– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –
Today I’m on the ‘Resurrection Men’ blogtour, organised by Rachel’s Random Resources.
To promote this book I have a guest post written by its author, but b
About the Author :
Aside from three months living on an oil tanker sailing back and forth between America and Africa, and two years living in a pub, David Craig grew up on the west coast of Scotland. He studied Software Engineering at university, but lost interest in the subject after (and admittedly prior to) graduation. He currently works as a strategic workforce planning analyst for a public service contact centre, and lives near Glasgow with his wife, daughter and two rabbits.
Being a published writer had been a life-long dream, and one that he was delighted to finally realise with his debut novel, Resurrection Men, the first in the Sooty Feathers series, published by Elsewhen Press in 2018. Thorns of a Black Rose was David’s second novel, also published by Elsewhen Press. He returns to the Sooty Feathers series with Lord of the Hunt.
Wilton Hunt, a student, and Tam Foley, a laudanum-addicted pharmacist, are pursuing extra-curricular careers as body snatchers, or ‘resurrection men’, under cover of darkness. They exhume a girl’s corpse, only for it to disappear while their backs are turned. Confused and in need of the money the body would have earnt them, they investigate the corpse’s disappearance. They discover that bodies have started to turn up in the area with ripped-out throats and severe loss of blood, although not the one they lost. The police are being encouraged by powerful people to look the other way, and the deaths are going unreported by the press. As Hunt and Foley delve beneath the veneer of respectable society, they find themselves entangled in a dangerous underworld that is protected from scrutiny by the rich and powerful members of the elite but secretive Sooty Feathers Club.
Meanwhile, a mysterious circus arrives in the middle of the night, summoned to help avenge a betrayal two centuries old…
Guest Post :
One of the challenges in writing fantasy is to show the readers a different ‘world’ (or different aspect of our world) with different rules, but still make it relatable to them.
Resurrection Men is a story with a lot of supernatural elements, and I wanted to balance it by grounding it heavily in reality. To do this, and to make it relatable to readers who don’t normally read fantasy, there were two elements I looked to; the world and the characters.
The story is mostly set in in Glasgow, 1893, a city where the rich live in large townhouses and country manors, and the poor live in squalid, overcrowded tenement flats crammed tightly together. My goal was to recreate Victorian Glasgow in all its splendour and squalor, using real places, many of which are still around today.
Among these places are the Southern Necropolis, a cemetery on the southern edge of Glasgow, and the northern Necropolis next to the Cathedral, a hill covered in gothic mausoleums. Several of the pubs are real, such as the Old Toll Bar, which has many of the fittings installed in the year this novel is set. I found it helped me create the world, to sit at the same spot in the bar where the protagonists sat, and imagine the bustle of pedestrians and horse-drawn trams outside. The stench of a city with a polluted river and dung-covered streets.
The Cathedral is about all that remains of medieval Glasgow, and the city council oversaw the demolition of much of Glasgow’s Victorian heritage during the 20th century, but some notable buildings remain. It’s worth recognising that many streets are named after people or places involved in the slave trade (Jamaica Street, Plantation, Kingston, Glassford Street among others), and that many of its notable citizens made their fortunes from that trade and the trades associated with it (tobacco, sugar and cotton).
Making the city as ‘authentic’ as I could was one half of grounding the story in realism; the second was to try and write the characters as three-dimensional, and to have them react realistically in dangerous situations, with their own motivations.
The main protagonists, Hunt and Foley, are men of questionable virtue. They make extra money on the side digging up freshly buried corpses and selling them to an anatomy professor. Both drink too much, and Foley’s depression and general dissatisfaction with his life is impacting his pharmacy shop.
I particularly wanted the characters to react appropriately in dangerous situations, to show them under the influence of fear and adrenalin. If you’ve ever been in a dangerous situation (i.e a fight or potential fight), you may recall the confusion and clumsiness if such a situation was new to you. Hunt is inexperienced in fighting and so he’s unsure how to act as fight or flight instincts war with one another. Foley is an ex-soldier with combat experience and responds more decisively.
I also wanted to show the impact fighting the undead has on the characters. The danger is new to Hunt and Foley, and over the course of the books they must decide whether to continue facing it. And learn, perhaps too late, whether or not that choice remains to them.
What would your choice be? To face going out night after night, to hunt and face the undead or their mortal servants, knowing death is a possibility each time – or turning a blind eye? In contrast to the young Hunt and Foley, the story also features Wolfgang Steiner and Lady Delaney, two veterans in the war against the undead.
Both have lost much and spent two decades fighting the undead. What toll would such a struggle take on them? When the rain falls and the wind howls at night, what drives Lady Delaney to go out in search of danger rather than sit next to a roaring fire with a book and a glass of wine in the relative safety of her home? After twenty years of such a life, I suspect she would not be entirely sane. Certainly, such misadventures in his youth took a heavy toll on Professor Sirk, another who years before learned of supernatural creatures and thought to fight them.
In Delaney, Steiner and Sirk, all of whom have suffered loss, do Hunt and Foley see their future if they stay involved in the supernatural world? This possibility will occur to them, more than once across the series.
The Magic of Wor(l)ds