Tag Archives: Glasgow

Zombies! Run!

27 Aug

What do zombies eat? It’s not just brains, apparently they like sushi, too. Or at least the one which walked into the sushi restaurant I was having dinner in last Saturday did. At this point, you’d be forgiven for wondering what on earth I was talking about. Well, my home city of Glasgow has been hosting a series of zombie runs over the last couple of weekends. For those of you who don’t know, zombie runs are an interactive role-playing game which takes place on real city streets. The competitors have to complete a series of stages and challenges, all while avoiding being bitten by zombies, or at least people playing zombies, and it was one of these people who walked into the sushi restaurant after the event had finished.

This particular zombie run was put on by 2.8 Hours Later (a nice little homage to my all-time favourite zombie film), and is fairly straight forward to play. All you have to do is survive for 2.8 hours while being pursued by zombies, vigilantes and the police. They have been doing these events for a couple of years now, and while I’ve been tempted to sign up, there’s always one thing which has stopped me. What happens if, right at the beginning, you get caught and it’s game over? At £28.00 a ticket to enter, they’re not cheap and it could be a lot of money for a very short time playing.

However, while look at their website the other day, I found one there’s another way to take part. You can. it turns out, sign up for free to be one of the zombies. You have to go to zombie school, but hey what could be more fun than that? And not only do you learn how to be a zombie, but they give you a free zombie make over on the day. So, next time these guys are in town (and it is rapidly becoming an annual event here in Glasgow), I think that’s what I’ll be doing. After all, what could be more fun that pursuing people through the streets of a busy city driven by the ungodly urge to eat their brains? Or, after the event has finished, sushi.

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 Outbreak’ – New Post-apocalyptic Survival Thriller From Colin M. Drysdale Out Today

21 Jul

The Outbreak Cover DesignThe Outbreak is the follow-up to the award-winning For Those In Peril On The Sea by Colin M. Drysdale, and is the second book in the For Those In Peril series of novels set in the same post-apocalyptic world. It is now available as a paperback and as a Kindle eBook. A PDF preview of the first three chapters is available here.

Starting in Glasgow, The Outbreak weaves its tale of post-apocalyptic survival into the varied landscapes and cultures of western Scotland, ranging from bustling city streets to remote island communities. It evocatively uses real locations, on both land and at sea, to create atmospheric depictions of the trials faced by those trying to survive as their world falls apart around them.

While The Outbreak follows a new set of characters as they struggle to survive in a world which is rapidly falling to the Haitian Rabies Virus, the characters from the first two books in this series will finally be brought together in the third on in the series when their story lines finally collide (due for publication in the summer of 2015).

While not a true sequel to the first book, The Outbreak is set in the same world and expands the new and unusual take on the traditional take on the post-apocalyptic genre first introduced in by Colin M. Drysdale in his debut novel For Those In Peril On The Sea.

From The Back Of The Book:

He was only in the city to meet an old friend, but within hours of his return, Ben’s running for his life …

As the world watches in horror, Miami falls to the infected, and with it America. Britain seals its borders, hoping to prevent the newly mutated Haitian Rabies Virus reaching its shores, but it’s too late; somewhere in Glasgow is the man who started it all and coursing through his veins is the virus he accidentally created. When he finally turns, the city doesn’t stand a chance.

Minutes later, a small group of survivors find themselves trapped between the ever-increasing hordes of infected and the soldiers seeking to contain them. The roads are barricaded, the skies patrolled, and the only way out is the river which leads from the heart of the city to the safety of the sea.

Join Ben, Tom, Daz, Claire and Sophie as they flee from the infected, first by land, then by sea. Where will they go? How will they survive? Only time will tell.

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.

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.

Location, Location, Location: Is the Setting For A Story As Important As the Characterisation?

11 Nov

When learning to write, a lot of emphasis is placed on learning how to create believable and likeable characters (or indeed dislikeable ones if that’s what you’re aiming for). While I agree that this is, indeed, extremely important, I feel that it is also important that authors work hard to ensure that the reader gets a sense of place for the location where their stories take place.  If a story comes across as if it could be set almost anywhere, I find I’m often left feeling something missing.  I might not always be able to put my finger on it, but this is usually because the author hasn’t spent enough time making the locations as believable as the character.

Maybe I’m odd, but I feel that if a story is set in a specific location, this should come out in its telling. By this, I mean it shouldn’t feel that it could have taken place in almost any other city in the world. The author presumably chose London for a reason, and I want to at least get a hint as to what this might be.  Ian Rankin is great example of this. It would be impossible to imagine Inspector Rebus skulking around the streets of any other city but Edinburgh. This comes across in the descriptions of the weather, the pubs, the streets and the people.  The same goes for the writing of Iain Banks, and is especially clear in The Crow Road where the landscape of the west of Scotland is as integral to the story telling as the characters themselves.

And it’s not just contemporary fiction where this is important, the same is true in science fiction and fantasy.  In fact, you could almost argue that it’s more important there.  In these genres, you can’t rely on the familiar short-hands to help them identify with a location as you can in the contemporary genre. For a story set in New York, you can mention the skyline of Manhattan and be fairly confident of the picture that will appear in a reader’s mind without having to describe it.  Compare that to a space colony on Alpha Centauri, or a hobbit hole in the Shire where your reader has no existing images to draw on. For these stories, you will need to make sure your words paint the right picture for them. I guess the same is also true for stories set in parts of the world people are less familiar with. You may be able to get away with less descriptions of the locations for a story set in London than one set in Glasgow, and when you get to somewhere like Inverness or Lerwick you are likely to have even less existing images in people’s minds to work with.

There’s a flip side to this though. If you want to break with the usual stereotypic views people hold for certain places, the better known a location is the harder you’ll have to work to change peoples’ preconceived ideas about it. Mention Glasgow and people will automatically think sandstone tenements or deprived and decrepit nineteen sixties housing schemes. Yet, not all of Glasgow is like this. You could choose to set a story in the leafy suburbs, but you’ll have your work cut out for you if that’s what you want your readers to imagine when they think of life in this city.

All this having been said, it can be a thin line between providing enough description to get a sense of the location and providing so much that it gets in the way of your story. You want your readers to get a feel for your chosen location without ever really noticing that this is what you’re doing. It’s hard to do, but if you can get it right, your writing will come to life in a way that it simply won’t without it.

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 the UK. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more.

When The Novel You End Up With Isn’t The One You Started Out Writing…

29 Oct

A few years ago, I decided I wanted to move back to my hometown of Glasgow.  The reasons were complicated, but part of it was because I felt so uninspired by where I was living. This was Aberdeen in Scotland. If you’ve ever lived there, you’ll know that it’s permanently cold and has a nasty habit of being shrouded in fog when everywhere else in Scotland is bathed in sunshine (which is admittedly rare). If you haven’t lived there, I really wouldn’t recommend it.

Anyway, after primarily writing in the dry academic mode for about twenty years, I wanted to stretch my creative wings a little. My aim was to write a novel loosely based on my student days at Glasgow University, but somehow the book I ended up with turned out to be a post-apocalyptic novel involving zombie-like infected (please, no jokes asking how I could tell the difference!).  I decided to ask myself how this happened.  This posting is the result.

I’d had the rough idea for both of these books floating around in my head for some years, but it was the one about student life in Glasgow at the start of the 1990s that I most wanted to write.  It was an interesting little sub-culture, with the potential for lots of intriguing characters.  It was also an interesting time to emerge from adolescence into adulthood.  This was Britain under the last few years of the faltering, and much hated, Thatcher government. Political unrest was in the air over things like the dreaded poll tax and Scottish devolution. So basically, there was a lot going for it that would make it a nice backdrop for a novel.  The trouble was I just couldn’t get into the head of the main character. Really, the issue here was I was having trouble writing from the point of view of an eighteen year old (I haven’t been close to that age in this millennium).  I knew what I wanted him to do, but I just couldn’t get it to come across as real.

This led me to make several failed attempts to get the book off the ground, each followed by several months of avoiding doing anything more with it.  I think I completely re-wrote the opening section where the main character is introduced four times but was just as unhappy with each one. So basically, I getting no where with this whole ‘Move back to Glasgow and write a book’ thing.

Then out of the blue, I heard that some of the filming for the movie version of World War Z was going to be done in Glasgow and that they were looking for extras.  I’ve always been a fan of post-apocalyptic stories, and particularly of the Zombie sub-genre, and so I couldn’t resist trying out.  Also, the money would come in really handy. While standing around on the set waiting for something to happen (there’s an awful lot of that in being an extra), I got chatting to some other Zombie fans and at some point I casually mentioned the idea for a post-apocalyptic zombie-type story based around people being trapped on a boat I had lying in the back of my head.  I was surprised to find that people seemed to like the idea, especially the fact that it would be something a little different from the usual zombie books. More importantly, they told me it was a book they’d probably want to read (and maybe even buy).

After the filming, life got back to normal (well as normal as my life ever is), and I tried and failed yet again to get my book about life as a student in 1990s Glasgow up and running. A bit depressed, I stumbled over an outline I’d put together for the post-apocalyptic zombie book, and more to procrastinate over what I should have been doing than anything else, I started to flesh it out. It turned out I found it much easier to get into the heads of characters facing the complete collapse and annihilation of their world than I did that of a Glaswegian teenager (I don’t know what that says about me!).  In no time, I was up and running and I was finding it fun rather than a chore.  After all, what could be more fun that destroying cities with a few words, wiping out civilisation with a single key-stroke or dreaming up deadly scenarios involving zombie-like creatures infected with some mutant virus that my characters would have to escape from. It also helped that I’d chosen to set it around the northern Bahamas, I place I’d lived on and off for much of the end of the nineteen-nineties and I got to relive my memories from an interesting part of my life.

Before I knew it, I had achieved my aim of writing a novel (well it took about nine months in all – with time off in between to earn some cash), just not the one I’d originally set out to write. Even the zombie book has changed dramatically from the original sketches I had in my head.  It’s much darker and bleaker than I’d originally anticipated, and is more about post-apocalyptic survival in a world turned upside down than the zombies (or more accurately zombie-like infected).

I think the lesson here is that, as a writer, often we look up to find that somehow we’re heading in a very different direction from the one we set out in.  Most of the time, we need to rein ourselves back in to keep things on track, but sometimes we need to accept that this isn’t a bad thing and go in the new direction that we’re being taken rather than fighting it. I’ll go back and write that other book eventually (or at least I’ll dust the idea off and give it another go some point), but for now I’m happily immersed the post-apocalyptic world I’ve created, and in writing the follow-up to For Those In Peril On The Sea. It happens to be set in Glasgow and involves the city being over-run by infected and destroyed by fuel-air bombs. I know, I can already hear you saying it again: ‘How would anyone know the difference?’

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 the UK. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more.