In “The Nowhere Man,” the setting had a strong sense of place and purpose, but also a sense of being ill-defined, like some dying, Midwestern rural town. Was the setting drawn from personal experience?
The setting wasn’t drawn from my experience, but an ex-boyfriend of mine used to live in a rural town in Tasmania and he told me a story about how he once saw a stranger walking across their school sports field carrying a large knife. It was the germ for this story so I kept the setting. Plus, death is almost a character in this story so I wanted to have a barren, hard setting as the backdrop.
I found it interesting that the story is told from the perspective of a little boy who is alienated and living in his own nowhere. Could the Nowhere Man be the protagonist?
I think perhaps the Nowhere Man is the catalyst for change. A marker in time. However, this story became the launch pad for my ideas for The Nowhere Chronicles (Gollancz, 2010/11/12 under the name of Sarah Silverwood), and in those, the men with the swords are definitely the good guys.
I found the abstract horror of the story engaging. In a sense, I felt it could be read in many ways, with the end left open to the reader. The greatest horror for the young protagonist seems to be his actual life, but the potential to reach his lost sister and escape the doom of his current future gives a sense of hope. How do you read this story and where is the horror in the tale for you?
I think the horror lies in death itself and the fear of the unknown. He faces his fear in the end and accepts a journey to a place he can’t possibly understand. I guess in that respect the horror in the story is that we all have to eventually face death and the unknown. I like to think the story is quite upbeat in its own way. The fantasy elements save us from the brutal reality.
What else do you have in the works?
My Forgotten Gods trilogy comes out in the US next year from Ace (published as The Dog-Faced Gods in UK by Gollancz). I’ve got Mayhem coming from Quercus next year (to be followed by Murder, plus one more as yet untitled) and I have the novellas “Poison,” “Charm,” and “Beauty” coming from Gollancz next year to be followed by two novels, The Death House and one other. I also have a film, Cracked, in development, another optioned, and more TV writing in the pipeline. So, busy busy busy busy!