YAPC is happy to welcome Mikey Campling to the blog. He’s here to answer some of our questions and to share about his book, Trespass: A Tale of Mystery and Suspense Across Time. If this book sounds like something you would be interested in reading, please find a buy link below and pick up a copy or two.
YAPC – Try to describe your book in one sentence.
Mikey – Trespass is a tale of mystery, danger and suspense, told via intersecting storylines across 5,000 years and blending gritty modern day threats with ancient superstitions.
YAPC – What’s your current guilty pleasure?
Mikey – I’ve recently rediscovered the pleasure of buying records on vinyl. I enjoy the experience of flicking through the stacks of vinyl in a shop and I love the weight of newly purchased LPs as I carry them home – it takes me back to my teenage years when I first became interested in buying music. I’m very pleased that there’s an upsurge in the popularity of vinyl because it means that there are suddenly lots of places selling second hand LPs. It’s a guilty pleasure because it’s too tempting to buy new vinyl before I’ve got round to listening to the last lot I bought.
YAPC – Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Mikey – Before I started school, my mum took me to look around what would be my first classroom. Within minutes, she found that I was no longer by her side. After a moment’s panic, I was found in the Book Corner, happily turning the pages and oblivious to the activity of the other children. I’d found my spiritual home. Books have always been special to me and I’ve spent many years of my life trying to figure out how to write one myself. Thank goodness I figured it out eventually – see the next question for the answer.
YAPC – Do you have any advice for unpublished authors?
Mikey – It turns out that the answer to the question “How do I write a book?” is to work like a demon. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you it’s easy or tries to sell you a formula. If you want to write a good, original story that will stand the test of time and make you proud, then you will have to put in the hours. Sometimes it will feel like it’s just too hard and you’ll look at your work and think it’s not good enough. That’s normal. We all go through those days. Don’t give up. Your words aren’t carved in stone (unless you’re reading this in the Neolithic Age) so you can always rewrite your work later. Every word counts. If you’ve written one word, you’ve created something. Keep tapping the keys, keep improving, keep trying to get just a little bit better at what you do, and above all, keep smiling. As the late, great Sir Terry Pratchett said: Writing is the most fun you can have on your own. Apparently Stephen King said the same words, so who’s going to argue with two such prolific and successful writers.
YAPC – What were the challenges in bringing this book to life?
Mikey – Since The Darkeningstone books have multiple plot lines with the action spanning so much history and with certain intersections between the story lines, the planning is very challenging. It’s very important to me that I don’t cheat the reader, and so the plots must hang together and make sense. That’s not to say that my wok is plot-driven. Yes, the stories must be rich, varied and complex, but it’s vital that the characters don’t take a backseat. I want the reader to go on a journey with the characters, so I work very hard to give the characters some room to develop and grow. Sometimes, the characters take me in directions I didn’t expect and then I have to tear up my carefully made plans and think again. When you’re dealing with elements of time-slip, it can be frustrating but hey, that’s what I’m here for. I love a good challenge and I hope that it makes for a richer experience for the reader.
YAPC – Why did you choose the genre you write in?
Mikey – This is a really good question for me, because I have absolutely no idea what genre The Darkeningstone books fall into. They are suitable for a YA audience but most of my readers so far seem to be adults. They have elements of time-slip and time travel but they aren’t generic science fiction adventures. The stories take place across several time periods but I wouldn’t identify them as historical fiction, which I often find too dry.
Perhaps you could say that I didn’t choose a genre, but that a whole bunch of genres ganged up and chose me. The Darkeningstone books are:
Time travel for people who don’t usually read sci-fi;
Period drama for people who don’t usually read historical fiction;
A blend of myth and superstition for people who don’t usually read fantasy;
Fast-paced mystery and suspense for people who don’t usually read thrillers;
Richly drawn character based stories for people who don’t usually read literary fiction.
Something for everyone!
YAPC – Where do you get your inspiration?
Mikey – People. It’s as simple as that. We’re surrounded by our fellow humans. I listen to them, learn from them, empathise with them, and use my imagination to peek into their lives. I guess at their hopes and dreams, their jobs, their spouses, their unusual hobbies and bizarre pets. I hope this doesn’t sound like I’m advocating nosiness or anything creepy. It’s just that I take a playful interest in the people around me.
Every now and then I’ll come across a tiny snippet of a conversation or pass an intriguing stranger in the street. I turned on the radio the other day and the interviewer asked a very young boy about the favourite item in his collection. He answered, “My favourite is the leopard skeleton.” What?! I turned the radio off immediately. I didn’t want to hear the explanation – it would kill the mystery. I call these occurrences “Gold Dust Moments” – I try and capture them and store them away for later.
The downside to this playfulness is that I tend to mentally rename people I actually know. The man down the road looks like a Derek, and the lady next door is clearly a Mary to my way of thinking. This makes it difficult to remember anyone’s real name, so I have to be careful not to slip up.
YAPC – Your favorite books and author?
Mikey – This is quite hard for me because I read a lot and very widely – everything from crime to classics. The answer I keep coming back to is James Thurber. I like a good laugh and Thurber’s dry wit does it for me every time. I keep a collection of his stories by my bed and over the years I have dipped into it many times. Thurber is great at picking up on the way people interact and he’s a master of the short, pithy story. Although his work is a product of its time and there are some references that don’t sit well today, there’s plenty that we can still relate to when he points out the absurdities in our daily lives.
YAPC – How can readers stay in touch?
Mikey – The best way to stay in touch is also the best way to sample my work – sign up for my mailing list and you’ll get free books, free audio stories, exclusive content and occasional updates. You’ll find my newsletter at: mikeycampling.com/newsletter
YAPC – If you could write with anyone who would that be and why?
Mikey – Charles Dickens. Although I have absolutely no pretensions that I could keep up with him as he wrote, it would be fun to try. He was a very driven man and I don’t know how easy it would be to enjoy his company, but for a short while it would be a fascinating experience. For a more enjoyable time, I’d have a quick pint of ale and jot down a couple of verses with Dylan Thomas then go to dinner with Mark Twain to brainstorm a few story ideas. That’s allowed isn’t it?
YAPC – What projects are you currently working on right now? Would you mind sharing them with us?
Mikey – I have a collection of dark short stories coming out soon called A Dark Assortment. That’s my second title published by Booktrope and it will be released under their horror imprint (Forsaken). A Dark Assortment is a nice mix of short stories that play on our inner doubts and fears, and many of them have a twist in the plot or a sting in the tail.
After that, there’ll be the next Darkeningstone novel, which will come out in Autumn 2015. With the working title Outcast it’s a much longer work than Trespass and plays out the ramifications of events initiated in the first novel. Again, there are several story lines that take place in parallel across over 5,000 years and there’s something for everyone who enjoys a cracking good read. The best way to stay up to date with its release and learn about any free review copies, giveaways or sales is by signing up for my mailing list as mentioned above.
Thank you for taking the time to read this interview. I’m always very happy to answer questions or just chat about writing and books so please feel free to contact me online. If you visit my website, you can see all my social media links and I always do my best to reply to mentions on Twitter, posts on my Facebook page, emails, and comments on my blog. Visit mikeycampling.com
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Trespass combines gritty, edgy modern-day action with a thrilling adventure across time. Discovered over 5,000 years ago, the Darkeningstone affects everyone who finds it.
Jake was too smart to believe the rumours about Scaderstone Pit, but now he’s in more danger than he could ever have imagined.
In 1939, as World War II looms, the lives of two men will be changed forever.
Over 5,000 years ago, a hermit will keep the stone a secret. But someone is watching him – someone with murder in his heart.
When it finds you, what will you see when you look into The Darkeningstone?
About the Author: Mikey was born in Scarborough, North Yorkshire. He was, he says, given very little say in the matter. Some years later, during his first day at school, he discovered the wondrous world that is The Book Corner, and he has never really left it.
Although Mikey grew up in Yorkshire, he refuses to be classified according to Northern stereotypes, which is just the sort of bloody-minded attitude you’d expect from a Yorkshireman.
He now lives in Devon, on the edge of the wilds of Dartmoor, with his wife, two children, and a black Labrador called Lottie who will only bark when she’s asleep. And lots and lots of books.
You can find out more on Mikey’s website: mikeycampling.com
You can also get two free books, free audio stories and free artwork by joining his mailing list at: mikeycampling.com/giveaway
On the subject of writing, Mikey says:
“I love the savage business of writing – it’s edgy, exciting and much harder work than everyone thinks.”
Now we bring you the anecdote:
Mikey has had lunch with the late Sir Terry Pratchett a couple of times. And you’ll be pleased to know that Sir Terry was just as warm and humorous as his books.
Connect with Mikey:
Matt bit his lip and shook his head.
“If we sit tight and keep quiet, they won’t come up here. They probably won’t even find the steps.”
“Why not?” Matt said. “You did.”
“But only because Cally—the girl—only because she told me where to go.”
Matt covered his face with his hands. “Oh my god,” he muttered.
I sat very still, listening. A breeze in the treetops, a rustle in the undergrowth behind us, but nothing from the quarry floor. Maybe it would be all right. We hadn’t left a trail to follow or any other clues—had we? Oh no. “Matt,” I whispered. “What did you do with those tools?”
Matt winced. “I…I don’t know. I think I put them back down on the stone slab.” Matt closed his eyes for a second. “Yes,” he said. “I put them back where we found them—on the top. Why?”
I shook my head. “You idiot,” I said. “If they come up here, they’ll see them. Then they’ll come over here and see us.”
Matt swallowed hard. “I’ll get them,” he said.
I put my hand on his arm, shook my head. “No. Stay down.”
I cut him off. “Matt,” I said. “Stay down. I’ll get them. I brought you in here. Don’t blame yourself, blame me.” I uncurled myself. It had to be now. If I waited, I’d lose my nerve. I knelt up, peered
over the edge of the stone. There was no sign of anyone. I’d do anything, I thought, give anything, if only we could get out of here unscathed. I should’ve known that wasn’t going to happen.
The tools were on top of the stone platform, but they were on the far side and at the far end—out of reach. If I lay on the stone and stretched across I could probably grab them. But lying down on that stone—the last time I’d done that it had scared the hell out of me. Maybe I could sneak out from behind the bank and go around the other side. Could I make it in time?
A whistle. Another in reply. They were nearer now. Much nearer. I strained to hear through the noise of the wind in the trees. There was another sound. Regular. Closer. Yes. The sound of someone walking through the undergrowth—someone moving carefully, trying to be silent but not quite managing it; someone just below us; someone near the steps that ran up to the ledge.
Voices, low, muttering. That meant there were at least two of them nearby. I couldn’t make out any words at first, and then it came—the one thing I’d been dreading.