Saturday, 18 April 2015

Sharkpunk Saturday - Alec Worley

Alec Worley is probably best known as a comics writer and film reviewer, but he is also a skilled prose writer, as is evidenced by his forthcoming story in the forthcoming SHARKPUNK...

Sharkpunk: What, do you think, is the reason for people's enduring fascination with sharks? 
Alec Worley: The fascination, I think, is more to do with the myth we’ve created around sharks than the animals themselves. Great Whites are actually at a high risk of extinction in the wild due to trophy fishing and you’re more likely to be hit by lightning than eaten by a shark. Reality has nothing to do with the reputation we’ve built for them. Sharks have become this symbol of our fears about the natural world, and, I guess, are a reminder of our vulnerability in the face of an element that covers 71% of our planet. Then there's our uncertainty about the future of the natural world and our place within it. Scientists are limited in what they can observe in sharks and this just adds to their mystique. I mean, even the name sounds cool: Sssssssh-arrrrrgh! Kkkkk! Death in miniature.

SP: What was the inspiration behind your story, Sharkcop 2: Feeding Frenzy
AW: I had an idea for a story that began with someone waking up naked on a beach somewhere and with no idea how they got there. Are they a shark that’s turned into a person or a person that can turn into a shark? But the story ended up turning into a comedy, specifically a send-up of '80s buddy cop movies. I just wanted to write something that made me giggle as much as possible while still telling a solid story, as well as maybe getting into why we find sharks so cool.

SP: What challenges, or surprises, did you encounter in writing your story? 
AW: I always seem to find comedies harder to write than straight drama. I’ve found this writing Robo-Hunter and Dandridge for 2000 AD. I end up spending hours agonising over whether ‘dog’ is funnier than ‘warthog’ or whatever. You have to get that tone just right, which is really hard.

SP: If you had to pick a favourite shark, which would it be? 
AW: Megalodon or a giant octopus with a Megalodon head on the end of each tentacle.

SP: Do you have a favourite fictional shark (in books, comics, films, or video games)? 
AW: I’m fascinated by Bruce the mechanical shark from Jaws. Physical special effects like that just mesmerize me and I love the story behind what happened to the three mechanical Bruces. Two were left to rot on the Universal backlot while another ended up as a mascot in some California auto-junkyard. There’s a real ‘uncanny valley’ thing going on for me there, like they’re somehow both objects and living creatures.

SP: Apart from your story in Sharkpunk, what's coming next from Alec Worley? 
AW: Nothing I can really talk about right now as they haven’t been announced. But more Judge Dredd and Dandridge from 2000 AD, hopefully, and more Judge Anderson for Abaddon Books.

Thanks, Alec!

Alec Worley was a projectionist and a film critic before he got to write for legendary British anthology comic 2000 AD, for whom he’s written Judge Dredd, Robo-Hunter, Age of the Wolf and Dandridge. His prose credits include the Judge Anderson: Rookie series for Abaddon Books. His lifelong love of sharks began when he saw Jaws at the age of 7 and fell off his chair in fright at the bit with Ben Gardener’s head. More recently he achieved a lifelong dream of going cage-diving, which he did off the coast of Guadalupe, Mexico. He got pooped on by a Great White.

Friday, 17 April 2015

SHARKPUNK launches 2 weeks today!

Friday 1 May sees the launch of the anthology you've all been waiting for... SHARKPUNK!

Review copies have gone out, and here's what one reviewer has reported so far:

I also visited the London Book Fair yesterday where I caught up with publisher Emma Barnes and managed to take a sneaky selfie with the very cool SHARKPUNK banner.

So keep an eye out for SHARKPUNK, coming your way in just 2 weeks! And don't forget, if you're in London on Saturday 9 May, why not come along to the official launch at Forbidden Planet, and have your copy signed by 13 of the contributing authors?

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

The Sharkpunk Interview - C L Werner

I have known Clint Werner since we both wrote for Inferno! magazine back in the early days of the Black Library. So I was delighted when he agreed to write a brand new short story for SHARKPUNK...

Sharkpunk: What, do you think, is the reason for people's enduring fascination with sharks?
Clint Werner: I think the appeal of sharks is two-fold. First there is, of course, the fact that your bigger sharks are quite capable of eating a person. As a species we have a vested interest in keeping tabs on the creatures that can kill us and most especially the ones who sometimes add us to the menu. Most of your ‘man-eaters’ are heavily represented in folklore, heraldry and language, as though by invoking these creatures we might also draw on their power and in some way control their ferocity.

The second point when it comes to sharks is that they are largely an enigma. We still can’t say for certain how old or how large some of these animals can get. Their social lives, limited as they might be, are an utter mystery. We aren’t even sure what can drive some species to explode into the gruesome spectacle of a feeding frenzy. These are creatures that defy many of the rules laid down by science. They haven’t changed in any substantial manner in millions of years. It reminds me of Nestor Pavia in the classic Creature from the Black Lagoon: ‘I tell you what I think, this thing is stronger than what you call evolution.’

SP: What was the inspiration behind your story ‘Feast of the Shark God’?
CW: I suppose the germ of the idea began with an episode of In Search Of…, a paranormal/speculative series that aired in the late 1970s and early 1980s when I was growing up. Hosted by the late Leonard Nimoy, the show always presented interesting topics, some more based in reality than others. 

One of these episodes was devoted to Dakuwanga, a shark god worshipped in the Fiji Islands. While presenting this tradition, the show also explored anecdotal accounts that the islanders who dutifully worshipped Dakuwanga were never menaced by sharks, even swimming about in waters infested with known man-eaters. Of course, the catch there is that when they did mention a local who was eaten by sharks, he was of course somebody who’d fallen out of his faith.

So, the idea of doing a story revolving around Dakuwanga was there. Over time, it metamorphosed into a fantasy tale removed from our own world and set in the sword-and-sorcery landscape of Shintaro Oba. I conceived a story pitting the demon-hunting samurai against a fearsome shark god and the community who worships it.

SP: What challenges, or surprises, did you encounter in writing your story?
CW: One of the biggest challenges with my Shintaro Oba stories is trying to maintain a Japanese mindset within them. Prior to the Meiji Restoration which saw the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate, Japanese society was broken into a very strict caste system and the majority of the Japanese people abided by the traditions and obligations of that system. The concept of self, of the individual, was trivial compared to being a part of something bigger, whether that be a farming community or the retinue of a great samurai clan.

I think the big surprise for me when writing the story was realising that, well, let's just say the end turned out a bit different than I’d envisioned it in my outline!

SP: If you had to pick a favourite shark, which would it be?
CW: I’m sure it is as stereotypical as possible, but the Great White. Ever since I was a kid, these immense monsters have been a source of awe. Going to the beach in California, it was always at the back of your mind that these sharks were out there, somewhere under the very water you were looking at. To drive the point home, there’d be news stories when a Great White would hit a surfer or maybe swim up to a pier and nab somebody’s catch.

SP: Do you have a favourite fictional shark (in books, comics, films, or video games)?
CW: Again, I’ll be stereotypical and say Jaws. When I was growing up, the spectre of the first Jaws film and of course Peter Benchley’s novel, still loomed large over the landscape. There were Jaws shirts and toys and such and when the movie played on broadcast TV it was a major event that they’d hype for weeks beforehand and take full-page ads in TV Guide.

And then there was the Jaws attraction at Universal City Studios, the highlight of their tram tour. I’m not sure how old I was, certainly not more than six, when my parents took me to Universal for the tour. Now, I wasn’t so terribly interested in the Bates Motel or the I Love Lucy bungalow, and there was only passing interest in seeing the Munsters mansion. I wanted to see Jaws, and I kept letting everybody on the tram know it. Well, when the time came and the tram approached the lagoon where the mechanical shark lurked, my father took hold of me and held me over the side so I’d get a real good look as Jaws came lunging up from the water. Being a snot-nosed punk I screamed and cried out that, ‘Why doesn’t somebody shoot that thing?’

All these years later, I still like Jaws.

SP: Apart from Sharkpunk, what's coming next from C L Werner?

Thanks, Clint!

C. L. Werner was a diseased servant of the Horned Rat long before his first story in Inferno! magazine. His Black Library credits include the Warhammer Hero books Wulfrik and The Red Duke, Mathias Thulmann: Witch Hunter, the Grey Seer Thanquol and Brunner the Bounty Hunter trilogies. In the Time of Legends series he has penned the Black Plague trilogy and Curse of the Phoenix Crown, the final volume in the War of Vengeance series. Deathblade is his contribution to the Warhammer ‘End Times’ event, featuring the dark elf tyrant Malus Darkblade.  His first full-fledged foray into the gothic sci-fi universe of Warhammer 40k occurred in 2012 with The Siege of Castellax. He is the author of Moving Targets, a novella set in Privateer Press’ Iron Kingdoms featuring the iconic heroes Taryn and Rutger. In the sci-fi Old West of Wild West Exodus, he contributed An Outlaw’s Wrath in the Jesse James trilogy as well as some short fiction for an upcoming anthology. Samurai warrior Shintaro Oba has previously appeared in several anthologies published by Rogue Blades’ Entertainment. More recently, his short fiction has been featured in anthologies like Kaiju Rising, Fantastic Futures 13, Marching Time, A Grimoire of Eldritch Inquests and Sharkpunk.

An inveterate bibliophile, he squanders the proceeds from his writing on hoary old volumes – or at least reasonably affordable reprints of same – to further his library of fantasy fiction, horror stories and occult tomes.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

YOU ARE THE HERO receives its 50th 5-star Amazon review!

I thought it a worthy landmark to celebrate. My history of Fighting Fantasy gamebooks has received its Return to Firetop Mountain of reviews. That's right, the 50th review of my 50th published book has been posted on, and it's another 5-star one.

Here it is in its entirety.

In case you haven't yet picked up a copy of YOU ARE THE HERO yourself yet, you can still do so here.

Guest Author April - David Guymer

My latest book, Slayer, marks 14 books and 16 years since the first novel of the Gotrek and Felix storyline, Trollslayer, introduced us to the doom-seeking dwarf, Gotrek Gurnisson, and his chronicler, Felix Jaeger. Over that span, they’ve slain villainous rat-men, daemons, dragons, vampires, hordes of zombies, and taken time out for numerous short stories, novellas and side novels. The author has changed more than once over that time, as has the Warhammer world itself, but Gotrek and his long-suffering companion have carried on slaying with a characteristic blend of action and humour. But now their long career comes to an end. Gotrek and Felix’s final adventure takes them through the wreckage of the world’s last days, battles on land, in the air, and deep beneath the halls of the mythical Fortress of the First Slayer. Readers can look forward to all of the action and laughs that they rightly expect from a Gotrek and Felix novel, but with the added tragedy of approaching the end of the Slayer’s long quest for a mighty doom.

Follow David Guymer on twitter @Warlord Guymer

Monday, 13 April 2015

The Sharkpunk Interview - Toby Frost

Toby Frost is well known for his Space Captain Smith stories, set in the comedy science fiction universe of the British Space Empire. So you can imagine how pleased I was when Toby agreed to write a brand new, original Space Captain Smith story for SHARKPUNK...

Sharkpunk: What, do you think, is the reason for people's enduring fascination with sharks?
Toby Frost: I think it’s because they seem so deadly, and so unsympathetic. They’re perfectly made to kill things, and they’re completely unlovable. Even rats have nicer eyes. A shark is like a biological missile: they don’t even stop moving around to sleep. There’s a line in Alien about the Alien being unclouded by conscience, remorse or delusions of morality – that, to most people, is what a shark is like. They’re perfect villains. Of course, they’re also rather impressive animals, but that’s not the point, at least here...

SP: What was the inspiration behind your story Deep Black Space?
TF: I’d mentioned the void sharks in the first novel of mine that was published, Space Captain Smith, but I felt that I hadn’t quite done them justice. But I needed something beyond them just randomly attacking. It seemed “logical” that someone sufficiently crazy would have been breeding them or trying to domesticate them, with predictable consequences. That sort of thing seems to happen a lot in space.

SP: What challenges, or surprises, did you encounter in writing your story?
TF: It’s surprisingly difficult to make shark-related puns – at least, new ones.

SP: If you had to pick a favourite shark, which would it be?
TF: It’s got to be the Great White shark, hasn’t it? They’re the classic shark, but with all the dials turned up to 11. That said, the basking shark is pretty impressive. It’s rare for an animal to be awe-inspiring whilst drifting through life with its mouth wide open.

SP: Do you have a favourite fictional shark (in books, comics, films, or video games)?
TF: Well, Jaws is the Citizen Kane of angry shark films. But it’s hard not to like the Pathetic Sharks from Viz, and I’ve got a certain amount of time for the bizarre creature in Sharktopus. It must have been very confused, especially since it seemed to have both a mouth and a beak.

Thanks, Toby!

By day, Toby Frost lives the life of a mild-mannered law reporter. By night, he is the author of five comedy science fiction novels about the misadventures of Captain Isambard Smith of the British Space Empire, published by Myrmidon books. He has also written several short stories and the Warhammer 40,000 novel Straken for Black Library. He is currently working on a fantasy novel.

His website is at

The fifth Space Captain Smith adventure End of Empires is available now.

Thought for the Day

"A good idea is insistent; it just keeps knocking on the door. But bad ideas just leave you alone after a while."

~ Graham Linehan, comedy writer