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Interview with Stephen Hadow, author of Darkling Child

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Kate is plunged into what she believes is a nightmare that she can’t seem to awaken from. To make matters worse, she’s being hunted by ‘The Bogeyman’. As she journeys through her nightmare looking for a way home, she discovers both who – and what – she really is, as well as uncovering the answer to one of mankind’s most profound questions.

But there are powers at work that don’t want Kate to escape. Now she has to find her way out of her nightmare with the truth … and her life.

What genre is Darkling Child?
Fantasy – with an alternate reality twist … sort of.

We’re intrigued.
What kind of people will this story appeal to?
My wife says ‘discerning’ – I fell to the floor laughing at her comment – but seriously, Young Adults right through to full blown grown-ups (which I don’t consider myself to be), will enjoy the book. Even if you haven’t indulged in fantasy, there’s plenty in my book to grab your interest.

Complete this sentence for us: if you like _________________, you’ll love Darkling Child.
… the subtle scent of deceit and betrayal, and the promise of a knife wielding Bogeyman in your wardrobe …

Now we’re really intrigued – and a little scared.  
Tell us about your main character. You say her name is Kate?
She’s a teenager who’s still afraid of the dark (who isn’t?), and also has an irrational fear of mirrors. When her fears come to life and plunge her into a warped reality that looks, feels and smells like home, she has to dig deep and face those fears in order to find her way home. She’s befriended by a Daemon called Wolf, while Cicerone, a strange old wanderer with magical powers, appears to both help and hinder Kate at the same time. Ultimately, Kate’s fears end up having to take second place to the lies she discovers in her own life, and these create the underlying tension and driving force that help Kate come to terms with what The Realm – her nightmare world – truly is.

Kate’s a naïve sixteen year old, in some ways scared of her own shadow (no pun intended), while also having a strong central belief in herself and what is right and wrong.

A daemon named Wolf?
I’m not telling you more than that, you’ll have to read the book if you want to know who and what he is.

Come on, you’ve got to give us something.
Wolf is … an enigma wrapped in fur, with huge paws, and teeth you don’t want to mess with.

And Cicerone?
Cicerone is a wandering minstrel – or he’d like you to believe that he is. He’s wise, kind of, and is an excellent judge of character.

A common theme linking all the characters in my book – including Kate’s adversary , Shadow – is that they all have deep, dark secrets.

And is that what you’re like? How much like you are your characters?
There’s a bit of me in each of the characters I have written. It’s my first novel, and I researched how to write my characters and story as they took shape in my mind. Almost everything I read said ‘write about what you know’, ‘sketch an outline of the story and characters’, blah, blah, blah – all of which I ignored. My bad!

In the end I simply wrote what I felt, and it was as if I were rediscovering a story that I’d forgotten long ago. I imbued my lost naivety and wonder in Kate, and tried to endow Cicerone with my wisdom (!?). That left my bitterness and despair for Shadow. All in all it was a very cathartic process writing these guys, and they develop into even more absorbing, ‘I want to know about you’ characters in book 2. That’s especially true of Shadow, who may not be… Hehehe, I better not say too much as I’ll spoil the storyline.

I know it’s not a straight answer, but I’m a Scotsman. We don’t do straight answers …

You’re a Scot? Tell us more about you.
I’m one of those people who’s always hated their job, but been really good at it! It’s taken almost thirty years to find something I truly enjoy doing – writing – and I’ve given up the day job (eeek!!!) to find out if I can be good at that too! I guess the question now is, why the hell did it take me so long?

Apart from that I’m married and have two cracking kids – don’t worry, the plasterer’s coming around on Thursday! – and I live on the east coast of Scotland (brrr!). One day I’m determined to find out what this ‘Sun’ thing is that everyone keeps talking about on the weather forecast!

Have you got a website?
Not yet – I’m working on that just now. It’ll be up and running in a few days.

What about social media?
Twitter: @StephenHadow.

How easily do new storylines come to you? If we give you four random words – Man, Woman, Airport, Darkness – can you give us a brief storyline?

The airport was in darkness. Strange lights hovered high in the atmosphere, their phosphorous glow doing little to banish the unnatural night that had descended upon midday London. As if summoned by the prayers of the passengers in Heathrow’s Terminal 1, or possibly sent by the gods themselves, a man and woman appeared out of nowhere. They looked at each other for the longest of moments, then nodded. The man casually walked over to a nervous looking Easy-Jet check in assistant, whose pock marked face took on a deeply sinister hue in the darkness, and asked; “Is this Hounslow? I was told there’s a great Kebab house around here…”

And so began the end of the world – brought about by one man and woman’s search for the ultimate Kebab.

Bravo! 
What’s next for you?
I’m in the process of editing a children’s book, and rewriting/editing Book 2 of The Realm: False Prophet. I’m hoping to have False Prophet published in the Spring, 2014, and the children’s book ,‘Teething Troubles’, published for Christmas 2014

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