📚 IN DEPTH✏
BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF
DYSTOPIAN SCIENCE FICTION,
FANTASY & HORROR
In a couple of sentences only, summarise SWIFTLY SHARPENS THE FANG.
It’s a dystopian novel which tells the story of a troubled, impressionable young man who lost his father to a terrorist attack. Tempted by the promise of revenge, Joe is groomed and radicalised by his fascist uncle.
What inspired you to write SWIFTLY SHARPENS THE FANG?
I devised the synopsis about eighteen months ago, but I had a couple of other books I wanted to write first. Then came the EU referendum and its fallout. The vast majority of people who voted for Brexit did so for good reasons, and while I disagree with them, I respect their right to choose. However, a minority cast their vote out of xenophobia. Sure enough, within days there was a spike in reported cases of racist attacks and abuse. It seems that the Out vote legitimatised racism for some, and I resolved to write SWIFTLY immediately. That said, although politics is an important factor in the story, it is more about one person, his struggles and the hellish events that change his life forever.
Tell us more about your main character.
Joe is a complex human being. His father’s murder hit him at a difficult age, just on the cusp of adulthood, so he found solace in substance abuse. Also, the repressed memory of a childhood trauma haunts his subconscious, and he teeters on the edge of a mental breakdown. Angry at the world, he is the perfect target for his manipulative uncle. Deep down, he is not a bad person, but he might be persuaded to do very bad things.
Your cover is distinctive. What is the significance of the wolf?
I don’t want to give too much away! But I can say that it’s nothing to do with werewolves or shifting. It’s more about the monster Joe must become if he is to fulfill the destiny his evil uncle has planned for him.
What else have you written?
The final part of my dystopian SUBNORMAL trilogy (Subnormal, Supernormal & Postnormal) was published in May 2016. It depicts an alternative reality contemporary Britain, one that’s ruled by a tyrannical dictator. Prime Minister believes that those who don’t, in her eyes, contribute to society should be marginalised and enslaved. All disabled people – “subnormals” – are imprisoned and forced to work in industrial zones, while the general populace inexplicably averts its eyes. Paul, who has Asperger’s syndrome, is declared subnormal. Over the course of three books, he and his friends fight for freedom, encountering murderous government agents and crazed fanatics along the way.
Why do you write dystopian books?
I’ve always loved dystopian fiction, whether it be literature or films. 1984, Brave New World, The Handmaid’s Tale; The Matrix, V for Vendetta, Children of Men; that sort of thing. For some reason, these bleak visions of the future compel me. I suppose I’m a natural pessimist, but with the way the world is going these days, my work is becoming more realistic than speculative! Also, I’m a bit of a conspiracy nut. Where others see tragedy, I see Machiavellian plots and misinformation.
I’m currently plotting the sequel to SWIFTLY, having purposely left the ending open. It could be a stand-alone if necessary, but I’ve got plans for the characters. I think this will be another trilogy, and I already have the storyboard for book 3 waiting. SWIFTLY took 4 months to write and edit, so watch this space! After that, who knows? I have book ideas to see me through the next five years at this rate.
Apart from writing, what do you enjoy doing?
First comes my family, and I try to spend as much time as possible with my wife, son, daughter and dog. When I have the time, I watch my beloved Manchester United play football (soccer). I’m also an avid reader and a bit of a movie/TV series buff.
Share an insight or secret about your writing.
I wrote most of the SUBNORMAL trilogy and every word of SWIFTLY SHARPENS THE FANG on my smartphone. Of course, the editing and formatting were done on a PC. I only write on the bus to and from work, and during my lunch hour. With a full-time job and two children – the eldest of whom is severely autistic – I don’t have the time to do it any other way. Nevertheless, I’m happy with the results, and feel that my work is getting better all the time.
What do you feel is your best advice to share with other aspiring authors?
Start writing now! However, before you publish, build yourself an author “platform,” and use social media to make yourself known and build relationships with other authors before your book is released. Also do as much research into the rules of the English language as possible. It might be dull (I don’t think so, but I’m a bit of a geek), but it will pay dividends when it comes to editing.
Stuart lives in Greater Manchester, England with his wife and two young children. Despite wanting to pen a novel since reading English Literature at the University of Salford, he didn’t start writing until 2014. He released the final part of the SUBNORMAL series in May 2016, and has recently written a new novel, SWIFTLY SHARPENS THE FANG, which releases 30th January 2017. Stuart prefers to write in public places, tapping away as the world passes by, and he plots his stories whilst out walking the dog. He has always enjoyed reading disturbing tales which explore the darkness at the heart of the human condition, and his characters are devised with this in mind.
As the father of a severely autistic son, the author has pledged to donate a fifth of all royalties from the SUBNORMAL series to his local Special Educational Needs school. They are raising money to provide much-needed sensory equipment for the children. The treatment of disabled people in Britain – in particular the cuts in welfare benefits for society’s most vulnerable – provided Stuart with the inspiration for his original trilogy. The Brexit vote, and the lurch to the right in politics across the Western World, prompted him to write
SWIFTLY SHARPENS THE FANG.
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Best of luck writing Stuart, as well as with your autistic son. I definitely understand the challenges you and your wife and family will have ahead of you! tf