first I was thinking, here we go, another book where a serial killer kidnaps
and tortures a beautiful young woman. And then it wasn’t. Amusing, original and demands you turn the
The Cry - Helen Fitzgerald
striking “dilemma” novel, emotionally charged and brilliantly executed.
An Exquisite Sense of What
is Beautiful – J. David Simon
read this right at the start of the year and it has stayed with me. Manages to be both exquisite and
beautiful. Need I say more?
Blood City – Douglas
in Glasgow in the 80’s. A fast, furious and fascinating read. (I’m sure I could
slip another “f” in there. Mmmm. Best not.)
Grim Company – Luke Scull
excellent debut into a brand new fantasy series. Avoids the information dump a
lot of new fantasy novelists feel they need to start off a series. A great set up and a team of characters I
want to spend time with. I was hooked from page one. (And the author has the
best name, right?)
Norwegian By Night – Derek
hero in his 80s, in a foreign country, fighting to save a young boy’s
life. Manages to combine lyricism with
Beautiful Ruins – Jess
laugh out loud funny and utterly charming. You will fall in love with this
419 – Will Ferguson
the Giller Prize (Canada’s version of the MAN Booker). A prizewinner that’s
readable! An author who knows his way
round a tasty sentence and a genuinely thrilling and fascinating plot. Also a
reminder, if we need one, how the so-called developed world bowing at the altar
of the god of profit has damaged Africa.
Nos4r2 – Joe Hill
creep-inducing – gave me the shivers at several stages through the reading of
the book. A chunky read with crisp writing, Hill gives his old man a run for
certain you’ll find something here to enjoy. So go, buy one or more, wontcha?
The Sleeping Warrior can be loosely described as an urban fantasy, for
want of a better description. It’s a crime thriller with a subtle fantasy
element thrown in.
Mixing up the genres of contemporary fiction has been quite a challenge
and I hope that readers will approach it with their minds wide open and focus
on the story as a whole. The title is well represented in the book: as a famous
mountain vista from the Ayrshire coast; as the central heroic character of the
story; and as the inherent dormant warrior spirit within us all that awakes in
times of crises.
Describe your inspiration for the book?
I am a fantasy author and have been writing heroic fantasy for a few
years. For some reason, I decided to take a break from the epic and write a
contemporary novel as my debut.
Speculative and slipstream fiction is becoming more popular with readers
and much of it is being serialised on the TV and finding its way into movies.
Since I started writing the book over five years ago, it’s obviously not
my intention to jump on the bandwagon of consumer preference; I just liked the
notion of placing a fantasy character into the real world and seeing what he’d
do. That was the intention at the beginning and I loved the way he worked.
Talk to me about your main character/s.
The main protagonist is a self-centred, cynical young lawyer called
Libby Butler who finds her life turned upside down after meeting Gabriel, a
stranger in a south London police station’s custody suite. As she finds herself
in more and more dangerous situations, she comes to terms what is really
important in life and what is merely misguided aspiration.
I really admire honour as a human characteristic. Even though we know
little about Gabriel, you have to respect his strength and self-control. He is
a man who doesn’t abuse his powerful advantages over others and teaches solely
Did any themes come out of the writing that surprised you?
Identity as a theme underpins the story. It must have been a subconscious
thing because I never really thought of a main theme when writing the book. For
some reason, I wrote a scene where Gabriel happened to be reading Umberto Eco’s
Name of the Rose and everything suddenly came together as if it was always
meant to happen. It was completely accidental. I tried to think of intelligent
literature that he would be interested in and remembered that Eco said
something to the effect that a name can be so rich in meaning that it has no
meaning at all. I don’t want to give away any of the story, so will just say
that a name can empower or deprive.
I like to go to places where I can escape for a while and immerse myself
into completely different worlds. Fantasy has always been my preferred genre to
both read and, therefore, to write.
I suppose I have had a career in writing. I was an editor for a legal
publishing company and then a newspaper journalist, so the written word has
always been part of my day job. Some people paint to release creative imagination,
others play music. I write because that is the means by which I can best convey
Why go it alone?
There is still quite a lot of stigma attached to self-published authors,
despite the fact that even peasants can be king on Amazon. I even note that
quite a few amateur book reviewers will only accept traditionally published
authors, which suggests to me that even readers will turn their noses up to
authors who have decided to go it alone.
The fact is that publishers, who have controlled what people read for so
long, are fast losing business to the likes of Amazon and finding out that
readers are perfectly capable of choosing what they want to read for
themselves. You see time and time again, authors who could paper their walls with
rejection letters, become best-sellers overnight.
I’m quite conventional in a way and, until recently, have always aspired
to being a traditionally published author. I’ve thought long and hard about
this and, when The Sleeping Warrior attracted the interest of three publishers,
in a fit of defiance, I thought ‘why should I give it to them?’
I then decided to start up a publishing house which, although I am the
first author to be published by it, I certainly won’t be the only one. I really
don’t care if other writers or readers sniff at the fact I’m self-published.
There is so much effort expended in the process and so much I have learned that
I feel my achievement has been truly great. I am so proud to be able to hold a
real and tangible paperback copy of my first novel in my hands and say ‘I wrote
this and then I published this all by myself.’