Book Notes

MØ40: Marshmallows


Morning Øutput #40


So we were about to wrap up a podcast recording when Cat burst into the room. I looked over, a little miffed. After all, this is my precious podcast time (I wonder if my dad ever used that phrase).

“Alaska’s something something," she blurted.

“What?” I said.

“Alaska’s having a reaction.”

So I looked over, nodded, looked back to Ben (who was patiently waiting on Skype to finish our recording), then I looked back to Alaska and the realisation hit me like an ice cube to the scrotum. 

Oh my god… Alaska’s having a reaction!

An allergic one!

Her usually smooth, fine, furry face had become marred with marshmallow bumps. She looked like a cumulus cloud. No, better yet, she looked like the header image on one of those BOTOX GONE BAD clickbait articles. Never use toasted sesame oil for your botox! Her cheeks were puffed right out and her eyes looked ready to prolapse. 

Panic immediately set in as we tried to work out what the hell was going on with our dog. Did we break her? What did we do? We'd read the manual and everything. I ran to the corner-shop to pick up some antihistamines and Cat got the vet’s number as she had a good look around for anything Alaska might’ve eaten.

I got back, wrapped some of the tablets in blocks of cheese, made her shake my hand for her meds. It’s only polite. And after ten minutes or so, it started to settle. We started to settle. The next morning her face was back to its lovely smooth finish and our little puppy was back. We still have no idea what it was that she ate. 

Nothing like a good scare to get the heart racing, though. 

If anybody has any ideas of what it might’ve been, I’d love to hear them. It's put us on edge a little bit, watching everything Alaska eats. I think we're giving her a complex. 

It all reminded me of this sketch with Nick Frost:



The Work I Done This Week

I hit the 60k mark of They Ruin and I’m currently working on the denouement. I’m expecting to wrap up my draft by today or tomorrow. If you’ve been reading our Rot books, let me tell you, this is the most action-packed book in the series. It’s out-and-out brutal in spots. It follows Colin’s journey to London to find his wife and child. He takes Joanna, Sunny, and Dylan along for the ride and finds that sometimes when you’re chasing something you used to have, you run the risk of all the good you currently have.

Book 3 is short and sharp and should lead us nicely into our final book in the series.

I also wrote my short story for the Nightmares theme of The Other Stories. It’s called New Year, New Me. It's a story about a nightly mediation app (like Headspace) that literally changes you into a new person. Like most of my Other Story episodes, it ends right nasty. 

It feels good to get that first story down for the year. I’ve also been having various brainstorming sessions for new stories to write. One idea of which sounds particularly exciting but also maybe way too hard to pull off.

But that’s what this year is all about for me. Taking my craft to the next level. I want my prose to really sing. I want each and every story to crackle. How I do that, I’m not so sure. 

Oh yeah, I also put out a new short story for my patrons called Toother-Two. A Post-Apoc Western. Action, horror, and robots. Fancy it? 



The Hawk & Cleaver Book Club

Are you looking to read more this year? Are you looking to boost your book count? Well, why not come on down to the Hawk & Cleaver Facebook Group and join our monthly book club. Each month we’re voting a book to read. Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller, whatever. And then reading it over the course of the month and having a little internet waffle about it. 

For January we’re reading Joe HIll’s Strange Weather. A book comprised of four short novels and it’s been a ton of fun so far. The second novel, Loaded, ended in such a way, such a perfect line that I literally guffawed. I couldn’t believe he had the balls to end on that particular sentence. Bravo, sir. Bravo.

So yeah… come and join us… we’ll be voting on February’s book soon.




Rosemary's Baby: One for Horror Hangout. A fine film. A damn fine film. Oddly it only makes me want to visit New York all the more.

Thirt13n Ghosts: We've decided to do a guilty pleasure episode of Horror Hangout and we picked this. I'd not seen it in years and I can't say it was much of a pleasure to revisit it. It was interesting at least to revisit that campy MTV horror of the mid-naughties. It was a certain brand of high-budget horror that got swallowed up by Blumhouse and his low-budget behemoths, Paranormal Activity, Insidious, The Conjuring, etc.

Dirk Gently S2: I don't know many people who caught Season 1 but I enjoyed the hell out of it. I loved the mix of whimsy-quirk and bloody thriller. The tone is very similar to my Hipster novels. Which is very weird because the theme music is composed by the same guy who I wrote most of those books to -- Cristobal Tapia de Veer. 


I stumbled upon this weird little synthy album called Black Corner Den and it's made for wonderful writing music. Totally recommend for those times you want to drown out the outside world and lose yourself in your horror.


So that's it for this week. This is a relatively small newsletter. My subscriber numbers are teeny compared to our main H&C ones but the open rates are through the roof. I can only assume that means you like it. 

If so, then why not do me a favour and recommend it to your friend. I made a simple signup form here --> Luke's MØ

But yeah, that's all for this week.

All the best,

Luke & Family.


MØ35: Homestretch, death, & a Tom Waits cover

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Morning Øutput #35


I keep thinking about death. Every time I watch an older movie or TV show, I find myself looking up the actors on IMDB, Wikipedia, etc, getting all sad at the fact that these guys had their lives and then, in most cases, simply petered out. 

I was reading about Werner Krauss, the guy who played Dr Caligari back in 1920, and how he went on to become a Nazi, had to go through a denazification process for years, and how people would boycott his plays. And then, according to Wiki: Krauss died in relative obscurity in Vienna, Austria in 1959.

And that was that.

All gone.

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I'm turning 30 in February, or that we lost four loved ones in 2017, but I've been taking a lot more pictures recently, spending a lot more time doing simple stuff with my family.

It makes me think of that Frank Turner verse: 

Let go of the little distractions
Hold close to the ones that you love
Because we won't all be here this time next year
So while you can take a picture of us


For me, I'm going to make the most of it. I'm not just going to take pictures but leave all sorts of marks on the world in the things that I make, stuff that I do, relationships I build. And I'm going to damn well enjoy it too. 

The latest episode of TOS is one of mine and it was one of the rare chuckle-as-you-write stories. The type that seems to fall away from the fingertips and you just can't write it quick enough. 

Also, Joe and Karl absolutely smashed the production. Check out the episode over at iTunes or Acast.

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  • It's been a busy year of writing, reading, and raising a puppy. And by raising I mean cleaning up after.
  • Five years since I got my first short story published. I'm thinking of putting together a best-of collection. Would you guys be interested in something like that? Any favourite stories?
  • Dan put together his Top Five Reads of 2017.
  • How's your year been? I've seen people are already setting their goals for 2018. I'm gonna set aside some time at the end of the month. I still feel like I've got a few goals left to tick off.

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Wind River

I didn't quite enjoy this as much as I was expecting to. It was solid, no doubt, and there were some really harrowing scenes. Also, there was one scene with Jeremy Renner trying to comfort a friend that was simply fantastic. Worth a rewatch. 


One for this week's Horror Hangout.

Wolf Creek

The TV Show. It takes place after the films and is all about an American women hunting Mick down. I wasn't sure at first but I'm about halfway through now, and I'm digging the outback road trip of death.

Hammer House of Horror Ep 1

Another on Shudder (god bless Shudder). A TV show from 1980 that is surprisingly violent and erm... nude. I have no idea how they got away with airing this on TV back in the early 80s. I can only imagine the stacks of complaint letters landing in the ITV offices.


The Rats by James Herbert

A little clunky and a little sophomoric but not without its charm. There are some really fun death scenes and the pace just rockets on through to the end.

In The River by Jeremy Robert Johnson

Well, I wasn't quite expecting to love this as much as I did. Tragic, bizarre, magical, and downright horrific. A mix of The Road and Apocalypto. Looking forward to reading more of this dude's stuff in the new year.

Hellboy Vol 3: Wake The Devil

An absolute blast. I loved the short story format, dipping in and out of fairy tales, legends, myths, etc. I'm really enjoying just how bonkers the stories get. Looking forward to the next volume!


I've been looping this cover of the Interstellar theme tune a lot. It makes for fantastic writing noise. 

Also been hammering Tom Waits as it was his birthday. Actually, I recorded myself singing Green Grass the other day. Here it is if you fancy it.

Green Grass

Okay, that's all I got for this week. Take care of yourselves and remember to take lots of photographs. 

Until next time,

Luke & Family


MØ34: Out of Action


Morning Øutput #34


This is gonna be a short one guys and gals. I'm off work today because I've been having these crazy stomach cramps (probably related to the two hernias I've currently got).

I think it might be my body shutting down after such a massive project. It tends to be the way.

NaNoBoozeMo Final Stats:

  • 50018 out of 50000 words written.
  • 64025 out of 50000 metres ran.
  • No booze.

Other bits:

  • The image up top is a little cover sketch for The 3.0, my NaNo novel. There's still a lot of editing and rewriting to do but I'm quite proud of it. Here's the blurb:

Black Mirror meets Ex Machina with all the violence of Battle Royale.

With the singularity just around the corner, City44 has put together the latest reality TV sensation — The Turing Test! 
12 Contestants. 11
human. 1 not. 
Join the millions of city-folk as they watch the housemates and judge every movement, every reaction, every word spoken, and help decide just who is the most human. All those nominated will be evicted — a process that strips flesh from bones and reveals the humanity, or circuitry, within.

If a human, they will be granted access to City44 to live out their days in the Internet-of-Experience, free from pain and toil.

Or… will the Turing Test finally be beaten and will our Bot prove their humanity, proving the creation of life?

The 3.0 is a story of outcasts desperate to prove their humanity and in the process, discovering what it is that makes them human in the first place — their guilt, their crimes, their relationships, their pain. All with the feeling that one wrong move, one wrong word, might end with them in the furnace, screaming as their skin melts from their bodies.

  • I wrote an essay -- How To Win At NaNoWriMo -- for my patrons. 
  • People are already making goals for next year! I haven't even given a thought yet. What about you?
  • KEITH screened at the Filmed Up night in Manchester. It's always fun to see it in front of an audience. I can't wait to get stuck into the feature. 

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The Brood

Starting off my Cronenbergian Christmas right with The Brood. Although there are a few pacing issues for me, this is pretty much a perfect horror movie. I mean, it's genuinely horrifying.


I actually fell asleep during this but only because I found it so warm and comforting. It was like wrapping myself up in a childhood blanky.

The Cabinet of Dr Caligari

One for this week's Horror Hangout.

Mystery Science Theatre 3000

My new favourite thing on Netflix. I don't want to explain a single thing about it. Just do yourself a favour and stick it on.


Thinner by Stephen King/Richard Bachman

Thinner is a ton of fun. 
You go into it expecting something relatively simple but King/Bachman add a ton of extra spice with the scaly guy, spotty man, and the wonderfully obscene hitman mobster, Ginelli. Oh... and the breathing (SPOILERS!!!) pie.

Also really fun to find out the Lemke family are of Magyar descent. If you didn’t know, Kondor is a Magyar name. Also, I’m known as the gypsy at work because I’ve moved all around the country and worked at every office. AND… my future in-laws also call me the Hungarian gypsy. 
So… yeah… watch out… or I’ll curse yer!


This is a good 4 outta 5 and one of the better King endings.

Hellboy Vol2. Wake The Devil

I've been meaning to carry on with this series for quite a while. I wasn't completely sold by Vol 1 but this after this one... I'm getting there... 


Machine Head - Through The Ashes of Empire

Pantera - Random playlist

Been getting my old school metal on.

Gotta go.

Like I said. I got aches.

Until next time,

Luke & Family


MØ33: Quickie

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Morning Øutput #33


Just a quickie this week. I'm coming to the end of NaNoBoozeMo. The dial is below the red line. The engine warning light is on. I went over a speedbump and something fell off. Not sure what it was.

NaNoBoozeMo Stats:

  • 44739 out of 50000 words written.
  • 60000 out of 50000 metres ran (overshot that one).
  • No booze (man I need a drink).

Some other stuff:

  • Thinking about putting together several lists at the end of the year. 10 Best Film Discoveries, 10 Best Book Discoveries, etc. Just stuff that I've watched, read, heard, that I've really enjoyed.
  • I'm happiest when I'm working on a project. Maybe you are too?
  • There's so much stuff I'd love to do and I'm scared that I just won't get around to all of it. A quality problem, I guess.
  • I wrote a short story for my patrons: The Friend I Lost In Blackberry Gap - #PROJECT12


Lots of films again this week.



This film is so of its time it hurts. Feels a little like Robot Wars Xtreme.

Free Fire

There's a lot to love about this film. The fact that it's just one long scene is both the best thing AND the worst thing about it. Lots of fun characters, great lines, and pure chaos.

American Werewolf in London

The Nazi werewolves, the undead brainstorming how to commit suicide, the stalking of the three-piece-suit at Tottenham Court tube station.

All good scenes, but for me, the massacre at Picadilly Circus was just sublime. Made all the better for the fact that I used to walk through there to get to work.

The Exorcist III

This one needs a rewatch at some point. I don't know if I properly processed it all.

Kong: Skull Island

Way better than I'd been led to believe. I had a right good time. 



The Rose Weapon by F.C. Shultz -- 

A lovely little novel about family, honour, and firey beasts in the sky. Also, there's a mountain named after me... which I always felt was missing in other novels. Looking forward to the next one!


Brace for the Turing - My NaNo Playlist

This Bon Iver live performance. Still listening to this.

The Shouting Matches - I Had A Real Good Lover


That's all for this week, folks. Back to the office.

Until next time,

Luke & Family



MØ31: Why so stressed?


Morning Øutput #31


“Why? What is it that’s stressing you out?”

Dan asked me that the other day after I told him I was feeling overwhelmed. I was panicking about the piles of shit I had to get through that day —  all those words to write, all that running to do, a house to clean, washing up, a dog to walk, podcasts to record, some reading, eating, etc.

Well?” he said.

I quickly realised that yes, I did have a lot to do, but it was all my choice. I was the taskmaster, the drill-sergeant. The only person threatening to break my legs if I didn’t hit my deadlines was me. 

That ‘me’ dude needs to chill out a bit. 

Maybe after NaNo is done I’ll take a week off or something. Who knows?

NaNoBoozeMo Stats:

22974 out of 50000 words written

25750 out of 50000 metres ran

No booze. 




They Live

Another John Carpenter film and another winner. 

Haute Tension/Switchblade Romance

After reading Intensity, I wanted to see what all the rip-off fuss was about. Basically, this film came out a few years after the book was published, not billed as an adaptation in any way. And wow... just wow... although the final act is significantly different, the first half of the film is beat-for-beat. Not just a same premise sorta deal, but more of a re-skinning of names and locations. The film was fun, but wow... tag the artist, man. Tag the artist!

The Burning

Making the most of my Shudder subscription. A pretty standard summer camp slasher film. Some nice makeup effects from Tom Savini, though.


Intensity by Dean Koontz -

4.5 out of 5.

This is a solid novel. I wanted to give Koontz a go and this was a pretty great place to start. It's genuinely tense, thrilling, pretty brutal in places, had a heap of catharsis in the end with great characters. I could read about Edgler Vess for days and not get bored.

I would 100% recommend this book. I'd even say it's a 5-star book, but for me, personally, there were a few niggles here and there that didn't quite work for me. A matter of taste more than anything else. 
But yeah... I'm up for reading some more Koontz. I'm thinking maybe Watchers or Phantoms.


Brace for the Turing - My NaNo Playlist

Right I'm off. That bastard is beating at the door again, demanding words, always words.

Until next time,

Luke & Family


MØ28: 'What is Life?' & Other Interactive Media Nightmares




Another quick one this week. It seems like all the busy stuff is happening today, right now, so I just gotta crack on.

How are you? 

Here are some interesting bits:

  • 12,000 words into my new novella and it’s going well. The more I work on it, the more I realise that it's the thematic cousin of Keith —  AI, what is life, interactive multimedia nightmares, etc. Also, 1000 words a day is achievable. No matter how busy you are. You can always find a bit of time to crank out 1000 words. 
  • NaNoBoozeMo is happening — write 50,000 words, run 50,000 metres, no booze, Nov 1st-30th. Come join me!
  • We had a massive leak in the house on the weekend. The kind of leak that warrants a landlord visit. Which of course means the house is now super clean because you can’t have a landlord visit without cleaning up like you just murdered a man in the bathroom. So anyway, we got to talking and the landlord said he’d be open to us buying the house off of him sometime in the future. Interesting. Owning property is definitely something I’d like to do at some point but it always seemed like some impossible mountain. One for the future.
  • N.S. Paul is running a pretty awesome looking KS for his comic, Resurrection Men. Absolutely love his art style.
  • "...fiction writers should abandon technically correct writing and experiment in the same way painters were forced to experiment in order to keep their medium relevant.” More wisdom nuggets on this article by CHUCK PALAHNIUK.
  • Stick some headphones on and listen to this. Do it! It’s this amazing demo of a haircut recorded binaurally. It’s all kinds of amazing. I’d LOVE to do an episode of The Other Stories using this technique.
  • Did you hear my latest episode of The Other Stories? It's called Ocean Eyes and it's fucking great. 



Uzumaki by Junji Ito - 

I mean this book is amazing. 

The idea of a town becoming infected with the idea of spirals is incredible in itself, but the stories Ito pulls out of that one idea is downright genius. 

I'm so incredibly impressed by the way he can draw these absurd body horror ideas and translate them to the page so easily. The snail transformation, the knotted bodies in the row houses, the scar that sucks in the eye. It's so, so good


Suspiria - See Horror Hangout.

Eyes Without A Face - See Horror Hangout (on Wednesday anyway)

1922 - Incredibly bleak, played very straight, a little slow, and Thomas Jane's accent was good but sounded like he was chewing on condoms a little bit. I could almost hear the spitty plastic squeaking between his molars. BUT... not to take away from his performance, because it really was quite good.

So I'm gonna down this soy-filter coffee, prep some talking points for tonight's podcast recording, and get my 1000 words in.


Until next time,

Luke & Family.


MØ27: NaNoBoozeMo & Nottingham Comic-Con 2017




Just a quick one. If you like this newsletter, then why not pop over to my Patreon page and support me and my stuff from as little as a quid a month. You’ll get exclusive short stories, behind-the-scenes access, and an essay or two on the craft of storytelling.

But anyway…

This week has been terribly busy, all kinds of fun, and I ate a burger...

Let me tell you about it.


How lovely it was to be back in my home city of Nottingham. It only took six hours of bus rides with two crammed rucksacks and one wheelie suitcase so full of books it was practically bubbling to get there, but it was lovely all the same.

As I wheeled along through the city, taking in the Tudor architecture,  sniffing up the nighttime air, I felt like a proper travelling salesman. I almost wanted to open my case, shout “Step right up, step right up”, and start promising how our books will give you vitality, a full head of hair, and a rush of blood to the penis, but decided against it.

The con was at the Nottingham Convention Centre, just around from Rock City. We set ourselves up, marvelled at all the stuff we’ve made this past year, and then went on to talk and sell and talk for the next 7 hours. 

I also got the camera out and got a little snap-happy. I put a few pictures here.

There were tons of other small press companies making and selling some really incredible comics. It’s really awesome to see how creatively vibrant the UK is right now. Can't wait to do a few more cons in the future.

Afterwards, we found a Wetherspoons, ate burgers, drank beer, and debriefed. And then at 7pm I caught my bus back home. 8 hours later (yes 8 hours!) and I was finally getting into bed. A long day but definitely worth it.


I’ve started work on a new novella I’m hoping to get out for Christmas. I’m writing it quite slowly. Only 1000 words a day. But I’m really focussing on making the prose as mature as I can get it. I’ve got a few ideas for the name but for now let’s call it Mr Errata.

I’m also starting to plan out my NaNoWriMo. I’ve done it twice now and really enjoyed it both times but to keep things interesting I’m looking to switch it up.

So here’s what I’m thinking:


  • Write 50,000 words.
  • Run 50,000 metres.
  • No booze.
  • Nov 1st - Nov 30th.

What do you reckon? You wanna get involved?


  • The Rose Weapon by F.C.Shultz is out now! Been looking forward to this and will snatch it up on payday. 
  • Harry Sherriff's new web-series, Early Days, is an absolute treat. A lovely dry English comedy filmed in and around the city of Manchester. 




The Ruins by Scott Smith - 

Don't come to this book for safety. You'll find no comfort here.
Tautly written in a way that just keeps pulling you through. A survival horror full of characters making bad decisions, but in my opinion in a somewhat believable way. It's a gruesome book both physically and psychologically and ends with a wicked little burn. One of my favourite books I've read this year so far.


The Omen - See Horror Hangout.

Cold in July -

Based on a Lansdale novel starring Michael Hall, Sam Shepherd, and some other guy who was absolutely great. A really amazing thriller that seems to have gone under the radar.

Okay so the dog is howling at me which means I need to put my life on hold and take her out for a walk. That's how it goes when you got a dog, I suppose.

So have a good week. 

Until next time,

Luke & Family.



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I'll be honest. I'm feeling a little overwhelmed at the minute.

There are three big projects I'm working on -- Keith, They Ruin, and El Marvo #2

I feel like I'm lagging behind on all three and I really need to get a move on. I need to let some other stuff fade away and just get down to business. Sometimes the only way to get over that drowning feeling is to start paddling.

It's go time...

Horror Enthusiasm

Last night Cat asked me why I like horror movies so much.

I said I don't really know. Maybe it has something to do with those first horror films I watched as a kid. The ones that had such a visceral impact on me that I couldn't sleep -- couldn't stop thinking about the thing in the shadows.

I like stories that are so powerful they move you physically and emotionally.

A good example is Chuck Palahniuk's short story, Guts. That was maybe the first short story I read that I had to stop because I was about to faint. The story, and the way Chuck writes it is so powerful that it nearly had me dropping like a gassed fly.

I've never felt that way before.

What does that say to the power of the mind that with a little suggestion you can alter the physical world so radically?

And so I've always been a horror fan. Definitely. But since we started the Horror Hangout podcast and I've been delving deeper and deeper into the world of horror cinema, watching classics, learning the timeline of influence, and who the key people were in the medium. I think I'm turning from a simple horror fan, to ... an enthusiast.

Seriously. I find myself watching horror documentaries, listening to horror podcasts, making lists of horror films to watch all the time. It's become a bit of a passion.

My latest episode of The Other Stories is OUT!


  • Our interview with growth hacking storyteller, Monica Leonelle, is up on The Story Studio podcast.
  • Our Horror Hangout all about It is here.
  • As mentioned above, here's a great Youtube video on the history of horror cinema.
  • Have you seen my new short story project? #PROJECT12. (new short story going up soon.)
  • My running has taken a nice leap forward. I don't what it was but last week I was running stronger and faster than I have in months. I'm on Strava, if you're into that kind of thing.




The Ocean At The End Of The Lane by Neil Gaiman - 

I f*cking loved this book. 

It was the kind of book I didn't know that I desperately needed to read.

How would I even describe it? A dark, children's fantasy, told for adults. Made me think of a mix between Nanny McPhee and Spirited Away with some Grimm Fairy Tale stuff sprinkled in there. It's very odd, and very lovely, and the prose work is something of an ocean in itself. 

I will definitely read this book again


mother! -  It's pretty much Aronofky's "Synechdoche, New York".

A director's absolutely mad swing for the fences, leaning into every quirk, interest, habit, etc, and taking it as far as it will go. More here.

The Beyond - Gooey, funky, eyeball horror. I don't even know where to hang my hat on this one. There were some genuinely creepy moments but then I couldn't help but chuckle at the funk music. The final act is bonkers in a fun way.

Favourite moments:

That piano riff when they're walking through the hotel.
The dog attack.
The acid blood puddle.
Spider funky bite time.

American Gods - Lovely visual stuff. A really nice translation of the book. Only a little way in so far.

Arrested Development - Rewatching with Cat. This show is one of the greats.


John Carpenter's Lost Themes, Synecdoche, New York OST, & Regina Specktor.

Right then...

Like I said, I'm drowning, man, I'm flippin' drowning. I need to get to the paddling, yeah? 

Until next time,

Luke & Family.