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A Stranger’s Guide
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Group Reads: Guest Author Invite > June 2020 Group Read #2 with Guest Author, Charlotte Platt

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message 1: by Kenneth (new)

Kenneth McKinley | 1529 comments Mod
This is the thread for the June 2020 Group Read #2 with Guest Author, Charlotte Platt. This month, Charlotte will join us as we read her debut novel, the dark, urban fantasy, A STRANGER’S GUIDE. It will be released on June 2nd and you can order a copy at the link below. Please help me welcome to HA for the first time, Charlotte Platt!


Kimberly (kimberly_3238) | 6083 comments Mod
This one looks amazing! Can't wait to start on it! Thank you for joining us, Charlotte!

message 3: by Charlotte (new)

Charlotte Platt | 18 comments The pleasure is all mine, it's amazing to be taking part!

message 4: by Latasha (new)

Latasha (latasha513) | 11050 comments Mod
i'll be joining in this one. Thank you for joining us Charlotte!

message 5: by Kenneth (new)

Kenneth McKinley | 1529 comments Mod
Charlotte, could you tell us a little how A Stranger’s Guide came about?

message 6: by Charlotte (new)

Charlotte Platt | 18 comments Absolutely!

I lived in Glasgow for five years while I was studying, and it's such a brilliant city. I'd never visited it before I moved, I just went straight in at 17 as it had the best university for what I wanted to study, and I was so glad that I did.

The people are friendly, the place is beautiful, it's Scotland's capital for culture, but it can also be a little odd. And I mean odd in the sense that it had the busiest court in Europe at one point, and one of the frequent personalities you could meet was a chap who was convinced he was the archangel Michael, and would offer to walk you home if you were on your own at night. It's just full of little things like that, and I knew I really wanted a story that got to show off how alive the city itself was.

I also have a huge interest in folklore and mythology, and why humans tell these stories. One of the big opening ideas for A Stranger's Guide was why did these stories go away, in the sense of why don't we have new ones coming about? This led me down the path of what if the creatures in these stories were real, but had to evolve with the changes in the world? Glasgow underwent huge changes throughout the 1800s with the industrial revolution, the docks becoming such a large part of world spanning companies, huge changes in population density and make up, and unfortunately quite a lot of violence too. What if the creatures we were warned about had undergone the same thing and simply had to adapt like the people did? This played heavily into the historical element of the book as well, showing the evolution of the city between then and now, and the way that the supernatural was always woven into the life of people living there.

I'm a very character based writer and Carter came first as I wanted someone who was new to the city and experiencing it for the first time. I'm originally from Lancashire myself, my family moved to Scotland when I was young, so it was easy to pull from that to start Carter and Sarah off. The Collector was probably the next one to come along, and once he was established it was easy to dive into the Guide itself and start expanding that out. I'd probably written most of the Guide sections before I got solidly into the modern side of the story, but I knew what was going to happen with it so it was easy to write.

I'm going to stop there as this is much more than a little but if anyone wants me to clarify any points just let me know.

message 7: by Latasha (new)

Latasha (latasha513) | 11050 comments Mod
Oh I love that! I love folklore too. I’ve had some family Hong’s going on so I haven’t got to start it yet. I’m a bit behind schedule.

message 8: by Charlotte (new)

Charlotte Platt | 18 comments The UK has such a weird collection of stuff, it's easy to end up down the rabbit hole! Hope you enjoy it when you get the chance, with things being so up in the air just now I think most folk are in the same boat.

(P.S. maybe just a Brit blind spot, but Hongs?)

message 9: by Latasha (new)

Latasha (latasha513) | 11050 comments Mod
Ugh, fat fingers! Family things*** lol! Sorry!

message 10: by Charlotte (new)

Charlotte Platt | 18 comments Haha no problem at all! Honestly I just feel better that my Google-fu isn't failing me.

Kimberly (kimberly_3238) | 6083 comments Mod
I'll be starting this one tonight or tomorrow!!

message 12: by Kenneth (new)

Kenneth McKinley | 1529 comments Mod
As I read this, I can’t help but get vibes of Clive Barker. Did his writing influence you growing up, and what other writers do you consider influential to your writing style?

message 13: by Charlotte (new)

Charlotte Platt | 18 comments I am 100% a Clive Barker fan, I'm even rereading a selection of his short stories just now.

I was absolutely one of the creepy kids so Clive Barker, Anne Rice, and Daphne du Maurier were all high on the reading list, and of course Stephen King. So it's not really a surprise my head is full of monsters.

In terms of writers that have influenced my style, I would say William Gibson, Albert Camus and Thomas Harris - which I appreciate is a pretty mixed bag.

I fell down the cyberpunk rabbit hole in my late teens and Gibson is practically an elder god in that genre for obvious reasons. I really loved his world building, and that he was willing to tell vicious, toothy stories that didn't necessarily work out neat in the end. I am a fan of some plot points being left open, I find if everything's tied up too neatly it takes me out of an ending.

L'Etranger is of course on every goth reading list out there, so Camus is probably no surprise, but I find the absurdism and the existentialism come close to cosmic horror in how bleak the book can be. I really enjoyed the frank, sometimes viciously apathetic characters he creates, even in The Rebel, and his treatment of themes of powerlessness is done without it tipping into just sheer misery.

Thomas Harris is probably also not a surprise, the Hannibal series is such wonderful fever dreams of a narrative. The viciousness, the moral absurdity, the skill with which Harris gets us to be in favour of a cannibalistic serial killer because he's really not the worst person around, it's such a lush, ridiculous, but well done set. I have lost track of how often I've reread them because they're so easy to dip into and not take at all seriously but still enjoy.

Outside of those, I would say James O'Barr's The Crow, which is of course a graphic novel, but is a great examination of grief and rage, and I Am Legend by Richard Matheson which is technically sci-fi but is so close to horror as to blur the edges. I haven't dipped much into the wider creative works of either of these creators, but I really hold them up as great examples of doing what they do.

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