Gary Engel talks us through the foundations of writing
I’m Gary Engel, I’ve been working with Mardibooks for a few years. I feel that we’ve slowly but surely grown together and remain optimistic for the future of this brilliant and relatively young publishing company.
All writers, particularly those who are yet to prove successful, worry about being taken seriously
I once met the author of Mrs Doubtfire, Anne Fine, and still remember her advice. She said that ‘teachers will always advise that in order to become a good writer, you should always be writing’.Whereas, she believed,‘to become a better writer you must always be reading.’ My advice? You must do both in equal measure.
It dawned on me I am already well-versed in possibly the scariest horror – dystopia
The reason we write is for others to read but, for an author, the reason is far deeper.
To give you an idea of what makes me tick, I have always wanted to write and one thing I do like is horror. However, in recent times there have been few truly great works produced in this genre. I would love to write something within that field that could one day make it to the big screen to really make people jump. What I visualise is not a blood and gore fest, but something more psychological. The exact details are yet to form in my mindset currently.
the heroes or villains to do what the other flesh and bone antagonists fail to achieve
All writers, particularly those who are yet to prove successful, worry about being taken seriously. The problem with horror, few writers dabble with monsters or ghosts and ghouls. How can I possibly think I could write horror if my genre is something else entirely?
Well, a recent visit to the capital reminded me of Britain’s two greatest writers, Shakespeare and Dickens, who were so fascinated by the subject that the narrative in some of their finest works were driven by characters from beyond the grave. The biggest difference between their use of ghosts compared to much of what we see today is their supernatural characters interact with the living. So much so, the dead characters force the heroes or villains to do what the other flesh and bone antagonists fail to achieve. There is so much that could be said of these works, but they are so fixed in the national psyche that I don’t even have to mention the names of these literary works.
I feel the desire to inspire people to question their surroundings and actively shape their own future
Finally, it dawned on me I am already well-versed in possibly the scariest horror – dystopia. From my middle-grade novel, with its at times, harrowing scenes, mythology, life and death struggle of the animals within the boundaries of The Barberry Fields. To my in-progress work Tomorrow Never Knows that sees Britain overthrown by the terrible Real Socialist dictatorship. Where a tech-obsessed police force, the Net, quash any threat to the new government at the expense of law and order. As the noose tightens around the country, the new era of Really dawns, and British history is to be erased. Can a fresh opposition party thwart the ruthless PM, Anthony Mulhorn?
‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ by Gary Engel
I may be a long way from perfecting a horror in the true sense of the genre. But then, horror is all about irrational fear and what monster stalks us from the darkness. While dystopia is terror of what lies ahead in a bleak future. Of course, the monsters are also far scarier than anything imaged, as they are our fellow human beings, and what we could be capable of.
ideas and imagination are our salvation
Admittedly, I feel the desire to inspire people to question their surroundings and actively shape their own future as George Orwell clearly sought to do. It isn’t surprising really, given that I was born in 1984 the year Orwell based his most illustrious work of the of the same name.
“The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those that speak it.” George Orwell.
I don’t want to be locked into one genre; though my next idea is for a book of short stories. Within these there should be something for everyone.
It could be:
‘Mars’, the world’s first company to build an interstellar passenger plane to the red planet that promises ‘the experience of a lifetime’. But when its capabilities are questioned by its Captain, tragedy strikes ahead of its conspiracy-strewn maiden flight. Is it an accident or is there something far darker behind so many tragic events?
Explore how far a person will go for a new life? When transplant organs are in short supply, underworld traffickers provide the cure. But when profit outstrips supply, ‘The Resurrectionists’ are reborn.
A modern world essay that asks some deep questions of true equality in the age of a genderless society. Where people no longer question their gender or what makes them different, everyone is the same. Everyone is branded, everyone fits into the model and anything which sets an individual apart is wrong.
See the lonely, modern world for what it really is. Our heroine will tread some of the darkest paths for friendship, all in the hope of making them family. But what makes her attractive and exciting soon makes her expendable to all those around her. Will she find her happy end, or fall into the trap of perpetual loneliness?
‘The Barberry Fields’ by Gary Engel
Through my work, I hope to broaden, educate and enlighten the reader. We must remember we are shaped by our history, but in turbulent times should heed warning signs ahead. I hope my visions are read, because I believe ideas and imagination are our salvation.
Links to Engel’s published novels, available now on Amazon:
Tomorrow Never Knows: https://amzn.to/2SaVRIS
The Barberry Fields: https://amzn.to/2P2mePl