Only four more sleeps until All Hallows’ Eve! To mark the occasion, I’ve got an interview with cool British guy and dark fiction writer Josh Winning. Fun story: Just a few hours after he responded to my interview questions about the Unbound campaign for his noir-ish YA novel, KILLING RUMER, the book got fully funded!
For those who don’t know, Unbound is a crowdfunding publisher. The whole concept is really cool and you should probably check out the website. Even though KILLING RUMER is officially funded, you can still help out by pre-ordering the book. And you absolutely should because I’ve read KILLING RUMER and it kicks complete ass. The author himself describes it as “a genre-blitzing horror thriller inspired by everything from Jessica Jones and The Maltese Falcon to the most badass ’90s teenager, Nancy from The Craft.” Seriously. What are you waiting for?
Josh, how did you come up with KILLING RUMER? What inspirations did you draw from? Were you hoping to pay homage to some of your favorite stories?
I had a bad dream. No really. Rumer came at me in the dark one night when I was trying to fall asleep. I couldn’t shake her until I’d written her story, which is probably why I wrote the first draft of KILLING RUMER in eight months, which is hella fast for me. I wanted to know more and more about her and the only way to do that was to keep tapping at my keyboard.
My inspirations came from all over the place. Rumer was named after a singer – I saw a poster for her new album in the underground (I love in London). In terms of her temperament and style, Rumer was hugely inspired by Nancy in THE CRAFT, and although I watched JESSICA JONES after finishing the book, there’s definitely some of Ms Jones in there, too!
Without giving too much away, can you tell us what part of the book was the most fun to write?
Any part where Rumer loses her shit. Although she likes to stick to the shadows, she’s also somebody who has no filter, so she’ll always call you on your bullshit. There’s also a point in the story where she loses her tenuous grip on reality for a moment (it’s in the back of a car and there’s a gun involved) and I loved going to that place with her.
I LOVE Rumer even though she kinda scares me a little — she’s definitely a YA heroine for the ages. What’s her favorite song? Favorite word? Favorite snack food? What does she carry in her purse/bag/pockets?
Thank you! I didn’t want Rumer to be a monster; I wanted her to be unpredictable, chaotic and weird, but also relatable and sympathetic. You don’t have to like her, but you absolutely should be able to understand her. And you should definitely fear her.
Songs… Rumer LIVES for Stevie Nicks. So ‘Edge of Seventeen’, ‘Rooms on Fire’ and ‘Rhiannon’ are her favourites, but she also jams to ‘Bad Reputation’ by Joan Jett. (In fact, you can listen to her Spotify playlist here: https://t.co/iJYluyQbYe) Her favourite word is “whatever”. And purse? You’re kidding, right?
Ha! What was I thinking? Anyway, Unbound is a new-ish and pretty fascinating publishing platform. How did you find out about it and what made you decide it was the way to go for this particular project?
Unbound have an amazing rep in the industry (their books have been longlisted for the Booker prize!), and they love supporting new and emerging talent. My friend Dan Dalton got a deal for his book, JOHNNY RUIN, with Unbound, and I had previously read PURE by Rose Bretecher, which Unbound also published. So I decided to give them a shot – and I’m really glad I did!
Who will KILLING RUMER appeal to?
Of course I’m going to say “everybody”. Realistically, though, this is a book for anybody who loves dark mysteries with unhinged and perhaps unreliable narrators. Fans of Jessica Jones and Lisbeth Salander should get a kick out of it. It’s part crime thriller, part supernatural noir, part YA coming-of-ager… hopefully it manages to do all of those things justice!
I know this interview is all about Rumer, but I can’t help myself — what are you working on now?
On top of campaigning to get KILLING RUMER fully funded at Unbound, I’m also writing the second draft of the third book in THE SENTINEL TRILOGY. Before that comes out (in June 2018), there’s also a SENTINEL novella on the horizon. It’s called WITCHPIN and it delves into the dark history of one of the characters in SENTINEL. Yes, there are witches… Thanks so much for having me, Erin!
Thank you, Josh! And a zillion congratulations on making KILLING RUMER happen. I can’t wait to hold a copy in my hands.