British fantasy author Dave Weaver has kindly joined me today to talk about his writing, his fascination for all things Dark Age, and his debut novel Jacey’s Kingdom.
Can you start by telling us a bit about yourself?
I’m a graphic designer, married with a daughter at university. I’ve lived in the town of St. Albans in England for some time.
How long have you been writing?
About ten years; I’m a late starter but catching up. The turning point came when I joined my local writing group about six years ago, ‘Verulam Writers’ Circle’, and learnt by trial and error (and a lot of critique) how to write an effective short story. I’ve written short stories in fantasy, science fiction (a number of sci-fi stories on Alphelion Webzine in the USA) and ‘ordinary’ weird stuff and had a few published in anthologies. I’ve self-published three collections of short stories on Amazon Kindle; ‘Flowerchain Stories’ – interlinking tales set in Japan, ‘Short and Sour’ – a general collection of odd and rather bitter pieces, and ‘Ha-Blood-Ha’ – a collection of fiction parodies with such titles as ‘Tweelight’ and ‘Troy Story’. Obviously having my first novel published by a company like Elsewhen Press is a very big deal to me.
Where did your love of science fiction and fantasy start, and what first sparked you to write in those genres?
My love of Science Fiction probably goes all the way back to Gerry Anderson when I was a kid; Fireball XL5, Stingray, Thunderbirds (I’m quite old!) which were the first time children’s TV had anything approaching sci-fi. The Quatermass stories thrilled me, and A For Andromeda, plus of course every child’s love of Dr Who; I actually watched the first Dalek’s episode broadcast – it was quite scary for an eight year old! I read a lot of sci-fi in my teens; Asimov, Blish, Sturgeon and later Priest and Ballard, my particular favorite author. I did read some heroic fantasy stories when I was younger but prefer the type of story now where fantasy impinges on the real world (ie Life on Mars etc.) That’s what I mostly write about in my short stories and Jacey’s Kingdom is my first attempt to stretch that idea to a full novel. As to what inspired me; the gap between what’s ‘real’ and what our mind’s process as real has always seemed so narrow that sometimes it’s just a matter of tilting perception. I’ve always found that fascinating.’
Where did you get the idea for Jacey’s Kingdom?
I’ve always been interested in ‘displaced’ consciousness, when due to usually potentially disastrous circumstances a fantasy world seems more real to the protagonist than the actual one we live in. ‘Life On Mars’ would be a good example, going back ‘A Yankee at the Court of King Arthur’ would also fit; even ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’ which might well qualify as literature’s first displacement novel. Add this to a fascination with the violent and uncertain times of Britain’s Dark Ages and its not difficult to see how I came up with the plot for Jacey’s Kingdom.
What genre does your book fall under?
I’ve been told it’s probably historical fantasy, although perhaps a psycho-drama too. Hopefully both young adult and adult readers.
What actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Easy for George, a thirty-nine year old photocopier salesman from Brighton who finds himself stuck in Jacey’s dreamscape; Martin Freeman. Jacey is an eighteen-year old half Nigerian half English schoolgirl and an up-and-coming actress, pretty but tough with it. Myrddin the wizard who is actually Jacey’s psyche controlling the events of the dreamworld; John Hurt would be perfect.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
‘Trapped in her mind’s Dark Age dreamscape whilst the surgeons operate, Jacey Jackson fights for her very survival.’
Is your book self-published or represented by an agency?
Jacey’s Kingdom is published by Elsewhen Press:
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
I wrote the first version on and off over two years; After submitting to an interested publisher who turned it down but made intelligent observations and critique which chimed with my own I radically re-wrote the story, adding another character view so as to have two rather than one, and rationalised the plot to make more logical sense. This took almost another year and was the version finally accepted by a different publisher.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I love drama that makes me think about the true nature of ‘reality’.
What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
Interesting slant on the little we know of Dark Age Britain circa 507AD, even though the background landscape for the action is in fact a talented young historian’s ‘dream’. Real historical characters and a few mythical ones as well, young love blossoming between two people at first at odds with each other, grumpy annoyance between young and old which first turns into reliable friendship then something much deep, pathos, humor, battles, quests, monsters and a last minute resolution which will have your hearts beating wildly. It’s quite a journey.
Jacey’s Kingdom is an enthralling tale that revolves around a startlingly desperate reality: Jacey Jackson, a talented student destined for Cambridge, collapses with a brain tumour while sitting her final history exam at school. In her mind she struggles through a quasi-historical sixth century dreamscape whilst the surgeons fight to save her life. Jacey is helped by a stranger called George, who finds himself trapped in her nightmare after a terrible car accident. There are quests, battles, and a love story ahead of them, before we find out if Jacey will awake from her coma or perish on the operating table. And who, or what, is George? In this book, Dave Weaver questions our perception of reality and the redemptive power of dreams; are our experiences of fear, conflict, friendship and love any less real or meaningful when they take place in the mind rather than the ‘real’ physical world? He cleverly weaves a tale that takes the almost unimaginable drama of an eighteen year-old girl whose life is in the balance, relying on modern surgery to bring her back from the brink, and conceives the world that she has constructed in her mind to deal with the trauma happening to her body. Developing the friendship between Jacey and George in a natural and witty style, despite their unlikely situation and the difference in their ages, Dave has produced a story that is both exciting and thought-provoking.
Thanks for stopping by, Dave, and introducing Jacey and her intriguing ‘Kingdom’ to us.
You can find out more about Dave and his writing at his blog.