Scavengers, my latest novel – the first one for some time – has arrived at last. It is published by Clan Destine Press and right now can be found in Booktopia, Amazon, Book Depository, Kinokuniya and hopefully other stores as time goes by. It is a crime novel with horror elements, telling a story of Mike Crowe, a not-exactly legal PI, who is blackmailed into tracing down a serial killer known as The Scavenger. At the same time, he finds himself increasingly plagued by visions – and eventually visitations – of a young girl he had failed to save from being murdered a decade before. He must scavenge through the debris of a world going to pieces around him – at first just to survive and then to find answers to questions he’d rather hadn’t been asked.
At the beginning of October 2018, I was approached by Avery Guerra to write a scene for a new, in-production movie for which he is acting as Consulting Producer. The film was to be titled The Great Buddha Arrival, and is based on a long-lost Japanese film, Daibutsu kaikoku (1934).
Directed by Hiroto Yokokawa, the new film features a large cast of Japanese and US actors who have starred in a plethora of daikaiju eiga (giant monster films) over the years. One of these actors is Peggy Neal, best-known among fans for her role in Uchû daikaijû Girara (1967; otherwise known in English-dubbed countries under the notoriously silly title The X from Outer Space).
Anyway, I readily agreed to write the five-minute English segment required for Peggy’s role and handed the script over to Avery on the same day, after a tweak or two. It was greeted very positively, especially by Peggy, who got in touch and enthusiastically thanked me for my sensitivity toward the spiritual themes.
Since then The Great Buddha Arrival has been made, and is currently running the independent-film festival circuit. By all reports, it has so far been well-received and has many times been assigned the role of “Official Selection“, has been variously short-listed in a number of categories, and has at least once received 2nd place as Best Fantasy Film. I have seen a version of the film and hope that it will be released in DVD/Blu-ray form when the film circuit is completed, if not to screenings in local theatres.
Note 1: as of 2022, the film is available on Blu-ray, from srscinemastore.com
Note 2: Awards for The Great Buddha Arrival:
Best Film Of The Year – Picasso/Einstein/Buddha International Film Festival of India
Best Feature Film – Cinematic Panic of Tennessee
Best Director : Feature Film – Buzz Vicious Film Festival of Brazil
Best Original Idea – Top Indie Film Awards of Tokyo Japan
Best Editing – The Indie Gathering International Film Festival of Ohio
Released on the first of August this year in Australia, UK and New Zealand is the second volume in IFWG Publishing Australia’s Cthulhu Deep Down Under series, featuring a superb group of Australian and New Zealand authors writing tales referencing H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos. It will be released in North America on 1 September 2018.
The authors are (in order of appearance): Kirstyn McDermott, Robert Hood, Lee Murray, Jason Nahrung, Bill Congreve, J. Scherpenhuizen, Silvia Brown, T.S.P. Sweeney, Geoff Brown and David Kuraria. Cover art is by Steve Santiago, and the book includes an introduction by Mythos guru, Peter Rawlik. To quote from the back-cover blurb:
H. P. Lovecraft pioneered a fusion of terror and science fiction themes, and is widely credited as having invented the sub-genre of ‘cosmic horror’. While America’s New England was the focus and setting for many of Lovecraft’s tales, the Southern Hemisphere held a fascination for him. Australia, New Zealand and Antarctica were featured locations in his Mythosian novellas…. Cthulhu Deep Down Under Volume 2 takes us back below the equator, into the bizarre and headlong towards horror. From mist-shrouded peaks and canyons of Melanesian islands, through rainforests and scorching deserts of the island continent of Terra Australis, and across the Tasman Sea to the inhospitable hinterlands of New Zealand.
My story, “Time and Tide” — the first I’ve written in nearly two years, thanks to a novel I’m still attempting to edit (more on that in a later post) — is among this elite group of tales. And it has an interesting background.
The Background to “Time and Tide”:
For “Time and Tide”, I was able to draw upon an incident that may have occurred in the south-coast town of Mollymook earlier this year, reputedly experienced by Douglas Ormsham, a strange fellow who first contacted me via my main website back in 2005. Claiming to have experienced some remarkable and otherworldly events presaged in the diaries and other records of his long-dead great grandfather Dr Hugo Drakenswode, Ormsham began an on-line dialogue that lasted for several months — before he mysteriously disappeared from the internet. The exchange, however, remains on-line under the heading The Drakenswode Correspondance and is worth reading as a background to “Time and Tide”. You can check it out here: www.roberthood.net/daikaiju-antho/drackenswode. (Note: unfortunately this correspondence has disappeared).
As I indicate at the end of The Drakenswode Correspondance, I lost contact with Ormsham in July 2005. But in February 2009, I received a brief handwritten note from him, delivered by physical mail, apologising for his silence through the intervening years and explaining that he was setting up his own website to continue posting some of Drakenswode’s observations and experiences as told in his surviving diaries and notes. He wanted to let me know that he had been forced to face many difficulties and had been in hiding. He had been rendered totally debilitated, mentally, emotionally and physically, and simply shut himself off from the world. He promised to tell me more about what had happened when he felt up to it. In the meantime, he intended to put as many of Drakenswode’s reflections and experiences up on the web as he was able to. The website/blog is titled Searching For Cryptonbury, and I have provided the link here.
In the event, Searching for Cryptonbury contained several interesting posts — up until August 19, 2009, when again he fell silent. I checked every now and then, but it wasn’t until late January this year that I noticed he’d put up a new posting. It began apologetically (as usual), and was quite long. Then he recounted what he claimed was a real, very recent occurrence in which he played a direct part. It found it intensely interesting, and, as I was writing a story for Cthulhu Deep Down Under, Volume 2 — a story I felt was a failure so far, nowhere near worthy to be published, and which I was hence happy to bin — I asked if could re-work the horror he had undergone as a story. He took some persuading, but I eventually convinced him to go along with the idea, for various reasons I won’t go into here. At this juncture, he took down the blog post he had put up hours before (though I didn’t require him to) and sent me a hand-written diary of the ten days during which the world, or at least one small part of it, faced a bizarre and potentially deadly menace. With his approval, I wrote the story in diary form, both to honour his bravery and to keep it as immediate as reading his diary had been for me. Though I am credited as the author (on his insistence), the final work is not far removed from what he wrote in his original diary as the events unfolded.
The question on your mind, no doubt, is this: Did these events really happen, or was it a delusion that Ormsham lived through while suffering from some form of mental breakdown? I would like to think that the latter is true, because if these events actually happened it completely changes the comfortably “normal” world on which we rely to maintain our sanity. The fact is the event was spectacular and destructive, with the police closely involved, yet there exists no official record nor newspaper reports to confirm the tale. Mollymook residents deny it as absurd. This puts considerable doubt on the truth of the matter. But to be honest, I’m actually not so sure it didn’t happen. I simply don’t know. The temporal anomalies as depicted in the story, if it is at all true, may account for why knowledge of the event has completely disappeared from memory and indeed from our timeline. Who knows?
So buy a copy of the book and read the story. You can decide for yourselves.
Just revealed by editor Stephen Jones is the cover for The Mammoth Book of Halloween Stories, due out next Halloween from Skyhorse in the US.
The really good news is my story “A Man Totally Alone” will be included in the book, as part of a Table of Contents jam-packed with top-tier writers of horror and weird fiction:
“Introduction: When Churchyards Yawn”
“October in the Chair” – Neil Gaiman
“Reflections in Black” – Steve Rasnic Tem
“The Halloween Monster” – Alison Littlewood
“The Phénakisticope of Decay” – James Ebersole
“Memories of Día de los Muertos” – Nancy Kilpatrick
“Fragile Masks” – Richard Gavin
“Bone Fire” – Storm Constantine
“Queen of the Hunt” – Adrian Cole
“The October Widow” – Angela Slatter
“Before the Parade Passes By” – Marie O’Regan
“Her Face” – Ramsey Campbell
“A Man Totally Alone” – Robert Hood
“Bleed” – Richard Christian Matheson
“The Ultimate Halloween Party App” – Lisa Morton
“The Folding Man” – Joe R. Lansdale
“I Wait for You” – Eygló Karlsdóttir
“Dust Upon a Paper Eye” – Cate Gardner
“Not Our Brother” – Robert Silverberg
“The Scariest Thing in the World” – Michael Marshall Smith
“The Nature of the Beast” – Sharon Gosling
“The Beautiful Feast of the Valley” – Stephen Gallagher
“In the Year of Omens” – Helen Marshall
“The Millennial’s Guide to Death” – Scott Bradfield
“White Mare” – Thana Niveau
“Pumpkin Kids” – Robert Shearman
“Lantern Jack” – Christopher Fowler
“Halloween Treats” – Jane Yolen
The title “A Man Totally Alone” derives from the Nordic saga Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks konungs and a passage translated by Todd B. Krause and Jonathan Slocum as:
Foolish he seems to me, who goes there,
a man totally alone, through dark night…
The story is set in the Australian outback, where there is a distinct lack of snow as October/November is summer-time and temperatures run high, and where Halloween lacks most of the familiar iconography common to seasonal tales set in Europe and the US. Even so, it seems the dead are just as restless.
This website is still under construction. Come back soon for news, views and more information on the work of Robert Hood, writer of horror, dark fantasy, crime and science fiction.