Chicken House have some fantastic emerging debut authors releasing their very first books this year. One such author is Kieran, a reception class teacher, who manages to find time to write stories late at night. I'd like to thank him for writing this post.
Whilst I haven't had time to read this book myself yet, I have managed to find a great introduction to "Freaks". I hope that you all agree that it sounds like a particularly great read. If it grabs your attention, like it did mine, then go and grab yourself a copy to read. I'll be reaching for a copy very soon . . . . . .
‘Freaks’ is a mystery thriller set in the crusty depths of a very unpleasant Victorian London, but it was very nearly something completely different. About five years ago, when I first started having a serious crack at writing a novel, it was a story about a crew of aliens on a spaceship. That book fizzled out after three unimpressive chapters, but something about the strange characters and the way they interacted refused to get out of my head.
I wanted to write more about them, but had to come up with a setting that would work. It was very late one night when I had the idea of a Victorian freakshow.
After that, the characters themselves came really quickly, but I found I had lots of research to do. I started wading through reams of Victorian history texts and gradually filling up several notebooks. It was like History A-level all over again.
I soon found out that the real Victorian London was nothing like the image we all have of top hats and hansom cabs rattling past Big Ben, while Oliver Twist-like orphans skip around finding their fortune. Even though Dickens showed a glimpse of the shady side, life for the less fortunate citizens was bordering on horrific.
There was disease and crime everywhere. People starved, children were enslaved and mistreated, hygiene was non-existent, and the sheer stench of the place was enough to actually stop parliament on one occasion.
Even though it must have been a terrible place to live, I soon realised it would make an excellent setting for a story. I put my Freaks right at the bottom of the social ladder, where they could see, feel and smell the grime first hand.
At first I had them battling supernatural monsters. I spent a few years sending drafts of that story off to agents, and re-writing it several times, before I eventually entered it for the 2011 Times/Chicken House competition.
Somehow, it won, and my prize was to finally be published-but not before fitting in another couple of re-writes and changing the story from horror to thriller. I had to trim a couple of my Freaks along the way, but most of them made it intact, and the book is being released this April.
It’s been five years of very hard work, squeezed in around my day job and family. I daren’t even try to count the hundreds of sleepless hours that have gone into it, but it has been a real pleasure to write. I hope you enjoy reading it just as much.