If memory serves me right, I think my association with Mass Movement goes back to around the time the first Arrowhead novel came out. Certainly not that long afterwards. I was asked by editor Tim to provide a piece about a moment that changed my life – which, unsurprisingly if you know me, turned out to be when I saw a certain video cover featuring a guy with nails banged into his skull. But there was also scope to talk a little about what I had going on at that time, a bit like I’m going to do now. It seems quite appropriate, then, that I’m going to start by mentioning the return of my post-apocalyptic Robin Hood, Robert Stokes – his first appearance (unless you count the sellout Hooded Man omnibus from 2013) in five years.
Back when I did that first piece for MM, Robert had only just lost his family to the A-B Virus, had only just been coaxed out of Sherwood Forest, where he’d retreated to turn his back on the world; coaxed out to fight the injustice of someone calling himself the new Sheriff of Nottingham. It was all still raw for him, and very new for me. Little did I realise the impact that novel would have on my life and my career, or I might have chosen a different moment that changed my life…although, y’know, Hellraiser. Two more Hooded Man novels later, which saw Robert facing a Satanic cult, major threats from home and abroad – including a cannibal witch – plus film and TV interest, and my reworking of the legend seems to have secured its place in the Hood canon and in history; just like my favourite version, Robin of Sherwood, by my late, great friend Richard Carpenter. And, from some of the mail I’ve received, it’s also some people’s favourite version – which is quite staggering and extremely satisfying for me…
All of which brings us back to carrying on the tale, an idea first put to me by Abaddon editor David Thomas Moore a year or so ago. His notion of bringing back Robert chimed exactly with thoughts I’d been having about what might have happened to the ‘merry’ band after I’d left them at the end of Arrowland back in 2010. So, I had to think about doing another one for all of no seconds before agreeing, in fact I already had some idea of what might be going on with them and their world when I heard from David. If you talk to most writers about previous books or stories, they’ll probably tell you the same thing – unless they’ve killed everyone off, that is. (I was kinder than that… just.) They wonder what happened to their characters down the line, and I’ve noticed it’s started to happen to me more the longer I’m in this insane and wonderful business, building up a body of work (next year, incredibly, marks my 20th as a professional writer). I’ve done more – or been asked to do more – sequels to my own stuff over the last few years than ever before. But we’ll get back to that in a minute. For now, Flaming Arrow… (available to buy HERE).
That’s what I decided to call this new e-book novella, which picks up the Hooded Man story several years later, with Robert an older, more grizzled Hood (and yes, before you ask, The Dark Knight Returns is one of my favourite Batman stories… and I’ve always seen Robin Hood as one of the first ‘superheroes’). His adopted son Mark is all grown up, with a wife of his own, and Robert has plans to retire then hand over control of the Rangers to him… But, of course, things don’t go even remotely according to plan. What makes this tale slightly different to the others, though, is that I’ve bookended it with another little story which takes place much further down the line involving a young boy called Mouse and a storyteller. At the other end of the spectrum, I also wrote a connected short which was published on the Abaddon site and accompanied by a drawing I did of Robert.
What also makes Flaming Arrow different is that it features lots and lots of monsters, which is a nice segue way into talking about my other release at the moment – the aptly-titled collection Monsters from the award-winning Alchemy Press (available for pre-order). This one’s being launched officially at Edge-Lit in July, but there’ll be an advance copy in the raffle at the SFSF Social I’m a guest at on the 27th June, plus I’ll be reading an extract from one of the stories. Again, for Monsters I’ve found myself returning to one of my early stories/series – very early actually, as the original was amongst the first batch of proper tales I ever wrote back in the ‘90s. It isn’t the first time I’ve added to what I’ve now called ‘The Life Cycle’, but I’ve finally capped it off with a brand new novelette – ‘Lifetime’ – and you can find all three tales in this collection. That’s before you even get to the fact that it has Clive Barker cover art and an introduction by Nicholas (Chatterer Cenobite/Kinski) Vince, plus the first appearance in ten years of my short ‘Dracula in Love’. But the ‘Life Cycle’ is also connected, not only to my novelette from Hersham Horror – The Curse of the Wolf – but also another forthcoming sequel…
Out soon from SST Publications, and part of the multi-book deal I signed with them earlier on this year, is the novel Blood RED, which is a follow-up to my now quite rare novella RED: a horror reworking of Little Red Riding Hood (but don’t worry if you haven’t come across it, as this reprints that as well, in addition to a lot of exclusive extras such as an extract from the award-winning script adaptation of RED). Although it’s been seven years since RED, the actual story picks up not long after that one finishes and takes it in quite a different direction. I think – I hope – fans of the original will approve, as I’ve kept up the twists and turns that apparently readers enjoyed so much: in fact I’ve ramped them up by 150%. Asked recently to sum up what people can expect from that one, I said Terminator meets Grimm – which I think is a pretty decent description. Blood RED also comes with a stunning Dave McKean cover (Dave did the cover to the original, so I couldn’t have imagined doing another one without him) and an introduction by bestselling author Alison Littlewood, who knows a thing or two about fairy tales herself – as you’ll know if you’ve ever read her excellent novel Path of Needles.
Coming back to that guy with all the nails in his head for a moment, I have a couple of Hellraiser-related projects I’d also like to mention if I may. I have a featurette in the 3 disc version of the Leviathan documentary, having spent a great couple of days with the guys in Birmingham talking sequels. I just attended the launch of that back in May, where I finally got the chance to meet Dr Channard himself, Ken Cranham… Who is one of the participants in my forthcoming book Hellraisers (out from Avalard), a companion piece of sorts to my 2006 The Hellraiser Films and Their Legacy (McFarland), featuring candid chats with a lot of the people involved in the franchise – from Clive and Doug, to Ashley Laurence and Kevin Yagher.
There are other projects on the horizon, of course, including a new Quayle (The Bric-a-brac Man), a mass market novel and some graphic novels (one an adaptation of my novel Lunar, which is also being turned into a movie based on my script), but I think I’ve probably bombarded you good folk enough for now. What can I say, I’m in full promotional mode at the moment – and then some! So thanks to Tim and Mass Movement, not only for having me back again all these years later, but also for their support of my various past projects. You guys rock! As do all of you good readers out there…
Until next time, look after each other people – and keep on reading!
Paul Kane is the award-winning, bestselling author and editor of over fifty books – including the Arrowhead trilogy (gathered together in the sellout Hooded Man omnibus, revolving around a post-apocalyptic version of Robin Hood), The Butterfly Man and Other Stories, Hellbound Hearts and The Mammoth Book of Body Horror. His non-fiction books include The Hellraiser Films and Their Legacy and Voices in the Dark, and his genre journalism has appeared in the likes of SFX, Rue Morgue and DeathRay. He has been a Guest at Alt.Fiction five times, was a Guest at the first SFX Weekender, at Thought Bubble in 2011, Derbyshire Literary Festival and Off the Shelf in 2012, Monster Mash and Event Horizon in 2013, and Edge-Lit in 2014, as well as being a panellist at FantasyCon and the World Fantasy Convention. His work has been optioned and adapted for the big and small screen, including for network US television, plus his latest novels are Lunar (set to be turned into a feature film) and the Y.A. story The Rainbow Man (as P.B. Kane). Forthcoming from him are the collection Monsters and the sequel to RED: Blood RED. He lives in Derbyshire, UK, with his wife Marie O’Regan, his family and a black cat called Mina. Find out more at his site www.shadow-writer.co.uk which has featured Guest Writers such as Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Charlaine Harris, Dean Koontz and Guillermo del Toro.