Sunday, July 23, 2023

Q&A with Simon Toyne

From my Q&A with Simon Toyne, author of The Clearing: A Novel:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

The Clearing was not the first title for the book. For most of the first draft it was called The Cinderman which refers to the urban legend of a forest dwelling bogeyman who is supposed to haunt the ancient Forest of Dean in the west of England where the book is set. The Cinderman, as I reveal in an origin story within the book, was a charcoal burner whose daughter vanished, driving him mad and cursing him to roam the forest in search of young women to replace her. In the “now” of the story women are going missing in the forest and the local police don’t seem to be that bothered about it. My lead character, however, Dr. Laughton Rees doesn’t believe in ghosts and legends so when another young woman goes missing she heads there to try and find out what is going on. Her investigation centres around an off-grid community at the heart of the forest called The Clearing.

I always liked The Cinderman as a title, but my editors in the UK and US were both worried it might read more as a horror story than a thriller. Calling it The Clearing definitely grounds the book as something taking place somewhere specific, and I think readers like that. They like to know that the story is anchored somewhere and a forest clearing can be both welcoming and sinister. Lots of the most gruesome fairy-tales take place in forest clearings. That’s where witches tend to live and I’ve got a real-life one...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Simon Toyne's website, Facebook pageTwitter perch, and Instagram page.

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Q&A with Simon Toyne.

--Marshal Zeringue