Thank you so much to SerpentsTail for inviting me to take part in the blog tour for ‘This Little Dark Place’ by A.S.Hatch. For my stop on the tour today, I have been given the opportunity to interrogate.. ahem, interview A.S.Hatch. Before you get yourself comfortable, here is a little bit more about the book, as well as the all important purchase link. Enjoy!
How well do you know your girlfriend?
How well do you know your lover?
How well do you know yourself?
Daniel and Victoria are together. They’re trying for a baby. Ruby is in prison, convicted of assault on an abusive partner.
But when Daniel joins a pen pal program for prisoners, he and Ruby make contact. At first the messages are polite, neutral – but soon they find themselves revealing more and more about themselves. Their deepest fears, their darkest desires.
And then, one day, Ruby comes to find Daniel. And now he must decide who to choose – and who to trust.
This Little Dark Place will be published on the 10th October and can be pre-ordered now from Amazon.
TWG talks to author A.S.Hatch.
TWG – Could you tell us a bit about you and your background before you began writing?
I grew up on the Fylde coast in Lancashire. My dad was a joiner and my mum was a civil servant. We weren’t a bookish family. I spent my childhood playing football and rollerblading in the street, and playing on my SNES (and later my N64). The first book I ever read was a collection of football themed short stories called See You at the Match by Margaret Joy. I remember falling in love with books before I fell in love with the stuff inside them, as in, the physical objects themselves. There was a book fair at my primary school one year. They transformed our assembly hall into a pop-up book shop (before pop-up shops were a thing) and I remember loving the smell of them, and the feel of their glossy covers and their heft. I bought Don’t Be Silly Mr Twiddle by Enid Blyton and didn’t read it for weeks. I just held it, looked at it.
TWG – Have you always wanted to become a published writer?
God no. I wanted to play right wing for United (don’t ask which United, there’s only one). And after that I wanted to be a newsreader. After that I wanted to be a frontman in a rock and roll band. After that I wanted to be a published writer. That particular epiphany arrived when I was 19 and so I’ve been trying to make it happen ever since. And here I am.
(TWG – from newsreader to frontman of a rock and roll band! You would have been good on Blue Peter!)
TWG – What made you decide to write your new novel?
Writing is a way of facing one’s fears. When you write a story, create a world, an alternate reality, you gain power over everything. You can obliterate things that scare you. I’m terrified of ending up in prison. I don’t have a criminal bone in my body, the fear is irrational, but it’s there. This novel enabled me to ‘tackle’ prison, sort of like when someone who’s afraid of snakes holds one in her hands to overcome her aversion. Beyond that, I’ve always been interested in writing an epistolary novel. I love the immediacy of the first-person voice. It provides a shortcut to emotion.
TWG – How hard was it to find the inspiration for your book?
I’m inspired by setting as much as plot. Like a dramatist, I think about the space in which a story can take place in, how to use it, how to maximise it for tension. So it wasn’t hard at all to find the inspiration for the book. Once I had the central relationships sketched out I simply pictured the streets, houses, beaches and woods of my childhood and allowed my mind to be carried through them. Then the plot just kind of revealed itself to me. This Little Dark Place could be talking about the central relationship or it could be talking about the literal place in which the story unfolds. Or it could be talking about a place in someone’s mind.
TWG – If you could pick a favourite character from your novel, who would it be and why?
That’s Easy. Ruby. She is the star of the book. The catalyst, the spur. Female characters, to me, are just far more interesting. In life too. Inscrutable is a better word. Perhaps that’s just because I’m a man. Do female authors feel the opposite? I’d wager not. The best people I know are all women. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.
TWG – Did you ever regret writing a character into your story after it was published?
This is my debut novel so not yet. There aren’t any characters in This Little Dark Place that I’d like to go back and change. There aren’t any purely good or purely bad characters in any of my novels, because such people don’t exist in real life. Each character in TLDP is uniquely fallible. I’ve tried to make at least something about each of them – about their defects – relatable. I think everyone will find at least one character in the book that will make them reflect; that’s me!
TWG – Did you find yourself under any personal pressure for your debut novel to succeed and be liked by many?
Only insofar as I would like it to not be my last, as I have a lot of stories to tell. When I set out on this journey my sole aim was to be regarded by someone in the industry as talented. When the amazing Eve White signed me to her agency in 2016 I received that vindication. Everything that has come since almost feels like a bonus.
TWG – Time for a tough one, if you could choose any book that has already been published to be the author of, which one would you choose and why?
I think you’re asking which book would I have like to have written? The answer to that is Infinite Jest by David Foster-Wallace. A near thousand page epic about addiction and the pressure of talent and family and post-modern life that’s as tight and muscular in its prose as a ten page short story. An astonishing achievement. It’s also terribly moving. If a book is all brains and no heart I ain’t buying it.
TWG – What does your ‘writing space’ look like?
I have a £65 desk from Argos with barely enough space for my laptop and a little lamp tucked in the corner of the living room of my little flat in south east London, which I share with my fiancé. It’s quite challenging trying to write when the hairdryer’s going of a morning let me tell you.
TWG – Were there any authors you wanted to be like, when you were a child?
When I was a child I read people like Dick King-Smith and Roald Dahl and they seemed like old men to me. The fact that the books about which I was so mad were written by people barely registered. I just wanted to be Ryan Giggs.
(TWG – didn’t we all!!)
TWG – If you had to sum up your book to a stranger in five words, what would they be and why?
Dark, twisty tale of betrayal.
Why? Because I’m no good at describing my own work and I’m fairly confident that the hundreds of people who have read advance copies would describe it kind of like this.
TWG – What’s coming up next for you? Any exclusives?
I’ve just finished writing the follow up (not a sequel) to TLDP. Eve has read it and loved it (what a relief!) and I think people who like TLDP will get a real kick out of my new one. Watch this space.
TWG – One final question. What advice would you give to a writer that wants to be published? Any words of wisdom?
A slight variation on don’t stop believing…don’t stop writing. Practice really is everything. I don’t believe in innate ability, I believe in practice, whittling your stake into a sharp point. I believe in being humble about your work, accepting that there are some incredibly smart people out there whose ideas are worth listening to. When (not if) you get a rejection, keep writing. And when that gets rejected too, keep writing. Learn to recognise your shortcomings as a writer, and move on. Don’t flog a dead horse.
That’s quite a lot isn’t it? Ha.
(TWG – anyone else now have Journey – Don’t Stop Believin’ in their head?!? Wise words though, Andrew, thank you!)
Many thanks to A.S.Hatch for stopping by and answering my questions! Don’t forget that his debut novel, ‘This Little Dark Place’ will be published on the 10th October by SerpentsTail. Preorder your copy now!