When thirteen-year-old James discovers a homeless man in an abandoned house, the course of his life changes dramatically. Hoping to find a ‘cure’ for a dark curse inflicted on the homeless man, the pair embark on a journey together not knowing that what they discover will impact them both in ways they never imagined…A gripping and haunting story about loss and hope, perfect for fans of Patrick Ness and David Almond.
Sometimes as a reader there are some truly rare unexpected moments, when a book creeps up on you quite surprise, grabs you, mesmerises you, sweeps you away on a roaring adventure filled with darkness….and hope – it’s those moments as a reader that I live for and crave, The Dark Inside has these beautiful qualities in bucket loads.
Rupert Wallis, has written his glorious debut to utter perfection. It is intense, dark, brooding and highly adventurous. To me it screamed Neil Gaiman, and from me that is probably the biggest compliment I could possibly give!
The storyline is a rather strange one, it follows James and Webster – two unlikely friends who seem to stumble upon each other at exactly the right time in both of their lives. They are very different in age but seem to be kindred spirits and I adored watching their friendship blossom.
The pair come together at a time of great need in both of their lives – James to escape his abusive step-father and Webster to escape the gypsies that are hunting him to take advantage of the dark curse forced upon him. So the pair share something important – the need to escape.
The journey will change both characters completely and they will be pushed to their limits with things beyond their wildest imaginations….
The ending itself is quite amazing indeed and I’m still mulling it over!
The Dark Inside will give readers everywhere pause for thought, it’s highly imaginative and very gripping. The characters are extremely complex and memorable – there is also the most intriguing mix of sideline characters that were fantastic to meet nestled among these pages. I actually can’t get this book out of my brain and I seriously can’t wait to read what Wallis writes next! Please people….go read this!
5 / 5 Stars!
*Special thanks to Simon & Schuster for the review copy*
Rupert Wallis read Theology at Cambridge University and holds an MFA in Screenwriting and Writing for Television from the University of Southern California. In 2010/11 he was one of five novelists chosen from the South West of England to participate in a mentorship programme funded by the Arts Council. He now lives in Cornwall.
(Photo Credit Joanna Willis)
On Writing ‘The Dark Inside’
Normally, I try and stick to a minimum schedule of a thousand words a day when writing a first draft. This seems a natural and manageable amount for me and a workable manuscript soon builds up over time.
This was certainly the case with ‘The Dark Inside’ and it took about three months to write the first draft. I didn’t spend too long thinking about the plot, which came fairly naturally for two main reasons. First, it was a story I knew instinctively I wanted to write and secondly, I made sure the characters were fairly well formed before I began, meaning I could allow them to think and breathe and act, helping guide the flow of the story.
Having richly defined characters is important to me because it enables them to be spontaneous and interesting on the page, reacting like real people, who can surprise me when I’m writing and make me think about elements in the story I might not have considered before. Generally, and certainly in the case of ‘The Dark Inside’ I tend to have only a vague sense of a book’s plot before I start writing (just some of the big story beats), meaning I’m not beholden to a strict structure, which can become stifling. This allows my characters to help me weave the story with them. For me, writing is a balancing act between plot and structure on the one hand, and characters on the other.
Whilst having well defined characters is important in helping me write a story, being able to access them is key. This requires a good facility for empathy so I can ‘inhabit’ them and see things from their point of view. I think most writers have this ability to be sensitive, to see things through other people’s eyes. In the case of ‘The Dark Inside’ I had to be able to ‘see’ very clearly for the two main characters, James, a 13 yr old boy whose life is not a happy one when we first meet him and Webster, a man troubled by experiences from his past.
As well as helping me write a story, creating real characters has an important knock on effect for readers, immersing them in the book. Ultimately, they have to care enough about the people they are reading about to keep turning the pages, hoping and fearing for them as they negotiate the world in which they exist, facing up to all the problems and issues they encounter.
Interestingly, although some reviews have highlighted the themes within ‘The Dark Inside’ I didn’t set out to write to them overtly. I think they arose organically as the book evolved and, more pertinently, as the characters developed, acting and conversing with each other. My advice to anyone trying to write a book is not to focus on the subtext or the themes – if you write truthfully according to the story then this secondary layer should arise naturally.
The other key element in my writing process is the discipline of rewriting. I find it much easier to work with ‘something’ on the page – however awful it might be initially – rather than trying to create something ‘good’ from scratch. In the case
of ‘The Dark Inside’ I spent a lot of time reworking the text, shaping the story, until I was happy with it. It meant I completed a healthy number of drafts before I felt satisfied with the manuscript. When things weren’t working that’s when I started to rely on the tools I’ve been taught about writing (in particular screenwriting) such as story structure, dramatic conflict and dialogue.
Being committed to rewriting means I have to be in love with the story I’m telling so completing it doesn’t become a chore. Hopefully, my commitment to the story connects the reader to it too. I think novels are a way for a writer to illustrate his or her view of the world and part of the magic for the reader is in being able to participate in a different viewpoint to their own. By writing what is important to me I hope my viewpoint resonates for those readers who engage with ‘The Dark Inside’.
I’ve actually discovered that something wonderful can happen when writing deeply and truthfully, namely that specific moments and events in a book can morph into something universal. By this I mean that a reader can read something specific in a story, which can make them recall an experience in their own lives, creating a deeper connection between them and the book. I hope this is true in some small way for those who read ‘The Dark Inside’.