Round Here

This week I completed a significant achievement in my writing. I finished a novel.

As I said in my post, The First Cut, I’ve always struggled with imposter syndrome and not feeling like a “real writer”. Today I feel like I’ve made a breakthrough. I’ve always written stories and since I was a kid, I’d imagined myself writing a novel in the future. Yet the older I got, the more out of touch the achievement seemed. A combination of work commitments and general life stuff always made that ambition seem impossible.

But in the last year or so, I’ve started to take my writing a lot more seriously. Check out the podcast I guested on over at This Is Horror for further details around this. But, I realised that life wasn’t going to present me with time to write, I had to take it. So I did. This novel was written in stolen hours. It was largely written in the library opposite my office, where I spend most of my lunch breaks. It was written in silence as my daughter slept. It was written as notes in the back of notebooks that I typed up.

This novel is proof to myself that I can do it. That I have the discipline to finish a long project and the chops to make a coherent story along the way. Today I feel like I have earned some validation as a writer. It’s a good feeling.

So, the novel. The book is titled Round Here. The title comes from some lyrics by one of my favourite bands, Counting Crows. Check out the studio version from their amazing album, August and Everything After. The first chorus has a line that inspired me : –

“Round here, we always stand up straight.

Round here, something radiates.”

Round Here is set in a small town in northern England blighted by a spate of teenage suicides. As distraught parents close ranks, Natalie Hounslow returns home to help her parents keep her sister, Cate on the rails. As she explores her hometown, Natalie realises there is something far worse than death waiting for the residents of Upheath.

There is no publisher attached yet, primarily because I am yet to approach one, but today is a day to celebrate. The book is done. I’ve achieved one goal, now it’s on to the next – publication.

Book Recommendation – Six Stories

As well as spreading the word about my own writing and publications, I wanted to use this site to discuss books, films, music – whatever I’ve been enjoying lately. They’re not reviews, as such, more a quick run down of what I’ve been reading or listening to so that people who read this site can check them out for themselves.

Seeing as the site is just getting going, I wanted to take the opportunity to get promoting other books as soon as possible. Luckily, I have just finished reading a cracking book so I can get the ball rolling with something memorable.

Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski is a book I saw recommended by the fantastic Alasdair Stuart of Pseudopod fame in a column that he wrote at about childhood cruelty and Moors settings. A cheery mix huh? The column is a great read, I’m yet to read Chalk but it’s pretty high on the list.

Six Stories is a tale of murder and teenage bad behaviour, with a sprinkling of the supernatural thrown in for good measure. The story centres around the murder of a teenager, Tom Jeffries in 1997, and those who were either there or associated with him at the time.

I’m a big fan of books that are told in an epistolary style and Six Stories is presented in the form of an ongoing true crime podcast. Each week, the host of the titular Six Stories podcast, Scott King, interviews someone connected with Tom Jeffries and unravels another layer of the mystery around his death.

The skill in Wesolowski’s writing is two-fold. His characterisation is superb, with each podcast guest having their own truly unique voice. The characters in Six Stories are all full realised and have quirks and motives that are believable and logical. Be it, a hidden agenda or overt unrequited love, each interview makes the reader feel a different emotion.

The layering of the story throughout the novel is also exceptional. Each interview reveals details, contradictions and motives that build towards a tense, deserved climax to the story. Whilst not overtly a horror novel, there is a touch of folk horror here. Repeated references to a local myth crop up throughout, and whilst the supernatural element is a minor part of the story, the passages where it features prominently are among the most powerful. A quick browse through Wesoloswski’s back catalogue reveals a love of horror, something that is evident in the strength of his Nana Wrack myth in this book. (Note to self: pick up The Black Land)

The Six Stories series continues with Hydra, another investigation from podcast host Scott King and hopefully there are plans afoot for future installments.

You can find out more about Matt Wesolowski’s work at his author site, his Facebook or on Twitter where he is @concretekraken 

Buy it now – Amazon (UK|US)