the Tyranids not only reflect Lovecraft's more profound, cosmic horror, but also those that are intimate and human: they evoke phobic response to creatures that might cause us harm. Snakes, spiders, reptiles; all and many more examples from within nature have been used as fodder for the various strains of alien horror represented by the Tyranid race.
Back in its earliest days, the now-iconic grim-dark, science-fiction dystopia of Games Workshop's Warhammer 40 000 universe was a veritable grab-bag of idea and influences. Whatever the then-fledgling setting could assimilate, subtly reimagine and make its own, it did, its inspirations ranging from comic books (most notably the likes of 2000 AD) to cinema, from horror and science fiction literature (Lovecraft, Moorcock, Azimov, Le Guin, Dick are but a few of the notables whose influence can be felt throughout the universe, its various species, cultures and wider metaphysics) to cinema.
Aesthetically, one of the most pervasive and influential artists of the era was the creator of eponymous xenomorph from the Alien franchise, the zeitgeist-defining H.R. Giger. Already massively influential in cinema and video games (one of the most revolutionary franchises of the era, Nintendo's Metroid, was a direct result of efforts to bring Giger's peculiar aesthetic to a video game format), it was only a matter of time before his work became cannibalised and reinvented as a source of alien horror within the 41st millennium.
The first and most notable manifestation of this phenomena came in the universe's own incarnation of the “xenomorph” itself: The “Ymgarl Genestealers.” Originally an attempt to craft a similarly gribbly, parasitic alien horror for the game setting, they were notably removed from both the race that would eventually become The Tyranids and also from their later incarnations. A number of tertiary boardgame systems (the mass-produced Space Crusade and tense, horror-action game Space Hulk) massively reinvented the Genestealers, making them aesthetically much closer to their Giger-conceived inspiration but also tying them closer to the Tyranid race that, up until that point, were little more than a scattershot entry in a number of rule and background books, with little to note or distinguish them. In the sub-system Tyranid Attack, a full background was detailed for the Tyranid species for the first time, as well as their more defined aesthetics and recognisable iconography established:
A pan-galactic biological horror, the Tyranids drew inspiration from not only Giger's “xenormorph,” but a number of science-fiction horror sources, including John Carpenter's The Thing, Predator, the body-horror works of David Cronenberg and more Lovecraftian horror than can be comfortably catalogued.
A mysterious, animalistic species from beyond the fringes of the known galaxy, the Tyranids were described as the ultimate end of all things: a swarming, locust-like mass of monsters that spread from planet to planet, galaxy to galaxy, stripping worlds bare of their biological matter (even down to stripping minerals from rocks and microbial matter from the atmosphere) before moving on to the next apocalypse. The biological matter they consumed was used in the wombs and bellies of their titanic, living vessels (whale-like leviathans capable of traversing the void of space in the manner that titanic ocean life swims the seas of Earth) to produce more and more varied organisms, which gestate until the “Hive Fleets” enter orbit around a likely world. The process repeats and repeats and repeats endlessly, without any apparent wider goal other than mindless, animal consumption and the extinction of all non-Tyranid life. With every world consumed, every species devoured, the Tyranids exhibit new strains of hyper-evolution, developing new sub-species and strains of creature based on requirement or evolutionary experiment.
And thus, the Tyranids evolved to become what they are today: An established species within the many and varied menageries of the 40K universe, and one that manifests a particular kind of cosmic horror:
Not only are the various beasts and monsters manifested by the Hive Fleets horrific in form and behaviour, but collectively, the Tyranids manifest a species of horror that fans of Lovecraft and his particular strain of cosmic, unknowable dread might well recognise: Of all the species in the Warhammer 40 000 universe, the Tyranids are arguably the most alien in terms of their natures and motivations. Whereas others -such as the humanoid Aeldari and football hooligan-inspired Orks- are archetypes derived from the fantasy settings Games Workshop originally operated in -and are therefore recognisably emblematic of certain human concerns and preoccupations-, the Tyranids are as far removed from such concepts as can be rendered in fiction and the associated model range:
In terms of nature and motivation, they are an insolulable mystery. Deriving from areas of space beyond human exploration or understanding, their origins are unknown, as is their ultimate agenda (if, indeed, they even boast such). Certain figures both within the universe itself (most notably those xeno-biologists given to study such matters) and who are fans thereof have provided any number of speculations on the matter (one theory states that they are literally biological weapons run amok; efforts by some race far more ancient than humanity to wipe out the factors that feed the metaphysical evils of the universe, but that have expanded far beyond any such restraint or control). Whatever the truth, the mystery of the Tyranids is one of their most abiding and attractive characteristics: no one knows where they come from or why they operate as they do. Even were such matters to become known, they are so utterly alien both in form and nature, it likely wouldn't make sense to any but the Tyranids themselves. That lack of knowing, that inability to understand or comprehend, is part and parcel of the horror that makes the Tyranids so fascinating. All other species in the 40K universe, no matter how alien or abstruse, boast fairly identifiable interests and agendas (from the Aeldari's desperate struggle to avoid the extinction they brought upon themselves to the Tau's dubious idealism and Utopian ideals). The Tyranids do not; their only conceivable interest is animal; that is, to mindlessly hunt, murder and consume. In and of itself, this is terrifying in its simplicity; a single-minded, animal myopia whose purity is beyond the ken or reason of humanity.
But it does nothing to explain their wider purpose or what drives them:
A notable phenomena that marks a Tyranid invasion has become known as “The Shadow in the Warp.” In the 40K universe, almost all sentient species are psychically bound to an alternative dimension; a chaotic, miasmic reality of utter abstraction and potential, where ideas and emotions are as significant and material as meterological phenomena in the waking world, where every experience of sentient beings has a corresponding echo. Most entities are dully unaware of this connection, or only experience it in the most unconscious manner. Those dubbed “psykers” by humanity are generally those who boast some genetic mutation that makes them more keenly attuned to the Warp and able to channel or shape its energies to some degree. The Tyranids have the peculiar effect of smothering The Warp itself, rendering it disturbingly inert, which renders those otherwise connected to it paranoid, anxious, unreasonably afraid. In extreme cases, they begin to hallucinate and experience physical symptoms (that can range from mild to nigh lethal). Psykers are affected most powerfully, the Shadow not only separating them from the source of their power and extended senses but also manifesting truly hideous phenomena such as the chattering of unseen insects, which can drive those unprepared to madness and worse.
The Shadow itself is evidence of a wider power that drives the Tyranids in their insatiable swarms across the cosmos: a gestalt intelligence that makes them so much more than mere animals: Whilst the nature of this intelligence is a matter of much debate, it is generally accepted that it manifests amongst the Tyranids themselves via certain more complex “synapse” entities; larger, more evolutionarily costly creatures that serve as lynchpins within the swarms, psychically directing lesser entities that might otherwise revert to their animal instincts. This phenomena, generally referred to as “The Hive Mind” isn't some distant puppet-master or unseen god, but the collective intelligence of the Tyranids themselves: each individual entity within the Tyranid swarms is but a cell or organ of the wider beast, manifested within the Hive Fleets, and of which The Hive Mind is the guiding intelligence. Quite what this mysterious force's intentions are remains unknown -and likely unknowable-, but it is certainly inimical to the existence of humanity and every other species within the 40K universe.
Echoing cosmic and extra-dimensional phenomena in Lovecraft's canon of short stories and novellas, The Hive Mind is an unknowable and ineffable alien force that neither cares for humanity nor even acknowledges its significance, save as something to be consumed, rendered down and, ultimately, digested into extinction. Within the Tyranid purview, humanity is just another reservoir of biological matter and information. It exists to be drained dry, discarded and forgotten, along with every other species that fancies itself the prime mover on the galactic stage. This echoing, cosmic insignificance is part and parcel of the truly soul-shuddering horror Lovecraft attempted to express through his writings, and is a perfect subject to be explored and expressed within the Warhammer 40 000 universe, where every force, system and phenomena is designed to emphasise the utter insignificance not only of individual humanity, but of entire cultures and species. The Tyranids are evolutionary purity in a manner that is terrible to conceive of; Darwinian principle manifested and set loose to endlessly demonstrate the lack of poetry or wider meaning to life itself. Whereas other species within the universe are coloured by tensions and contradictions, the Tyranids are not: there is no doubt or uncertainty, no conflicting ideologies or philosophies within the Tyranid race. They are supreme concentration of interest and agenda, in a way that's almost inconceivable to human beings, who are born to confusion and largely die in the same condition. They are simultaneously the answer to all of the galaxy's ills -a Tyranid victory in the known galaxy means an end to wars and atrocities and genocides that have spanned millennia, and fed the abstract horrors of The Warp such that they have begun to spill into waking reality en masse- but also an answer that no one can countenance; living engines of extinction whose victory will not only mean the sterilisation of material reality, but also of the Warp itself. They are the death of gods, daemons and angels; the end of myth and poetry, fear and wonder.
In that, they are more terrible and epically horrifying than almost anything yet encountered or conceived within the setting, rendering more mundane horrors almost impotent by comparison. Even the Chaos Powers -dark gods coalesced from all the worst and most extreme drives of sentient species- fear The Shadow in the Warp more than anything, as it is antithetical to the broiling turbulence and extremes of emotion on which they rely to sustain themselves. Gods fear the Tyranids, as well they should.
Beyond their vast and expansive cosmic horror, the Tyranids also manifest various microcosmic atrocities: hyper-evolved to be perfect killing machines, they sport exaggerations of characteristics demonstrated by various forms of terrestrial animal, from bugs and insects to birds and reptiles. In that, they trigger primal, arguably genetically-encoded responses in human beings, most notably those parts of us that have learned to fear scurrying, slithering, arachnid, insectile or reptilian creatures. Combining aspects of all of these, the Tyranids are all and none: spiders, snakes, jellyfish, squids, bats and even dinosaurs lend something to their many and varied anatomies. In truth, there's little in biology or anatomy that hasn't been mined to provide the present-day Tyranids with their peculiar aesthetic. Even their weapons aren't crafted artefacts but cultivated symbiotes, entities in and of themselves that bond with their bearer, each exhibiting not only hideous body-horror effects (the “Flesh Borer” rifles carried by many Tyranid organisms, for example, shoot streams of fast-growing carniverous beetles that either spatter and acidically dissolve flesh and armour or chew through and parasitically infest their targets) but also their own natures, imperatives and impulses (in extreme cases, such as with regards to the living artillery of the “Exocrine,” it's the weapon-symbiote whose intelligence guides the partnership, as the immense beast itself is little but a living weapons platform and transport system).
In this, the Tyranids not only reflect Lovecraft's more profound, cosmic horror, but also those that are intimate and human: they evoke phobic response to creatures that might cause us harm. Snakes, spiders, reptiles; all and many more examples from within nature have been used as fodder for the various strains of alien horror represented by the Tyranid race. From insects whose parasitic life-cycles are manifest body-horror mythologies to predators whose myriad stings, bites, venoms and other weaponry are horrific in terms of their effects, the Tyranids are reflections and exaggerations of them all.
Perhaps most pertinently, the Tyranids represent the animal horror of being outdone in evolutionary terms: the horror of nature itself. Unlike the status quo in waking life, where humanity's various expansions and industries pose a marked and evident threat to other lifeforms (and, indeed, the very eco-systems of this planet), the Tyranids are a fictional representation of cosmic repercussion: the Tyranids disregard all notions of ecology save their own. They do not exhibit technology or industry in any understandable form. They cannot be reasoned or bargained with: they have all of the unstoppable purity of predatory beasts but also the uncanny intelligence and acumen of a sapient creature. Beyond that, they are evolved to a point that any industrialised or technological form of military response is all but meaningless against them: even in the science fiction setting of the 41st Millennium, where technology has advanced to the point that it may as well be magical or miraculous (and, in some instances, is treated as such), very little can equal or effectively defend against the biological onslaught of the Tyranids in all of their horror.
They are manifest evidence of evolutionary redundancy: in purely Darwinian terms, the true inheritors of this universe, so far beyond other species in terms of evolutionary advancement as to make them seem stagnant and redundant by comparison. The ultimate, horrific irony is: in that advancement, they are also spiritually empty and corrosive. The Tyranid victory is a difficult thing to imagine or comprehend, as it seems as though the species would continue to advance and consume until there is literally nothing left in creation but its own seething bio-mass, every world in reality stripped bare of matter, leaving the composite, pan-galactic entity that is the species no choice but to either burn itself out, starving for want of more biomass, or to evolve further; becoming a species that seeds its own eco-systems and cannibalises its own creations for want of survival. Part of what makes the Tyranids so terrifying is the lack of an end-game. Almost all other species in the 40K universe boast some identifiable ideology or agenda, some ideal -however warped or twisted- they are fighting to maintain or realise.
The Tyranids boast nothing of the sort, other than the animal imperative to consume, consume, consume. That vaccuum, more than their forms or aesthetics, renders them alien and unknowable in the most Lovecraftian way, the abstract abyss at their core perhaps the most profoundly terrifying aspect of their existence.
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But the bit which frightens me and still keeps me up at night, is the realization that what really helped wasn’t love or perseverance or even understanding. What really helped me was luck, pure and simple.
For as long as I can remember, I have tried to control the world around me.
Not in a Lex Luthor, conquer the world sort of way, but in a way where maybe things wouldn’t hurt so much and that the world would start making sense.
I have tried pacing and I have tried humming.
I have scraped my heels against the ground.
Cracked my knuckles.
Clicked my teeth.
Always in even numbers, never odd.
None of it helped, unfortunately, try as I might. It didn’t stop me from getting bullied as a child or as a teenager, or even as an adult at work. In fact, it only made things worse.
My rituals, all of my little obsessions, have never prevented me from sinking into depression, quelled my nightmares or stopped me from breaking down crying at my desk. And to me, this is where all of horror truly begins. With the mundane little unpleasantries we’ve all been trained to regard as normal.
I think all of us, at one time or another, have found ourselves trapped in a ‘team meeting’ with people we don’t trust, and been forced to listen to coworkers argue because one can never let anything go and the other can never be wrong.
During one such meeting, my supervisor, in an attempt to stave off an argument that could have gone on forever, turned to me and asked what I thought would solve the problem. Now, I cannot for the life of me remember what they’d been arguing about. but I do remember the effort it took to not only speak, but to keep from saying what I was really thinking. Which was that anything, even killing myself, would have been preferable to their company.
In the years since that meeting, which was not all that long ago, I have learned a lot. I’ve learned to talk about my deep, black thoughts and to write everything down no matter how ugly it got. I have learned to manage and to not push myself when I can feel those black thoughts starting to return.
But the bit which frightens me and still keeps me up at night, is the realization that what really helped wasn’t love or perseverance or even understanding. What really helped me was luck, pure and simple.
Being lucky enough to find a therapist who took my insurance. Having the sort of good fortune where medication actually did something, the way it doesn’t for some. Possessing family and friends who were willing to support me and give me the space I needed to crawl out of the black.
Now, I don’t want to say that I am better now, because better implies that I’m cured and there is no cure for who I am. I am still obsessive and depressed. I still check my locks ten times and blow the exact same number of kisses to my daughter while she sleeps, and while objectively I know that none of this really helps, a part of me has grown to find comfort in a world that makes little sense.
I might not see any concrete results from my efforts, but that has never stopped me breathing a little easier, all the same. My rituals are a part of me and though my depression is prone to strike at a moment’s notice, I am at least better armed against it. I know what to do to keep myself going.
But the part of me that accepts this, is also the exact same part which never fails to remind me of how close I once came...and how close I could still come, if I’m not careful. For absolutely no reason at all.
A Man in Pieces: An American Nightmare
Deity (book 5)
Demon (book 6)
Hydra (book 2)
Changeling (book 3)
Beast (book 4)
Six Stories (book 1)
Six Stories (Book 1)
Demon (Book 6)
Changeling (Book 3)
Hydra (Book 2)
Deity (Book 5)
Beast (Book 4)
TONY: I would always insist reading them in order and there are no real weak points, more a matter of taste and I found them incredibly difficult to rank. None deserve to be last. But I might break rank and choose Changeling, that was a very clever plot and comes together so nicely and is a rock-solid example of how clever, sneaky and unpredictable the stories can be. On one level it was fiendishly simple: a kid disappears from a car, but where could he possibly have gone?
TONY to STEVE: Considering the number of books we read and review I think the Six Stories series is still flying under the radar in the horror community and I do not hear it name checked anywhere near as much as it deserves to. What do you think?
STEVE: Absolutely – and I think I’d chalk it up to a few things. The first – there is a very prominent “extreme” movement happening right now, especially on larger Facebook pages such as Books of Horror. Not saying that’s wrong or shouldn’t be happening, but these stories might be considered ‘tame’ for those fans of the Godless crowd. Secondly – I think people might not be giving it as much of a chance as it should get because of the ‘crime’ element mixed with the ‘podcast’ element. As I mentioned to you prior to reading these and even to Gavin at Kendall Reviews – I believed these were a collection of unconnected stories initially. I didn’t get that it was a podcast where the entirety was connected through each release. So, when I discovered that it was a singular release with a singular storyline, I dove in and haven’t looked back since.
STEVE to TONY: do you have any thoughts on why that might be?
TONY: Completely agree with your comments. I think the thriller/crime market is much bigger than the horror slice and publisher might be directing the books more there. I don’t see Matt much on social media much either, these books could easily appeal to authors with big followings such as Adam Nevill, but he’s very busy online interacting with fans. Is there is such a thing as a Matt Wesolowski ‘brand’ I doubt it would be seen as horror. I also noticed all the big names who have championed the series are predominately crime writers, but there are others who use similar supernatural overtones as himself, Alex North, James Oswald and CJ Tudor being three good examples. Finally, compared to crime and thrillers the number of series lasting six books in horror is miniscule and those other genres naturally lend themselves better to sequences.
TONY to STEVE: How excited do you get as each of the books as each case unfolded, particularly as we approached the final interviewee? I found myself almost wetting myself with excitement! I also found myself wishing so-and-so was interviewed only to find out they weren’t!
STEVE: Yes! Matt does a great job of doing a very sly bait and switch a number of times. In each release you ABSOLUTELY know what is going to happen and who will be interviewed in every single interview, only to have no idea when the next chapter starts and then once again you’re confident you know ABOSLUTELY everything and then you don’t and repeat! I will also add – I don’t think I was ever disappointed in how any of them ended.
STEVE to TONY: Did you find the conclusion to each satisfactory?
TONY: Yes, in their own way, but some I preferred more than others, but the logic was sound in all of them, which perhaps edged them towards the crime genre and away from horror. On a few occasions I was disappointed ‘so and so’ wasn’t interviewed, but for the final interview I was so on the hook for who it was! I deliberately skipped the contents pages in case I picked up unnecessary clues. I also loved the way that he refused to go bombastic and refused to drop huge plot twists and by keeping things low key ramped up the level of realism.
TONY to STEVE: Hit me with some reasons why readers should spend their hard-earned cash on Six Stories? I can give you one VERY big reason Steve, the absolute gold standard of combining crime and the supernatural is John Connolly’s Charlie Parker series, the Six Stories match these and I simply cannot give these books higher praise. The Parker books are definitely fuller on supernatural, but the threat always lurks in the back of Six Stories, whether it is explained away or not….
STEVE: I think for me – they were just so engrossing from start to finish. I shamefully haven’t read any of the Charlie Parker series, but for me, the gold standard of reading is purely – when I’m not reading that book am I constantly thinking about it? There have been very few series like this that simply don’t stutter or trip up or diminish in quality at some stage, but the Six Stories series doesn’t do that once. And I think this is one of those series where you absolutely CAN NOT only reading one of them. I’ve seen a few people mention, as well, that they didn’t realize there was an “order” to the releases and started on Book two or Book four and then went back and read the other ones and that really speaks to the format and power of the storytelling that Wesolowski has delivered.
TONY: I have not got the patience for podcasts or audiobooks, but if true crime podcasts are anything like as riveting as Six Stories then I’m obviously missing a trick. These books are unique in that there is no weak link and if anything, the sum is greater than the parts. I kept on thinking the format would get boring or something, but it never did and I found the familiarity of the format comforting. That perhaps also has similarities with crime fiction, when the reader quickly tunes into what their favourite detective is up to in the latest book. The word ‘masterpiece’ is bounded around all too easily, but the Six Stories ranks amongst the best things I have read in years. And I read A LOT!
ABOUT MATT WESOLOWSKI
Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor for young people in care.
'Six Stories' was published by Orenda Books in the spring of 2016 with follow-up ‘Hydra’ published in the winter of 2017, 'Changeling' in 2018, 'Beast' in 2019 and 'Deity' in 2020.
‘Six Stories’ has been optioned by a major Hollywood studio and the third book in the series, ‘Changeling’ was longlisted for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, 2019 Amazon Publishing Readers’ Award for Best Thriller and Best Independent Voice.
'Beast' won the Amazon publishing award for Best Independent voice in 2020.
TONY & STEVE: Book six ‘Demon’ hints that ‘Six Stories’ might have reached the end of the road, please say it is not so?
MATT: I can't really say at the moment! It's certainly possible, but it's also possible that Scott King may return. I don't want to push to write another one for the sake of it (I've had one a year out for the past 6 years) - Demon is perhaps the one I'm most proud of and writing it has taught me I need to wait until I really feel passionate about an idea before I start writing it.
TONY & STEVE: Do you think ‘Demon’ is the most overtly supernatural of the series?
Actually, I feel it's the least supernatural of all of them! Demon is the one that I did the least supernatural research for anyway! I think a trope like Demon possession has been done so many ways and so much better that I can do. As much as I wanted to write a possession book, it turned out the 'demonic' aspect of the story is only really the surface. Our society is very quick to label people (and, inexplicably CHILDREN) as 'evil' or 'demonic' before taking a moment to look at ourselves first and wonder what environment we've created where a child can commit a terrible act such as the pair in Demon. In many ways, our thinking around evil is still medieval.
TONY & STEVE: Do you have an interest in local folklore? It plays a significant part of a number of the books?
MATT: Very much so. I've always been fascinated by folk tales; as a child I read British Folk Tales by Kevin Crossley-Holland (1987) so many times, I could tell most of them off by heart - they're adapted folk tales from various different parts of the British Isles and it taught me so much about folklore and the art of storytelling. Folk tales and local lore has a huge part in forming societies - cautionary and moral stories, usually told orally hold huge power and it's no wonder everywhere has their own tales of boggarts, selkies and strange creatures. Where I live in the North East of England, we have an abundance of local lore, from the vicious 'Duegar' or 'little people' of the Simonside Hills to the monstrous Lambton Worm in County Durham. Whenever I go anywhere, I always try to find out about the local tales and legends.
TONY & STEVE: How strongly are the cases inspired by real life, I got a Michael Jackson vibe in ‘Deity’ and the Jamie Bulger murder in ‘Demon’?
MATT: Both. An amalgam of very real problems - Zach Crystal draws on elements of Jackson but also other predators such as Jimmy Saville and (allegedly) Marilyn Manson. It's about looking up to someone who is almost god-like and feeling like we can excuse their predatory behaviour because of who they are but where we, as fans or consumers of their media or music are left in the aftermath of their downfall.
Demon probably lends itself more to general child-on-child violence and murder rather than a specific case. My work background is in working with permanently excluded and often violent young people and I wanted to draw out the idea that it's possible to feel compassion for a child as well as condemn an horrific act. These are unpleasant, complicated feelings that are never black and white and it's there where I feel the story lies. What's most important to me is to create that conflict in the reader.
TONY & STEVE: Do you think the books would truly work if recorded as podcasts in that you could con listeners into thinking they were listening to a true crime podcast?
MATT: Oh, that would be so much fun! I've had people (my publisher and editor included) googling various characters and incidents to see if they're real or not and I love the idea of blending reality and horror. I'm a huge fan of found footage horror but only when it's done well like the first Blair Witch Project and BBC's 1992 Ghostwatch which terrified my generation when it was broadcast and maybe that sowed the seed?
TONY & STEVE: If the series is to continue do you intend to reveal more about the mysterious podcaster Scott King?
MATT: I actually did in an earlier draft of Demon - in which a few disgruntled Zach Crystal fans were digging some dirt on him but sadly, those parts never saw the light of day. Now I'm thinking about it, I do like to keep him out of the limelight but the more series he records, I feel like the less places he has to hide!
TONY & STEVE: Has there been any interest in the series for film or television?
MATT: I actually sold the film rights very soon after the first Six Stories was published but I can't say a lot about it other than these things take a great deal of time and usually end in disappointment! However, I should hopefully have something exciting to share soon...
TONY & STEVE: Do you listen to true crime podcasts? If so what do you recommend?
MATT: Not as much as I used to these days, I'm much more interested in listening to horror stories; Radio Rental being a particular current favourite. Who knows if the stories on there are true or not - I think that's what I like about it! I still listen to Casefile - an Australian true crime podcast whose host as anonymous and has certainly influenced the Six Stories series. I feel like the first series of Serial is pretty untouchable and still holds up today. Truth and Justice with Bob Ruff is astounding in terms of research and depth; the episodes about the West Memphis Three are amazing.
TONY & STEVE: There has been a lot of discussion of whether the books are horror, crime or both. How do you see it and your audience?
MATT: I think it's a pretty even split. Horror has been such a significant part of my life ever since I was very young; The Usbourne World of the Unknown: Monsters, UFOs and Ghosts books were basically my bibles growing up and I do read a lot of true crime so it's only natural the two should meet! I know that sometimes publishers and booksellers have a hard time knowing exactly which shelves my books should be stacked on, but I just concentrate on writing the sort of stories I like to read.
This year the difference is that I've been booked to appear on panels at some sci-fi/speculative festivals as well as crime (Crimefest, Theakstons, Cymera, Capital Crime, McM Comic Con London to name a few) which I really appreciate.
TONY & STEVE: Has the series grown in popularity as the books have been published?
MATT: It's hard to tell. I've got a group of 'core' fans who have been there from the very first book but it's always so nice when people reach out and tell me they've just got into the series. It's one of the reasons I made all books in the Six Stories series stand-alone, so anyone could pick them up wherever they want; for example, you like vampires? Grab Beast or are you into fairy lore? Changeling is for you.
Honestly, I felt like crime novels often lacked weird monster/folklore content and so decided to write the sort of (albeit quite niche) found footage/true crime/supernatural/podcast crossovers that I would like but had no idea anyone else would!
TONY & STEVE: Matt, it’s been an absolute pleasure. We might be late to the Six Stories party, but these books made a huge impression on us both we just had to write something celebrating its absolute brilliance.
Tony Jones (Ginger Nuts of Horror) & Steve Stred (Kendall Reviews)
THE BOOKS THAT MATTER : MJ WESOLOWSKI ON THE BUTCHER BOY BY PATRICK MCCABE
THE STORY THAT TERRIFIED ME AS A CHILD AND ULTIMATELY HELPED MAKE ME THE WRITER I AM TODAY BY MATT WESOLOWSKI
HORROR AUTHOR INTERVIEW : MJ WESOLOWSKI
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