Even Thunderling hunters need breaks – often I find myself working even when I’m on a hiatus as someone full of awe presents herself unexpected. In a pub it’s hard not to have a gander at the clientèle, especially when it’s worth every heartbeat of gandering. A woman’s conversations were animated, I could overhear them clearly. It was soon obvious this lady was going to fill the following blank page in my road diary.
What is the stupidest time to write a story about vampires? It must be today after Stephenie Meyer’s glittering, pretty Nancy-boys have damaged the idea of the vampyre utterly; it must be Hell for the lot to realise you’re immortal and have to keep hearing the bollocks for another hundred million years or so. Even these ungodly creatures will pray to the Maker for that meteor to destroy the earth, no doubt. Write a proper vampire story Varney-style these days, and chances are the mob’ll lynch you. If it takes more than three paragraphs before any bloodsucker sparkles all over the page, you’re going to be chucked.
When he’s all alone in a room (most likely with neither lights nor windows), he’s still the odd one out: Christopher Dwyer, a Bostonian with a love for the Dark. A bloke who drinks nothing but coffee, dropshots and pints of Guinness for the sole reason they’re all black beverages. It’s no surprise the first great work of real importance from his hands makes even Tommie Smith’s glove glow red from shame. How come? No one knows. It’s a fable that it’s the quiet ones you got to watch. I’ve stalked him and his peers for half a dozen years. Saw Dwyer growing up into a happy boy, then into a happy man with a beautiful wife. These days it’s the happy ones we’ve got to watch. Over the unblemished skins of suburbia a shadow lingers, ready to grab you and force itself down down down your throat.
Only after the children have been visited by the Sandman is it safe to come out and look for the strange persona known as Caleb J Ross, author of the recently released novel Stranger Will. Chuck Palahniuk once said he reinvented horror with his novels Lullaby, Diary and Haunted because the genre of horror wasn’t something that intimidated readers any longer. He said horror with monsters wasn’t scary any more. But Ross proves him wrong. His novel is horror in its most pure form: it’s all about monsters, cleverly disguised as elementary school principals and badly dressed Santas. Mrs. Rose tries to bring The Solution to an imperfect world; her cynicism is as scary as real life. I should probably pun Shakespeare-style on the semi-homophone of Ross and Rose because it is hard to picture the jovial boy known for his toes poking out of his socks as the same person who writes tales darker than London. Why would a healthy, perfectly normal and nice man, a happily married and loving father, write with this much gusto about apathy and abortion?
It appears a band of brothers (and a half-sister here and there) has set themselves a mission: draw the unfortunate lost souls back into the Dark. All the members of this posse make valid claims to the throne of Dark Lord. Nik Korpon told me to set out and find a man named Richard Thomas and made it sound like all mysterious. But of course Thomas was known to me already. As I know all about the Dark, I know all about Thomas.
Thomas’ novel Transubstantiate from last year made it clear as day that dark is the new sexy; a job well done.
Today’s subject I found by chance. His name is Nik Korpon, the next big thing in neo-noir. He’s young, sexy (he’s got my specs), clever and extremely talented. In December 2010 his début, Stay God, dropped seemingly from out of nowhere, but the dent the book left in the normally smooth literary landscape won’t be easily repaired. There’s no mercy in Korpon’s writing – no room for such rubbish. He paints his streets red with blood, and no cobbles hurt more than his when you land on them after being thrown out of a boozer. The novel is dirty, it’s gritty, it’s compelling – it’s got everything that makes a good story brilliant. It’s a book that will kick you in the nuts, no matter how you read it and how much you care for it. Go annotate it to show your love and it’ll kick you in the nuts. But it’ll kick you a whole lot harder if you don’t read it at all.