Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Angels, demons and serial killers

Steven Savile is an acclaimed horror, fantasy and thriller-writer with around half a million sales to his name. He’s also a friend, and we often meet up in Stockholm to chew the fat over coffees and blueberry muffins. I’ve only read one of Steve’s many novels so far (though I intend to rectify that): Silver. This is a slam-bang action thriller about an off-the-books international counter-intelligence team trying to stop a terror plot by religious disciples of Judas Iscariot. Yes, you read that last bit right. It’s a rollicking thriller in the vein of Lee Child, but it’s also very well researched and rather scary.

That came out in January, and Steve is now working on the sequel (titled Gold, naturally), as well as a slew of other projects, as he tends to do. Last time we had coffee he told me about one of these that has just come to fruition. His first novel, which he wrote at the age of 19, has been out of print since 2000. Steve wrote it on obsolete floppy disks, but managed to find someone who could recapture all the information from them. Reading it through again, he decided he was rather proud of it, and he has now published a digital edition for just 99 cents (until August 1), with some haunting artwork.

Here's a brief synopsis:
'Gabriel Rush takes a photograph of a beautiful sad-faced hooker in a downtown bar and is stunned by what he sees when the picture is developed. At first he thinks it is a flaw in the photograph, but then he recognizes it for what it is, the mark of the Trinity Killer. It is the same mark that scars the faces of mutilated corpses that are turning up all over New York City. Racing to warn the woman, Gabriel instead finds himself haunted by visions and fighting against time to save his future, the woman he loves, his friends, and – when the killer’s identity is finally revealed – his own sanity.'

And here's Steve with a brief explanation of the novel's genesis and what it means to him. 

The Last Angel
By Steven Savile

In my final year at university I knew I wanted to be a novelist, just knew, and sat down at the typewriter intending to prove it.

I wrote the first draft of The Angel of Pain (which became The Secret Life of Colors and eventually The Last Angel) late at night. I had it in my head that a 'scary' novel would benefit from the whole heart of darkness creation. Thomas Harris had just released The Silence of the Lambs, and I'd just watched Angel Heart in the uni cinema and couldn't shake the idea that it'd be fun to write Silence meets Angel Heart, so that's what I set about doing. Looking back now, I am immensely pleased with the result. It was long-listed for the Best Debut Novel for the Bram Stoker Awards and the British Fantasy Society Awards, sold out its short print run in a matter of days, and has been out of print for a decade.

The Kindle gives it a fresh lease of life, but I've resisted the temptation to tinker, leaving it as the 'young me' wrote it. I can still remember writing the end. I had maybe 500 words to do when I started the day, but those 500 words were the hardest of my life and left me physically shaking and sweating and just flat out beat. I lay on the floor in the lounge, to all intents and purposes unconscious, but it didn't matter. I'd done it – I'd written my first novel. It went out to 10 agents the next day and within a week had offers of representation from eight of them. It then went out to publishers and, well, from there that's where the story of my 'overnight success' begins.

The Last Angel is available at Crossroad Press, Smashwords, and Amazon.

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