The Underclass: Dan Weatherer
We welcome author Dan Weatherer back to DEMAIN (we previously published his Short Sharp Shocks! The Necessary Evils & Sick Girl) with his novel The Underclass. The ebook will be published on the 13th November (paperback following early 2021) and is available now for pre-sales
In a world where the rules of death suddenly no longer apply, thirty-something Lee Callows, prepares for the greatest day of his largely uneventful life: promotion to the first rung of middle management. However, his (after) life takes an unexpected turn when he is involved in a fatal road traffic accident on his way to work. Yet his death is the least of his problems!
Disowned by an unsympathetic wife, shunned by his apathetic brother, and fired from his job (employment law doesn’t apply to the deceased) Lee, now homeless, alone and struggling to accept his death, seeks solace in the back alleys of Wisterbury.
It is there that he encounters Meryl, and Harry ‘The Head’ Buckley. Meryl, (a student turned stripper, who earlier that morning had been shot dead by an overzealous admirer) too has been made homeless, her housemates less than enthusiastic about sharing their home with a walking corpse. She explains how she came across Harry, who having already died once, had attempted suicide by throwing himself in front of an HGV. The attempt had been unsuccessful, and the sight of Harry’s severed head mouthing silent obscenities in the gutter had been too much for Meryl to ignore.
Together, the three of them attempt to come to terms with their newfound undead status, in a city that has little time for the living, let alone the dead!
Dan Weatherer Talks To Demain Publishing
(Originally featured on the Demain Publishing Blog 21st October 2020 HERE)
DEMAIN PUBLISHING: Welcome Dan – let’s get down to it, can you tell us a little about your new novel.
DAN WEATHERER: I started The Underclass in the autumn of 2016, wanting to write a genuinely new take on the zombie genre, and although I believe I have succeeded in doing so, it was a hard sell to find a home for the book because the genre has been done, and then done some more. The idea of providing the setting for the book is what would happen if the rules of death no longer applied? The characters in my book are not presented as zombies in the traditional sense; their bodies have died from illness, age or other, and continue to rot as expected, but the soul remains trapped, leaving the person trapped in a decomposing husk, in a world unwilling to accept or understand them.
DP: We’re not massive fans of zombie fiction BUT we enjoyed The Underclass because it was that new take, something fresh…though you originally wrote The Underclass prior to Covid, do you feel that it can be read as a metaphor for the pandemic?
DW: No, absolutely not. I finished the first draft of this book in 2017, when all thoughts of a global pandemic were as far from my mind as anyone else’s. The pandemic is ongoing, and its effects will be felt for years to come. It would be in bad taste for me to claim the book relates in any way to the horrors people are living through because of Covid 19. The book has always been about social division, and the way we treat others different from ourselves. Unfortunately, issues of race, religion, sexuality and cultural divisions still divide us. The Underclass highlights similar issues, just in a different, more extreme way.
DP: Indeed. Is the horror genre affected by world events? Do you ever put world events in your work?
DW: I believe so. I’m not one to ‘cash in’ on current horror. I believe humanity needs a way to digest, understand and grief over horrific events. To a degree, horror fiction can help, as well as entertain. But there’s a time and a place. I won’t be writing any pandemic material soon, if ever.
DP: There have been numerous reports of late that the horror genre is dead, would you agree?
DW: No, I don’t think so. I just believe there is too much real-life horror in the world at present, and there’s no escaping it. The world has always been a horrible place, but usually it has been a case of: “Oh, well it is horrible, but it is happening all the way over there, so, while I recognise how terrible things are, I’m untouched…I’m safe.” The Global Pandemic changed all of that. It affects each and every one of us.
DP: Yes, it does…creatively is there anything you’d like to do that you haven’t done yet? If so – what is it?
DW: I’m lucky in that I’ve now worked (in some form) in: Film, theatre, literature, art and videogames. There may be something I’ve missed, but my work really has allowed me to experience a multitude of creative disciplines, and for that I am thankful.
DP: So is writing a long term or short term career for you?
DW: As I write this, I genuinely don’t know. It took a long time to place The Underclass, and the writing industry is slowing, much like most others due to the pandemic and its economic effects. Upon restart, will there be room for authors like me, who are not really ‘name’ but still look at placing sizeable works? I’m also hard-stuck on my new novel, and have been for nearly two years…so who knows?
DP: Well, we wish you all the best with the new novel. With the [possibly first national] lockdown, how did you handle it? What was your routine, was there anything different you did to get through it?
DW: Lockdown was all about keeping my children safe, engaged and happy. It was tough, but you don’t need me to tell you that. We all experienced it. Routine was crucial, and having school work for the children helped. I didn’t get much writing done, but my children thrived, and seeing them return to school happy made those long, uncertain hours worthwhile.
DP: It definitely does! Finally Dan, what is something your readers might be surprised to find out about you?
DW: When I turned 40 (last year) I decided to retrain. I’m now a fully qualified TIG Welder!
DP: That’s brilliant. Dan – thank you – always, a pleasure! The best of luck with The Underclass.
Aside from the publication of numerous short stories with a multitude of presses, his next major project was a solo collection of short stories titled The Soul That Screamed (Winner of the Preditors & Editors™ Readers Poll Best Anthology 2013).
A further two collections, Only the Good Burn Bright (Spring 2015, James Ward Kirk Fiction) and Neverlight (Spring 2016, Spectral Press) quickly followed.
His first non-fiction book titled What Dwells Within was released in the Autumn of 2015, and details the life’s work of paranormal investigator Jayne Harris.
Also in 2015, Dan was shortlisted for the prestigious position of Staffordshire Poet Laureate 2016-2018.
In 2017, Neverlight was shortlisted for the first annual Arnold Bennett Literary Prize. His fourth collection Just Eventide was released in August of the same year.
2017 also saw the release of Dan’s historical novella Crippen, courtesy again of Spectral Press.
An accomplished playwright, Dan was winner of the 2017 Soundwork UK play competition, a finalist in the Blackshaw Showcase Award 2016, and a two-time finalist of the Congleton Players One Act Festival, 2016. Dan has had several of his plays appear at festivals and fringe events. The Dead Stage, a book detailing Dan’s experiences as a novice playwright was published courtesy of Crystal Lake Publishing in October, 2018.
In 2019, Dan was nominated for a Local Heroes award (The Sentinel) for his continued promotion of literacy and mental health issues in the city of Stoke on Trent.
2019 also saw the release of his non-fiction title Sounds of a Madman, where Dan discusses the issues surrounding living with Depression and Anxiety. The Necessary Evils followed in late October (Demain Publishing), followed by The Tainted Isle, Dan’s debut novel, courtesy of PS Publishing.
In 2020, Dan became a contributor for CreepyPastaStories and Chilling Tales For Dark Nights.
Dan is an active member of the Horror Writers Association and is represented by the Cherry Weiner Literary Agency, USA.
You can follow Dan on Twitter @FatherDarkness