About The Denounced
How did you get the idea for The Denounced?
I had originally planned to write an adult thriller. The book was to be called the Devil’s Kiss. I was almost ready to start when I set three questions for my lead character (see below). But as I worked through the answers, it became clear that I was really thinking about them more in regards to my own life than that of my protagonist. It was a strange internal upheaval, which not only kept me awake that night, but one I couldn't shift for the next couple of days. Then before I knew it, my lead character of my planned book had slipped from a thirty-five-year old man to a teenage boy looking for meaning in his life with no-one to turn to but himself. The idea that this teenager survived by his own wits or that circumstances sank him filled my every thought. I suddenly had to write Ned's story and discover if he could survive or not – The Denounced was born.
The three questions:
Who are your mentors?
Who do you turn to when you're in trouble?
Who can you trust?
Are you new to YA Writing?
This is the first time I’ve put my toe into the water, so to speak, as mentioned above. I’ve spend most of my time writing traditional adult thrillers. Having now finished A Grey Sun, book 1, I wish I’d written in the genre before now. Apart from the underlying trigger to write, the overall experience has been more fun than I could have ever imagined with fewer boundaries. I had a greater scope to create interesting worlds and investigate themes I hadn’t been able to dive into before with my previous writings. I not only felt liberated as a creative, but I could draw upon my own teenage years for inspiration, something I hadn’t thought about for a long time. From a professional and personal perspective, it was a wonderful experience. I've learnt many lessons from it.
How would you describe The Denounced?
Interesting question and I would love to hear your thoughts on it. But if you’re going to push me into a corner, I would say that it follows the path of many Dystopian Series in that it allows you to escape the confines of modern society to create a darker world in which to express a story. In its simple state, it is both a thriller and conspiracy story combined, but it is also a social drama that takes a speculative look at a potential nightmare future. I think all Dystopian novels do this and it's part of their attraction to readers.
Who do you think will enjoy The Denounced?
I would like to think it has something for everyone, even adults, and the chapters are deliberately short to keep the pace and suspense tight. But those who enjoyed the Hunger Games, The Maze Runner Series, Divergent and Red Rising will naturally gravitate towards this book. Hopefully, it is as enjoyable to read as it was to write. So far my reviews have been very positive so I can't complain.
How many books will there be in the Series?
Currently there will be three — a trilogy, and the story is linear, so each book natural carries the story forward until the final page in the last book. I do have the full story mapped out. That said, each book is its own story in its own right, so it can be read as a standalone as one kind reviewer pointed out.
Book 1 is called A Grey Sun and is out now. Book 2, Shifting Horizons, will be out in September 2018 and the third book, Creaking Dawn will be finished for Christmas of the same year.
I do have an idea to extend the books to a total of six in the Series, but those thoughts are in their very early stages. A lot depends on my readers and if they want to see more of the characters and the world. I will see how I feel, too, because you have to trust your instincts if it's right to continue or not.
Why did you replace the characters’ surnames with numbers?
This was an easy choice and it is a bit of an old trick used by fellow writers throughout the ages. My characters live in a very authoritarian world. They are actually free to do what they want as long as they obey the laws of the land, which happen to be strict especially around self-expression. My world isn’t watched in the George Orwell’s 1984 sense, but it is still repressive. It is not so much what they can’t do, it is more what they are not allowed to think. By replacing their surnames with a number, I de-humanise my characters slightly at the same time as elevating the Authorities’ power. I was careful to give them a first name, because I didn’t want my characters to be totally repressed and seen as robots. It all comes clear if you read the books. I also wanted to show how thinking outside of the box is prohibited and again this was a good mechanism to get this idea across.
What themes do you cover in the book?
There were so many I wanted to investigate and I will be looking to expand my ideas more in the next books, but some of the themes I’ve dug into are: the fears around loneliness and what it takes to survive an institution. How to deal with the cruelty of authority, especially vindictiveness – a quality I hate to witness! The discovery of new friends and how they can become more important than your family, especially as you get older. What it means to have a purpose in life vs. not. I also wanted to look at the discovery of your own emotional and physical strength, something we never really know until it is stress-tested. Finally, the struggle to be an individual; free to make our own choices, especially when those around you want to suppress who and what you are.
I think this is my favourite question and I could go on and on.
Is The Denounced about Religion?
No. In some ways, I think that would have been an easier story to write, but it wasn’t something I wanted to do. The world of The Denounced looks at a spiritual sense of something bigger than yourself vs. being insular and inward looking with no concept of a greater force beyond who you are. Or maybe put another way, evaluating the world for yourself vs. taking what you are first told as the only option.
Being curious about everything around you, especially the many different views people have of the world is an important habit to develop, especially when you’re young. We should all try and be curious for the whole of our lives. For me, how people interpret their world, especially in the context of having to share the planet we all inhabit, endlessly fascinates me and underpins the series. Life is the relationships we have with others and ourselves and I carry this theme in most of my writings.
Why is Ned’s journey so tough?
Life can be uncompromising and tough at times and we only really understand ourselves when we’ve had to struggle through a particular issue. That can be as simple as getting through an exam or something big like a death of someone close or the break-up of a close relationship. Often, when we look back at the best times in our lives, they can be that moment, because we struggled and had to fight through a situation. We had to learn something about ourselves to get through to the end. This was another important theme for me to investigate and I’m proud of Ned’s journey, and how he faces his own crisis. I hope I’m as good as him with my own problems. It feels strange when the character you created can teach you something about yourself, and that’s exciting as a writer.
Why did you write about orphans?
Not all the characters in the book are orphans but most are, so it is a good question. I’m an only child and my parents were absent for large sections of my childhood. I always wondered what it would be like to come from a large family, so at times I felt more like an orphan than someone who came from an extended family group. I’m not saying all orphans don’t have extended social interactions, but the stereotype image of an orphan is that of an abandoned person. This has always been an area of interest to me and the thriller I was planning before The Denounced – A Devil’s Kiss – was about a man looking for his twin sister, someone he didn’t know existed until he was thirty-five. That said, I know lots of people who come from big families who wish they didn’t have the dramas and social pressures that this can often bring. It is natural to be interested in the things you haven't experienced, plus families are an endless supply of great stories!
Why did you break the world into eight Quadrants?
I actually started with two, but as the series grew in my mind, I realised I needed eight to create the sense of diversity I needed for the books to work as I wanted them to. The Quadrants become more important in books 2 and 3. At one time, I thought about having twenty, but eight is perfect.
Why did you pick the six characters you did?
That's partly linked to the question above. I wanted to show the diversity of people from around the world, but it didn’t work when I only had two Quadrants. By having eight it gave me more scope, which then filtered into my character choices. Also, I’ve lived in London for a long time and one of the things I love about the city is its diverse multi-culture. Again, I wanted to express this in the books and having six characters allowed me this privilege.
Why did you write the book in the first person and not the third?
I gravitate towards books written in the first person. I like the closeness that the first person offers as both a reader and as an author. It is a personal choice and I have written books in the third person, but the always see to become lost for ever in my hard-drive!
Will you make a personal appearance and talk about The Denounced?
Yes, of course, it would be my pleasure. Please contact me via my Contact Page and we can take it from there.
Where can I get more information?
Yes, via my Newsletter. I will only send out relevant information around my work and I will not spam you with non-writting matters. You can of course unsubscribe at any time. You are also welcome to contact me via my Contacts Page.
How do I get a signed copy of your Book?
Send me an email and it would be a pleasure to get one to you – although I may ask you for an honest review in return!!
What’s next after The Denounced?
As mentioned, I have two more books to write in the series and it may get extended to six in total. After that, I'm not sure, but I may finish The Devil's Kiss and I have another idea for a book called Supply, which is a story burning inside of me to get out.
Is there going to be a movie of The Denounced?
Not yet, but you never know!