Williams, Conrad 1969-

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WILLIAMS, Conrad 1969-


Born 1969, in Warrington, England; married Rhonda Carrier (a writer); children: Ethan.


Home—London, England. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Earthling Publications, 12 Pheasant Hill Dr., Shrewsbury, MA 01545. E-mail—[email protected].


Writer and film agent.


Littlewood Arts Prize, British Fantasy Award for Best Newcomer, both 1993.


Head Injuries (novel), Do-Not Press (London, England), 1998.

Nearly People (novella), PS Publishing (Harrogate, England), 2001.

Sex and Genius, Bloomsbury (London, England), 2003.

Game (novella), Earthling Publications (Shrewsbury, MA), 2003.

Use Once, Then Destroy (short stories) Night Shade Books (Portland, OR), 2003.

London Revenant (novel), Do-Not Press (London, England), 2004.

Contributor of fiction to periodicals, including Back-Brain Recluse, Panurge, Sunk Island Review, Cemetery Dance, and Third Alternative. Williams's fiction has appeared in anthologies, including Best New Horror 9, The Year's Best Horror Stories XXII, Scaremongers, Dark Terrors 2, and The Mammoth Book of Dracula.


Blonde on a Stick, a novel.


A writer of thriller and horror fiction, Conrad Williams is "adept at recreating experience through buoyant dialogue and characterization," wrote Matthew Wright in the Times Literary Supplement. In Williams's first novel, Head Injuries, David Munro, Helen Soper, and Seamus Cope, three longtime friends, find themselves being urged to reunite by forces they can't identify. Helen was once David's girlfriend, and Seamus a mutual friend to both, but five years after college, none of the three is entirely sure why it seems so important that they all return to their bleak northern seaside hometown of Morecambe. All are amateur artists with poor jobs and unpromising future prospects, and all have a sense of being followed, as though the follower wants nothing more than for the three to be together again. Vivid dreams begin to disturb them, and old sins, traumas, and tragedies involving the trio begin to surface in memory. "By novel's end, their worst secrets have fountained upward into a collective dawning and bloodletting," wrote a Kirkus Reviews critic. Reviewer Rick Kleffel, on the Agony Column Web site, called Head Injuries "an outstanding debut novel." Williams "manages to inject the most delicate objects and images with a deep, abysmal terror, while seemingly very little is actually happening," Kleffel wrote. "But Williams's visions are striking enough to keep the reader riveted."

Williams's next offering, the novella Nearly People, portrays a violent, apocalyptic future in which diseased, tortured husks of men and women try to survive in the urban landscape of Howling Mile. The city is little more than a toxic waste dump, isolated from the rest of the world and deliberately quarantined by the Bordertypes, the people, or possibly creatures, who live outside of the boundaries of the city and enforce the quarantines and curfews with brutal precision. Cannibalism, roving street gangs, violent death, and slow deterioration are fixtures of the landscape. Carrier, a young woman determined to survive the ravages of Howling Mile, spends her days searching for food and for means of keeping her dying companion, Jake, alive. She manages to make contact with the outside world through Enderby, a mysterious correspondent on the other end of a dilapidated computer she finds in an abandoned hospital. Carrier takes some comfort in the contact with Enderby—at least she knows there actually is a world outside the constricted borders of Howling Mile—but she longs for more. Then she meets The Dancer, a sleek and shadowy figure prowling the rubble piles and shadows of the city, and she begins to think that escape from the perpetual hell of Howling Mile might be possible after all.

"Williams brings the decayed and plague-ridden streets of his apocalyptic city to life through words and description directed with vivid economy," wrote William Thompson on the SF Site. "The use of metaphor and symbolism elevates this tale beyond a simple recitation of woe or grim harbinging for the future." Rick Kleffel, reviewing the book on the Agony Column Web site, called Nearly People "a superb, disturbing performance that has the touch of horror with a convincingly realized near-future scenario." Kleffel remarked that the story's "plotting is clever and very twisty," adding, "The prose is powerful, poetic."

In Sex and Genius, film producer Michael Lear travels to Italy to seek permission to make a documentary on reclusive contemporary novelist James Hildyard. Though Hildyard rejects the idea of the documentary, Lear is offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to become the personal secretary for the genius novelist. Lear is content to be assistant and companion to his brilliant hero, but when English actress Adela Fairfax arrives, the situation begins to change. Fairfax knows that Hildyard has an unpublished novel on-hand, and it is a hot property of a book that Hollywood producers are extremely eager to acquire. As an assortment of Hollywood agents and lawyers swarm about, Fairfax realizes she cannot persuade Hildyard to hand over the rights to the novel; only Lear can do that, and he is torn between helping her and maintaining his loyalty to Hildyard. The likelihood of the author relinquishing rights to his book seems dim. Not only does Hildyard consider adaptations of novels to be "vandalism," but the unpublished book remains unpublished because of the disturbing secret that forms the core of the novel—a secret that Hildyard cannot face, and one that will be revealed at considerable cost to many.

"The grasping, gossiping world of the ten-percenters comes in for some very bad press" in the novel, observed Alfred Hickling in a Guardian review. Though Hollywood agents and lawyers take their lumps, "Conrad Williams works as an agent in the film industry and he is entitled to say what he likes." Rupert Winchester, writing on the Telegraph Web site, noted that the book "certainly gives the reader an insight into the rat-like cunning, duplicitousness, and amorality of agents." Winchester called the novel itself "ambitious." Although Wright found the portrayal of Hildyard to be the least successful of the main characters, "Lear and Fairfax become absorbingly interesting, and all three are given tense scenes in which both the build-up and resolution are handled with delicacy."



Guardian (London, England), December 14, 2002, Alfred Hickling, "Settling Scores," review of Sex and Genius.

Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 1998, review of Head Injuries, p. 1323.

Publishers Weekly, September 7, 1998, Sybil Steinberg, review of Head Injuries, p. 87; March 29, 2004, review of Use Once, Then Destroy, p. 43.

Times Literary Supplement, December 20, 2002, Matthew Wright, "In Amalfi Once," review of Sex and Genius.


Agony Column,http://trashotron.com/agony/index.htm/ (August 2, 1999), Rick Kleffel, review of Head Injuries; (July 14, 2003), Rick Kleffel, review of Nearly People.

Bloomsbury Web site,http://www.bloomsbury.com/ (July 14, 2003).

Conrad Williams Home Page,http://www.conradwilliams.com/ (July 14, 2003), author biography.

Scorpius Digital Publishing,http://www.scorpiusdigital.com/ (July 14, 2003).

SF Site,http://www.sfsite.com/ (May 24, 2002), William Thompson, review of Nearly People.

Telegraph,http://www.telegraph.co.uk/ (May 23, 2003), Rupert Winchester, review of Sex and Genius. *

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