Today on The Tattooed Book Geek I’m pleased to be taking part in the Blog Tour for Changeling (Six Stories #3) by Matt Wesolowksi. Bringing to you all an exclusive interview with the author himself.
I already had the pleasure of reading and reviewed Changeling way back in November last year as I was lucky enough to receive an ARC. I love this series and I couldn’t wait to dive back in. So, I read it straight away, yep, no willpower.😂😜📚 Quite honestly, it is an absolutely phenomenal read and it easily made it onto my Top Twenty Books I read in 2018 blog post – which you can find !!HERE!!
Now, usually, I’d just share the link to my review but instead, I’ve decided to include the review in full after the interview.👍
Massive thanks to Anne Cater for the blog tour invite, Orenda books and Matt Wesolowski for the interview opportunity.
Changeling (Six Stories #3).
- Paperback: 271 pages
- Publisher: Orenda Books (24 Jan. 2019)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1912374579
- ISBN-13: 978-1912374571
- Amazon UK / Amazon US / Book Depository
On Christmas Eve in 1988, seven-year-old Alfie Marsden vanished in the Wentshire Forest Pass, when a burst tyre forced his father, Sorrel, to stop the car. Leaving the car to summon the emergency services, Sorrel returned to find his son gone. No trace of the child, nor his remains, have ever been found. Alfie Marsden was declared officially dead in 1995.
Elusive online journalist, Scott King, whose ‘Six Stories’ podcasts have become an internet sensation, investigates the disappearance, interviewing six witnesses, including Sorrel, his son and his ex-partner, to try to find out what really happened that fateful night. He takes a journey through the trees of the Wentshire Forest – a place synonymous with strange sightings, and tales of hidden folk who dwell there. He talks to a company that tried and failed to build a development in the forest, and a psychic who claims to know where Alfie is…
Intensely dark, deeply chilling and searingly thought provoking, Changeling is an up-to-the-minute, startling thriller, taking you to places you will never, ever forget.
Author Interview with Matt Wesolowski.
1 – Would you please tell us about Changeling?
Changeling is the next instalment of the Six Stories series. It’s a story about a missing child and a haunted wood – but really it’s about monsters and how we experience monsters.
2 – If you had to summarise Changeling in one sentence, what would it be?
The hardest story I’ve ever written.
3 – What was your favourite part of writing Changeling?
Changeling was a really hard one to write, it took a lot of emotional toil on me as much of it was based on people I know’s real experiences. It also played on my own anxieties, being the father of a seven year old – much of the writing was like walking on ice, so actually, my favourite parts were the more speculative and supernatural elements.
4 – Where did the idea for the story in Changeling come from?
Someone close to me told me a story about a little boy they met who asked if he could call them ‘mum’ – the depth of that interaction really resonated in me and I began to plumb the depths and find out about this boy and his family, it sparked the initial idea that led to Changeling.
5 – Where did the idea for the Six Stories series come from?
It was just a bit of a homage to Serial – more of an experiment if I’m honest, it was my first attempt at writing crime!
6 – If you had to make a music playlist to accompany Changeling what songs would be included?
I think some dark and ambient stuff would be perfect – some of the long instrumental songs by Burzum like ‘Tomhet’ or ‘Rundgang um die transzendentale Säule der Singularität’, also some Barasrabian Hills and Violet Cold. I listened to a lot of that music when I was writing it.
7 – When did you decide to become a writer?
It sounds like a horrible cliche but I’ve always had this need in me to tell stories, ever since I was little. It’s something that I’ve always wanted, my whole life.
8 – Why do you write/What inspired you to become a writer?
It’s a similar answer, there’s just this need to tell stories. I have ideas that rattle around inside my head and beg me to spill them out.
9 – What do you find to be the most rewarding part of writing?
You know, it’s the small things like a tweet or a hand-shake from someone who enjoyed my book. I still get the same feeling if a writer I admire acknowledges a compliment from me. It’s a magical feeling that anyone would read my work for pleasure!
10 – What do you find to be the hardest part about writing?
I really struggle with editing work, the small stuff. Once I’ve vomited out a first draft, my brain always wants to move on to the next thing. Luckily I have an amazing editor and publisher who, despite probably finding me entirely frustrating, really help to build this discipline…I’m getting better…I hope!
11 – If you were asked to give one piece of advice to an aspiring writer what would it be?
Don’t stop. Enter every competition, attend every workshop, always look to keep learning your craft. That learning never stops. Also, read loads of books, especially ones that are outside what you ‘usually’ read. You’ll be surprised how much those books are an influence.
12 – When writing are you a plotter or a pantser?
Total pantser. I have absolute respect for plotters because I don’t know how they do it. I never know who or why did what in my books, until I’m near the end!
13 – Have any authors influenced your work?
Very much so – I have a few who reading them is just like drinking some magic elixir of inspiration – Stephen King, Lauren Beukes, Patrick McCabe and also older weird fiction authors: HP Lovecraft, Arthur Machen and Algernon Blackwood are huge influences on me.
14 – What are your top five favourite books?
- ‘It’ – Stephen King.
- ‘Broken Monsters’ – Lauren Beukes.
- ‘The Dead School’ – Patrick McCabe.
- ‘The Great God Pan’ – Arthur Machen.
- ‘Sheepshagger’ Niall Griffiths.
15 – What does the future hold for both yourself and the Six Stories series?
I’m a pantser – if I knew, it would spoil the surprise! No really, I have no idea…All I know is that I’ll not stop writing.
16 – If you were writing your autobiography what would you call it and why?
Maybe one of the insults I used to get at school – ‘Vampire Freak Child’ being my absolute favourite!
17 – If you could change one thing about the state of the world, what would it be and why? – your answer can be serious, fun or both.
I wish that people could have more compassion for animals, that’s an issue that’s really close to my heart.
18- Do you have any last words for the readers of this interview?
Thank you for getting this far! Also, what a sound fella Drew is, isn’t he?
My Changeling Review.
(originally posted on November 13th, 2018)
Sometimes with a book you just know within the first few pages that you are in for an exceptional read and Changeling is one such book. In short, I fucking loved this book and I fucking love this series! The Six Stories series deserves to be read, Changeling deserves to be a hit and Wesolowski deserves to be a huge name.
The first Six Stories was a fantastic debut and a deliciously dark tale. The second, Hydra was even better, far darker, it ramped up the sinister scale and was an all-around more complete book. Now, with the third, Changeling, simply put, it is phenomenal and with it, Wesolowski has created one hell of a fiendish book.
I will mention that even though Changeling is the third Six Stories book it can easily be read as a standalone. Each Six Stories book acts as a separate entity, a complete Six Stories podcast series and an individual story. Admittedly, a couple of things that have happened to Scott King due to the Six Stories podcast are alluded to and mentioned but it is only in minor passing. Yes, if you’ve read the previous two books then you will get the references but without that knowledge, it won’t hinder your enjoyment of Changeling at all and enjoy Changeling you most assuredly will.
Six Stories is the renowned podcast series hosted by Scott King. The premise is simple, six episodes, six people, six stories that are all tied to and that all relate to a cold case that King has chosen to investigate.
The case that King is looking at in Changeling is that of Alfie Marsden. Thirty years ago Seven-year-old Alfie tragically vanished from his Dad’s car on December 24th, 1988, Christmas Eve and was officially declared ‘presumed dead‘ in 1995. It was late at night and Alfie was asleep in the car when his Dad pulled over at the Wentshire Forest Pass opposite Great Escapes, a building development site. His Dad stopped driving due to hearing a knocking coming from the engine of the car. Subsequently, his Dad got out to investigate, looking under the bonnet for the source of the noise. Only a matter of minutes passed but on his return, Alfie wasn’t there, he was just gone, the car door was now open, his seat empty and of little Alfie, there was no trace, it was as if without a sound he had vanished into thin air.
Alfie’s disappearance is an ideal case for the Six Stories podcast but King has previously been reluctant to investigate it and is still reticent about it now. It is the case of a missing child, a soul lost to time, a life that has been taken before it had the chance to start and perhaps, it is respectful not to disturb that child, to allow him to rest in peace, to leave his memory alone and to let him sleep. But, a letter promising to reveal new and never before seen insights into the case piques King’s interest. And so, despite his reticence King decides to dip his toes into the murky waters of the disappearance of Alfie Marsden.
Over the course of the Six Stories series, we get six different angles, perspectives and stories from Sir Harrison Baxter, one-half of the developers of Baxter and Blackwood’s Great Escapes, the company who, at the time of Alfie’s disappearance were trying to build their latest development in Wentshire Forest. Callum Wright, a labourer on the Great Escapes site at the time of Alfie’s disappearance. Anne, a psychic who upon his disappearance claimed to know what had happened to Alfie. Wendy Morris, a former friend and a former work colleague of Sorrel Marsden. And, finally, the stories of Sonia Lewis and Sorrel Marsden, Alfie’s parents.
To go along with those six individual stories King’s research into the case includes snippets from various other sources. Giving additional insights, more information and also peeling back the layers of those involved in the case whilst adding extra detail to the story.
Changeling isn’t just a look at the night that Alfie Marsden disappeared. No, it is so much more. It is a look at the location of Alfie’s disappearance, Wentshire Forest, a place that is known for its folklore and links to the hidden people/fairies the supernatural. It is a look at the life of Alfie, the lives of Alfie’s parents, their relationship, their pasts and their personalities. It is a look at everything that came before, everything that built towards and everything that transpired culminating in what took place on that fateful night.
You know that there are secrets, lies and shocking revelations (yes, holy shit moments are included) to be revealed during the course of the series of interviews. The pleasure is in joining King. Diving in right alongside him and watching it all unfold through each individual account and recollection. Delving deeper into the mystery, searching for the truth and putting together the pieces of the puzzle as the full picture begins to take shape.
Sometimes it’s not what is written but what isn’t written. What is implied and what the author leaves open for you to draw your own opinions from that will needle and nettle away at you. Creeping into your mind, reading between the lines and making you think on the unwritten words and what they could mean. You will find yourself comparing, questioning and thoughts will be rolling around in your mind as you compare the stories of those involved.
Changeling has a compelling narrative that eddies and flows like a river and you will find yourself carried along on the current by Wesolowski’s hypnotic writing. There’s a palpable sense of tension keeping you company that is tied together by a captivating yet tragic mystery and a haunting truth.
It’s the power of the writer to fully transport you into their work and with Changeling you find yourself forgetting that you are reading a book and a story involving fictional characters. Wesolowski’s creation feels real. The tragic disappearance of Alfie Marsden that haunts the pages doesn’t come across as a story but a real tragedy that could have happened. His characters for all intents and purposes are real and you genuinely feel like you are reading real-life accounts from real people.
There’s a disquiet, an unease that runs throughout Changeling suffusing the story that Wesolowksi is telling and imbuing it with an unsettling sense of darkness.
Changeling is a chilling read, a sinister story and the best Six Stories yet.
About Matt Wesolowski.
Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor for young people in care. Matt started his writing career in horror, and his short horror fiction has been published in numerous UK- an US-based anthologies such as Midnight Movie Creature, Selfies from the End of the World, Cold Iron and many more. His novella, The Black Land, a horror story set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013. Matt was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in 2015. His debut thriller, Six Stories, was an Amazon bestseller in the USA, Canada, the UK and Australia, and a WH Smith Fresh Talent pick, and TV rights were sold to a major Hollywood studio. A prequel, Hydra, was published in 2018 and became an international bestseller.
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