Author Interview ... Ashley Meggitt
I am pleased to introduce Ashley Meggit, bestselling author of The Dark Chorus.
Let's get to know this fantastic author, shall we?
What is the first story you remember telling (not necessarily writing)?
I suppose it would have been when I was school-aged – maybe 14(?). Back in the day when you sent actual letters, I wrote and sent a series of related short stories to a friend over one summer. They were called ‘There I was and suddenly ..." All a bit surreal but I remember really enjoying writing them.
You have a book published. Yay! Do you have a favorite character (and, if so, which one)?
Tough question but ‘The Boy’ in my novel has to be my favourite character. I enjoy seeing the world from his rather innocent and alternative viewpoint. When writing him I found it easy to drop into his way of thinking and to see the world with the different emphasis he places on it. It was refreshing and I’m rather sad that by default I don’t see the world in that way.
What is your favorite activity to do in the summer? Winter?
In the summer – well, specifically I love sitting out in the shade of our Horse Chestnut tree and either reading or playing my guitar. However, I rarely seem to get the time to do that.
In the winter – Going for long walks. I’m an autumn and winter person really. I love the moodiness of the autumn weather and the stillness of a crisp frost-coated winter morning. Coffee and buns after such walks are an absolute joy.
What led you to start writing novels?
Hard to say really. I’d never consciously thought I’d write a novel. I was struggling at work a few years ago and thought writing would be a way of dealing with some of the pressures, so I signed up for evening classes. From there I went on to do a master’s degree in creative writing. I had to write a portfolio piece to get on the MA and that piece proved to be the first chapter of The Dark Chorus.
Cats or dogs?
Can I have both please 😊?
If you were to be gifted a superpower that you had to use continuously for 8 hours every day, what would it be?
The ability to transport myself to anywhere I wanted when I wanted. I’d be visiting every country endlessly, the mountains, the rivers, the plains, the cities. I’d wander around art galleries when they were closed, around famous gardens when no one else was there, eat pizza for lunch in Italy, drink morning coffee in Columbia, afternoon tea in Sri Lanka, and have dinner in a camp on the Serengeti. The problem I see with this power is that I might be tempted to sneakily transport people I dislike to some desert island somewhere and leave them there – just for a bit you understand, just for some quiet contemplation time, just so they can reflect on the errors of their ways…
Star Trek or Star Wars?
Star Wars came out when I was almost 13 and I fell in love with Carrie Fisher and that was that. A few years ago, my children (now in their mid-20’s) bought me a Father’s Day card with a picture of Princess Leia on the front. It said ‘Be a Princess for a day’ – it is now a prized possession and a family heirloom.
What is your favorite author/book?
Unfair. However, I make no bones about the fact that The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks has been my touchstone (touchbook) when writing my own novel. I first read it when I had just started at university, and it made a real impression on me.
The zombie apocalypse will happen in two days. You are fully stocked with food, water, and toilet paper. What is the one thing you will have stocked up on as your guilty pleasure?
Lindt chocolate truffles. I’m assuming endless coffee counts as basic rations, right? Because I’d die within minutes if it doesn’t.
When is your favorite time to write?
To be honest – whenever the mood takes me, but I can engineer the mood to some extent. I always feel I’m at my writing best when I’m sitting in a café or when I’m traveling on a train. I think this is not uncommon with many writers, so whatever the researched reasons for this are (and I’m sure there must be a paper on this somewhere) these spaces work for me. So, if I’m not feeling the writing love I just head off to a café. Timing isn’t that important, but I rarely write first thing in the morning because I’m rarely up first thing in the morning.
Where do you draw inspiration? Real-life? Daydreams?
Everywhere really. Real-life is perhaps my best source. In essence, we are all walking libraries, packed with stories, and we accumulate more with every passing moment. Ask anyone about pretty much anything and by way of explanation, they’ll tell you a story. Stories are how we explain the world, how we make sense of it, and how we learn. I do daydream too. I use what Dorothea Brande calls in her book, Becoming a Writer, the ‘artistic coma’ - a self-induced state between sleep and wake. I don’t like the word coma much and prefer to think of it as the ‘Soporosphere’ – a mental space where artists and writers go to create (my made-up word - you read it here first). I also draw on films for imagery and use photography to capture spaces that I think will work well in a story.
A couple of interesting facts about The Dark Chorus ...
I reference a band called Double Zero a couple of times in the book and a character mentions how good the bass lines of the songs are. The band existed and I was the bass player 😊
Makka is named after one of the recording studios we used back in the mid-1980s.
I had written a passage in the book where Eve was reading an article in a magazine about Trump. However, I decided I couldn’t give that man any exposure whatsoever, so edited the piece at the last minute. I changed it to be an article on the effect of global warming on the polar bear population in the Arctic. I grabbed that idea from Sarah’s own novel, Inside Voices, which I had just finished reading 😊
(Really? I am honored, dude!)
Tell us your favorite "dad joke."
A man walks into a bar with some tarmac under his arm. The barman asks him what he wants to drink. He replies, “a whiskey for me and one for the road.”
The Dark Chorus
Oblivio salvationem Angelis opperitur
Oblivion awaits the Angel’s salvation
The Boy can see lost souls.
He has never questioned the fact that he can see them. He thinks of them as the Dark Chorus. When he sets out to restore the soul of his dead mother it becomes clear that his ability comes from within him. It is a force that he cannot ignore – the last shard of the shattered soul of an angel.
To be restored to the kingdom of light, the shard must be cleansed of the evil that infects it – but this requires the corrupt souls of the living!
With the help from Makka, a psychotically violent young man full of hate, and Vee, an abused young woman full of pain, the Boy begins to kill.
Psychiatrist Dr. Eve Rhodes is seconded to assist the police investigation into the Boy’s apparently random ritualistic killings. As the investigation gathers pace, a pattern emerges. When Eve pulls at the thread from an article in an old psychology journal, what might otherwise have seemed to her a terrible psychotic delusion now feels all too real…
Will the Boy succeed in restoring the angel’s soul to the light? Can Eve stop him, or will she be lost to realm of the Dark Chorus?
Ashley lives near Cambridge, UK, with his wife Jane. He left school to join a psychedelic rock band when he realised that sex, drugs, and rock and roll was a thing. Subsequently he went back to education and became head of IT for a Cambridge University College. In recent years Ashley has retrained in psychology and is now a lecturer in public health and sports psychology. He is studying for his PhD. He also holds an MA in Creative Writing. The Dark Chorus is his debut novel.
He quite likes his children and goats.
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