Today is my stop on the blog tour for A Hunter’s Moon by Danny Weston. This book is a gothic YA horror set in a 19th Century Scottish Village. I devoured this book, and my review will be up in the next few days. I will just tell you this…it’s the perfect book for spooky season!
For my stop on the tour, I have an exclusive interview with Danny to share with you all. Danny gave some great answers, and gave me a bigger insight into his writing process and the ideas behind A Hunter’s Moon.
A big thank you to UCLan Publishing and Graeme Williams for giving me the chance to be a part of this incredible blog tour.
Interview with Danny Weston
Hello Danny, thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions. First, could you tell us a bit about A Hunter’s Moon?
The book was conceived and written through the COVID 19 pandemic. My first thought was to steer well clear of the subject so I set the tale in the Scottish Highlands in the eighteenth century. Only afterwards, did I realise that I might just have written an allegory about COVID. The Cù Sith, a seemingly unstoppable creature that hunts down its prey and kills without mercy… sound familiar?
A Hunter’s Moon is also about the clash between two belief structures – the ‘contemporary’ tenets of Christianity and the older, pagan beliefs that once held sway in certain parts of the British Isles. The ‘what if’ in this story is the suggestion that those pagan myths might be more than just stories.
Where did the inspiration come from to write this story?
I often turn to mythology for my inspiration and Scotland is a country that teems with fascinating legends and creepy folklore. I chanced upon the legend of the Cù Sith in a book of Scottish superstitions and, the opening scene unreeled itself in my head right away. So I wrote it down. Then I created some characters and let them give me the rest of the story.
Who was your favourite and least favourite character to write? Is there any reason behind this?
My favourite character to write in this book is Mhairi, the innkeeper’s daughter. She claims to be a foundling, discovered wandering alone in the forest when she was just a toddler. Others people in the area say that she’s actually a changeling, the kin of the mysterious Walkers in the Woods. The hero of the story, Callum, is just a leaf carried along on the wind. His employer, Fraser, is a hard taskmaster, borne along by the conviction that he is always right. But Mhairi is the true motivator in this story, the one who gets everyone else to dance to her tune. As for the least favourite character… there’s no such thing. I enjoy the challenge of writing every character in a story.
The creature in A Hunter’s Moon is inspired by the Cù Sìth, a creature from Scottish folklore. What about this creature and the folklore surrounding it encouraged you to bring it to life in A Hunter’s Moon?
For one thing, the Cù Sith is not as widely known as many of the other creatures from Scottish mythology. This seemed like an ideal opportunity to introduce it to a new generation of young readers. No need to thank me!
You seem to be drawn to writing horrors and mysteries. Is there any reason why these genres appeal to you so much?
I have always been drawn to horror stories. I like to think it’s the fault of the creepy boarding school I was sent to from the age of eleven! When I first started writing fiction, back when I was a teenager, I enjoyed the work of Saki (H H Munro) and I must have read every volume of the Pan Books of Horror Stories from cover to cover! I’m always amused when people express surprise thar young readers are drawn to such grisly subjects, but I usually point out to them that the first stories we are given as children – Little Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel – are essentially Gothic horror stories with brutal, bloodthirsty conclusions. is A liking for horror ingrained into us from an early age.
Could you tell us a bit about your journey to publication? Was it harder or easier than expected?
My first novel, The Sins of Rachel Ellis was published in 1977 – but it was easily ten years before that, that I started writing fiction. I had no idea whether it would be hard or easy, I only knew that I had to do it and that one day I would walk into a book shop and see the cover of a new publication with my name on it. More than forty years and fifty titles later, I still get the same thrill when I see my latest book on sale somewhere. People often ask me, ‘What did you want to be when you grew up?’ The answer always was, ‘A writer.’ Apart from a few years in the 1970s, when it was ‘a rock star!’
Your books are published by UCLan – a small independent publisher. How does this differ to being published by the more established publishing companies?
My books have been released through many different publishers over the years, some of them part of massive conglomerates, others plucky independents. I think that UCLan are doing a great job. They care passionately about the books they publish and it shows. They also deal directly with their authors. My suggestions regarding cover design and promotional ideas are always taken into account. You can’t always say that about the bigger presses.
Is there any advice you could share for any aspiring horror writers?
Only this. READ, READ, READ and, when you finally feel ready to take the first step, WRITE, WRITE, WRITE! Then keep on doing both of those things, but make sure you regularly show your work to others and listen to their thoughts about what you’ve written. When you are consistently hearing good things from your friends (and you genuinely believe they’re not just telling you what you want to hear) then start sending your work out to publishers and agents to see what they think. If you get constructive criticism from them, act on it – and once you’ve done that, ask if they’ll take another look.
And lastly, what are you currently working on? Could you give us any clues?
I can do better than that. My next book is called Stand and Deliver! (It’s not a biography of Adam Ant!) It’s the story of a highwayman and his young assistant. I’ve long been fascinated by this period in history(the 1700s again) and as a kid, I used to thrill to the adventures of Dick Turpin, so I thought I’d have a look at the subject through a slightly different lens. I’m just about done with the first draft of the story and already thinking about what should come next.
A Hunter’s Moon by Danny Weston
Published By: UCLan Publishing
Released: 2nd September 2021
A fearsome beast lurks deep in the Forest of Tay. Under cover of darkness it emerges to feed on the local farmer’s sheep-and sometimes the farmers themselves. Fraser McCloud believes it’s a wolf but some whisper that it’s the Cu Sith, a creature summoned by the mysterious ‘Walkers in the Woods.’ Callum is Fraser’s young apprentice. He’s understandably apprehensive when Fraser insists that he must help hunt down and kill the beast. In the local village, Callum meets Mhairi, the innkeeper’s daughter, who knows more about the Walkers than she really should. As time passes, the killings become ever more audacious – and Callum realises he has every reason to be afraid…