Today I am one of the stops on the blog tour for Matt Wesolowski’s superb Six Stories and we have something special for you all today. More on that in a bit. Here’s the all-important bookish information first!
About the book:
1997. Scarclaw Fell. The body of teenager Tom Jeffries is found at an outward bound centre. Verdict? Misadventure. But not everyone is convinced. And the truth of what happened in the beautiful but eerie fell is locked in the memories of the tight-knit group of friends who took that fateful trip, and the flimsy testimony of those living nearby.
2017. Enter elusive investigative journalist Scott King, whose podcast examinations of complicated cases have rivalled the success of Serial, with his concealed identity making him a cult internet figure.
In a series of six interviews, King attempts to work out how the dynamics of a group of idle teenagers conspired with the sinister legends surrounding the fell to result in Jeffries’ mysterious death. And who’s to blame… As every interview unveils a new revelation, you’ll be forced to work out for yourself how Tom Jeffries died, and who is telling the truth.
Six Stories is out in ebook NOW (published by Orenda Books) and you can order your copy by clicking HERE.
About the author:
Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor and leads Cuckoo Young Writers creative writing workshops for young people in association with New Writing North. Matt started his writing career in horror and his short horror fiction has been published in Ethereal Tales magazine, Midnight Movie Creature Feature anthology, 22 More Quick Shivers anthology and many more. His debut novella The Black Land, a horror set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013 and a new novella set in the forests of Sweden will be available shortly. Matt was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in 2015. He is currently working on his second crime novel Ashes, which involves black metal and Icelandic sorcery.
My review (in case you missed it first time round!!):
Ok so you all know Orenda Books by now, right?! RIGHT?! If not, you should be ashamed. Consistently publishing great books for the past two years, Six Stories is yet another absolutely stellar addition to its catalogue!
I have had my beady eyes on this book since Karen mentioned it months ago, and it so totally and completely lived my expectations. Even though Six Stories is not out until next year, you need to add this to your wish lists YESTERDAY!
Six Stories is so completely modern and relevant which makes it super easy to follow. Following the success and major interest in podcasts such as Serial and This American Life, Six Stories draws its inspiration from the current digital age and relates it back to a two decades old murder in a very inventive and intriguing way.
Can I just take a minute to say, how ominous and creepy does Scarclaw Fell sound?! It conjures up some really dark and twisted imagery, not least with the elegantly crafted descriptions which Matt Wesolowski furnishes the reader with at various points within the novel.
Anyway, back to the story! When Scott King decides to revisit the events that led to the discovery of Tom Jeffries body through six podcast discussions with those that were there in 1997, his quest is not an easy one. What follows is a deep psychological investigation, and the consequences are so completely unexpected.
I turned the pages with trepidation and fear at times. Unsure of what I was going to read. The ominous feeling of dread crept over me more than once during the course of this book. However, it is so gripping and enthralling that I just had to keep reading to see what was going to happen. The anticipation was heightened as the reader is drawn into a spiderweb narrative and it was just the right amount of the unknown.
I can’t talk about Six Stories fully, not without giving away the subtle nuances that Matt Wesolowski has embedded into this chilling novel. Dark, mysterious and definitely not without elements of horror (for me, unseen terror is the WORST!), I was more than a little unsettled while I read it.
Six Stories was so worth the wait. SO WORTH IT! A genre-bending book, with some hauntingly threatening prose, I could not put it down. (Except late at night when I got the heebie-jeebies )
Guest post from Mat:
*I knew as soon as I heard there was a blog tour for Six Stories that I wanted Matt to do a guest post for me. I follow him on twitter (@concretekraken) and I spotted a tweet about him listening to Azerbaijani death metal (or was it black death metal?!) and I just knew I wanted him to write about music. This guest post is the result of our chat, happy reading!*
Sons of Northern Darkness
Music has always been a huge part of writing for me. Ever since I started writing, I have done so whilst listening to music. The idea of writing in silence is just seems so alien to me, even scary and in the odd few times when I have experienced it, it has felt strange and empty, the absence of sound is huge, the deafening resonance of wandering through a deserted hospital or abandoned train station.
The role of music as writing’s sidekick varies in degrees; sometimes it’s loud and brash, the music almost driving the writing, sometimes just a pleasant ambience behind what I’m doing.
These days, the music I listen to when writing has very specific parameters ; it cannot have lyrics (audible ones anyway – we’ll come to that in a moment!) and percussion has to be minimal or nonexistent. Gone are the halcyon days of my youth where I could listen relentlessly to Marilyn Manson’s ‘Antichrist Superstar’ at maximum volume whilst penning a short story about angsty teenagers being eaten by monsters.
What about music bleeding into the writing itself, becoming flesh (or ink..or…er…virtual ink) on the page? That has evolved too.
It was when I was around 16 when I discovered the writing of Poppy Z Brite (Now Billy Martin), namely his 1992 novella ‘Lost Souls’, a story of road-tripping New Orleans vampires who listen to Nine Inch Nails and smoke clove cigarettes….basically teenage me but without the vampirism (unfortunately). What really spoke to me about Brite was how he interwove lyrics from his favourite artists into his books: Tom Waits, Bauhaus, The Cure – again, some of the artists whose music I was also deeply in love with.
This was revelatory to teenage me and I began incorporating lots of my favourite music into my stories (basically trying to emanate Brite, but that’s how we learn, right?). Like Stephen King, I also would include lyrics from relevant songs at the beginning of each piece (I still do).
(Photos of the only copies of some of my actual 16-year-old work – the most that anyone’s ever going to see!)
My music tastes for writing, like music taste in general, has evolved over time. Now, my music when I write remains dark, don’t get me wrong but is very different from what I listen to when I’m not writing. Ambience or piano-based, non-percussive music is my favourite. The lowing cello of Julia Kent’s or Hildur Guðnadóttir are two of my stand out favourite things to write to. As for pianos, Sophie Hutchings or Nils Frahm seem to stimulate my inspiration.
So to give a vague idea of the sort of thing I listen to whilst I write, I’m going to hit ‘shuffle’ on 10 of my 10 ‘Writing’ playlists which I have accumulated over the years and post whatever song shows up:
- Melancholia I – William Basinski
- Completion – Christopher Wilits, Ryuichi Sakamoto
- As A Black Stone Monument – Svartsinn
- Lullaby – Rebecca Karijord
- An Intangible World – Lacus Somniorum
- Lay Down in a Ditch – Grasslung
- Industrial District – Atrium Carceri
- The Vanishing Final – Sophie Hutchings
- Optimist – Zoë Keating
- Ingenting Finns Kvar – Hermoðr
Then we come to the black metal.
Black metal, for those uninitiated with perhaps my favourite ever genre of music, is described by Wikipedia as “an extreme subgenre and subculture of heavy metal music. Common traits include fast tempos, a shrieking vocal style, heavily distorted guitars.”
Some may remember the genre’s notoriety in the 90s when some churches were burned down (music being the media’s the go-to excuse when bad things happen).
For me, black metal is the driving force behind much of my writing. It breaks all of my rules – percussion, tempo, vocals – yet it does the job. Black metal can be dismissed as extreme music but for me the opposite is true – behind the rush of drums, guitars and distorted, wailing vocals is a bleak melancholy, an ambience, a darkness. There’s even a subgenre DSBM – depressive, suicidal black metal, which I adore but appreciate it’s somewhat niche.
These are the current albums I listen to when writing in the DSBM sub-genre.
Hermoðr – What Once Was Beautiful (melancholic Swedish bleakness)
Kalamankantaja – Tyhjyys (A wonderfully tortured one-man Finnish project)
Austere – The Lay Like Old Ashes (Somewhat of a sub-genre pioneer, now sadly defunct, from Australia)
Violet Cold – Magic Night (Experimental Azerbaijani black metal)
It always interests me what others listen to, if anything at all. Sometimes when reading, you notice the ghost of a lyric, the essence of a melody, a turn of phrase that sounds familiar and you just wonder how deliberate that was…
So grateful to the lovely (badass) Matt Wesolowski for taking the time to write this post for me, and to Karen Sullivan of Orenda Books for facilitating this brilliant blog post. You are both AWESOME!!!
Make sure to follow this epic blog tour: