Welcome to the House of Pigs Promo Event. This is a celebration of a new author on the indie scene and the release of his début novel.
In an exciting addition to our event the publishers of House of Pigs have agreed to discount the ebook to .99p, you can also get the paperback at a discounted rate of £7.19
You can find out more about Christopher Ritchie at his Publisher’s website; http://www.gbpublishing.org/GBP_author_CR_page.html
About Christopher Ritchie
I’m 38, married and have two awesome young children, to whom the book is dedicated. I work as an editor and interviewer and live about half an hour from London, in Walton-on-Thames. I also produce music and have a little studio, and have spent half of my life drumming in indie rock bands. I tend to get lost in stories and worlds – movies and video games. I find myself maybe a little too caught up in fantasy sometimes and veer more towards dark forms of entertainment. I’m not big on violence (surprisingly, perhaps) in films but I am drawn to the psychological and paranormal; the weird and the wonderful. I dream a lot and remember them pretty well. Some come and go but others stick. More importantly, I believe in everything, by which I mean anything is possible. I’ve no reason to close my mind to any possibility. That about sums me up.
Here are a couple of excerpts from the book to give you an idea of what you can expect:
Excerpt 1 – this serves to set the scene of the first act, in which a routine police investigation turns awry, downright weird, and pretty unsettling to boot!
Standing as still as he could, Tom listened. He was rewarded with only the sound of his own quick breathing. He felt his entire body trembling. Seconds later he moved forward again, a bit faster. His left shin connected with something – a bed? He felt his way around it and reached another window. This one was different – in the distance he could see something.
Two figures moved across the landscape, lights beaming out in front of them. In about twenty seconds they stopped to look at something on the ground. One of the lights turned and highlighted another figure standing several feet behind them. The light flashed on his face. Tom struggled to see it. The face lifted to look directly up at him, followed by the faces of the others. He drew back quickly against the wall. Had they seen him? Almost certainly. Who were they?
‘Oh shit…’ The words dropped from his mouth, slowly and breathy. That’s…us. Shit. He leaned slightly off the wall and peered over the rim of the window, keeping his head low but just enough so he could see back out onto the pasture. The men were in the same spot. What is going on?This time they raised their arms and all three pointed straight at him.
Before he could press back against the wall, he saw the men run towards the house. Tom gasped. He felt as if he’d been kicked in the balls. ‘Frank!’ he groaned through gritted teeth. He felt around for the bed, with some vague idea of hiding under it. The side was solid – this bed had no under. ‘Dammit!’ His teeth ground tighter together as he mounted the bed to clamber over. Something blocked him – an arm. ‘Arrgh…’
A hand closed hard over his mouth and nose, pushing him down into the bed. Tom waved his arms and kicked his legs, but connected with nothing. His gun clattering to the floor jarred with his muffled attempts to scream. Tom’s world turned black.
Excerpt 2 – our intrepid threesome venture unwittingly into ‘the waiting room’,with no idea what they’re getting into. But, crucially, they don’t care either…
Music played softly, violins and piano gently rolling over each other, brushed jazzy snares and cymbals washing in and out. The room was warm, full of people – people? – some holding glasses of red or white liquid, raising these to their masked mouths and sipping through the exterior without any incident.
Despite the horror of the last few seconds, Tom, Frank and Gully immediately settled into a calm atmosphere and each was smiling underneath his mask, feeling a warmth akin to comfort in the womb. Frank was first to stand up and he looked back and down at his friends, who joined him. They ventured forward into the throng. There were around thirty other figures in this room, some in dinner suits and the rest in long, silky dresses. The room was high, wide and bright. Ornamental coving decorated the ceiling and several crystal chandeliers cast light all around. The walls were a light, soft red and the floor a glimmering marble surface, reflecting the light and figures which stood upon it.
Over to their left, a bar was tended by another figure in a dinner suit and pig mask, but there were no bottles or taps, just crystal flute glasses each with red or white wine inside. Further left, behind where they had been sitting on arrival, the band sat, heads eerily still but their limbs appropriately moving around their instruments.
Tom looked at Frank and spoke, but there was no sound. He had tried to say ‘I don’t remember.’ His lips had moved but for nothing. He didn’t care. Gully had moved through a group of human pigs to the bar and taken a glass of red wine. He raised it to his lips and sipped the most beautiful wine he had ever tasted. His smile broadened. Inside he felt a further rush of warmth, almost overwhelming. Tom and Frank joined him. Tom chose red also; Frank took white. They turned back to face the throng.
Inside their masks, sickly smiles and dozy eyes resembled those of junkies directly after their hits, but they did not know or care about this and they did not notice that of everyone in the room, they were the only figures not wearing gloves.
The chatter died down and the band carried on as a large set of doors over the other side of the room opened slowly, but there were too many figures in the way to see what was through those doors. A high, gentle and short bell sounded and the figures began moving towards the open doors, with Tom, Gully and Frank compelled to follow.
Interview with Christopher Ritchie.
When did you first start to write?
As early as I can remember – my parents were and are both highly literate and they encouraged me to write. They probably weren’t too proud of my early, pretty vulgar offerings. At middle school I was selected to join a special creative writing course at a college. I was about 11. I picked up some good tips on exposition, and along with my secondary school English teacher who gave me a hard time for being too descriptive, I have always tried to work hard on staying away from waffle. At 18 I started working as a sub-editor and proof reader, moving into reporting and writing company profiles and stuff like that. But my creative writing halted when my job was spent writing too.
What made you want to be an author?
It was really a case of having a nightmare, waking up and deciding to write this novel. There was nothing more to it. I had never considered myself capable of writing a novel. Generally when I have written things down they’ve been an attempt to make people laugh. The one thing I did decide when writing House of Pigs was I didn’t want to make anyone laugh! I wanted to convey the nightmare.
Do you have a favourite author/book?
I haven’t read a book for ages but I used to read a lot of horror. Stephen King always did it for me. An affecting mixture of the ordinary versus the evil. If I had to name one book, it would be The Shining. Tommyknockers was a favourite too. And King also taught me that you don’t have to be any one thing. David Lynch is a big influence too. Like King, he veers between the ordinary and the horrific as if they aren’t separated by much at all, but they both demonstrate you can take a story in any direction you want, and just because people expect horror, for example, you could go off and do something else entirely. If you’re a good writer, it doesn’t matter what subject you choose.
You say that House of Pigs is your first horror, what genre do you usually write?
It is my first effort, so there’s nothing else out there. I’ve popped up on various forums ranting about this and that, as eloquently as I can muster, but not even a short story has emerged from my mind since I was at school. I should also mention that I did not consider House of Pigs to be horror. It wasn’t an intention to fall into that genre. Of course the nightmare informed the direction, but I saw it more as a surreal tale, creating my own world, my own characters, going on a journey. The horror elements weren’t premeditated.
House of Pigs was inspired by a nightmare you had, so which character can you best relate to?
Joe is faced with finding out who he really is. He deals with the same nightmares I’ve had. In that sense it’s semi-autobiographical, albeit a tiny snapshot of my subconscious! His recurring nightmare is the reason the book got written. But no character is based on anyone real. I guess a lot of the idea of Joe is he’s just a regular Joe, propelled into a situation he really has no control over. Much of the book can be taken as allegory – it’s deliberately open in that respect. If you get underneath the straight plot, there’s a lot of religious symbolism – I was raised in a religious environment – and themes of lost or broken memories (again something I can attest to), the feeling you’re alone and being watched… I’m not saying I’m Joe, but as these things have been a part of my life, I felt confident writing about them.
There’s a Sword of Damocles reference in the book, what inspired that?
It wasn’t a deliberate reference! Not that I am uncultured, but the point, without giving away too much of the plot, is that these people are dismissive of mortality.
For you, what is the most important aspect of a book?
It has to make you want to turn the page. That’s it. Subject matter is irrelevant as long as the writer keeps you in the zone. These days, especially in cinema, the twist seems to be all-important but some of the best movies don’t have any twist at all. Films like Blue Velvet and Mulholland Drive just tell their story, and in such a way that there’s no need for some huge reveal at the end. Similarly, the TV show Lost did the same thing. People were hoping for and expecting some massive twist at the end and annoyed when there wasn’t one. But more cleverly, the writers just told a story, albeit a very long one, and the twists and turns of that story came out as a matter of course rather than with fireworks.
Do you have any words for aspiring authors?
Just get on with it! It’s all about motivation. If you have a story you think is worth telling, just sit down and tell it. Once you start writing, creating those characters and the world around them, their feelings and actions and reactions, the words come surprisingly easy. But sometimes you have to let these things breathe, so don’t force anything either. If you’re not sure how to proceed, step back and let the ideas cook for a while. House of Pigs took over 18 months but was written in large chunks at a time. My next book is one chapter in at the moment but those ideas are cooking! And every time an idea clicks, I add it to my notebook. The second book is all plotted out and I’ll sit down and actually write it in bits. It takes as long as it takes…
If you’re looking for a nice easy read on a lazy Sunday, this book probably isn’t for you, however, if you’re looking for imagery, surrealism and a very artistic experience you’ll love it.
This is not the kind of book to be taken lightly, you need to be sharp and you need to concentrate so that you don’t miss anything. This, in my opinion can be a really good thing. It challenges you as a reader and tests what you are willing to visualise. It is all set up ready to unsettle you and horrify you with some really gritty and gory events. This didn’t particularly worry me but as you may notice from past reviews, I’m not easily creeped out.
The story follows the main character Joe Gullidge and his partners, Tom and Frank, police officers sent to a rather.. different.. call out. We also have a very creepy character, first introduced as Mr Creepy Suit, which I loved as a name and first impression. I can imagine Cillian Murphy playing Mr Creepy if there was ever a film made of House Of Pigs, this is the first image I got when reading his description and the only actor who has managed to unsettle me just by being himself. Others have suggested Nigel Havers but for the image I had Nigel is a little old for the role.
Cillian Murphy Nigel Havers
This is Christopher Ritchie’s début novel, having been writing for a long time he has made his début with this Horror/Thriller written in such a way that nothing is quite what it seems. I love the imagery the book conjures up and the pace in which Christopher has set out the events. This is a very good first book and I look forward to seeing him grow in future releases.
5/10 for a new writer.