We welcome author Dan Weatherer back to DEMAIN (we previously published his Short Sharp Shocks! The Necessary Evils & Sick Girl) with his novel The Underclass. The ebook will be published on the 13th November (paperback following early 2021) and is available now for pre-sales (cover by Adrian Baldwin, central image by Roberto Segate). In October Dean and Dan sat down to talk about this somewhat unique story.
DEMAIN PUBLISHING: Welcome Dan – let’s get down to it, can you tell us a little about your new novel.
DAN WEATHERER: I started The Underclass in the autumn of 2016, wanting to write a genuinely new take on the zombie genre, and although I believe I have succeeded in doing so, it was a hard sell to find a home for the book because the genre has been done, and then done some more. The idea providing the setting for the book is what would happen if the rules of death no longer applied? The characters in my book are not presented as zombies in the traditional sense; their bodies have died from illness, age or other, and continue to rot as expected, but the soul remains trapped, leaving the person trapped in a decomposing husk, in a world unwilling to accept or understand them.
DP: We’re not massive fans of zombie fiction BUT we enjoyed The Underclass because it was that new take, something fresh…though you originally wrote The Underclass prior to Covid, do you feel that it can be read as a metaphor for the pandemic?
DW: No, absolutely not. I finished the first draft of this book in 2017, when all thoughts of a global pandemic were as far from my mind as anyone else’s. The pandemic is ongoing, and its effects will be felt for years to come. It would be in bad taste for me to claim the book relates in any way to the horrors people are living through because of Covid 19. The book has always been about social division, and the way we treat others different from ourselves. Unfortunately, issues of race, religion, sexuality and cultural divisions still divide us. The Underclass highlights similar issues, just in a different, more extreme way.
DP: Indeed. Is the horror genre affected by world events? Do you ever put world events in your work?
DW: I believe so. I’m not one to ‘cash in’ on current horror. I believe humanity needs a way to digest, understand and grief over horrific events. To a degree, horror fiction can help, as well as entertain. But there’s a time and a place. I won’t be writing any pandemic material soon, if ever.
DP: There have been numerous reports of late that the horror genre is dead, would you agree?
DW: No, I don’t think so. I just believe there is too much real-life horror in the world at present, and there’s no escaping it. The world has always been a horrible place, but usually it has been a case of: “Oh, well it is horrible, but it is happening all the way over there, so, while I recognise how terrible things are, I’m untouched…I’m safe.” The Global Pandemic changed all of that. It affects each and every one of us.
DP: Yes, it does…creatively is there anything you’d like to do that you haven’t done yet? If so – what is it?
DW: I’m lucky in that I’ve now worked (in some form) in: Film, theatre, literature, art and videogames. There may be something I’ve missed, but my work really has allowed me to experience a multitude of creative disciplines, and for that I am thankful.
DP: So is writing a long term or short term career for you?
DW: As I write this, I genuinely don’t know. It took a long time to place The Underclass, and the writing industry is slowing, much like most others due to the pandemic and its economic effects. Upon restart, will there be room for authors like me, who are not really ‘name’ but still look at placing sizeable works? I’m also hard-stuck on my new novel, and have been for nearly two years…so who knows?
DP: Well, we wish you all the best with the new novel. With the [possibly first national] lockdown, how did you handle it? What was your routine, was there anything different you did to get through it?
DW: Lockdown was all about keeping my children safe, engaged and happy. It was tough, but you don’t need me to tell you that. We all experienced it. Routine was crucial, and having school work for the children helped. I didn’t get much writing done, but my children thrived, and seeing them return to school happy made those long, uncertain hours worthwhile.
DP: It definitely does! Finally Dan, what is something your readers might be surprised to find out about you?
DW: When I turned 40 (last year) I decided to retrain. I’m now a fully qualified TIG Welder!
That’s brilliant. Dan – thank you – always, a pleasure! The best of luck with The Underclass.
If you would like to connect with Dan direct, please visit: www.fatherdarkness.com.
Dan Weatherer is represented by the Cherry Weiner Literary Agency (USA)