The World Grand Master of Horror, James Herbert paid a visit to Tesco Books Blog and shared with us his all time favourite scary movie and TV moments from classic black and white movies!
Like many other interested watchers of horror movies, I’ve become a little inured to their shock or chill factor over the years. It’s as if repetition and familiarity have somehow dulled their impact, the sight of gushing blood and severed limbs no longer as upsetting (or titillating) as it used to be, the fright somehow diminished because of imitation. It’s as if we are becoming conditioned to terror, both the real kind and the invented.
I still have my memories though. I can remember truly scary movies moments and the impact they had on me at the time. The gnarled hairy hand that slid into view on the banister at the top of the stairs in the black and white classic The Old Dark House (1932). The small fossilised primate’s hand that cruelly twisted its bearer’s wrist when a wish was made upon it in The Monkey’s Paw (1948), and the knocking on the cottage door in the dead of night when a mother wished for her son to return from his premature grave.
On television, Nigel Kneale’s The Quatermass Experiment (1953) made its indelible mark on my psyche. How could I ever forget the astronaut fresh from space, a plant eating his body as some alien force possessed him, or Westminster Abbey eventually being taken over by bristling alien-controlled foliage so that its interior resembled some Gothic conservatory? This followed by Quatermass and the Pit (1958), in which the ghosts of centuries-dead Martians haunted the London Underground, and the ethereal devil-creature in the serial’s last episode hovering over the city, driving both man and beast insane. Again, all in glorious black and white.
In the cinema, who could forget the blurred looming figure behind the plastic curtains as Janet Leigh takes a shower in Psycho (1960)? And later, when the plump detective climbs the staircase inside the Bates’ gloomy and sinister abode, the door at the top opening and a person rushing out, gleaming carving knife held high, all of this viewed brilliantly from overhead so that nothing is given away? The finale, the discovery of the rotted thing in the fruit cellar below, made even more terrifying by the swinging shadows and hysterically high-pitched violin screams? I get goosebumps just thinking of it.
Having written several novels about war, some five years ago I was invited to Ypres (‘Wipers’ to the British Tommy) to an international conference of writers who had written on this difficult subject.
On visiting the museum in Ypres, In Flanders Field, the most moving museum I have ever been in – you can hardly speak when you come out – I came across a telegram sent to a mother in Salford in 1916, informing her that her son had been shot for cowardice at dawn. I stood there feeling just a little of the great grief that mother must have felt on receiving this terrible news, knowing her life and her family’s lives must have been blighted forever.
I had the good fortune then to meet the museum’s director, Piet Chielens, and I asked him if he knew how many British soldiers had been executed in the First World War. Over three hundred, he said, some for desertion, some for cowardice, and two for falling asleep at their posts. I read some of the records of their trials, many of which lasted less than half an hour. Half an hour for a man’s life. Through all of this I noted a presumption of guilt, not innocence. Often soldiers were unrepresented, often no witnesses were called in their defence. Many were clearly shell-shocked – a trauma already well recognised and understood at the time. Many men, officers mostly, suffering from shell-shock were sent home for treatment. Not so these unfortunates. Condemned as ‘worthless men’, three thousand were sentenced to death. Of these, three hundred were shot.
One case I read was a young soldier who had fought all through the Battle of the Somme in 1916, witnessed the slaughter and the horror, but one day in rest camp decided that he couldn’t stand the sound of the guns any longer. He made a run for it, was arrested,court-martialed, and condemned to death. Six weeks later he was taken outside at dawn and shot. Men from his own company were compelled to make up the firing squad. To protest, and to honour the man they had been forced to kill, they stood by his grave all day till sunset.
Time out. Time flies. Time’s a-wasting. There are more expressions for time than there are minutes in an hour. Yet it occurred to me, a couple of years ago, while watching a deer run across an open field, that man is the only creature who tracks time. That deer had no concern if it was 1:30 or 2:45. It didn’t know its birthday or how many shopping days until Christmas.
Man alone checks his watch. Man alone chimes the hour. And because of this, man alone suffers a paralyzing fear that the deer, the antelope, the bird or the fish never suffers. A fear of time running out.
This became the backdrop to my newest novel, “The Time Keeper.” Many people ask me “How do you come up with your book ideas?” This is how. I try to chose subjects based on moments like the one I just described – a sort of lumber slap to the head that makes you say, “Wow, yeah, that’s so true and obvious, why am I just now thinking about it?’’
Once I had the subject of time, I asked myself the second question I ask before I write a book: does anyone else care about this besides me? The answer was obvious. The whole world has become time-crazy. We can’t go anywhere without a digital read-out, phones, computers, an overhead display. We want to live longer. Stay young. Cheat death. Work forever. So yes, others care. Maybe too much.
Lastly, when I try to tackle a big subject – and time is huge – I try to find a small-story way to do it. I did this with a fable in “The Five People You Meet In Heaven” when taking on the afterlife. For this book, I tried a magical, imagined legend of Father Time – not as an old, haggard skeleton, but as a young man, the first man on earth to begin to measure the sun, moon, days, months. He pays a huge price; he is forced to live forever, to see the consequences of man counting time. Ultimately he learns what I have learned – and this is usually where my books end up, with something I have learned – that the reason we don’t live forever is that, if we did, nothing would be precious. Our days are precious precisely because they are limited, which forces us to wisely choose how we spend that forever diminishing entity – time.
It made for an imaginative tale and, as most good books do, a lot of self-inspection. I hope people enjoy it, as I await the next lumber slap.
Buy The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom from 4th September online and in-store!
Hello Tesco Books Blog readers and welcome to our blog about our first ever official Little Mix book!
We’ve had so much fun writing about our childhoods, style secrets, the tour, our X Factor experiences and each other, and we just couldn’t wait to share an exclusive snippet with you all. Fashion is a big passion of ours, so we thought why not start there?
Being put together as a band was the best thing that ever happened to us – none of us could imagine singing on our own now – but we’ve all got our own individual styles and looks and think it’s important to be yourself and wear what works for you. Now we’ve even got our own cute little icons to represent us!
Take a sneak peak at the behind the scenes video from the photo shoot for our book and read on to find out about our own personal style tips and secrets!
Some people say they can’t cook. I just don’t buy that. The key to great cooking isn’t just the ingredients you use. It’s what’s in your mind. Great cooking is about confidence. And skill.
I just want to teach you how to cook and enjoy good food at home. I’m going to strip away all the hard graft and complexity and show you how anyone can produce easy, delicious, mouth-watering and bulletproof recipes at home in my new TV show and book, my Ultimate Cookery Course. Put simply, I’m going to show you how to cook yourself into a better cook.
To celebrate my book’s publication I’ll be cooking my delicious pork chops with peppers live on Twitter @GordonRamsay01 at 6pm on the 13th September straight after the TV show airs and I want you all to cook-along with me. I’ll be tweeting step-by-step instructions and pictures as I go. You’ll be amazed how two such simple things can taste so good together. The sweet and sour peppers really cut through the richness of the beautifully sautéed chops and make for a really good, quick supper dish.
From car mechanic to internationally loved opera, musical and recording star: this is the story of Alfie Boe…
Alfie is the first official bad boy of opera: a musical superstar celebrated not only in Britain, but worldwide. This is the story of his life – the ups and the downs, from finding fame to losing his father – and, essentially, of his love affair with music.
Raised in Lancashire, the youngest of nine children and with a father who played opera at home, Alfie’s story is not typical of most musical stars. His dreams of singing were only ever going to be dreams until fate intervened in the form of a stranger: he was training as a car mechanic when a customer overheard him singing and told him about a London audition. Alfie tried out, got the part and has never since looked back.
This is the tale of how Alfie went from car mechanic to the UK’s most popular and well-known opera star, lauded by Baz Luhrman, Cameron Macintosh and Michael Parkinson!
And here’s the man himself introducing the book in his own words.
And for you lucky Alfie fans out there we have 10 signed copies of his autobiography along with 10 signed copies of his bestselling CD, Alfie.
Alfie has been an inspiration to millions of people! So to be in with a chance of winning simply tell us in the comments section below who your greatest inspiration is and why!
When I first started writing the Skulduggery Pleasant series, I had no idea if I’d ever get the chance to finish it. A nine book series, comprising of three trilogies to tell the one story, seemed a tad ambitious for someone who’d never written a book before. It was because of this ambition – this wild, illogical, unrealistic ambition – that I am now seven books in and getting stronger as I go.
Kingdom of the Wicked is, essentially, the beginning of the end. This is where the final trilogy kicks off, where the story threads and themes and characters all come together one last time for the big finish. Sure, it’s a little daunting, especially when my mind strays to the enormity of what’s in store in the next two books, but anything worth doing is bound to rattle a few nerves here and there.
I’ve got a lot riding on this. Not only my expectations, but also the expectations of the readers I’ve picked up along the way. They’ve trusted me to guide them through this, they’ve trusted me that I know where we’re headed… and the truth is, I don’t. I don’t know how this series ends. I know what the last book is about, I know certain things that need to happen in order for various storylines to be resolved, but I don’t know how it ends. Will it be a happy ending, with Skulduggery and Valkyrie walking off into the sunset? Will one of them sacrifice themselves to save the other? Or will it all end in one giant explosion of fire and magic and tragedy?
I don’t know. If it makes you feel better, I really hope they have a happy ending. But sometimes the story goes where the story goes, and the characters do what the characters do, and the writer just has to sit back and document it all. I want a happy ending. I need a happy ending. But I don’t know if I’ll get a happy ending.
Introducing the SORTED crew - a bunch of childhood friends, led by trained chef Ben Ebbrell, who decided to help each other out with cooking dilemmas when they all left home to go to university.
Now they are 25-year-old graduates and are broadcasting fuss-free recipes to hundreds of thousands of viewers and subscribers on their SortedFood channel on YouTube… the most popular cookery channel on the site. With over a million video views a month, the Sorted recipes demonstrate how to knock up meal after meal of cracking food, seasoned with a healthy dose of fun.
Whether a complete recipe rookie, a busy parent in need of inspiration, or a student faced with a small food budget, their new cookbook, Beginners Get… Sorted, will help solve all of your own kitchen dilemmas, providing a little extra cooking confidence and inspiration.
For as long as I can remember, I have been looking for ‘my’ story. Beginning when I was about seven or eight years old, I read book after book with a hungry need. I turned the pages and searched for something that would fill this empty space inside of me. The search continued through all my schooling – I read and wrote and found little clues. I wanted something about the natural world. I wanted survivors, those brave enough to forge rivers and face the wilderness alone. I wanted love. I wanted Alaska.
In college, I started out as a creative writing major but quickly found it wasn’t my place. The stories we read and wrote were so far from the magical, dark woods of my childhood imagination, and the direction was so vague and bizarrely undermining, as if the instructors weren’t sure there was a method to art, and if there was they might not want to share it. I found a home, instead, in the journalism department.
After graduation, my husband and I moved back to Alaska and I started as an intern at our local newspaper, The Frontiersman. During the next decade, I worked in a cramped, rowdy newsroom, and made some of the best friends of my life. We rushed to wildfires to shoot photographs of burning hillsides. We rode in helicopters to survey river flood damage. We covered murder trials, school board regulations and city water disputes. These stories were important to our neighbors, sometimes even to higher ideals like democracy and community. They never came close to that empty place inside of me. But I felt the contentedness of someone who has put in a good day’s work.
But I had a secret. My entire adult life, I had been lying to myself: I never loved journalism or non-fiction. I didn’t rush to buy the morning newspapers like some of my old newsroom friends. I let magazines and books of essays sit unread on my shelves. And only very rarely did reading an essay make me want to be a better writer.
Author Michelle Paver is back with the first instalment of her five book children’s, Gods and Warriors!
Michelle has written a blog post for us, introducing Gods and Warriors, telling us where her inspiration came from and why she loves ancient Greece and ancient Egypt so much.
A boy is on the run in the mountains. The night before, warriors raided his camp. Now his dog is dead, his sister’s missing, and he’s running for his life – although he doesn’t know why.
Gods and Warriors is my new five-book series. It’s set in the exotic, spectacular world of the Mediterranean Bronze Age: a time of chariots and chieftains, priestesses, magic, and above all, adventure.