New name and new cover for Generation

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Sometimes, after working long and hard to make book sales, you finally realise that you’ve got the cover wrong, and the name too!the-donated-_final

Generation has been re-launched as The Donated with a new cover.

Generation was a favourite name for me after dozens of brainstorming sessions, seeking feedback and thinking of how it might come across. But without the benefit of years in the publishing industry, it only slowly became clear that potential readers were confused about the genre and what might be in the book.

A re-brand was necessary to put the book firmly in the Thriller genre and a new cover to let people know they were buying a thriller yarn — all be it with and injection of horror 😉

In addition, a new Hendrix Harrison novel is planned to be released next year, and I wanted a themed cover style and title that more accurately reflected the two books together.

So, here it is. I hope you like it.



Scared sleepless by your own plotting?


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You might think that novel writing was a safe and introverted activity. But because you are left to revel in the dingy recesses of you own mind, the daily pursuit of plots and story lines can make you thoughtless, depressed, obsessed, paranoid, and sometimes, scared witless.

When sleep is disturbed by plotting

When sleep is disturbed by plotting

You have to imagine it to write it. You have to create a scene or conversation in your head, remember it for long enough to describe it with your fingertips tapping on a plastic keyboard and then check it makes sense by staring at blue-glowing screen, often at the loneliest times of day.

And when you aren’t actively typing or editing, the mind continues to work. The reassuring clunk of a closing car door, or bees humming on the honeysuckle, perhaps your child screaming “he spat at me” or the bonkers contrast in mood before and after sex. All these precious moments cannot be lost (like tears in rain); they must be collected and collated, morphed and merged, formed and edited. The mind endlessly churns to make characters or scenes believable and rich with specific detail.

So when you read that, “The females [blowfly] will lay their eggs on the body, especially around the natural orifices such as the nose, eyes, ears, anus, penis and vagina,” it’s like projecting a mini horror film directly onto your neurons, and they strive to make connections with the current work in progress. It is an attempt to complete a giant, endless jigsaw: Oh, here’s a good piece I think that will fit in chapter 2, when Hendrix inspects the forensic enclosure.

And it’s not something that can be turned on or off just because of the inconveniences of real life. No. My children want attention, but I’m trying to rearrange an omen to the right place in the book. The last thing I want is to fix a Minecraft server error, or help defeat an end of level boss.

And when “…the cadaver is swollen by gas produced internally, and is accompanied by odour of decaying flesh,” pops into your head while at dinner with friends, it’s difficult not to blurt out where you think the reference is going to fit.

But for me at least, the dark side is always there. Generation has an artery of horror running through it and of course the book has themes of forensics, genetics and decomposition that are explored in depth.

The research, and subsequent churning, gave me nightmares of the sort an adult rarely experiences, and it didn’t help that, given my wife sometimes works on call, I was researching into the small hours when there really are things that go bump in the night.

At this time, when the house is dark and the only company is the orange shine of the distant city, decay lurks in every corner, “… flesh turns to cream cheese and the exposed body parts turn black.”
My mind does not rest just because it is supposed to. It works to fill gaps in dialogue and add twists to story lines. And it should not be constrained. Where it goes, so goes my mood, my attention and sometimes my sleep.

Your brain is both your best friend and your worst enemy.

But who’d live without it?



Beware of man-made monsters created in laboratory

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Genetic modification has been a horror in literature and the media for a generation; from Wyndham’s Triffids to Knight’s Zombies, Herbert’s Rats to Boulle’s Gorrillas. Yet grey ooze has failed to devour the countryside, and GM corn can actually be quite tasty. Does that mean our fears are groundless?


In 2001 the New Scientist reported that researchers had isolated a gene for regenerating damaged organs from the DNA of a South American flatworm – Planarian schmidtea mediterranea.

Like other planarians, Schmidtea mediterranea exhibits an extraordinary ability to regenerate lost body parts. For example, a planarian split lengthwise or crosswise will regenerate into two separate individuals.

Isolating genes has become routine, but results remain sensitive due to the potential for commercial exploitation and success could yield extreme rewards.

A gene for regeneration is a case in point. If ageing could be stopped or even reversed, and diseased or damaged organs regrown, life could be extended well beyond a natural span. No longer would you expect to retire and wait for death. You might remain fulfilled and active for ever, your worn out parts simply regrown and replaced.

At an office somewhere around about now, a lead scientist is telling the board how to turn a Genetic Modification for regeneration into a product that can be injected directly into the bloodstream by recombining human DNA with that of the planarian.

“The key to the entire treatment is the flatworm. In 1999 a project at Utah University discovered that silencing the flatworm’s smedwi-2 gene switched on an ancient ability for regeneration. But the team was unable to establish which genes were responsible for differentiating the re-growing stem cells into the correct body parts. After all, we don’t want muscle cells growing in the eyes, or cardiac cells turning up in the neural cortex.”

“My team has expanded their work and isolated the accountable genes. This gives a mechanism for continuously repairing old or damaged tissues. Potentially forever.”

“The regeneration genes are inserted into the retro-virus T156 and incubated in Xeno pigs kept in sterile conditions. The pigs have a perfect human immune response. They are the manufacturing plant for the virus. Within two weeks of infection, each pig harbours billions of viruses in every organ of its body.”

“We harvest the active agent by separating the pig tissues from the virus. It is a remarkably low-tech process, mostly concerned with agriculture and swine herding.”

“The harvested virus is injected directly into the blood stream where it will be taken up by a small percentage of cells. The protein subsequently synthesised, switches latent regenerative introns into activity, and it is this function which causes damaged organs to repair.”

Is this scenario fiction?Very early in the development of recombinant DNA techniques, the public feared that mad scientists would create GMOs (genetically modified organisms) with unanticipated and potentially dangerous properties; grey ooze would flood the country side devouring everything in its path.

The concern led to a proposal for a voluntary moratorium on recombinant DNA research in 1974, and to a meeting in 1975 at the Asilomar Conference Centre in California.

Participants at Asilomar agreed to safety standards, including the use of disabled bacteria that were unable to survive outside the laboratory. While this conference quelled much of the media frenzy  it also led to a rapid expansion of powerful technologies.

That was nearly forty years ago!

Since then the human genome has been completely decoded by Craig Venter, and a host of Genetically modified organisms have been released into the environment, particularly for use in agriculture.

While nobody is yet claiming to have created a GM human, the technology exists and is certain, one day, to be put into practice.



Your readers will love the rich taste of good eating

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Eating starts and ends all the events in Generation, from the tarmac table of the opening scene to the al fresco irony of the final twist. But to describe these bracketing meals as cosy dinners for two would be to misunderstand the relationship between the food and the eater.


I’d not given it a whole lot of thought before, but when Shelly Workinger asked me to write a guest blog that focused on the eating habits of my characters I discovered that food and eating cut a path right through Generation as if I’d thought about it.

Because that’s the funny thing about writing. You never know what you put in, and it’s up to the reader to pull it out for you and tell you what you really wrote about.

So when I discovered that Hendrix Harrison often stopped for a hamburgers and lettuce drowning in mayonnaise or that Sarah Wallace (the rather too smart entomologist) controlled her students by bringing them, “…something to eat to stop you leaving the chair…” I realised the characters really did have a life of their own that was not planned on a spreadsheet or even intended. It’s as if they made their own choices. This is the sort of thing they talk about in writing books.

Actually, I feel quite proud now.

So please take a peek at Shelly’s blog, and leave a comment. It means a lot to us writers if you get involved.



Generation — Crime with an injection of horror

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gen cov 2 with aia THUMBA body goes missing from a forensic research enclosure operated by Newcastle University, and the sick pranksters use it to scare elderly residents of a rural Northumberland town. At least that’s what the police think. But when a partially decayed corpse washes up on the river bank, journalist Hendrix ‘Aitch’ Harrison links the investigation to an international drug company that specialises in Genetic Modification.

It’s not the normal thing for Aitch, psychologically discharged from the services and unable to get on with the technological innovation beloved of the rest of the hacks, he’s more used to big-beast stories and lunar-landing conspiracies. Yet the company’s vindictive actions get him blacklisted by all the national publications and sacked from his job.

Teaming up with the delicious and intelligent forensic entomologist at the university, and fighting the company’s escalating measures to keep its activities hidden, Hendrix peels back layers of lies and violence to reveal the grisly fate of the drugged bodies donated to scientific research.



GeNeRation Deleted Scenes

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I’m putting together a collection of deleted scenes from Generation. This is for both die-hard fans of Hendrix Harrison and to illuminate the writing/editing process.

As an author, it’s instructive to read about the experiences of others and particularly instructive to realise that, no matter at which stage of the novel production process you find yourself, you are not alone. Generation went through a long development stage, and more drafts than I care to think about. Over its eight year gestation, I think the book was entirely replaced — regenerated if you like — at least three times.

The collection comprises of a range of scenes that were cut from early drafts, and also a few that so nearly made it. Each scene is preceded by my own comments on why it was cut and any other observations that seem relevant.

I’ll be putting a new one up from time to time, so check back. I hope you enjoy them.

Deleted Scenes On Facebook



“A stain that won’t wash”

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Could I view my own decay?

What price eternal life? A dead prison harbouring a living mind.
This is the premise of Generation, a completely original take on the living dead.
I’m a great fan of horror and for me the best, like this, offer a stage to play out more troubling implications.

With a world of zombie novels clamouring for attention William Knight has provided a view, through flyblown eyes, of what life as the dead could be like.

Poetic and poignant, I found myself asking, would I go there? Is my drive for life so strong I could view my own decay?

Generation is a multi-levelled horror that does not shirk from the gorier details whilst building on a truly horrific theme.

Well researched, William Knight provides a putrid taste of things to come.
Following the strong central character, Hendrix, the horrible possibilities of genetic engineering are revealed.

The story escalates rapidly into a conspiracy cocktail turned real. The efforts of the powerful to hide their actions pushing Hendrix into revealing deeper secrets.

On one level it shows the collapse of morality when tempted by limitless profit. On another it shows the extremes people will go to when pursued and defamed.  Then there are the motivations of those offered an apparent escape from death.

Trapped between them are the stars of the show, the dead. Beautifully written, these tragic characters elicit real sympathy as they exude Struldbrugian sadness.

Each of the dead is trapped in a recurring nightmare from which the only escape is torment and fire, consigned to hell.

These are my favourite parts of Generation, where indeed the real mind games begin and the implications start to work on the subconscious.

It is rare for me to experience physical and spiritual horror within the pages of a novel. Generation leaves a lasting impression, a stain that won’t wash out.