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Tuesday, 25 September 2018

The Bedlam Detective price promotion: $1.99 from digital retailers

Crown are running a price promotion on The Bedlam Detective ebook from now until October 7th, with an additional targeted placement to 3 million Bookbub subscribers in the US and Canada on October 1st.

Click the 'Buy' option on the Penguin/Random House Bedlam Detective page for a drop-down menu of digital retailers, or click on any of these links:

Alongside Crown's promotion, during the week of October 1st-5th you can download One Dove: A Sebastian Becker Story for free. This offer is worldwide.

Click here or on the image in the sidebar to link to your region's provider.

Monday, 9 July 2018

Coming Soon

Publication November 2nd 2018. Paperback and ebook.

In the lobby of a Blackpool hotel, one year after the end of the Great War, Britain's spymaster recruits a young sideshow fortune-teller for a mission of historic importance.

A standalone novella from the author of the Sebastian Becker novels The Kingdom of Bones, The Bedlam Detective, and The Authentic William James.

The Sebastian Becker Stories: Reviews

The New York Times: "The Kingdom of Bones... shows the occult mystery in its best light. Vividly set in England and America during the booming industrial era of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, this stylish thriller conjures a perfect demon to symbolize the age and its appetites… although Gallagher delivers horror with a grand melodramatic flourish, his storytelling skills are more subtly displayed in scenes of the provincial theaters, gentlemen’s sporting clubs and amusement parks where a now-vanished society once took its rough pleasures.”

The Sunday Times, London: "From its attention-grabbing opening, this period thriller moves back and forth in time to tell a compelling story of a man battling against what he believes to be demonic forces … [Gallagher] is brilliantly successful at evoking the shifting, transient world of travelling theatres and cheap carnivals that provide the backdrop to his twisting tale."

Ed Gorman: "He's an elegant stylist, a shrewd psychologist and a powerful storyteller with enormous range and depth. I finished his latest novel The Kingdom of Bones and I was honestly stunned by what he'd done. The sweep, the majesty, the grit, the grue, the great grief (and the underpinning of gallows humor from time to time). This is not only the finest novel I've read this year but the finest novel I've read in the past two or three years."

Kirkus Reviews: (for The Bedlam Detective, 100 Best Fiction selection for 2012) “Monsters, actual and metaphorical, are at the heart of this superbly crafted thriller. Gallagher loves character development but respects plotting enough to give it full measure. The result is that rare beast, a literary page turner.”

Jonny Lee Miller, via Twitter: "Just finished Stephen Gallagher’s The Bedlam Detective. Only bad thing about his books is that they eventually end. Brilliant."

New York Times: “Gallagher's detective is a man of fine character and strong principles, but he's upstaged by the monsters he pursues. Watching Becker track down a pedophile is gratifying, but it can't beat the sight of 20 overburdened boats hurtling through white-water rapids or Sir Owain, armed to the teeth and blasting away at giant serpents only he can see.”

The Historical Novel Society: “It’s certainly a thriller, but with a literary depth unusual in the genre, and fascinating in the complexity of its construct. Gallagher’s prose is swift, sure, and occasionally darkly comedic… Three words of advice: read this book.”

Stephen Volk: “It's a blinding novel (The Authentic William James)… each chapter had me chuckling with joy—if not at the acerbic wit, the brilliant dialogue—the sheer spot-on elegance of the writing: the plot turns, the pin sharp beats. Always authoritative and con-vincing, never showy. Magnificently realised characters in a living breathing world... Absolutely stunning.”

Publishers Weekly (starred): “British author Gallagher gives Sebastian Becker another puzzle worthy of his quirky sleuth’s acumen in his outstanding third pre-WWI mystery... Gallagher makes the most of his unusual concept in the service of a twisty but logical plot line.”

About the Author

Stoker and World Fantasy Award nominee, winner of British Fantasy and International Horror Guild Awards for his short fiction, Stephen Gallagher has built a career both as a novelist and as a creator of primetime miniseries and episodic television. His fourteen novels include Valley of Lights, Down River, The Spirit Box, and Nightmare, With Angel.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

The Brooligan Press

The Brooligan Press website is now up and running, with details of all the titles in our list and global links for ordering paperbacks and ebooks.

Monday, 14 May 2018

The British Horror Movie You'll Never Get to See, and Why

Last weekend found me back in Pooley Bridge. It's a village at the northern tip of Ullswater in the Lake District with a post office, a couple of pubs, a handful of tourist shops, a posh bistro, and a steamer pier. Ullswater is, for my money, the fairest of the Lakes, and the village was the model for the settlement that I called Ravens Bridge in my novel The Boat House.

It's the story of a Russian hitchhiker who goes to ground there in the 1980s, on the run from the authorities and from the Soviet-era police agent sent to track her down. She stays because the woods and lakes remind her of her Karelian homeland, a place she was forced to leave because of a growing obsession with deaths by drowning. She finds a seasonal job and a place to crash, and works hard to put down some roots.

I messed about with the place for fictional purposes, of course. I put a lakeside restaurant on the steamer pier and gifted the town a boatyard. I had form for this; it was in the adjacent valley of Martindale that I'd found the setting for my first 'proper' novel, Chimera, just a few years before, and early efforts to teach myself some basic movie skills had involved a 16mm camera, a rented shooting lodge on the Dalemain estate, and a group of press-ganged friends and coworkers.

With The Boat House I can fairly say that I suffered for my art. To research Alina's backstory I made a rail trip from Helsinki to St Petersburg and came home with a dose of Hepatitis A, courtesy of the kitchen hygiene at the Europiskaya Hotel. This made for a somewhat fevered writing process but the result, heavily edited with a cooler head, felt exciting and unique. It took a while to get published, but when the book deal came it was a good one. It wasn't long before screen rights were optioned by a respected producer, and with her I produced a treatment that snagged us Film Council development funding. By now her feature-director husband had become involved. The resulting script drew in a major studio. An A-list cinematographer was attached and a top-notch production designer - if you've ever worked in film you'll know how utterly crucial to a movie's look and tone that is - headed up to the Lakes to start finding locations. It was at this point that I was out.

That's right; I was fired from my own project, on the 'would benefit from a fresh eye' pretext. In this case the fresh eye was that of the director's assistant, a young woman with no writing credits then or since, who gave the screenplay a page one rewrite that pretty much put an end to the studio's interest.

What followed was a perplexing time. My unused screenplay was earning its keep as a personal sample and fetching me new work, while those producers kept on commissioning scripts from other writers. I'm not sure how many but after five I stopped counting. These weren't rewrites, but new first drafts. I didn't see them all, but I did see a couple. One was a competent job with no one's heart in it, while the other script wouldn't have got the writer past the door of a film school.

Here's the problem; all this time, the meter had been running. Even bad scripts don't come cheap, and nor do feature film department heads. By the time the option ran out the charges against the production were somewhere north of £125,000. That's money that would need to be repaid on the first day of principal photography by anyone taking the property on. Chump change for an American studio, I know; but The Boat House is a British Picture, albeit one with a Lewtonesque vibe. It's closely bound to a landscape with a specific sense of place, and that kind of money is a budget killer for any British producer.

And that's why, barring a miracle, you'll never see the movie.

So what's prompted me to be telling you this now? Well, getting back after a four-hour walk on the hottest day of the year so far, I called into the Post Office to pick up a cold beer or two. Don't judge me, I'd earned it. The Lake District boasts a number of craft brewery labels, but one in particular caught my eye; on the front the image of an ethereal lake creature, and on the back, "By the historic Coniston Copper Mines, mythical Asrai emerge from the caves above the moonlit Levers Water. Cold and pure, these elusive creatures fear capture by man lest they fade away and turn into pools of water."

Mythical Asrai? Moonlit waters? That's pure Boat House stuff. Dang. Where was this brew when I was writing?  For inspiration I'll take it over Hep A any time.

Pooley Bridge took a severe battering in the storms and winter floods of 2015, and its charming sixteenth century river crossing was destroyed and swept away. For the short term it's been replaced by a temporary metal bridge with a permanent replacement planned for construction later in the year. A number of padlocks on the ironwork have begun to appear this season, like the ones that brought down the parapet on the Pont des Artes in Paris.

I guess if you want to hedge your bets when declaring undying love, a forever lock on a temporary bridge is the way to go.

Friday, 11 May 2018

Two New Titles from The Brooligan Press

Available now... two new trade paperback titles from The Brooligan Press.

Frankenstein's Prescription Banished to an isolated rural for killing a fellow student in a duel, Hans Schneider meets the mysterious Dr Lavenza and learns about Frankenstein's prescriptionthe secret of eternal life. Together, Schneider and Lavenza set out to collect the missing pieces of the formula. But they are not alone. From Germany to Rome, from Rome to Paris, to the failed and wretched Eden of an all-too-human God, a dreadful creature follows in their wake and brings destruction wherever they go.

First appearance in paperback. "A unique piece of work; fast, funny, and with a terrific sense of period and place. Frankenstein's Prescription reads like the bastard creation of Jonathan Swift and Jimmy Sangster."

The Companion A broken church window, smashed in a bid to contain the power trapped within its stained glass... The desperate sobbing of a child who isn’t there... When restoration expert Kit Farris moves into the adjoining Grange with his three daughters, how can he possibly know what dark forces his work will unleash?

Previously published as Shapeshifter, now appearing for the first time under its original title in an edition revised and expanded by the author. "An excellent book, which celebrates and transcends genre. As much family story as ghost story, a tense drama of abuse, neglect and longing... An old-fashioned ghost tale with a modern edge, consciously a tribute to M R James in its setting and atmosphere.” Neil Philip, The Times 

Wednesday, 21 February 2018


Sunday, 28 January 2018

The Northern Crime Quartet

A retrospective ‘umbrella title’ that’s become attached to four consecutive novels written during my publishing run with Hodder & Stoughton, just before the balance of my career tipped more toward screenwriting.

Four linked stories in a shared Northern landscape, playing variations on a theme of flawed good versus complex evil. Though it was never my intention, some were inclined to read it as a deliberate move to leave my horror/fantasy roots behind and claim a piece of the mainstream. It wasn't, but no matter. I was just looking to create different monsters.

Down River is the story of Nick Frazier and Johnny Mays, two childhood friends reunited as plainclothes police officers, one of them tragically unbalanced and ultimately dangerous. It features the promotion of Jennifer McGann from uniformed duties to CID trainee, and includes witness evidence from a teenaged hitchhiker named Lucy Ashdown.

In Nightmare, with Angel, a convicted criminal (Ryan O’Donnell) earns redemption through a self-sacrificing act that reconciles a lost child (Marianne Cadogan) with her equally lost father. Jennifer McGann is the investigating officer on her first big solo case.

Rain follows Down River’s hitchhiking teenager Lucy Ashdown to London in her murdered sister’s footsteps. She’s pursued by suspended DC Joe Lucas as a favour to her dad. She outwits Joe at every turn, but fails to see that the closer she gets to an answer, the closer she is to sharing her sister’s fate.

The Painted Bride focuses on the case of Frank Tanner, a car dealer whose wife has gone missing; no one believes he’s killed her apart from Molly Gideon, his sister-in-law. Molly’s a recovering heroin addict with no credibility, but she sacrifices everything to protect the children and bring him to justice.

They’re tales of ordinary people thrust into extraordinary circumstances. The settings are Northern cities, moorland, marshes and coastline, plus the ‘80s London of Rain and Nightmare’s European angle with the fall of the Berlin Wall. In each of the stories, the violent are broken and the victims are strong. They prevail.

Showreel for 2018

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Coming Soon

With a third, new collection of material to follow later in the year

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

The Spirit Box: first time in paperback

This is kind of exciting... following on from the mass-market publication of The Authentic William James comes the first paperback appearance of The Spirit Box, previously available in this gorgeously boxed format with a cover by Chris Moore:

The Spirit Box is closely followed by the paperback debut of The Painted Bride and then, for the first time ever, my backlist titles gathered together in a uniform edition. Not reprints, but new settings from the original texts.

Available now. You can find all these titles, plus links to the ebook editions, here.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Now in Paperback from Amazon, Waterstones, Barnes & Noble... you name it

As the Special Investigator to the Lord Chancellor’s Visitor in Lunacy, Sebastian Becker delivers justice to those dangerous madmen whose fortunes might otherwise place them above the law.

But in William James he faces a different challenge; to prove a man sane, so that he may hang. Did the reluctant showman really burn down a crowded pavilion with the audience inside? And if not, why is this British sideshow cowboy so determined to shoulder the blame?

The Authentic William James is the third novel to feature ex-police detective and former Pinkerton Man Sebastian Becker, joining The Kingdom of Bones and The Bedlam Detective.

Praising "this superbly crafted thriller", Kirkus Reviews named The Bedlam Detective one of their 100 Best of the Year and called it "that rare beast, a literary page turner".

MysteryTribune.Com described it as "a rare literary masterpiece for lovers of historical crime fiction."

Of The Authentic William James, author and screenwriter Stephen Volk (Ghostwatch, Afterlife, The Parts We Play) says:

"It's a blinding novel... the acerbic wit, the brilliant dialogue - the sheer spot-on elegance of the writing: the plot turns, the pin sharp beats. Always authoritative and convincing, never showy. Magnificently realised characters in a living breathing world... Absolutely stunning."
In their starred review of The Authentic William James, Publishers Weekly wrote:
"Gallagher gives Sebastian Becker another puzzle worthy of his quirky sleuth’s acumen in this outstanding third pre-WW1 mystery."
"Only bad thing about his books is that they eventually end. Brilliant.”
—Jonny Lee Miller