Sean Watkin is a new UK based author who has just released “Within”, the first in a series of horror/sci fi novels. Exquisite Corpse puts him under the grill.
Give us your best elevator pitch for “Within”.
“Within” is the first in a planned series of paranormal investigative novels, set in Liverpool, England. The first book tells the story of a local woman who appears to be possessed by a powerful and cruel entity. The woman’s husband, Will, becomes involved with a team (Kyle Parker, Nat Carlton and Joey White) who investigate the paranormal activities on Liverpool City Council’s property, who look into Sam’s possession. The team become embroiled in a conspiracy involving the Vatican, and a Professor who was murdered in Jordan in the 1940s. The Professor, Kyle’s great grandfather, discovered the bones displaying signs of crucifixion and also a mystical Box, which become a main part of the Within mythology. The twist in the story comes when the identity of the entity claiming to be possessing Sam is exposed. Following Sam’s disappearance, Will, Kyle, Nat and Joey are commissioned by Merseyside Police to form Liverpool Paranormal Investigative Unit (LPIU).
“Within” was originally intended to be a TV series – is scriptwriting your background? How long have you been writing, and why do you do it?
Script writing is my unofficial background, in terms of me not actually having written any TV shows that were picked up. But yes, I did start writing stories as scripts, including a Liverpool-based gay Sex and the City, and a comedy revolving around a bitter old woman called Edna who was forced to live in a retirement home. “Within” was initially called ‘Dane’ and was a Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan-fic about a male Slayer from another dimension, which I wrote around 2001. Sounds crazy I know. But as I grew up, the series did, too. The characters evolved, and the idea of there being some kind of super-hero lead character was completely dropped. Then I began in with the ‘Within’ title in 2005, and evolved it over the following years, until 2008 when I completely reworked the characters, the tone and stories. I’ve written ever since I was very young, as I’ve always loved telling stories. I write because I have so many stories that I want to tell, and so many worlds that I want to explore. Within is my baby, and I will stick with it until I’m completely satisfied that I’ve done with it what I intended.
What led you to the decision to self-publish?
I have self-published “Within” mostly because I am an extremely impatient person! I have published it myself, and now after its publication, I am seeking a literary agent and a publisher – “Within” needs a good home with people who share the vision and appreciate the direction I will be going in.
Who should read “Within” and why?
I think Within is very accessible for most people. It has drama, horror, suspense, investigation, and characters which are flawed and 3-dimensional. I don’t believe in using ‘stock characters’ in any of my work. Within, as a stand alone novel, I suppose would be classed as horror. The series of novels, however, would probably be classed as horror/sci-fi, as the series will not just revolve around one story-line. So, anyone who is interested in reading horror and sci-fi/fantasy would love the book. Also, as a gay man, I’ve included a gay character as one of the leads – and I know that the LGBT community out there are massively supportive of others in the community, and of literary and other art involving LGBT.
I hear from a lot of US readers that they particularly enjoy and seek out non-US authors for their fresh perspectives [aside to readers – expect more from me on this subject in forthcoming posts]. Does “Within” have a distinctly British flavour? Any comments you’d like to make on the current state of British genre fiction and how you feel it is received overseas?
It definitely does have a British feel. The characters are distinctly Scouse (a term for a person from Liverpool), and the tone of the book is quite dark and grim, which unfortunately ties in with our weather! But yes, the novel does have a distinct British feel. I think in Britain, we are very obsessed with the telling of the story, and that is the main focus. The paranormal, horror and sci-fi genres are filled with original stories and none of this awful Twilight romancing-the-dead stuff, which I cannot stand. Maybe I’ve just had enough of that in Buffy?! A story that involves a werewolf or vampires should be horrific, not fluffy and romantic, and I think us Brits can offer that to the global genre market.
This is your first novel – what comes next?
I am currently working on The Within Series book two, which again follows the same team established in book one. I am planning at least four books in the series, then a collection of short-stories told from the perspective of each of the lead characters, which will be extracts from official police reports. I thought this would be a cool way to open up the world of Within, and give people a greater understanding of the characters’ inner-workings. Following that, I have no idea! I am playing with a story in my head which would move away from horror and be straight sci-fi. But that is very much just in the back of my mind.
Give us a snapshot of Sean Watkin the person. Quick as you can, list your favourite – movie, colour, book, food, song, place to go on holiday, most embarrassing/unusual/quirky fact about yourself.
Fave movie: The Exorcist. Colour: Blue. Book: Wicked: The Life & Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire, and Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. Food: I’ll try anything, but I love Chinese food. Song: Anything by Sarah McLachlan or Dolly Parton. How’s that for diverse? Holiday: I love seeing new places, so I would holiday anywhere. I’ve always wanted to go on a winter cruise above the Arctic Circle, or a very British canal-boat holiday. Embarrassing fact? I was once chased by a goose at a lake near to my mum’s house when I was in college. People laughed. It was devastating.
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US/Canada link to the paperback version. Also available in UK, Europe. Available for download on Kindle in all mentioned territories.
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