Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Antagonists by Matt Wesolowski - Six Stories Blog Tour

I'm delighted to welcome Matt Wesolowski to my blog today for his Six Stories blog tour, to talk about antagonists (or rather, his favourite 'baddies'). Six Stories is being published by Orenda Books on 30 March 2017. And it's BRILLIANT (see below for the link to my review).

Antagonists (i.e. my favourite baddies)
By Matt Wesolowski

I was lucky as a child; we had a couple of good theatre companies in mid 1980s Newcastle that did some excellent children's shows.

One of which is The Bruvvers Theatre Company - still going today and it was through them that I found my love of 'the baddies' or, I suppose as an adult...and a writer, I should refer to as 'antagonists'. (Baddies sounds better, mind!)

My dad used to take me to loads of these shows at Northern Stage, Newcastle (back then, the Newcastle Playhouse and Gulbenkien Studio). I remember at about 7 or 8 years old, being much more impressed and able to empathise with the sword-wielding 'baddy'  dressed in black, being booed by the audience. It used to upset me that the baddy was eventually  thwarted by a simpering 'goodie' who always won in the end. Says a lot about me as a kid, to be fair!

One of my finest memories back then was being given one of the baddies' swords to hold as I was the only one cheering for him in the audience (I guess there was less health and safety fears about letting an 8 year old hold a metal replica sword back in the 80s)...whoever that actor was, he pretty much made my life, that day!

It's no surprise that this adoration of the antagonist bled into my reading, my writing and my TV habits (it still does). For me, there's nothing better than a good baddie, so I'm going to list a few of my hopefully not-too-obvious favourite baddies (sorry...antagonists) of literature and screen.

1. Blaine the Mono (The Dark Tower Saga - Stephen King)
Articulate, charming and with a love of riddles. He can travel at over 900 mph and create a sonic boom. This guy is a train. A bright pink monorail. He's also a maniac, hell bent on murder and suicide. What on earth is there not to like about Blaine?
Potential Tinder profile, right? (Or is a train's dating app called 'Tender'?)

2. Francie Brady (The Butcher Boy - Patrick McCabe)
Protagonist or antagonist? This book was the first I remember that made me question this. Francie is the product of a broken, abusive home, looked down on by the small town in which he lives, committed to an 'industrial school' run by priests with dubious urges and eventually kills his next door neighbour with a bolt gun. What's so heartbreaking about Francie is the extent to which you can empathise or at least sympathise with him. That lies in the skill of the author. One of my all time favourite books,

3. John Doe - Se7en
John Doe hates the world, he despises the people in it; the very act of a stranger starting a conversation with him in public makes him want to vomit. In fact, he does vomit and then 'can't stop laughing'. There's something about that I can empathise with. His MO is so damn clever that however twisted and evil the man is, you simply cannot help admiring him. Plus, it's Kevin Spacey at his very best.

4. The Sheriff of Nottingham (Robin Hood Prince of Thieves)
Talking of actors at their best - this is a sublime performance from the late Alan Rickman who steals the show with his devil-worshipping sadist, the Sherriff of Nottingham. Forget Serverus Snape; dressed in black, handy with a sword and a penchant for cutting out hearts with a spoon, this character was one of my favourites growing up and I was always a bit gutted when goody two-shoes Costner stuck him with a sword, invoking some of the best dying-breath dribble that has graced the silver screen.
No one remembers any of Robin Hood's lines, but Rickman coined the immortal phrase from this film regarding heart-cutting out and spoons:  'It's blunt you twit, it'll hurt more!'

About Matt Wesolowski
Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor and leads Cuckoo Young Writers creative writing workshops for young people in association with New Writing North. Matt started his writing career in horror and his short horror fiction has been published in Ethereal Tales magazine, Midnight Movie Creature Feature anthology, 22 More Quick Shivers anthology and many more. His debut novella The Black Land, a horror set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013 and a new novella set in the forests of Sweden will be available shortly. Matt was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in 2015. He is currently working on his second crime novel Ashes, which involves black metal and Icelandic sorcery.

Find Matt on his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter - @ConcreteKraken

About Six Stories

Six Stories
By Matt Wesolowski
Published by Orenda Books (Paperback - 15 March 2017)
ISBN: 978-1910633625

Publisher's description
1997. Scarclaw Fell. The body of teenager Tom Jeffries is found at an outward bound centre. Verdict? Misadventure. But not everyone is convinced. And the truth of what happened in the beautiful but eerie fell is locked in the memories of the tight-knit group of friends who took that fateful trip, and the flimsy testimony of those living nearby.

2017. Enter elusive investigative journalist Scott King, whose podcast examinations of complicated cases have rivalled the success of Serial, with his concealed identity making him a cult internet figure.

My verdict: Six Stories is an eerie spine-tingling read. It's unpredictable and chilling and kept me guessing all the way through. I don't scare easily, but certainly found this book unsettling. 

Click here to read my full review.

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