Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski is a stunning literary thriller which I will be reviewing nearer the paperback publication in March – but in the meantime I’m offering, with the help of the lovely Mr Wesolowski, Six Stories of the novel. In today’s instalment he is talking about the setting – that of Scarclaw Fell – a setting which within the book is a character in its own right. Prepare to be haunted…
Trust me this is a book you should not miss – and if once you’ve read this you can’t wait you could get it in e-book right now….
By Matt Wesolowski
When I was in year 5, my English teacher, a formidable woman by the name of Mrs. Scrutton read us a book called ‘The Year of the Worm’ by Anne Pilling. The book is about a bullied youngster on a walking holiday in the Lake District accompanied by, amongst others, the school bully. That story has never left me.
The location of Six Stories, a fictional Northumbrian upland named Scarclaw Fell is a major character in the novel.
The names of the mountains in the lakes are hugely evocative, other worldly even – Scarfell Pike, Skiddaw, The Old Man of Coniston. Scarclaw, I feel, does not sound out of place. When I was a child, my father often took me on walks up into the wilds of Northumberland – not quite Scotland, not quite England. Representing this part of rural England is an honour.
I lived in Lancaster for 10 years; close to the Lancashire countryside and revelled in the fact that Tolkien took a lot of influence from the Lancashire countryside for Lord of the Rings. The forests, the fells, the mountains have always resonated with something deep inside of me.
“There’s magic here, between the trees.”
From ever since I started writing, nature has often played a central role – usually some hidden horror! I don’t see the countryside as an idyll, I prefer its wildness, its untamed-ness. I like the feeling of being at the mercy of nature and am drawn to rural, wild places and often the rich mythology that surrounds them.
As a teenager, I read a lot of Niall Griffiths who uses rural Wales as a backdrop to a brutal reality; ‘Sheepshagger’ and ‘Grits’ were profound influences on that duality between nature’s majesty and the horrors of mankind. More recently, I’ve been influenced by Benjamin Myers whose rural brutality and sense of place plays a pivotal role in his writing.
All of these things were the building blocks of Scarclaw Fell; the idea that we are at nature’s mercy, that bad things happen in nature.
Nature looks on, uncaring.
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 embarked on 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. A chilling, unpredictable and startling thriller, Six Stories is also a classic murder mystery with a modern twist, and a devastating ending.
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Watch out for more from Matt coming soon….