in their hands. The Apocalypse is coming. And the only ones who can save the world, hold the power to destroy it.

Sounds a riot, doesn’t it? And it really is! When I do school visits I get asked, “What’s the best book you’ve written?” I always hope it’s the next one that’s out, as I’m always trying to improve what I do. So if you enjoyed my Dead Trilogy, trust me, you’re gonna just LOVE Doom Rider! It’s out in July so keep an eye on my website ( as I’ll be keeping it up to date with news, perhaps even a competition or two…

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The Damned

The Damned was a terrifying experience. But before I explain why, this is the blurb: “It’s not just the Dead who want to return to the Land of the Living, but the creatures of Hell itself. And only Lazarus, Stone, Keeper of the Dead, can stop them. But he’s on an insane rescue mission to save his best mate and his dad, with only the help of an undead priest and an angel with an alcohol problem. This isn’t just about saving the world, this is personal…”

So why so terrifying? Well, The Damned was the first time I’d ever experienced characters taking on a life of their own, controlling the story, and telling me what was going to happen next, where they were going to go, rather than the other way round. It was a bit disconcerting. I’m big on planning my books out. To me, it’s a bit like how I’d approach a piece of art (were I an artist, which I’m not, trust me!) First, I’d sketch it out, until I was happy with what I was doing, and then I’d add in the detail, the colour. And that’s much how I work – plan it out first, get happy with the structure of the story, then colour it in! However, half way through The Damned, the characters had other ideas as to what was going to happen. And I just had to hold on tight and hope they knew what they were doing, which it turns out they did!

The Damned is an epic conclusion to a crazy, dark, hellish journey. It draws on a lot of my love of horror movies and fiction, with plenty of nods to everything from Lovecraft to Fulci. The characters are still with me, the story still haunts me, and I hope that, once you survive your time with the Dead/Dark/Damned, you’ll be a little bit haunted by it, too!

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The Dark

And then came book 2… And what a blast it was! Having set up Lazarus with a pretty nasty beginning, this was where I could let things get really out of hand. so I did. This is the blurb: “Lazarus Stone has been killed, resurrected, and attacked by demons. He’s all that stands between our world and the Dead. But things are getting complicated: he’s alone in the land of the Dead, his best mate Craig is missing, and he’s no idea who – or what – tricked his dad into trying to bring back his long-dead mum. Oh, and he’s wearing a corpse’s clothes. Life, he might think, couldn’t get much worse. But it will…” Writing The Dark was a steep learning curve, as most books seem to be. Here though I was seeing just how far and dark I could go, but also wondering all the way if I could sustain Lazarus’s story not just for book 2, but on into book 3.

When I do my school visits I often explain that the best way to think about a story is this: in the first part, get your character into a tree, thus presenting them with a problem – how to get down again. Then, to make the story interesting, it’s my job as a writer to do everything I can to make their journey back to the ground as difficult as possible. So throw stones at them, spears, rockets, try to chop the tree down, burn it, kidnap their family, train a flock of flesh-eating crows to take up residence in the tree…

Essentially, what I’m saying is that to make a story interesting, I have to make sure it’s nigh on impossible for a character to achieve a purpose. So that’s what I do in The Dark: I throw everything I’ve got, and a little bit more, at Lazarus. And through it all he gets stronger, more determined, and we can’t help but want to keep turning the page to find out what happens next…

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Why Horror?

Whenever I do a school event, I always ask this question: “How many of you have watched films your parents don’t know about/would disapprove of?” And you know what? Every time I ask it, I get a sea of hands in the air!

Horror is kind of dangerous, isn’t it? Whether reading it or watching it, we’re scared to find out what happens next, but we can’t help ourselves. I can imagine it’s been like this since we humans first started telling stories round fires outside caves. Why? Well, if you’ve just hunted a mammoth and barely survived with your life, you’re going to tell a great story and have loads of listeners on the edge of their seat! But if you come back and say, “Yeah, well, it was easy really,” and that’s about it, no one’s really going to want to listen, are they?

We like a good tale. We also like one that’s exciting, scary, dangerous, weird, exhausting… And I’ve always preferred books that make me nervous to find out what’s going to happen to the point where I’m breathless as I turn to the next chapter.

I remember as a kid creeping downstairs in the middle of the night, so as not to wake the parents, to watch a horror movie on TV, because I really don’t want them to know that I’d just seen a head explode in full-blown technicolour, and some terrifying demon launch itself at the next hapless victim, claws dripping in blood…

So that’s why I write horror. I want to write the kind of stuff that you hope to god your parents don’t find under your bed or in your school bag because, at heart I’m still 12, sitting up watching late-night splatter fests, and hoping my parents don’t find out. And you know what? I’m just fine with that.

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Where do YOU write?

I’ve been writing, writing, writing, for years and years and years. And in all that time, I’ve written in all kinds of places. I once wrote a whole novel (70,000 words!) on the train to and from work over a period of about five weeks. I was surrounded by commuters, squashed into a little seat, yet somehow I managed (and got lots of very odd looks!) I’ve written in airport lounges, cafes, front rooms, dining rooms, libraries, under trees, in churches…

The thing I’m wondering is, does where you write affect what you write? I think it’s a bit of both. As writers, and as people, we’re affected utterly by our surroundings. After all, much of where I get my ideas from lies in all that I see/do/hear/smell/read/watch/experience (etc). When I look back at all those different places I’ve scribbled in, each one has only really been possible because I’ve managed to shut myself away, often with music and headphones.

I’m currently looking at getting myself a writing shed. This is very exciting, even though it doesn’t sound it! Imagine though, a place all to yourself to just go and sit and think and write and invent crazy new worlds and ideas and monsters and heroes and heroines and adventures. How ace is that?

So where do you go to get creative or to read or think or write or just “be”? And if you haven’t got anywhere, is there some way that you can change that?

I’ll keep you posted on the shed…


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A Big Hello from Dave Gatward (V Excited Person Indeed!)

Hello Christchurch! Seriously, this is massively exciting to be the star author for the month. I visited New Zealand a few years back and fell in love with the place. And if my books provide me with an excuse to come back, I’m going to take full advantage of it! So, fingers crossed, we might get to meet… You never know!

Over the next month, I’ll post some bits and bobs about what I’ve written (The Dead, The Dark, The Damned), what I’ve got coming up (Doom Rider), and some other stuff about what I get up to and what weirdness lies within my strange, writing mind.

For now, World Book Day (which is a big lump of awesomeness, isn’t it?) got me thinking. When I do author visits, I like to give the groups I’m working with a chance to just chat about their favourite books. It’s amazing how excited everyone gets! So here’s a challenge: whatever book you’re reading now, tell someone about it. And make sure that in the telling you leave them with no option but to go out and buy a copy for themselves! Books rule. Spread the word.

Dave G (

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March Star Author – David Gatward

Our magnificent March Star Author is British author, David Gatward.  David is the author of three incredibly creepy horror stories called The Dead, The Dark, and The Damned, as well as a stand-alone book called The Cave.

He had his first book published aged 18 but it’s taken many more years and life experiences to lead to writing The Dead. Seeing two ghosts, being mistaken for a homeless person and almost drowning have given David plenty of food for thought, but it’s his family who’ve been a big inspiration. Now living in rural Somerset with his wife and two boys, David writes full-time and hopes to see ghost number three very shortly.

Thanks for joining us David!  We look forward to reading all about you and your books.

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March Star Author Competition

Our March Star Author, David Gatward has been telling us about his book, The Dead.  It’s the first in a series of 3 seriously creepy books and this week we a set of David’s books to give away.  Please note: the books are aimed at age 12+ so they are not ideal for younger readers.

To get in the draw to win all you have to do is leave a comment on this post telling us ‘What is your scariest moment?’ Leave a comment with your answer, your name and email address (so that we can contact you if you win).

Thanks to everyone who entered the March Star Author Competition.  The winner of the David Gatward book pack is:  Connor.  Please check your email to find out how to claim your prize.

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