New Releases

For news of new releases (and discounted pre-order prices) from Paul M Craig, please email to sign up to the announcement list [note: your email will not be distributed to any third parties].

Sunday, 16 September 2012

My favourite ever book...
A guest post by Phil Ingham (@ingo74)

My favourite book would have to be Pet Sematary by Stephen King. 
It is the book which most affected me at an emotional level and continues to do so, perhaps more so now than when I first read it as a teenager.
I am a huge fan of early King and would credit him as being the main reason I read so avidly today. 
King is the master of the supernatural and while Pet Sematary is a story rooted firmly within the supernatural, the real horrors within it are very much human and remained with me long after closing the book. 
The book follows the Creed family; Louis, his wife Rachel, daughter Ellie, son Gage and cat Church. 
Life is good; Louis has just secured his dream job as a surgeon, they have moved into a beautiful house in rural Maine (of course – it is Stephen King, after all!) and have wonderful neighbours in the elderly couple Jud and Norma Crandall. 
Louis takes to ending the odd night sharing a beer with Jud Crandall and, during their conversations, Jud tells him about a Pet Cemetery that had been created by local children years ago. The highway built close to the Creed’s new house makes sure that the cemetery still gets new residents. A road which, in Jud’s words, “uses up a lot of animals” because of the huge trucks that frequently thunder along it.
The cemetery initially appears in the book to be an innocent place in which children can lay their deceased pets to rest and learn a little about life and death. Increasingly though, it takes on sinister significance for Louis; mentioned in the last words of a dying patient, appearing in all-too-realistic dreams from which Louis awakes muddied and confused and then there is that undeniable urge to discover what lay beyond the wall of fallen wood which separates the Pet Cemetery from…what?
It soon becomes clear that there is something more to the Pet Cemetery once the surface is scratched and it is here where the true horrors begin to reveal themselves.
Not the horrors of reanimated corpses or gory deaths, although if you are looking for such things you will not be disappointed. Where the book really excels is in presenting us with true terrors; terrors that dance just on the periphery of our consciousness every day and, should we stop to stare at them, would surely crush us with fear. 
The book slams you with the terror of unimaginable loss and how the waves of grief can untether the soundest of minds from its haven of sanity. 
It lays bare the realisation that, however wonderful your life is now, it is always just one tragedy away from falling apart.  
These are things that if allowed to creep into your thoughts when kissing your child goodnight or waving your partner off to work, can chill you far more than any physical monster could.
A genuinely chilling read.

Friday, 14 September 2012

My favourite ever book... 
A guest post by Ricky White (@EndlessTrax)

What makes a book your favourite book? To me it's one that no matter how many times I read it, I never tire of the story or characters. However my favourite book is much more than that. It's a book that elevates me regardless of my mood. It's a book that makes me howl with laughter even before I've read the punch line. It's a book that makes me feel a particular way, a book for every occasion. My favourite book is not a literary great, it's the underdog, the relatively unread (albeit at one point a best seller), and a book with cult following.
The book can only be the epic beginning to the Red Dwarf series ‘Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers’ by Grant Naylor. If you have ever seen the TV series Red Dwarf you will understand its uniqueness. I love the TV shows, but this book is worlds apart (see what I did there?).
In 2180, waking up after his birthday Monopoly-board pub crawl around London, Lister found himself on one of Saturn’s moons, Mimas. In a desperate bid to try and earn enough money for a ticket home, Lister begins to steal taxis to pick up the fares, all while sleeping in a bus station locker. Once he realises he is not getting home anytime soon he comes up with a plan - to join the space corps. More specifically to join the crew on the mining ship Red Dwarf, which by a stroke of luck was Earth bound. Unfortunately it never made it. Following a series of unfortunate and indulgent antics, Lister ends up in stasis (suspended animation), finding himself the last human alive some three million years later upon his release. With just a dead man in the form of a hologram, a highly evolved cat, and the ship’s now senile computer for company, they embark on adventures that are beyond belief – as they break the light barrier, discover alternate realities, meet Einstein and God.
This book doesn't really fall into the sci-fi category for me; it's a comedy through and through. You don’t have to be a sci-fi geek to enjoy this book. I do warn however: it is somewhat addictive, and you will then feel compelled to follow it up with the sequels Better than Life, Last Human and Backwards.
If you haven't read this book, and are in need of cheering up, I thoroughly recommended this book to do the job. If you aren't in need of cheering up, well then I'd recommend you read it anyway.
If you have read this book, I encourage you to post a your favourite quote or passage in the comments below, so those that are yet to read see what they are missing. ;)

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Great Score

Recently I have been reminded of the impact of truly great music. 

First, the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics, which was superb in almost every way, had an incredibly powerful and evocative soundtrack to drive the heartbeat of the story Danny Boyle had visually so wonderfully created.  

Second, the score to the recently-released The Dark Knight Rises which, and I'll be careful to avoid spoilers, did so much to underpin the theme and tone of the film and, indeed, the trilogy as a whole.

Of course, sometimes a film score only works when it's played along with the film itself; but a great film score, something truly memorable, can be played on its own long after the images in the mind have faded away.

To that end, I offer you my own listing of top film score composers, complete with a smattering of what I can consider to be some of their finest work:

Hans Zimmer

He's worked on some memorable films but most notably, in my experience, on the scores of Gladiator, Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy and Inception.

Personal favourite tracks:

Time (Inception)
528491 (Inception)
Like a Dog Chasing Cars (The Dark Knight)
Why Do We Fall? (The Dark Knight Rises)
Rise (The Dark Knight Rises)
The End (The Dark Knight Rises)
Aurora (a choral version of "The End" released in the wake of what happened in the town of the same name on the night of TDKR's release)

If you've been watching the BBCs coverage of the Olympics, chances are you will have heard some part of the above tracks being played. 

Michael Giacchino

The television series LOST was the first time I came across his music, but generally he seems to be director JJ Abrams go-to guy for scoring anything he is involved with, from Alias to Lost to Star Trek to the Mission Impossible films.

Personal favourite tracks:

Landing Party (LOST)
Moving On (LOST)
Labor of Love (Star Trek)

Henry Jackman

I've only recently heard some of his work (via the score for X-Men First Class) but already I've found myself compelled to seek out other scores he has worked on.

Personal favourite tracks:

Magneto (X-Men First Class)
Frankenstein's Monster (X-Men First Class)
Big Daddy Kills (Kick-Ass)

John Murphy

This guy frequently works on Danny Boyle films (Sunshine, 28 Days Later) and more recently on films by Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass, X-Men First Class).

Personal favourite tracks:

Sunshine (Adagio in D Minor) (Sunshine, but also re-worked slightly for Kick-Ass, titled ‘Strobe’)
In the House - In a Heartbeat (28 Days Later)

Other great film orchestral soundtracks:

Braveheart (James Horner) - some hugely emotionally powerful tracks on that album;
Lord of the Rings (James Howard) - particularly like the end section of Bridge of Khazad Dum, which was recently used in the trailer for next year's The Man of Steel film;
Platoon - Barber's Adagio for Strings - just for that bit where Willem Dafoe doesn't quite get away from his pursuers after being left behind

For the full effect of all this music, two points are worth bearing in mind. Firstly, excellent though they are standing alone, it's perhaps worth watching the related film or television show at the moment the music was penned for to fully appreciate its impact. Secondly, either with or without the accompanying film, play the music very loudly, as if you were just two or three rows back at an orchestra concert.  These tracks are not just background music to films; they are works of wonder and great power to be enjoyed to the full and that means loudly.

If you have a favourite film or tv score composer, or a particular favourite track, please feel free to share via the comments box.

Cheers for reading!

Saturday, 2 June 2012

New Interviews

Check out the interviews with Terry Tyler and Robert Bevan (and also the interviews with authors from previous weeks).  Feel free to leave comments.