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Author Spotlight - John Clewarth

I'm always so happy to host authors, and this one came just in time for Halloween.

I won't waste any more time on my end introducing this author.

John, welcome! Tell us about your book.

I’m currently working on final edits of the sequel to my first MG book, Firestorm Rising.

The sequel has been quite a long time in the making, as my day job, as a full-time teacher, has always been time-consuming and brain-draining! I’ve cut back on the hours a little now to allow for more writing time, and the words are flowing sweet and smooth.

The – as yet untitled – sequel sees Tom, Doc and Jazz, the three heroes of Firestorm Rising facing new, even scarier, monsters, along with the return of an alien foe who is all-too-familiar to them.

The arrival of a travelling circus, packed full of weird and wonderful acts, captivates the imagination of the local kids; as this falls during the Halloween holiday period it holds even more dark appeal! Things start to take a more sinister turn when the strange little circus owner, known as the Baron, begins to exert a weird influence on Jazz and, one day, she simply disappears…

Beneath the earth, in the grounds of the derelict crematorium, things are beginning to stir. This will be the second in a planned trilogy of spooky adventures – and it’s a cracker!

Oh, I'm intrigued already. MG horror is such an interesting genre, and I feel like there's so much you can do with it. Now you'd mentioned time management is hard to tackle this and teach at the same time.

What was the hardest part about writing this?

The easiest part of the writing process, for me, is getting the first draft out of my head and on to the page. It really is a kind of magical process as the grain of an idea begins to grow and evolve, as the tale unfolds. It’s fun because at this point, I’m still telling the story to myself – and the ideas that kick in never fail surprise and delight me.

The hard part – although it’s still very rewarding in the fruits that it bears – is taking it through the additional drafts.

This is where you have to ensure the narrative hangs seamlessly together, the story arc clicks into place at the right times, and the character’s voices, actions and motives stay true to the original. All this whilst dropping the characters into ever more terrifying and challenging situations! I always aim to make my plots as engaging and surprising as possible – and it’s very easy to write yourself into a cul-de-sac, so plotting an overview is really important, whilst keeping the writing fresh and new.

This is first time I’ve written a sequel, so there’s the added challenge of making sure that references back to the first installment are balanced and accurate, whilst making the book an enjoyable stand-alone in its own right.

So true! Sequels really strike a precarious balance in that respect. Now for my favorite question: your favorite scene to write?

It’s hard to choose a favourite scene to write, for two reasons: firstly, there are so many exciting scenes in the book and, secondly, without giving away spoilers.

I can give a hint of one or two though… I really enjoyed the scene where the circus rolls into town, along with the charming owner and his cast of wild and weird performers; lots of atmosphere and rich description – a bit of an opportunity for me to let my imagination run wild. Another favourite scene for me to write, was the one where one of the characters in the story spontaneously explodes. Great fun!

Oh, this book sounds like it was so much fun to write. Now, do you have a favorite character, especially one of those weird performers?

I have to say that I’m invested in all my characters – I love them all! But the three main friends, Tom, Doc and Jazz have been through so much together, and have so many adventures yet to come, that they are joint first. They blend and complement each other effectively, and each one brings a unique character profile without which, the team couldn’t have survived the adventures they’ve been through.

There’s the lead character, Tom, whose sporting prowess and athleticism are crucial, Doc whose razor-sharp brain and wicked sense of humour play a vital role – and Jazz, the rebel of the bunch; a girl who lives life by her own rules, and is fiercely loyal and courageous.

Being a ‘horror’ writer, of course, I also love my villains – and Zeduza is simply one of a very scary kind!

The name itself is epic, for sure, "Zeduza." Now, as a writer, you've learned quite a few things along the way. What is a piece of advice you have for aspiring writers?

Advice for other writers? There’s so much technical advice out there about the craft of writing that is helpful – most influential in my own view, being ‘On Writing’ by Stephen King.

A masterclass in the writing process. But the best advice I could give to anyone is to stick at it. If you’re serious about what you do you need to be prepared for the long game. There will be times when you wonder if you’re any good at all, and the rejections that everyone gets at times, will compound these feelings. However, know that all writers have been through this during their career – and the successful ones are e ones who didn’t quit, even when cranking the words out felt so hard. The end results, the stories in themselves, are testament to your worth as a writer. The successes and the publications and the positive feedback from your readers will taste all the sweeter as a result. Work at your craft, listen to feedback (even if it hurts!) and act on it where necessary, to hone your skills.

The best advice I’ve read is to make sure you write every day – even if it’s just a few ideas, a couple of sentences – if you do, you already have more than you did yesterday; and remember, you can’t edit a blank page! You need to the raw material to shape into something wonderful. In the words of one of my favourite writers, William Meikle, ‘Writers write, wannabe writers just wanna write!’

Good luck to all my fellow writers and thanks so much for featuring me on your blog, Hope.

Thank you, and those are some really good pieces of advice, writers! Make sure to pick up the first in his series, and be ready for that sequel to come out!

John Clewarth was born in a Yorkshire mining village called Featherstone. He was lucky enough to be brought up in a very happy home, and doubly lucky to have grown up around the time of the Hammer horror films and television shows such as The Hammer House of (Mystery and Suspense and Tales of the Unexpected. As he got a little older, as a treat, he was allowed to stay up on a Friday night and watch the spine-tingling series: Appointment With Fear. Couple all this with the great Pan Books of Horror and the plethora of ‘true’ ghost stories that featured in around his local area, and it is perhaps no surprise that John began writing dark, spooky stories.

John has enjoyed a great career in teaching and loves his job. The youngsters he teaches are excellent sources of inspiration and he finds it useful when writing dialogue and forming characters, to draw upon some of the things he sees and hears at school!

His first novel, ‘Firestorm Rising’, is a chilling tale, inspired by a visit to a gothic graveyard one dark, rainy day. It is aimed at the 9 to 12 age range, but would certainly appeal to older readers too. His second novel, ‘Demons in the Dark’, is a horror story, broadly aimed at the 10-14 age range, but with an eye on the young adult market. John also has a collection of short stories for all ages, ‘Nightmares from the Graveyard’, available from Amazon or Smashwords. John believes that horror should be scary but fun, and loves to lace his stories with humour. For further details and sneaky previews of these, along with John’s future projects, please see the author section of this website, or visit his personal website:

Also, check in on Twitter (@johnclewarth) and his Facebook page (John Clewarth – Author) for updates on future projects.

John lives near the ancient town of Pontefract with his wife and two sons and – because of his teaching job and busy family life – he writes mainly after dark.


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