MY INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR DREW NEARY & CERI WILLIAMS
What’s your name and what genre would you consider your books to be?
Hello, lovely to meet you. We are Drew Neary and Ceri Williams. Our book contains a range of genres –fantasy, historical fiction, sci-fi and gothic horror. Most people however describe it as a supernatural thriller.
Tell me about your book. How did you come up with that (story, angle, idea)?
As the first in an upcoming series of supernatural books, the Clockmaker is the story of Annette and her young son Duncan. Widowed in World War 2, they face a completely different life as they exchange the devastation of post-blitz London for the slow pace of a small village in Scotland.
The house they have inherited is old, its bones still settling, creaking noises in the dead of night and the murmur of scritch-scritch in the walls. Located outside the village of Lochnagar, it’s been empty for many years.
It is here in this village that a series of strange events begins to unfold.
How the Clockmaker makes his plans, his meticulous preparations and macabre creations, builds up to a series of gruesome, horrific murders. These have just one end in view: his release from that which has held him captive for centuries.
The Clockmaker originated as a character in the much larger prequel novel – Optics. We were writing a chapter in the book that occurs during WW2.Drew went into the garden and he was looking at a tree and deciding whether he was going to prune it. His children were buzzing around the garden, and the idea for the Clockmaker and his constructs popped into his head. And a couple of years later we have the novel and he still hasn’t pruned the tree.And the Clockmaker is now a major part of our book series.
When planning the writing of this novel, we wanted the setting to be somewhere special. We visit Scotland a lot and chose the Balmoral area for it’s beautiful geography that lends itself to the dramatic scenes we had planned. We see Scotland as a land steeped with myth and mystery that dates back to the time of the Romans and beyond. We loved the feel of ancient power resting in the Dolmans, waiting to be released.
Where did you get the inspiration/idea for your series?
We met in a writers’ forum and quickly realised that our interests and approaches to writing were very similar. As we live close to each other we met for a coffee and began discussing a photograph of Lovers Eye that we had seen online. Before we knew it several hours had passed and we had outlined an exciting epic storyline that we knew had to be written.
“This is the first time we are co-writing and we are really excited about how dynamic our partnership is .It was evident from our initial meetings and the snowballing of ideas which evolved into the journey, that we absolutely had to write this novel, and which subsequently forms the basis for the books that will follow.”
What kind of research did you do for this book?
The book The Clockmaker starts off in Newcastle where Drew hails from and so all of the places mentioned are a significant part of his youth. Two of the characters are based on his grand parents, and the young girl is his mum. It was an opportunity to celebrate the lives of real people who fitted the timeline of the book, which is post WW2, and it fits with the storyline. Drew’s grandfather was:
“A WW2 veteran, who had so many amazing stories about his war experiences and yet he told them to us young ones in a way that wasn’t terrifying- it was entrancing. He earned a box full of medals (one from El Alamein) that are now the treasured possessions of my son.” This involvement of real people in the novel was something that hopefully the reader engages with. Drew wanted people to know what his grandfather was like.
We also looked at historical documentation about Berlin, World War 2,transport, and characteristics of people living in those days.
The main body of the novel is set in Balmoral in the Scottish highlands, in the fictitious village of Lochnagar. Western Scotland is a beautiful country dotted with little villages, standing stones, mountains, lochs and mists that whisper of ancient secrets and hidden ancient powers waiting to be re- discovered. Powers which the clockmaker seeks to unlock. We felt it important to visit several places in Scotland so as to ensure we got the soul of the country in our words.
“One of the most well-written books I’ve read in a while. The setting development cannot be beat and you actually are placed dead in the centre of every scene.”
Was it always meant to become a series?
Yes it was because the epic story of Optics is just too big to be a stand-alone novel.
What’s a typical working day like for you? When and where do you write? Do you set a daily writing goal?
Drew: I do the school run in the morning, and when I get home I make lots of cups of coffee, stick some music on (usually rock). Then I walk around the house drinking coffee, and playing the scenes over in my head that I want to write, and then I sit down and write them.
I don’t set myself goals per day although I try to do a section or a scene in a day but it’s more important that I get it right than the actual word count that I produce each day.
But also when I have written some pages, I talk them over with my children and ask them what they think. My son in particular will always ask what happens next-and this spurs me to write .He is very good at giving feedback and thinking of other scenarios.”
But we also of course write together, where we sit with our laptops and discuss ideas and bits we have written thus farcify we cannot physically write together, a really successful method has been sending each other the writing via email and then discussing this, or we just ring up and have a chat.
We find that we have a very strong respect for each other’s ideas and thoughts, and as a result this respect leads to a meshing of quality text.
Do you have new books in the making and if so, what are the names of your upcoming books?
We are currently writing the next two books, as The Clockmaker is part of an upcoming series. Optics features the Clockmakers origins and The Perfect Child is the sequel to The Clockmaker.
Where do your ideas come from?
It’s tricky to answer this because our ideas will spring out of nowhere. It could be a building, or a piece of music, orin the case of Drew ”I get a lot of ideas whilst I’m driving and I have to stop, pull over and write them down- so it takes me ages to get anywhere.”
Ceri: ”The idea behind the perfect child came from a school visit to an old jail which had an oubliette within it.”
What is the hardest part of writing for you?
For both of us it’s editing- without a doubt! The novels themselves are inside our heads so we know the layout, the characters etc. inside out. But the final stages of “murdering the babies/words” are by far the most tedious process of all.
What do you think of book trailers? Do you have a trailer or do you intend to create one for your own book?
We love them! We think that because they are so visual they attract the immediate attention of a broader range of readers, and yes we would love to do one soon. It would be amazing to actually see the words brought to life through moving images. As one reviewer said “There is a fantastic climax in this book. It is a moviemakers dream. I won’t describe it totally as we don’t want spoilers but in a true gothic style it includes a dark hillside and a storm.”We would love to see something like this in a book trailer.
What writing advice do you have for aspiring authors?
If you feel you have a story in you, go ahead and write. Don’t worry about punctuation, grammar, spelling or any thing that strangles your creative flow.
Never ever give up. Have a good group of people around you who will read what you have written and give you honest constructive feedback. We had a range of people (of all ages) who gave us sound critical advice that we could follow if we thought it appropriate. And be prepared to “murder your darlings” and be ruthless with your editing.
Do you read reviews of your book(s)? Do you respond to them, good or bad? How do you deal with the bad?
Yes we always read them and are in awe and humbled that people will buy our books and take the time to write reviews. We don’t respond at all because we have been advised not to.
To be honest we have been incredibly blessed with very good reviews, we haven’t had many bad ones at all. We do however always try and take something constructive from every review and incorporate any ideas of suggestions into our future writing if appropriate.
Can you give us a few tasty morsels from your work-in-progress?
Are a semi dystopian novel set in the future but jumps backwards and forwards through time, and this is where The Clockmaker first appears. Many of the genres evident in The Clockmaker are within the novel, although there is a strong sic -fi element throughout.
Through the sins of mankind The Beast grew in power and was thus able to slay God. Mankind is spread through the stars but a sentient artifact from the past is discovered by the heroes- Judd and Walden who are escapees from the shackles of The Great machine. This artifact leads the heroes down on a fraught and mysterious journey to restore the balance between good and evil and attempt the impossible -and bring God back.
So here is a section of the work in progress from Optics.
“John exhaled deeply, and listened. The air was still as if the city was holding her breath, eyes tight shut, waiting forthe news of the latest atrocity. The streets were as clear as the sky gone were the fogs and smog that plagued them. There were so many stars out that night, more than John had ever seen over a London sky. A giant circle of a moon surrounded by a sea of sparkling diamonds, that the thin wisps of anorexic cotton could not hope to obscure. Like the city itself John held his breath in anticipation. The killer was out there, have that he had no doubt, he could feel it. This was no ordinary murderer. Yes London had known many a murder, in fact John would swear that city’s very foundations were built on the bones of the slain.”©Optics
The Perfect Child:
Continues the journey started by Annette and Duncan in The Clockmaker. Spanning 3 centuries, the protagonists are brought together for one final time. Set in Nottingham primarily, it is a gothic thriller with elements of the supernatural and horror.
Outside, Whitby was wet. The steps and pavements slick with the macassar oil of rain. Gulls sabotaged the clouds,sluicing through them in silent,endless journeys to where the mariners sank.Wet on piers and coves and cobbles.Wet and straight and northern and grim.
It reminded her of flashes of Under Milk Wood.(Did anyone read him anymore she mused,)that long dead poet whose Welsh ragings against storms, and self destructive obsessions resulted in such towering passion and prose.Look out across this ocean pet, and see how far the gulls go.She was alone at this hour. Just her and Dylan.
“Come on up, boys I’m dead.” ©The Perfect Child
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Yes writing energizes both of us. It is exciting to see where the words and the story line take us. Drew describes it as meeting someone new each time.
Where can your fans find you and follow??
Instagram : https://www.instagram.com/ceriw1497/
Thank you for taking your time to do this interview ❤️