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News, reviews and fiction from Spinneyhead Books.


Northern Gorehouse: Zombies vs Vampires on the streets of Manchester

Available from Amazon.

An ancient evil looks down on the city of Manchester. But there are things even immortals fear.

Manchester’s newest tower is home to a coven of vampires, headed by the woman known only as Mistress. They have corrupted local government, and prey on the city’s most vulnerable.

When Mistress turns a homeless boy, to take as the latest in a long line of lovers, she sets in motion events that could destroy the coven, and will scar the city.

As the boy’s sister tracks him down, another, hungrier, kind of undead creature has been raised. Zombies stalk the streets, heading for the tower and Mistress.

Northern Gorehouse is published on October 24th, and is available for pre-order now.

You can also help boost the release day buzz by backing the Thunderclap campaign to tweet and post about it all over social media.


B-Movie Night: Battles Without Honour And Humanity

This five film series- based very loosely on a Yakuza member’s prison memoirs- traces gangland conflicts in Hiroshima and neighbouring Kure from teh late forties to early seventies. Shozo Hirono is the character based upon the author, but not the lead in every one of the films. Calm and honourable, he’s permanently being undermined by the hot-headed behaviour and back stabbing of Yakuza in his own and others’ families.

The Yakuza life, is presented as less than glamorous, shabby, even. Violence, when it breaks out, is realistically gritty, clumsy and brutal, more scuffle and brawl than bullet ballet. If, like me, you have problems keeping track of characters’ names, it gets tricky following exactly which factions are working with or against each other. But that’s just me.

The series is- Battles without Honour And Humanity, Hiroshima Death Match, Proxy Wars, Police Tactics and Final Episode. Special features on the Arrow Video releases include some interesting featurette documentaries, interviewing the series’ fight co-ordinator, one of the script writers and an assistant director, as well as revealing the ‘Piranha Army’ of bit players who kept the backgrounds full of activity.


Minor Birthday

“Happy Minor Birthday.” Seth held his shot glass up over the table.

Frankie raised her glass and clinked it against Seth’s. “One day, soon, I’m going to make you stop forcing me to celebrate this.” she said, wincing at the clumsiness of her declaration. They knocked back the spirits, throats burning and lips strangely numbed.

“Never! You’re a first. A trail blazer! A miracle! A….” Usually, Seth had to be much more drunk before he started describing her birth in these terms.

“Freak?”

“Not a freak. Never a freak. I mean, look at all the bag babies there are now. All those preemies who wouldn’t have lived before you. And you, the first of them.”

“The first to survive. All the ones before me died. There’s a reason my middle name’s Miracle. I know they would all have died anyway, they were so premature. But I have to wonder how I survived and they didn’t. Sometimes I imagine their ghosts looking at me, all angry because I got out alive and they didn’t.” Frankie turned her shot glass over and tapped the table top with it. “What is this stuff? Why’s it filling me with melancholy and misery?”

“It’s one of Will’s concoctions. He gave me the shots free for feedback. Wants to make up a batch and sell it across the bar. You don’t like it?”

“Maybe I’m just not in the mood. I need brandy.”

Seth turned in his seat and leaned on the bar. Will spotted him immediately, and navigated his way around the bar staff. “Well?” he asked.

Frankie unrolled her phone and checked her messages. She didn’t want to give her opinion on the drink. Seth’s hand waggled in the air, the wavering sign for so-so. Will hid his disappointment well. “Double brandy, and a pint of the Earl Grey lager, please.”

“Dinesh is stuck on a tram. Everyone else says they’ll be here in the next half hour or so.” Frankie told Seth when he put the tumbler of dark gold liquid down before her.

“Including the dishy Darius?”

Frankie blushed. “Can we not mention the Minor Birthday thing to him. I haven’t told him yet.”

“If he’s with the others, one of them will have blabbed already. And I may, maybe, have already mentioned it’s your Minor Birthday when I invited him. Just the name, not the full, gory explanation.” Seth turned to pick up his lager, avoiding her glare.

“Fucking wonderful. Everybody wants to know all about the procedure when they find out. ‘You were taken out of your mother’s womb how many months early?’ ‘Are those bags really see-through? Could you see the lab you were grown in?’ ‘What was it like?’” The voice Frankie put on got squeakier with each question. She picked up the tumbler and swirled the brandy around.

She wasn’t angry at Seth. He meant well. Sooner or later, with everyone she met, the subject of her birth came up. Everyone was interested in the process. Too many had an opinion on the ethics of bringing a baby to term in an artificial womb when they wouldn’t survive in their mother’s. The worst were the ones who thought she needed protecting.

Seth had a smile, that annoying one that meant he knew something she didn’t. “What?”

“Oh, nothing. I mean, I’ve already let out one person’s secrets today. I really shouldn’t do it.”

“What is it? Something about Darius?”

“Well, speak of the devil.” Seth pointed over Frankie’s left shoulder.

She turned quickly, and there was Darius, over by the door. He spotted them, smiled and waved. He was achingly gorgeous, about as beautiful as any man could be. Was he some sort of freak, just like her?

Oh, she hoped so. She really did.


I promise I’m only housing vampires in one of these towers

I’m not a big fan of all these plans to build higher and shinier and more expensive towers in the city centre. I can’t shake the feeling that more down to Earth developments, aimed at people on an average wage or below, and not backed by the super wealthy, would have a harder time getting planning permission. But I am a natural cynic.

Zombies vs Vampires got a big bit of inspiration from Gary Neville’s plans (even if I put my versions somewhere else by accident), and it feels like I may be tapping into something of relevance with my ‘1% lording it over the 99%’ narrative.

Take a look at some of the towers and skyscrapers which could sprout up around the city centre over the next few years

Source: 18 skyscrapers and towers that could transform Manchester’s skyline – Manchester Evening News


Forensics lab ‘manipulation’ could mean ‘hundreds were wrongly convicted’ – police chief

This has been sitting in an open tab for a while. It could make for a good plot point in a future Ran & Bullets storyline. I must investigate further.

People could have been wrongly convicted following allegations of “data manipulation” at a forensics lab in Manchester, a police chief constable has warned.The head of the Dorset force, Debbie Simpson, said 484 cases were being reviewed after a criminal probe was launched into the matter.Two men have been arrested by Greater Manchester Police (GMP) over allegations that hundreds of cases handled by Randox Testing Services were affected by what the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) called “data manipulation”.

Source: Forensics lab ‘manipulation’ could mean ‘hundreds were wrongly convicted’ – police chief | Granada – ITV News