Today I am interviewing Nick Setchfield, author of the new fantasy novel, The War in the Dark.
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DJ: Hey Nick! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Nick Setchfield: I’m the features editor on SFX magazine and also occasionally write for Total Film. I’ve been a local journalist, a movie reviewer for the BBC and a scriptwriter for ITV’s Spitting Image. The War in the Dark is my first shot at a novel, though I’ve had the itch to write one for a while – since I was a kid, in fact. I finally nailed myself to a desk and here we are.
DJ: What is The War in the Dark about?
Nick: It’s an espionage story and a supernatural adventure, full of spies and demons, intrigue and magic. It’s set in the earliest, chilliest days of the Cold War and races across Europe in 1963, powered by a quest for an occult secret of world-changing power. It’s also about second chances, the secrets of cities and why you should never trust a man who picks the raisins from an apfelstrudel.
DJ: What were some of your influences for The War in the Dark?
Nick: James Bond was crucial – both Ian Fleming’s original novels and the movies, though the tone of the book is closer to early Connery than Moore (I love the Moore films, in all their outsized glory, but this is a darker, icier take). Indiana Jones is another huge inspiration: I love that sense of globe-trotting adventure, the sheer pulp momentum of those Lucas and Spielberg movies. I also took inspiration from my love of Hitchcock and Hammer. And the ghost stories of MR James, which have such a lovely sense of dread to them that I thought would mix nicely with a John le Carré backdrop.
DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with them?
Nick: Christopher Winter is my protagonist. I’ve tried to make him relatable and grounded. In many ways he’s an anti-Bond: a suburbanite, with a wife named Joyce and a semi-detached in Croydon. He’s a capable British Intelligence agent but I throw him into a world where he’s suddenly out of his depth, and fighting to make sense of magic and demons and transdimensional mansions in the Viennese woods. He’s the eyes of the reader, essentially, stumbling through all this insanity and terror. I team him with Karina Lazarova, my co-hero, who very much drives the plot. She’s poised, cool, absolutely lethal with a blade and filled with secrets. Even I don’t know the whole truth about her. And I’ve asked, believe me.
DJ: What is the world and setting of The War in the Dark like?
Nick: It’s our world – or at least the world of the early 1960s, still in the long shadow of World War 2 but also caught up in another war, one that’s being waged in the shadows and the margins. Not just the Cold War of East vs West, but a secret war that’s been fought for centuries. The story ranges from London to Berlin, Vienna to Bavaria, and it’s a world full of fog and trapdoors, hiding many things… I know it’s summer but you’ll need to wrap up in your best overcoat and take an industrial-sized torch. There’s some scary stuff waiting for you.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing The War in the Dark?
Nick: I enjoyed pulling together all my research into occult history and facts about the cities that Winter and Karina visit. That was the journalist in me, who always enjoys shaping the material that he’s gathered. But the biggest, most potent thrill was the sense that I was creating something: a world that a reader could explore, and live in for a while. Places and people that would always exist between those covers. Frankly that thought still makes me tingle. Maybe that’s the Victor Frankenstein in me. “It’s alive! IT’S ALIVE!”
DJ: Did you have a particular goal when you began writing The War in the Dark? Was there a particular message or meaning you are hoping to get across when readers finish it? Or is there perhaps a certain theme to the story?
Nick: Thematically I guess it’s about a ruined man in the ruined landscapes of a postwar world, and how you go about facing the future. But that’s not the crucial bit. Ultimately I just want it to be a ghost train ride for people. Something that thrills them in the dark and almost throws them out of their seat with the twists and the turns…
DJ: Now that The War in the Dark is released, what is next for you?
Nick: I’m currently writing another adventure for Christopher Winter. I feel a bit guilty that I’ve found even more ways to make his life hell.
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about The War in the Dark that we haven’t talked about yet?
Nick: There are runes on the spine of the book. Treat them carefully. They are exceedingly powerful.
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
Nick: My pleasure, DJ. Thanks for your interest in the book!
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*** The War in the Dark is published by Titan Books and is available TODAY!!! ***
Buy the Book:
Amazon | Barnes & Nobel | Goodreads | Kobo
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A genre-defying page turner that fuses thriller and speculative fiction with dark fantasy in a hidden world in the heart of Cold War Europe.
Europe. 1963. And the true Cold War is fought on the borders of this world, at the edges of the light.
When the assassination of a traitor trading with the enemy goes terribly wrong, British Intelligence agent Christopher Winter must flee London. In a tense alliance with a lethal, mysterious woman named Karina Lazarov, he’s caught in a quest for hidden knowledge from centuries before, an occult secret written in the language of fire. A secret that will give supremacy to the nation that possesses it.
Racing against the Russians, the chase takes them from the demon-haunted Hungarian border to treasure-laden tunnels beneath Berlin, from an impossible house in Vienna to a bomb-blasted ruin in Bavaria where something unholy waits, born of the power of white fire and black glass . . .
It’s a world of treachery, blood, and magic. A world at war in the dark.
About the Author:
Nick Setchfield is a writer and features editor for SFX, Britain’s best-selling magazine of genre entertainment in film, TV and books. A regular contributing writer to Total Film, he’s also been a movie reviewer for the BBC and a scriptwriter for ITV’s Spitting Image. The War in the Dark is his first novel. He lives in Bath.