Friday, 19 June 2009

The dead of winter

One of the reasons I downloaded Windows Live Writer is because I was trying to copy and paste some large pieces of text into Blogger and it just did not like it.

After doing a little bit of Googling I found someone who was recommending Windows Live Writer as a solution. Blogger is full of all sorts of strange glitches, so it will be interesting to see if this makes life easier when it comes to writing and editing my posts.

I thought that I might share some of the work that I have been talking about on the blog but has not as yet been published. Here is the beginning of The Dead of Winter. As I have mentioned before, it is set in Victorian England and is the story of an orphaned boy who goes to stay with his strange guardian in a moated manor house in the flatlands of East Anglia during a cold and snowy Christmas. Just as they are approaching the house at night, the boy sees a woman loom out of the darkness towards the carriage. . .

We are still at the final edit stage, so this is not necessarily the exact version that will appear in print. It may even have the odd spelling mistake or grammatical error in it. It will be published in 2010 by Bloomsbury. Hopefully this won’t put you off buying it!



My name is Michael: Michael Vyner. I am going to tell you something of my life and of the strange events that have brought me to where I now sit, pen in hand, my heartbeat hastening at their recollection.

I hope that in the writing down of these things I will grow to understand my own story a little better and perhaps bring some comforting light to the still-dark, whispering recesses of my memory.

Horrors loom out of those shadows and my mind recoils at their approach. My God, I can still see that face – that terrible face. Those eyes! My hand clenches my pen with such fearful strength I fear it will snap under the strain. It will take every ounce of willpower I possess to tell this tale. But tell it I must.

I had known much hardship in my short life, but I had never before seen the horrible blackness of a soul purged of all that is good, shaped by resentment and hatred into something utterly vile and loveless. I had never known evil.

The story I am to recount may seem like the product of some fevered imagination. But the truth is the truth and all I can do is set it down as best I can, within the limits of my ability and ask that you read it with an open mind.

If after that, you turn away in disbelief, then I can do naught but smile and wish you well; and wish too, that I could so easily free myself of the terrifying spectres that haunt the events I am about to relate.

So come with me now. We will walk back through time and as the fog of the passing years rolls away, we will find ourselves among the chill and weathered headstones of a large and well stocked cemetery.

All about us are stone angels, granite obelisks and marble urns. A sleeping stone lion guards the grave of an old soldier, a praying angel that of a beloved child. Everywhere there are the inscriptions of remembrance; of love curdled into grief.

Grand tombs and mausoleums line a curving cobbled roadway, shaded beneath tall cypress trees. A hearse stands nearby, its black-plumed horses growing impatient. It is December and the air is as damp and cold as the graves beneath our feet. The morning mist is yet to clear. Fallen leaves litter the cobbles.

A blackbird sings gaily, oblivious to the macabre surroundings; the sound ringing round the silent cemetery, sharp and clear in the misty vagueness. Jackdaws fly overhead and seem to call back in answer. Some way off a new grave coldly gapes and the tiny group of mourners are walking away leaving a boy standing alone.

The boy has cried so much over the last few days that he thinks his tears must surely have dried up for ever. Yet as he stares down at that awful wooden box in its frightful pit, the tears come again.

There are few things sadder than a poorly attended funeral. When that funeral is in honour of a dear and beloved mother, then that sadness is all the more sharply felt and bitter-tasting.

As I am sure by now you have guessed; the lonesome boy by that open grave is none other than the narrator of this story.


  1. Hi Chris,

    I can't believe no one else has commented on this yet; it's a huge treat to be allowed a glimpse of your up-and-coming book.

    For what it's worth, I was gripped by the prologue and I'm thoroughly looking forward to finding out more about Michael Vyner when the book is published next year.

  2. Thanks to both of you. I intend to do a bit more of that. I am going to put a little taster for Tales of Terror from the Tunnel's Mouth on the blog in a little while.

  3. "Everywhere there are the inscriptions of remembrance; of love curdled into grief."

    Perfect. And it is so sad that we all know - or will come to know - it to be true.

    The little boy watching his mother's grave... so, so sad. I can imagine the strength to keep walking and moving away, leaving her there ... forever. Sad indeed.

    Must I say I can't wait to read the rest?



  4. Thanks Frini - I'm really pleased with how the book is turning out. The beginning of a book is so important and I probably agonise over the first few sentences more than any others. So it's good to hear that you want to read more!

  5. Hi Chris,

    Just wondered if you mind adults reading your books? (j k rowling doesn't like adults reading her books apparently) I have to say I love your books, I have all 3 tales of terror, and I thought they were well written, and very creepy and atmospheric, the kind of books that get reread time and time again, and I'll certainy be reccomending them to my friends.
    I'm not a writer myself, but reading your books made me wonder if I should try!

    Thanks for hours of pleasure, curled up in my big airchair with a cup of hot chocolate, and a shiver down my spine!

  6. I am very happy to have ANY readers, Nick! Thanks for getting in touch and for your kind words. Hope you enjoy The Dead of Winter when it comes out.

  7. Thanks so much for taking the time to reply Chris, I appreciate that very much.

    Do you have a date yet for publication?

    I'm an expat living in Germany (Bonn) , and very lucky as a bookshop here can get your books usually in 24 hours for me, the exception was "Tales of terror from the black ship", because I wanted a hardcover (all books worth rereading should be gotten in hardcover) as they couldn't get a U.K. hardcover so had to order me one from america. Needless to say it was well worth the wait.

    take care mate,

  8. No - thank you for getting in touch in the first place. It's strange they couldn't get a UK edition in hardback - although its lovely to think they might be sold out!

  9. Hi Chris,
    How are you?

    Just a quickie, I wondered if you had plans for any more Tales of Terror novels?
    Best wishes,

  10. I'm very well thanks Nick. Thanks for getting in touch. There are no new Tales of Terror in the pipeline at present. Having said that, I am always plotting and writing new stories, so I'm sure there will be more Tales of Terror some time in the future. I certainly hope so.

  11. Your Books are fantastic! im obsessed with them! I read them over and over i have just finished reading 'Tales of Terror from the Tunnel's Mouth' Are you going to write anymore in the series? I Really hope so! You're a very tallented person! Your books are far better then any I have encounted

  12. I'll keep my fingers crossed for a new volume in the future, as I love the existing 3 very much.

  13. Thanks Arielle. That's nice to hear. There are no plans at the moment to do any more Tales of Terror - though I would certainly like to some time in the future.

    And is 'Anonymous' you again? Either way, thank you for the encouragement. It's great to hear that the books are enjoyed this much.

  14. Hi Mate,
    No, Anonymous Is me, Nick, I posted a few messages here.

    take care,

  15. Hi Nick - sorry I didn't recognise you behind that mask of anonymity!

  16. chris, you are an amazing author! I love your tales of terror! They are fantastic! You are my favourite author and i just loooooooove your books please keep writing!:carla

  17. Thanks Carla. I really appreciate you taking the time to say that. Let me know what you think of The Dead of Winter if you get around to reading it.

  18. your a grate Author Chris, I love all your work and the grate strength you put in it I'm 17 years old and I say keep going with your work. o_O

  19. Thanks j_1339400. Interesting name you have there! I don't know if you are in the UK, but The Dead of Winter is out now. Hope you enjoy it.

  20. I've just finished the Dead of Winter and thought it was fabulous!

  21. Hi Chris! I'm from Australia and I just wanted to say that I love your work and I hope you keep writing more creepy books that will scare the hell out of me.

  22. Thanks! I intend to. Thanks for the encouragement though. I have plenty more creepy books planned. I have an ebook of Christmas Tales of Terror out soon and I have a book called Through Dead Eyes out here in March.