Tag Archives: For those In Peril On The Sea

‘For Those In Peril On The Sea’ Selected As Finalist In The Horror Genre For Foreword’s ‘Book Of The Year Award’

13 Mar

Some of you will remember that when it was first published, For Those In Peril On The Sea was selected as a finalist in the Winter 2013 Foreword Firsts book competition for first time novelists run by Foreword Review.

Well, For Those In Peril On The Sea has now also been selected as a finalist in the horror genre for the even more prestigious Foreword’s 2013 Book of the Year Award.

This award is for books not published by the ‘big six’ publishing houses, and aims to recognise excellence in independent publishing. As always, it’s good to see the zombie genre represented within the finalists for the horror genre.

The winners within each genre, and overall across all books entered will be announced sometime in May, with a celebration of the winners taking take place during the American Library Association Annual Conference in Las Vegas on Friday, June 27 at 6 p.m., with awards in over 60 categories, cash prizes for the best in fiction and nonfiction, and widespread recognition.


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From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more.

To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here. To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.

The Difficult Second Book – Part II

31 Aug

Last November I posted an article about the difficulties of writing your second book. That was when I was just starting it. Now, 9 months later, and about 6 months behind my intended schedule, I’ve finally finished the first draft and passed it on to the Lady With The Big Red Pen (a.k.a. my long-suffering girlfriend) to go through with a fine-toothed comb, picking up the problems, pointing out where the plot doesn’t really work, marking where the characters are a bit flat and the dialogue doesn’t really work.

There’s two times in the writing a book when I find getting some outside editing advice is most vital. The first is right at the end, just before submission or publication to catch all those little grammatical errors and typos, and is fairly obvious, but the second is less so. This is when the first draft has been completed. This is because this is the time when it’s easiest to fix any problems with the plots and characters; and there will always be problems with these aspects of a book in the first draft. If you don’t get these sorted early, you may find yourself having to throw away chunks of text you’ve spent hours honing to perfection simply because you’ve got rid of a specific plot line or character and they are no longer needed and that’s just soul-destroying. It’s so much better if you can shake all the problems with the plot and characters when the text is, quite frankly, still a bit of a mess (and this is true of all first drafts).

So, I’ve printed out all 86,184 words which make up my first draft and will wait with bated breath while my girlfriend reads it, red pen in hand. I know there’ll be some bits she likes, and I know there’ll bits she won’t. I’m okay with that because these will often be the very bits I struggled with myself and that I know don’t really work, and she’ll be able to tell me where I’ve gone wrong and what I need to do to fix it. In many cases, the problems and solutions will be obvious the moment she points them out, but without her input I’d have difficultly spotting them because I’m too close to the book – after all it is my baby.

Once her thoughts are in, it will be on with the next stage, because finishing the first draft isn’t the end, it’s not even the beginning of the end, it’s only the end of the beginning. This bit will be the editing, where I’ll start tightening up the plot lines and clipping away at the extraneous descriptions; new set pieces will be added where the first draft is a bit slow and events mentioned in passing will be expanded to fill out the story line; dialogue will be pruned and polished; characters will be fleshed out and made more real (some may even get a sex change if that’s what’s needed to make them work). At some stage the title might even get changed because I’m not too sure I like the working title I’ve given it so far (which is, incidentally, On The Edge Of The World). By then my 86,000 words will probably have grown somewhere closer to 100,000 and it will be time to move onto the next stage: running it passed my handful of specially-selected readers to get their thoughts, before the final session of editing and re-writing.

So, all in all, there’s still a long way to go, but with the first draft now, after many months longer than I intended, out of the way, I finally feel like I’m getting somewhere with this second book. There’s still bits I’m not entirely happy with, but there are others where I feel it’s coming together nicely. I can finally see that I have something which I think will work and which will be a worthy follow-up to For Those In Peril On The Sea. Happy days!


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From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.

To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.

The Science Behind The Infected From ‘For Those In Peril On The Sea’

5 Aug

A couple of weeks ago, I posted an article outlining the rules of the world where my book For Those In Peril On The Sea is set. In this article, I want to consider the real science behind the violent and cannibalistic humans I refer to as the infected which inhabit this world. You might think that the infected are purely fictional but they aren’t. Instead, their existence is based on three key premises for the virus which creates them, all of which are more or less consistent with modern scientific knowledge.

The first of these is the disease we call rabies or hydrophobia. While rabies is not a common disease in many western countries, in other parts of the world it is still widespread and kills around 50,000 people each year. Until a vaccine was created in 1885, rabies was pretty much one hundred percent fatal. While a small number of people were reported to have survived before the introduction of the vaccine, these remain unsubstantiated. Since the invention of a vaccine, if someone thinks they have been bitten by a rabid animal and receives it before they start to show any symptoms it is usually sufficient to ward it off. However, if the first symptoms have started to appear (meaning the virus has reached the brain), then the disease remains fatal in almost all cases. Most of those who have survived have been given an intensive treatment known as the Milwaukee Protocol. This protocol requires a dedicated medical team, and involves putting the person into a chemically-induced coma while they are given anti-viral drugs. This treatment is still experimental, and only six people have been cured with it.

Rabies itself is a pretty terrible and terrifying disease, especially in the final stages. People with it thrash around in anger and rage, trying to attack anyone who comes near them. Such patients have to be restrained to prevent them injuring themselves or those around them. The virus that causes it spreads almost exclusively through bites. This is because it can be found in large amounts in saliva, which is produced in vast quantities, causing those infected to froth at the mouth. When a rabid animal bites someone and breaks the skin, saliva gets into the wound and takes the infection with it, so passing it on. Unlike most infections, rabies does not travel through the blood-stream. Instead, it slowly and inexorable makes its way along the peripheral nerves towards the brain. Once there, it gradually spreads until it has taken over. The rate of spread along the nerves is very measured and time between being bitten and the infection reaching the brain is dictated by the distance between wound and the head, meaning the further the original bite is from the head, the longer it will take to develop symptoms. As yet there have been no confirmed cases of human-to-human transmission, but it is theoretically possible. The most likely reason that such transmissions do not occur more frequently may be due to the fact that human teeth are poorly adapted for biting through the skin of others.

The second premise behind the Haitian Rabies Virus (as the disease is called in For Those In Peril On The Sea) is a technology known as small interfering RNA, or siRNA. Since it was only invented in the late 1990s, this is a relatively new technique in the tool kit of molecular biologists. Yet, it is one which holds a lot of potential. The siRNA approach involves creating a short piece of RNA that has been specifically designed to attach itself to a DNA sequence in an organism’s genome. When this happens, that specific stretch of DNA can no longer be read by the body’s own mechanisms and so any genes that it is a part of cannot be expressed. While this is primarily used to work out the function of specific genes, it is also thought to potentially have therapeutic effects. In particular, it is thought that it could be used to create vaccines for viral diseases that are otherwise untreatable. This is because it can be used to ‘knock out’ key genes within the virus. This has been shown to work in a ‘proof of concept’ trial that created a post-exposure vaccine that has been shown to cure 100% of non-human primates infected with the most lethal strain of the Ebola virus. However, possible therapeutic uses of siRNA are hindered by a number of potential problems. In particular, siRNA can sometimes attach itself to the wrong sections of DNA, so silencing non-target genes and this can have unintended consequences.

The final premise is the role of drug trials in the development of new pharmaceuticals. All drugs must be shown to be effective against a specific disease or condition, and also to have sufficiently few, minor, or at least acceptable side effects before they will be granted a licence. While these are meant to be done in carefully-controlled trials, there are regular charges and rumours of drug trials not being conducted properly. Worse, it has been alleged that western pharmaceutical companies have conducted illegal trials in areas such as India or Africa, often using untested drugs on people who have not or cannot provide their full consent.

Even when drug trials are set up and run properly and legally, things can go unexpectedly, and horribly, wrong. In particular, in phase one trials, the first on humans, drugs that worked perfectly well in animal models can be found to have very different, and sometimes potentially fatal, effects. In one well-known case, six people who received a new drug designed to modulate the immune system experienced catastrophic and systematic organ failure caused by an immune response known as a cytokine storm. While the men eventually recovered, it is likely all suffered permanent damage to their bodies.

In For Those In Peril On The Sea, these three premises are combined to create the perfect storm. An siRNA-based vaccine is created against the rabies virus which is meant to weaken it to the point where the normal human immune response can clear it from the body (this is effectively the basis for the Milwaukee Protocol where anti-viral drugs aim to boost the immune system to the point where it can eliminate the virus). This vaccine is found to work well in animal trials, but in the rush to get the drug to market, so that it can be monetised, someone in the company developing it decides to run a phase one trial not in the confines of a western hospital, but in an illegal trial in a developing county (in this case Haiti). This means that when the vaccine starts to show unexpected effects, there’s no way to control it.

The scenario behind these unexpected effects is that the strain of the rabies virus found in Haiti is subtly different from the one the vaccine has been tested on in the lab. The slightly different gene sequence means that the siRNA vaccine latches onto the wrong part of the virus’s genome. When the virus attempts to deal with this attack by re-organising its genome, it results in a series of mutations. This causes the virus to dramatically speed up the time it takes to reach and infect peoples’ brains, taking minutes or hours rather than the days or weeks that would be the case with the real rabies virus. This is achieved by the mutated virus being able to carried in the blood and being able to pass through the blood-brain barrier to take over the brain rather than having to crawl slowly along nerves. The mutations also makes the virus less lethal, so it no longer kills people, but no less ferocious in its effects on their brains. This means people infected with it are left in the crazed and violent pre-terminal phase of rabies for the rest of their lives.

Therefore, while I hoped that this scenario never comes to pass, from a scientific perspective it remains feasible, at least in principle.

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This article first appeared on http://www.forthoseinperil.net/The_Science_Bit.htm.


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From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.

To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.

The Rules For The Post-Apocalyptic World Of ‘For Those In Peril On The Sea’

24 Jul

I read a blog post by another author (Kaine Andrews) recently where he specifically posted the rules for the fictional world of his book, and I liked the idea so I thought I’d do the same for the post-apocalyptic world of For Those In Peril On The Sea. So without further ado, these are the basic rules under which it operates:

1. In general, the world of For Those In Peril On The Sea is the real world, only with a mutant virus in it that creates the infected (zombie-like humans infected with the virus). As a result, all usual rule of the real world apply. This means if somethings is physically impossible in the real world, it’s also impossible in the world of For Those In Peril On The Sea, so no leaping tall buildings in a single bound or being able to pop off perfect head shots when you’ve never even held a gun before. Really the main differences are the specific rules for the virus and the infected. These dictate important issues relating to how the virus spreads, the course of the infection, what the infected are and are not capable of, and how they can be killed, and are provided below.

2. The mutated rabies virus which creates the infected is passed from person to person through bodily fluids. This includes things like blood and saliva. It can only be passed if the skin is broken and some bodily fluid from an infected get onto it. It cannot be passed on by swallowing bodily fluids (it would be destroyed by stomach acid – unless a person had something like an ulcer which could let it into the bloodstream before this happened), nor can be passed on through contact with mucosal linings of the body (this means things like breathing it in, or it getting in your eyes), unless this is already damaged (such as might be the case for the nasal passages of regular users of drugs such as cocaine). While the most usual route of infection is from a bite, there are other possibilities. If the infected have bodily fluids on their hands or under their nails, something as simple as a scratch which breaks the skin would be enough. Similarly, if a person has an existing open wound and bodily fluids from an infected get into it, this would be enough to pass the infection on. Finally, like many viruses, the Haitian rabies virus (HRV) is capable of surviving for some time outside of the body. Therefore, it is possible that the infection could be passed on if a person cuts themselves on something that has dried bodily fluids on it, such as a machete that has been used to kill an infected.

3. Unlike the real rabies virus, the HRV version in this world only affects humans. It cannot infect any other animals, and cannot be passed on by them.

4. When someone is infected, there is a period between then and when they will turn. This period can vary in length from a few seconds to up to twenty-four hours. There is no survival, unturned, after infection for more than this time. Most people infected will turn within the first few minutes. This latency rate (the gap between becoming infected and showing symptoms – or in this case turning into an infected) is determined by an interplay between three factors: how much of the virus a person was exposed to; where on the body the person was infected; the strength of the person’s own immune response. A person exposed to a large viral load (i.e. through a lot of body fluid getting into a wound), that is wounded on the head, neck or torso and that has a poor immune response (e.g. a child or an elderly person) will turn almost immediately. A person exposed to a small viral load (e.g. just a few drops of bodily fluids), on a peripheral part of their body (e.g. fingers or toes) and that has a good immune response (e.g. a young, healthy adult) would have the best chance of surviving the full twenty-four hours.

5. Once someone is dead, they remain dead. This means there’s no re-animation of corpses in this world. In this sense, the infected are not true zombies, just zombie-like creatures; this means that if a person is injured badly enough by infected attacking them, they will die through the usual processes of shock and blood loss and most people attacked by infected will die rather than become infected. There are exceptions to this though. If someone is attacked by a single infected, they have a chance of fighting it off. Similarly, if there are infected attacking a large crowd, they may go into an attack frenzy, meaning that they get distracted by all the people running around them. This can mean that attacks on individual people are short and non-fatal as the infected is drawn to other people running away before it finishes any one attack. This attack frenzy is the main way that a lot of people can become infected at once, and can create hordes or swarms of infected in a very short space of time which can over-run all before them.

6. The infected are just humans with a disease. This means that they can only be capable of what the human body is capable of. However, since they are single-minded in their pursuit of the uninfected and don’t feel pain or empathy they can operate at the maximum capacity of the human body. This means that they can run faster and appear stronger than you might think a human might be capable of, much in the way that an athlete on steroids would, but these abilities are not super-human.

7. As stated in rule 6, the infected are just humans with a disease. This means that they will be killed by anything that would kill a human (a shot to the head, being stabbed in the heart, being run over by a car, drowning in water etc). However, since they don’t feel any pain, they might not be slowed by less lethal injuries that would have normal people rolling around screaming (so don’t try kicking a male infected in the groin in a bid to get away, he won’t notice – even if you do it hard enough to do certain things serious damage!).

8. With rabies comes a fear of water, that’s why one of its other names is hydrophobia. In the world of For Those In Peril On The Sea, this is less of a fear and more of a reluctance to enter water unless they know it is shallow enough to easily get through (i.e. nothing deeper than a couple of feet at the very most) and if they can sense that some uninfected human are near that they are compelled to attack.

9. The infected retain no consciousness, they are simply operating on innate instincts. This means they can’t work out how to get round any obstacle which requires any kind of thought. For example, to get through a door, they can push it open (if it swings that way) or break through it, but they can’t work out how to turn a handle to open it, or indeed work out if they need to pull rather than push. They can scramble over things, but they can’t climb. Similarly, while they can run (an innate human instinct), they can’t swim (a learned behaviour).

10. If infected fall into the water, they will usually drown because they cannot swim (see rule 9). This makes the water much safer than land. However, this is not always the case. If an infected falls into the water but finds something that floats that it can grab onto, it can survive for long periods of time. Similarly, if they are in a life raft or on a floating object, they can survive. The same applies if they are wearing a flotation device of some kind, like a buoyancy aid. Such infected as known as drifters and form a major threat to those living on water in the world of For Those In Peril On The Sea.

11. When uninfected humans are not near, infected people enter a form of stasis which uses very little energy. This means that they can survive for very long periods on very little food. Like a cold-blooded animal, one meal might be enough to see them through many months. However, they cannot survive on no food and will eventually starve to death if they don’t eat. Infected primarily like to eat non-infected humans, even if they have been long dead. They will also catch and kill animals like cats, dogs and birds if they are really in need of food. Whether they will attack and eat each other rather than die from starvation is not clear (i.e. I haven’t decided on this yet!), and it might be that some infected become cannibalistic on their own kind to survive times when there is nothing else to eat.

12. Infected sense uninfected humans through their usual senses, however the range of these is somewhat diminished. Eye sight seems limited to detecting movements and distances of up to 500 yards, but no further. Noise it detectable over a similar range. Smell would operate over a few tens of feet and means that they can tell if uninfected people are within structures such as buildings or cars. This means that you can avoid encounters with infected by keeping sufficiently far away from them. Of course, this isn’t always possible.

So these are the basic rules for the post-apocalyptic world of For Those In Peril On The Sea, and how my particular ‘zombies’ operate within it. They are a relatively simple set of rules but, taken together, I think they make an interesting world to set tales of human survival after the collapse of civilisation, and particularly one based around survival on boats because of the reluctance of the infected to enter water, their inability to swim and the existence of drifters.


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From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.

To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.

I’m Dreaming Of A Zombie Apocalypse …

22 Jul

One of the side-effects of being a writer of post-apocalyptic zombie fiction is that you can end up so immersed in the world you’ve created that it starts to spill over into the rest of your life. Once you’re deep into that zombie frame of mind, you start seeing them everywhere: A drunk staggers down the street towards you, head lolling from side to side, and your mind instantly thinks it’s started; the footsteps behind you as you walk home late at night become those of an undead flesh-muncher trying to creep up on you; the sudden noise downstairs in the night become the dead trying to break in.

Wherever you go, you find yourself eyeing up escape routes and assessing the defensive strengths and weaknesses of buildings you pass. You no longer judge vehicles by the sleekness of their body work but instead for their ability to carry you safely through a zombie horde. You even find yourself starting to look at your friends and relatives in a different light: judging them by the skills they have which could help you survive or whether they would simply be a burden if the dead really did suddenly come back to life.

The zombies start invading your dreams too, and you wake up in a cold sweat, not quite sure if the residual fear coursing through your body is real or imagined. When the dreams are particularly vivid, it can take several hours before you finally shake the last of it off meaning you start the day jumping at the slightest sound. Or if it’s the middle of the night, you end up lying there in the darkness too scared to move in case the dream was real, wondering if that sound you can hear is just your partner breathing next to you in bed – or whether there’s something more sinister out there in the darkness.

Buchanan Street

You see people, I see zombies!

The way the imaginary world of your writing can infect reality is brought home to me at the moment when I visit Buchanan Street, the main shopping area in my native Glasgow. This is the setting of the opening scenes for the sequel to For Those In Peril On The Sea, and it’s the part of this second book into which I’ve put the most work on so far.

As a result, when I sit on the steps at the top end and gaze down across the crowds of shoppers, I no longer see them as humans; instead, I see them as the rampaging infected which, in the book, stampede up the street towards where I’m sitting, sweeping all before them. It’s slightly disturbing to know my eyes are seeing the same view as everyone else around me, but my brian is interpreting it in a completely different way simply because of what I’ve been so fervently working away on in my writing.

It’s the same when I drive across the Erskine Bridge where, in my fictional world, the army makes a final, and ill-fated, attempt to contain the outbreak within the city of Glasgow. Because I’ve painted them in my mind, and on the pages of my manuscript, I can see the streams of bullets streaking through the night as the soldiers try to shoot infected clinging to debris from the recently-fallen city as they float down the river 100 feet below. I also see the infected, driven from the smouldering city, surging over the defences to attack the soldiers, who, as the realise they are trapped, start to panic and fire indiscriminately, and ineffectively, into the advancing swarm.

With For Those In Peril On The Sea, I was writing about places I once knew, but with the sequel I’m writing about a city I still live in, and it’s changing how I see it. I’m not necessarily saying this is a bad thing, just that it’s something which has been a bit unexpected. I guess once I’ve finished the book, this cross-over between fiction and reality will subside, but for the moment, even though they are fictional, the infected haunt the city around me like ghosts from another world.


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From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.

To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.

After ‘For Those In Peril On The Sea’ What Comes Next?

2 Jul

With the Kindle edition of For Those In Peril On The Sea currently on the edge of the top ten best-selling books in the horror genre on Amazon.com, I figured now might be good time to give my readers an idea of what’s coming next. Well, at the moment, I’m planning on writing a total of three books in the For Those In Peril series, with the possibility of a fourth book lurking in the back of my mind.

I’m currently about two-thirds of the way through the first draft of the second book, with the rest of the plot sketched out on paper. This book will be set in the same world as For Those In Peril On The Sea, and will start with an outbreak of the same disease in my home town of Glasgow in Scotland. It will feature a new cast of characters and will be about people struggling to survive in the initial days and weeks after the virus breaks out of the Americas and reaches Europe. As with the first book, much of the action will take place on and around boats, with the waters of the west coast of Scotland, and its many remote islands and mountains, providing a perfect backdrop for the scramble to survive. This will also create a marked contrast with the balmy sub-tropical setting in the first book.

The third book in the series is still very much in the planning stage but will see the characters from the first two books meet up. Rather than focussing on the immediate aftermath of the collapse of civilisation, it will deal more with the challenges of long-term survival face by a small group of survivors in a world where the infected rule the land. The fourth book, if it happens (and, at the moment, I’m still not too sure if it definitely will) will go right back to the beginning and will focus on the events within the biotech company that led to the creation of the vaccine which sparked chain of events leading to the first three books. In many ways, this will be a book for the geeks who really want to get into the nitty-gritty of the real science behind the world in which these books take place.

At the moment, the second book, which has the working title of On The Edge Of The World, is scheduled for release in June 2014 (to coincide with Glasgow hosting the Commonwealth Games), and the third book for sometime in 2015. However, before either of these comes out, there’s going to be an anthology of short post-apocalyptic and zombie stories called Zombies Can’t Swim And Other Tales Of The Undead. These stories will be familiar to those who read this blog as all but one will have been posted here before. However, the aim is to bring them all together, give them a bit more of a polish and issue them as a print and Kindle ebook at a nominal price for those who prefer reading short stories in a more traditional format. There will also be one completely new story that’s never been available elsewhere. I completed the last of the 22 stories which will go into this anthology yesterday and now all that’s left is the fiddling around needed to get it into a publishable format. At some point, there will also be a curious volume called The Little Book Of Zombie Mathematics: Fifty Zombie Based Maths Problems. As the title suggests, this will consist of 50 zombie-based maths problems from my Maths With Zombies blog.

In amongst all this zombie stuff, there are also a couple of other books which I wish to write. The first of these is called West End Rats, which would be very loosely based on my student days in Glasgow spent listing to rock music, riding around on motorcycles and doing lots of things that mean I’m very glad neither Facebook nor mobile phones with cameras existed back then. This is a book I’ve had sitting on the back burner for more than a decade, and I’m really not too sure whether it will ever see the light of day. In fact, this is the book I moved back to Glasgow to write in 2010 only to get side-tracked by zombies and writing For Those In Peril On The Sea.

The second of these non-zombie projects has a working title of Jongleurs (an old French term for itinerant minstrels) and while there are autobiographic elements in much of my writing, this will be the one which draws the most from my actual life. It’s the story of two street performers trying to make into the big time as jugglers, and the woman who comes between them. For much of the period between 1994 and 2000, while building my fledgling career as a marine biologist, I earned my living working first as a juggler and then as a magician, in a similar double-act both on the streets of Glasgow, and at official events and festivals. While we were good enough to have made it quite big, I found the amount of practice needed to keep my skills at a sufficiently high level was too all-consuming, and that while it was fun, I was only really doing it to help pay the bills as I worked my way up the academic ladder. However, I look back on those days, and the people I met and worked with, with a certain level of fondness and sometimes I still wonder just how big we could have got if I’d made different decisions about which career path to pursue. In many ways, writing Jongleurs would allow me to explore this alternate reality.

So this gives you a rough idea of where I see my writing going in the future. Not all these projects will happen, and some might not happen for many years. In particular, my main focus at the moment is completing the Zombies Can’t Swim anthology and then the next two books in the For Those In Peril series. This will easily fill the next few years, and after that, who knows exactly where life will take me…


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From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.

To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.

What Readers Have Been Saying About ‘For Those In Peril On The Sea’

30 Jun

For Those In Peril On The Sea

For Those In Peril On The Sea available from http://www.amazon.com/For-Those-Peril-The-ebook/dp/B00BRLF8PS/

As of the 3rd of July 2013, For Those In Peril On The Sea will have been out for six months. With the Kindle edition being available for just $0.99 from now until the 7th of July 2013, I thought I’d take the opportunity here to summarise how it’s been received so far.

Overall, those who have read For Those In Peril On The Sea have enjoyed it, and found it to be an interesting take on the traditional zombie apocalypse novel which brings something new and unique to the genre. Many have also noted that it is appealing to readers who are not necessarily into zombies, finding that it reaches out beyond the zombie genre, and even beyond the wider post-apocalyptic one. This is highlighted by the fact For Those In Peril On The Sea was selected as one of only five finalists in the ForeWord Firsts Winter 2013 competition for debut novels!

There’s only really been one critical point which has been raised in some of the reviews, and this is that there were a couple of typos which had been missed in the final copy editing process. These have now been sorted in the Kindle ebook edition and, thanks to the wonders of modern publishing, in the international print edition (available from Amazon.com).

So, what have readers actually said about For Those In Peril On The Sea? Well, here’s some excerpts and links to the reviews themselves:

ForeWord Clarion Review: ‘…For Those in Peril on the Sea is not a mere imitator of currently popular zombie books and films. Drysdale’s novel proves different and superior in concept as well as content. The infected are unusual in ways that make them seem terrifyingly real, and the idea of the survivors being trapped offshore is an imaginative and effective twist. While some scenes in the book can be graphic and brutal, Drysdale never allows them to become gratuitous, and each disturbing moment serves a purpose in the plot. The tone of barely suppressed terror is emphasized by the author’s willingness to write as ruthlessly as his story demands: readers will quickly learn that even those who seem most deserving of survival can quite easily fall victim to the infected. …’ Five Stars out of Five. Click here to read the full review.

Literary Wealth Review: ‘… For Those in Peril [On The] Sea by Colin M. Drysdale was a gripping tale of loss, triumph, heartache victories, but mostly the will to survive in a new world with so many challenges. The book was intriguing, and sometimes terrifying enough that I had put it down so that I could absorb what I had read. Mr. Drysdale’s writing is smooth and wonderfully descriptive. He has an impressive knowledge of boats, sailing, and of faraway lands. For Those in Peril [On The] Sea is a terrific read …’ Five Stars out of Five. Click here to read the full review.

Zombiegift.com: ‘… For Those In Peril On The Sea takes a fresh and unique approach to the typical zombie story. The characters aren’t just using the sea to get from one location to another. They’re living on the water to take advantage of the fact that the infected won’t tread into deep water to pursue them. They rely on the sea and become part of a floating community that depends on the resources the sea provides while simultaneously struggling to overcome the obstacles it throws their way. … There is just the right amount of gore and blood without it being gratuitous. One of my favorite aspects when reading this book was being drawn in by the mistakes characters make when escaping from the infected. Like a good horror movie this novel has a few “why on earth would you do that!?” moments that leave the characters trapped and facing certain death. …’ 4.25 Stars out of Five. Click here to read the full review.

Buyzombie.com: .’.. [The] narrative voice is very strong. This is quite reminiscent of the books of David Moody in places; the poignancy and the business of day to day survival, mingled with the fact that like the Hater books, these ‘zombies‘ aren’t actually dead. … All in all this is a very welcome addition to the genre and is solidly written. Drysdale’s experience as a marine biologist certainly adds a new dimension to the zombie novel. A good read.’ Click here to read the full review.

The Student: ‘… The author is a self-professed lover of the zombie-apocalypse genre … However, the narrative of the story is alluring to readers of other genres as it shows depth on an anthropological and philosophical scale. It successfully extricates the reader from the comfortable plateau of reality, and introduces the chilling notion of complete division from society and self-navigation. …’ Three Stars out of Five. Click here to read the full review.

Goodreads.com – Overall rating 4.67 stars out of five based on six ratings:

‘… Although post-apocalyptic literature is not something I usually read, I enjoyed this story about a virulent strain of rabies that infects most of the global population, leaving the survivors isolated from the rest of the world…. The author does a wonderful job at creating a frightening world where the fears and uncertainties plaguing the characters reveal the deepest terrors of humanity when pitted against horrific odds, and the lengths one must go to survive. I was especially interested in the author’s description of sailing and the sea that he draws from his own personal experience. Fans of dystopian and post-apocalyptic literature are in for a treat.’ Five Stars out of Five.

‘Well, this is the first post apocalyptic zombie book I’ve read, so nothing to compare it to. But, I’ll have to say, the book hits the spot. …’ Five Stars out of Five.

‘…The author does a wonderful job at creating a frightening world that reveals the deepest terrors of humanity when pitted against horrific odds, and the lengths one must go to survive. I was especially interested in the author’s description of sailing and the sea that he draws from his own personal experience. Fans of dystopian and post-apocalyptic literature are in for a treat.’ Five Stars out of Five.

‘… For Those in Peril on the Sea by Colin M. Drysdale was a gripping tale of loss, triumph, heartache, victories, but mostly the will to survive in a new world with so many challenges. The book was intriguing, and sometimes terrifying enough that I had put it down so that I could absorb what I had read. Mr. Drysdale’s writing is smooth and wonderfully descriptive. He has an impressive knowledge of boats, sailing, and of faraway lands. …’ Five Stars out of Five.

‘rrrrrrrrr………..sdssds………. Is that the kind of noises zombies make? ..Hopefully I never get to find out. Anyways! This book scared the crap out of me – in a good way. …’ Four Stars out of Five.

Click here to read the Goodreads.com reviews in full.

Amazon.com – Overall rating 4.5 stars out of five based on six reviews:

‘This is a quick read and fun for those into the zombie genre … I found I couldn’t put the book down and whizzed through it, while sitting on a sunny deck with a drink in my other hand. The author has obviously thought a lot about the practicalities of being stuck on a boat during a zombie infestation. …’ Five Stars out of Five.

‘… For Those in Peril on the Sea by Colin M. Drysdale was a gripping tale of loss, triumph, heartache, victories, but mostly the will to survive in a new world with so many challenges. The book was intriguing, and sometimes terrifying enough that I had put it down so that I could absorb what I had read. Mr. Drysdale’s writing is smooth and wonderfully descriptive. He has an impressive knowledge of boats, sailing, and of faraway lands. …’ Five Stars out of Five.

‘I was attracted to this book by the zombie theme and the fact that I had recently visited Hope Town, one of the major locations in the book. … I found the book well written with a good plot and good character development. Mr. Drysdale is a very good writer and For Those In Peril On The Sea was a good little read.’ Four Stars out of Five.

For Those in Peril On The Sea is a welcome and refreshing unique new take on the zombie genre. Drysdale’s novel does a brilliant job of taking the same old zombie story, keeping the right elements and putting just the right spin on the core survival story elements. This book has a near perfect balance of gore, horror, personal struggle, character development and suspense. …’ Five Stars out of Five.

‘A very fun and well-written book with some unique and new perspectives on surviving a zombie apocalypse. Among the best of the genre.’ Four Stars out of Five.

‘Zombies and boats, two great things that actually go great together. I like the occasional zombie book but the real attraction for me was the boat as survival tool. He got the boats right, so that’s a big thing for me. Good twists on his version of zombies. Moments of true terror. …’ Four Stars out of Five.

Click here to read the Amazon.com reviews in full.

Amazon.co.uk – Overall rating 4 starts out of five based on one review:

‘As a long term fan of post apocalyptic fiction (The Stand, The Passage, World War Z etc.) I’m always keen to try out a new author. However, I must confess to a growing weariness with zombie fiction as it so often involves the same old stereotypes and locations – it’s been done to death – no pun intended. So I was pleasantly surprised that For Those in Peril [On The Sea] served up some genuinely fresh ideas. So often tales of the zombie apocalypse centre around a group of survivors trapped in some urban location trying to escape to some safe haven, quite often the ocean, and when they finally get their hands on a boat they either suffer some cruel last minute attack or sail off into the sunset. But what happens next? Well that’s where this book comes in, exploring the consequences of life after the apocalypse. …’ Four Stars out of Five. Click here to read the Amazon.co.uk reviews in full.


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From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.

Waiting For Reviews …

23 May

Writing, almost by definition, is a public art-form. There’s not really much point in writing if you’re not got to share your work with others. However, it’s one thing to share it with your friends and family, or even post it on your blog or on a forum, it’s quite another to put your head above the parapet and send it out to a reviewer. A good review from a recognised source can make your career as a writer, a bad one can consign your book to the remainder pile quicker than your publisher can ask for their advance back. Okay, I’m over-stating that for comic effect but good reviews will do more to make your book a success than almost anything else. The odd bad one here and there won’t really do you too much harm, but if you get too many, it will probably hurt your sales, and possibly your reputation (although it doesn’t seem to have done Dan Brown’s latest too much harm).

Regardless, I dread the period between sending a book off to a reviewer and the time the review finally comes out. I’ll spend it worrying, off and on, that the reviewer won’t get what I’m trying to say, that it might not be quite their cup of tea, that they might not like the characters or that they’ll think the premise is too outlandish. Then comes the day when the review is finally out. I know some writers say that they never read reviews (do such people really exist?), but I’m not that type of person. I’d rather know someone disliked it, and why, than not know at all. However, it’s always with great trepidation that I’ll check the website or open the email I’ve been sent that contains a copy of a long-awaited review (and it can be several months if the reviewer’s busy, as most reviewers are). Sometimes I’ll hum and haw over looking at it, putting it off but knowing that it’s there, waiting for me to pluck up the courage. Eventually, I’ll force myself to read it, or at least skim through it to get the gist of what the reviewer has to say. If they’ve hated it, I’ll leave it there; if they’ve loved it, I’ll go back and read it properly.

This was the position I found myself in this morning. I got an email saying new review of For Those In Peril On The Sea had just gone up on Literary Wealth, a blog which reviews books from independent and small publishers with the aim of finding and publicising those hidden gems that might not get the attention of those who review books from the big publishing houses. It took me a few minutes to pluck up the courage to visit the site, but when I did I was delighted to find that the reviewer had given it five stars out of five, and seemed to have really loved it.

If you want to check out the review in full, you can find it here. Me, I’m off to worry some more, because also in my inbox today was a note from another reviewer saying that they’d just received the copy I sent them and that they’ll get back to me in due course. All I can do it hope they’re a fast reader – and that they like it as much as the last one. Fingers crossed!


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From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.

To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.

May Book Giveaway: Winners Announced

11 May

To mark the 5,000th visitor to this blog since I started it at the end of 2012 as well as my 100th post, I ran a competition to win five signed coped of the first edition of my post-apocalyptic thriller For Those In Peril On The Sea.

Having been running for two weeks, this competition ended today. The correct answer to the question ‘Where is For Those In Peril On The Sea primarily set?’ was ‘the Northern Bahamas’. One hundred and ninety-two of the people who entered got this answer right.

I’m pleased to say that the five randomly selected winners are:

1. Tracey Peach
2. Mark Palmer
3. Karen Barrett
4. Michelle Williams
5. Sarah Parker

I’ve emailed the winners with details of how they can collect their prize.

So congratulations to the five winners and thanks to everyone who entered. If you weren’t lucky enough to be a winner, you can purchase For Those In Peril On The Sea from Amazon as either a paperback or as a Kindle ebook using the links on the right-hand side of this page.

For Those In Peril On The Sea

For Those In Peril On The Sea available from http://www.amazon.com/For-Those-Peril-The-ebook/dp/B00BRLF8PS/

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From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.

To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.

Book Giveaway: Win A Signed Copy Of ‘For Those In Peril On The Sea’

27 Apr

***UPDATE 11th May 2013: This competition has now closed. You can find details of the winners here***

To mark the 5,000th visitor to this blog since I started it at the end of 2012 as well as my 100th post (two landmarks that passed this week), I’m giving away five signed copies of the first edition of my post-apocalyptic thriller For Those In Peril On The Sea in a contest I’m running over the next two weeks. There’s no restrictions on where you live (although since the prizes will be mailed from the UK it may take some time to reach you) and if you wish you can choose to have your prize as a Kindle ebook rather than the first edition – but obviously ebooks will not be signed.

Apologies to any younger readers of this blog but have to be 16 or over to enter. Only one entry per person is allowed. While you’re required to enter your email address, this is only so I can get in touch with you if you win. You will receive no other emails and I’ll not store you email address anywhere once the competition is over.

To enter, simply visit the Amazon listing page of For Those In Peril On The Sea and answer the question below (only entries submitted using the form provided will be accepted).

Five names will be randomly selected from all the correct answers that reach me by the 15:00 BST on the 10th of May 2013 – that’s two weeks today (any entries received after that will be deleted). I’ll contact the winners by email to arrange delivery as soon as they are selected and will post the names of the winners here shortly after.

So here’s the question:



For Those In Peril On The Sea

For Those In Peril On The Sea available from http://www.amazon.com/For-Those-Peril-The-ebook/dp/B00BRLF8PS/




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From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.

To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.