The S-Squad Series

Big beasties fascinate me.

Some of that fascination stems from early film viewing. I remember being taken to the cinema to see The Blob. I couldn't have been more than seven or eight, and it scared the crap out of me. The original incarnation of Kong has been with me since around the same time. Also around then my local fleapit was showing a variety of things that stayed with me, from Mechakong to Godzilla, from the Valley of the Gwangi to One Million Years B.C., from Jason and the Argonauts to the Golden Voyage of Sinbad that have left me with a lifelong passion for dinosaurs, stop-motion monsters, and indeed, everything Harryhausen related.

Similarly, not long after that period, somewhere around the late 60's, early '70s. I remember the BBC showing re-runs of classic creature features late on Friday nights, and THEM! in particular left a mark on my psyche.

I've also got a Biological Sciences degree, and even while watching said movies, I'm usually trying to figure out how the creature would actually work in nature -- what would it eat? How would it procreate? What effect would it have on the environment around it?

On top of that, I have an interest in cryptozoology, of creatures that live just out of sight of humankind, and of the myriad possibilities that nature, and man's dabbling with it, can throw up.

All of this means I can't avoid writing about the beasties, from Giant Crabs in CRUSTACEANS, to Yeti in BERSERKER and ABOMINABLE, man-eating seaweed in THE CREEPING KELP, another big blob in THE PLASM, killer shrooms in FUNGOID and Giant Ants in GENERATIONS.

And there's now this, my latest foray in the genre. If the S-Squad idea had come along sooner, I'm pretty sure both Crustaceans and The Creeping Kelp would be part of this series... they're like dry-runs for what is to come.

The S-Squad series is a tribute to several things - 50s big-bug B movies, Alistair MacLean books and movies, Aliens, and Dog Soldiers are all rattling around in there.

But mostly it's for the love of big beasties. Mostly.

So far the team's various members have come up against giant Isopods, revenant Nazis in a UFO base, velociraptors on Lundy Island, a variety of Ice-Age beasties in Siberia, bloody huge snakes in Amazonia, a legend in the waters of Loch Ness and giant spiders in an ancient desert city in Syria.

There are more close encounters of the big beastie kind in their futures.

Unlike the Dog Soldiers team of a mixture of various Brits, my squad, after the first book at least, are all Scots, from Glasgow and Edinburgh, Inverness and the Islands, which gives me tension, patter and a degree of culture clash among them to play with. That, and the fact that not all of them are guaranteed to survive any particular adventure means I have a lot of wiggle room with plots and action that keeps me, and hopefully readers too, on their toes.

I have such plans for the squad...

Writing these feels like a homecoming of sorts. I've been in Newfoundland more than a decade now, but I've not lost my accent, and my soul still beats to the rhythm of my homeland.

But as I said, this is an indulgence, not a guilty pleasure, since there is no guilt at all, simply fun, joy and adventure.

This is who I am. This is my playpen. Come and join me.


Coming soon

  • Operation: Severn (Short story / Prehistoric / Severed Press)

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