Tom Fletcher – Q&A

Today I’m pleased to welcome author Tom Fletcher to the blog. Tom kindly agreed to answer a few of my questions so here we go..

1. Tell us a little about Gleam.

Gleam the place: it looks like a broken skull, and nobody knows what it’s for. A hexagonal black pyramid rises from its centre, and Gleam gets its name from the shining apparatus that crowns the pyramid. The pyramid is inhabited, as is the surrounding area, but much of the rest of Gleam is empty of human life. It is slowly sinking into the swamp. Some of its people worship Old Green (a six-legged crocodile), some worship hallucinogenic toads, some a gigantic terrarium. Others are sworn, at birth, into the transgenerational and never-ending work of mapping Gleam. And those in the Pyramid live their lives under the stringent rule of astronomer priests, blood alchemists, and administrators. 

Gleam the book: a strange adventure. A personal quest into the heart of a mysterious world. Wild Alan, the protagonist, almost living up to his nickname. Love, lust, old grievances, blackmail, magic mushrooms, and hatred. And giant snails.

2. Gleam is different to your other novels. What inspired you to break out and try something new?

I’d wanted to write it for a while. I’ve always read fantasy and sci-fi, and I’ve always intended to write SFF; it just felt like the time was right to have a go. Probably because my previous novels were all quite bleak and I felt like I needed a break from that kind of book, that kind of protagonist. I needed a change, and this strange world that had been coalescing in the back-brain stepped forward, and became Gleam.

3. Did you find you had more freedom to write outside the horror genre or did the fact that you are already established add a different kind of pressure to this new trilogy?

There’s a cartoonish aspect to Gleam that was quite liberating. Creating characters who can bounce back from some of the strange, horrible stuff that happens was fun. In my horror novels, people don’t generally bounce back with what happens – they fail to deal, fail to cope. 

The limitations that I wrote my first few books under were not to do with the genre, but to do with the tone and the world that I had decided to operate in – likewise, the freedoms that came with Gleam do not come from the genre, but from the relaxation of those self-imposed limitations. 

4. Are you a plan it all first or a sit down and write as it comes kind of writer?

I try to plan, but all the plans I make end up being thrown out of the window in a fit of petulance. I try to be the former – I’d like to be the former – but I’m just about resigned to the fact that I’m the latter, and always will be.

5. What can we expect from you next?

I’m currently working on Idle Hands, the sequel to Gleam and second book of The Factory Trilogy. In Idle Hands we’ll see a lot more of the workings of the Black Pyramid. Then there’ll be the third book, too, of course. I’ve got a horror novel called The Dead Fool to edit, which is set in the same world as my first three books, and that will be published at some point over the next couple of years. And some friends and I are working on a couple of independent projects – a book of Christmas ghost stories, and an interactive online fiction, details of which will be announced at http://www.curious-tales.com in due time.

6. You must have answered a few of these Q&As. What question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?

That’s difficult. I don’t really go into these things with a list of things I want to talk about – that would be a bit presumptuous, I think. It’s presumptuous enough writing a novel and hoping people will read it! And although there is a lot of overlap between different Q&As, there are always a few unique questions, so across the full range of Q&As most topics get covered.

There are things I’d like to write about or discuss, and that I sometimes consider blogging about, but I am not sure the internet needs any more unsolicited author opinions. I’ll write a blog post if somebody asks me to, and I’ll answer questions that I’m asked, but these days I try to leave it at that.

Gleam is available now in hardback and is published by Jo Fletcher Books.

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About Tom Fletcher:

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Tom Fletcher has published a number of his short stories as well as three novels with Jo Fletcher Books, The Leaping, The Thing on the Shore and The Ravenglass Eye. He lives in Cumbria with his wife and son.

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