Today’s Author in the Spotlight is Stephen Scarcliffe whose debut novel, Pure Angst, was published as an ebook yesterday.
Thanks for joining me Stephen. First of all, would you tell my blog readers a little about yourself?
I am the unlikely son of a preacher man. Born in London, I was brought up in Edinburgh from 6 months old. I was always very creative with a keen interest in Art, music, and writing. I spent a misguided (but fun!) youth in the late 90s and 2000s reveling in Edinburgh’s electronic music scene, living for the weekend, getting into the odd spot of trouble, but always living life to the fullest. I formed a post-punk/rock band, as singer-songwriter with my brother Adam, The Number 9s and spent ten years gigging in and around Edinburgh and Glasgow at venues such as cab vol, King Tuts and the HMV Picturehouse before it closed its doors. And throughout that period the book grew and grew, before evolving from a sideline into my main focus as the band slowly petered off.
What inspired you to start writing?
I can’t pinpoint exactly what inspired me as such but I always enjoyed writing and creating stories as a kid, it was always in me. Always had a knack for observing and absorbing what was going on around me, and taking a fascination in all kinds of different areas, whether it be the world wars (My grandad having served in the front line) dinosaurs, or wrestling. I used to wander around my garden for hours creating imaginary worlds in my head, one of which was Rohan the barbarian, a story that decorated my primary school jotter.
Tell me about your journey to publication
It began in 2005. I had just started a course at Edinburgh’s Telford college, part of which was a Creative writing module. I wrote a story called “The fall of the infamous Mr Wright” about a washed up heroin-addicted gangster just out of prison. Feedback was really positive, and by chance, I bumped into Irvine Welsh in a pub in town, gave him a copy. He emailed me saying he really enjoyed it, which filled me with confidence and inspired me to write a book. Fast forward to 2014 and having written the hefty sum of around 440,000 words I took it to a literary consultant and editor who gave me some in-depth feedback and advice, part of which was pointing out that what I had was effectively the size of 4 books, not one (well 3 now). And so I have spent the last 4 years, drafting redrafting, and molding the first part into something I finally feel is ready to put out there with the help of editors, proofreaders, family members, and beta readers. 6 months of that was also spent submitting to publishers and agents, and whilst I did get interest from a few parties it didn’t turn into anything concrete
In a nutshell, what is your latest book about?
3 young guys strive to overcome the demons of their respective childhoods, and rise to prominence in North Edinburgh’s criminal underworld against the backdrop of an emerging new culture of rave music and ecstasy, but find their growth stunted at every turn by powerful father figures and a stubborn old guard that isn’t prepared to give up the ghost.
How did you come up with the title for your book?
It started when I was researching and reminiscing around old club nights from 90s Edinburgh. Reminded me of a particularly popular night that was held on Saturdays at Edinburgh’s venue nightclub called Pure. I then put it together with the one feeling that runs like a constant strand through the story, and that is the Angst of the 3 central characters. Pure Angst. Just feel it fits perfectly.
Do you have a work in progress just now?
I still have book 2 and book 3 in the pipeline. Book 2 (as yet unnamed) is at the second draft stage, the storylines having changed massively the more Pure Angst evolved over the last few years. I plan to throw myself headfirst into that once Pure Angst is launched, hopefully, get it out early next year. There is another potential book series I am working on set in modern-day Edinburgh. It revolves around the manipulation of teenagers by shadowy gangland forces with links to law enforcement, still at the planning stage.
What’s your favorite book you’ve read in the past few months? Or favorite three if you really can’t choose!
Charles Bukowski Women, Charlie Huston Caught stealing, and Where the bodies are buried by Chris Brookmyre.
What are you reading just now?
As of February 2019 I am currently reading Tweak “Growing up on methamphetamines” by Nic Sheff.
If you were on Desert Island Discs, what one book would you take with you?
The Devil of Nanking by Mo Hayder.
Is there a book you’d like to see made into a film? Who would be in your dream cast?
The Power of the dog by Don Winslow, a sprawling decades-long story part fiction part real based on the Mexican drug wars and the emergence of the cartels. The good news is there already are plans to make it into a film (probably years off). I’d love to see Gale Garcia Bernal as the ingenious criminal Adan Barerra.
How can people follow you or connect with you on social media?
You can follow me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/stephen.scarcliffe/
Twitter at https://twitter.com/stephenscarc
I am also on Pinterest https://www.pinterest.co.uk/scarcliffe/ and Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/52316601-stephen-scarcliffe
And last but not least I have a website www.stephenscarcliffe.co.uk
If you like the sound of Pure Angst, you can order your copy online here: Pure Angst