I started writing professionally in the late 1980s, contributing freelance articles to publications such as Record Collector, Book & Magazine Collector, New Scientist and Hammer Horror. At the same time, I was editing newsletters for clubs and societies, most notably ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha, the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Appreciation Society.
In 1995 I landed an amazing job as Staff Writer on a brand new magazine, SFX. For three years I lived the dream, interviewing writers, directors, actors, FX artists and others; watching film previews and visiting film sets. I also contributed to Future Publishing’s other titles, such as Cult TV, Comedy Review and Total Film, as well as editing a now very collectable one-shot Terry Pratchett’s Discworld magazine. In 1998, having been promoted to Deputy Editor, I left SFX to return to the real world.
For the next 15 years or so I continued to freelance for genre movie magazines, principally Fangoria for whom I was a regular contributor. Other titles on my CV include Shivers, Starburst, TV Zone, Video Watchdog, Psychotronic Video, MonsterScene, Monster Attack Team, Doctor Who Magazine, Scream and DeathRay. Nowadays I contribute the occasional article to The Dark Side or Infinity, just to keep my hand in.
Between 2000 and 2017 I ran Cult Films and the People Who Make Them, the longest running single author film site on the web, which eventually ran to more than 1,000 reviews and interviews, totalling over 1,500,000 words.
Hitchhiking the galaxy
Throughout the 1990s my interest in Hitchhiker’s Guide grew to the point where I became, accidentally, the world’s leading authority on the subject. To the extent that Douglas Adams’ PA would call me to find out the stuff that Douglas himself didn’t know. My first book The Pocket Essential Hitchhiker’s Guide, was published in 2001 shortly before Douglas left us. After his death, I was commissioned by Hodder Headline to write Hitchhiker: A Biography of Douglas Adams, which enabled me to give up my day-job (in arts funding) and be a full-time author for a couple of years.
You can read more about my Hitchhiker's Guide-related work on the archive of Planet Magrathea, a website I ran between 2003 and 2005.
British horror rises from the grave
During my three years on SFX I became aware that the completely moribund British horror film genre was spluttering back into life. Not by reanimated the creaky old Gothic horrors of the past but by melding horror tropes with social realism to create a new, distinctive, national cinematic identity. Someone else dubbed this the British Horror Revival and I ran with it, writing various magazine articles and starting a blog.
In 2010 Denis Meikle of Hemlock Books asked me to write a monthly blog for his website and two years later he persuaded me to write Urban Terrors: New British Horror Cinema 1997-2008, the first ever book on British horror films in the 21st century. (Sean Pertwee very kindly provided the foreword.)
By then it was clear that the British Horror Revival was not just thematically distinct but was a massive boom in the production and release of films, fuelled by new technology, utterly different from anything that had come before. I compiled my knowledge into a masterlist of films and set about adding to it.
For two decades now I have been scouring the web for information on new, recent and forthcoming British horror films. It’s been no easy task. There is no central repository of information anymore. Films can be released in any territory, through any channel, at any time. Film-makers can self-distribute their own works. Hours have been spent pouring over festival websites, foreign versions of Amazon, social media and other sources. The IMDb? Don’t make me laugh. Once you get past commercial blockbusters, that site’s completeness and accuracy drops off sharply.
The result is what you see here: an encyclopaedic guide to 20 years of homegrown horror cinema, much of it previously undocumented.
For many, many years now I have been working on a biography of Elsa Lanchester. Every so often I get back on the horse and do a bit more work. With this project now reaching its end stages, I really hope that I can finish Bride of the Hunchback at last.
I have a bunch of other books on non-cinema subjects that I want to write (or finish writing). It all depends on time.
By day, I work in the Marketing and Communications office of the University of Leicester. I have been there since 2008 and it has generally been quite cool. Especially that one time we found a dead king.