Today I am so pleased to welcome Nem Rowan to Joyfully Jay. Nem has come to talk to us about his releases, Witcheskin & Rough Sleepers (Lunar Shadows). Please join me in giving him a big welcome!
It’s now been over two years since my first two books were originally released, and over three years since they were first written. After my original publisher went bust, they were re-published again, for about a year, before I requested the rights to be returned to me. I felt that my books, which overlap so much with the Horror genre, would do better being taken out of the realm of Romance publishing, where they are less likely to be mistaken for fluff and accepted more for their darker themes. This new reincarnation through Gurt Dog Press also allowed me to add bonus chapters so that readers can find out what happened to the main characters a year after the original stories took place! It was something I had always wanted to do, but couldn’t justify releasing a 2000 word ebook just for the sake of that. Besides, it felt good to be able to add something a little extra to the newest editions!
It also gave me the opportunity to create new covers for them. I always loved their original covers, which were done by Aisha Akeju, who is a very talented graphic design artist, but I wanted to give the books a fresh lease of life with their forever home at Gurt Dog. The new covers were also an opportunity for me to whip out my graphics tablet and do some art, which is something I don’t get a lot of time to do nowadays even though I find painting very therapeutic. The designs I painted for the new editions were always how I had imagined the covers to look in my head, especially the cover for Witcheskin, with the emphasis on the rushing waves and sandy beach beneath the witch’s knife. Having the knives on the covers felt like an important aspect, too, since they are both integral to the resolutions of the storylines. This time, I included some other objects, such as Owen’s camera and Gabriel’s tarot cards.
In the bonus chapters, I wanted the settings to reflect the overall mood of the books, and the characters themselves, so I chose settings that reflected their personalities and the things they loved most. I also wanted the chapters to convey how much the main stories had changed them and enabled them to grow, giving them confidence and room to acknowledge their futures. This was important for Owen and Leona in different but equally important ways, as by the ending of each book, I wanted them both to have learned something new about themselves. Owen became stronger and grew up a bit, while Leona became less judgemental and able to let go of the past.
It’s been a few years and the third instalment in the Lunar Shadows series still hasn’t been released. I finished writing Rough Sleepers not long before the passing of one of my dogs, who I lost to bone cancer, and shortly after that, my other dog passed away too. The grief became too much and I wasn’t able to write for a very long time. I started a project for the third book a long time ago, which has undergone at least five rewrites, one of which happened because I lost the original project notes and couldn’t remember how the story was supposed to end! It does connect to the first two books, but can also be read out of order like the other two, and it focuses on Morcant’s youth and the deadliest battle he ever fought in his entire life. It explains how he came to live in Wales, how he came to know Gabriel, and why he chose to dedicate his life to worshipping a single goddess. I will complete it one day, but in the meantime, I’m working on another Lunar Shadows project that is set in the 1980s, and follows characters loosely connected to Witcheskin.
I’m hoping to release this new project as the third novel in the series, which I think doesn’t matter so much since the books are all stand-alone, and therefore can be read as a totally separate story. I intend for it to supplement Maredudd and Morcant’s back stories a little, and it introduces two new characters who blur the gender lines.
I had been wanting to write a 1980s-themed novel for a very long time now, but never really had any ideas for one. When I started plotting out this project, which I have tentatively titled ‘The Sapphire Deep’ (working title), I was watching a lot of 80s Horror movies and had the intense desire to write a book about vampires. I was inspired primarily by The Lost Boys, Fright Night, and The Hunger, but also by other movies such as The Terminator, American Psycho (set in the 80s) and more family friendly 80s film like Adventures In Babysitting, Monster Squad and The Goonies. I have taken pains to include 80s pop culture references, right down the smallest details, such as television commercials, snacks and arcade games! I also researched the treatment of trans people in the 80s, from trans culture, to medical treatment, and it’s been an eye-opener to how much society has changed. So far, it’s been a fun dive into my most favourite decade, and finally, the music I spend so much time listening to actually lines up with the writing I’m working on!
Most importantly, I wanted to make my own spin on vampires, so I’m hoping readers will enjoy what I hope is a more unusual take on these well-known monsters.
Over the years, I’ve had quite a few trans people reach out to me with reviews and comments to tell me that my books meant a lot to them, particularly trans guys, who enjoyed being able to read about characters that reflected themselves. I do feel that trans men are somewhat forgotten in the fiction world (especially when it comes to Speculative Fiction), though perhaps that is a positive thing as we haven’t been bombarded with as many offensive misinterpretations the way trans women are often horribly portrayed in media as serial killers and psychos. I intend for every book in the Lunar Shadows series to have a main character that is not cis-gendered, or is, at the very minimum, flexible with their gender, because I think it’s important for us to be out there and to be portrayed in a way that isn’t sensational. I want my trans characters to be heroes that succeed at their goals, and make it through tough times to their well-deserved happy endings.
Following the disappearance of his father, keen photographer Owen returns to the Welsh village where his parents grew up to live with his mother and her boyfriend. Despite being born in Wales and having been raised in England, Owen feels like an outcast, and the villagers are unfriendly. He soon discovers an epidemic of cattle mutilations that have been spreading through the countryside like a rash and, determined to discover the cause, he takes up his camera and starts snapping pictures.
While pursuing the mystery, he meets Maredudd, an old friend of his parents of whom they had never spoken, and Owen can’t help but feel drawn to him. Maredudd seems to know more about the mutilations than the other villagers are willing to admit, and even more about the supposed death of Owen’s father than his own mother does. Maredudd shows Owen things he never thought possible, and Owen soon finds himself at the centre of the kind of folk tale only his father could dream of.
Leon, drag performer and club owner, is attacked by a werewolf one night and loses an arm—and more, after massacring his club guests. Now homeless and tormented by nightmares, he runs away from everything he knows.
Eventually, he meets Ceri, who invites Leon to live with him above a shop owned by a woman who lost her husband and son to a werewolf attack. She and Ceri are still hunting the unknown perpetrator, and Leon gladly lends his own assistance, eager to atone for his bloody past in the hopes he might one day be able to have a home and family again…
Nem Rowan is originally from the UK, but despite Brexit, he still considers himself to be European. He was born in the West Country of England, but later moved to Wales, where he lived for almost a decade before deciding to move to Sweden in the summer of 2019. He shares his home with his wife, his girlfriend, their rapidly-growing triplets, one cat, a little demon and a dog.
Nem started writing when he was very young. He always loved Horror stories and has an undying fascination with the creepy, the bizarre, the shocking and the unusual. Coupled with his enjoyment of love stories, his writing became a fusion of Horror and Romance, often with characters that have been through terrible hardships but who eventually reach the happy ending they deserve.
Nem’s books were originally published by the now defunct Less Than Three Press, and also by JMS Books for awhile. He is the owner of a brand new Speculative Fiction publisher Gurt Dog Press, where he hopes to bring fresh, new LGBTQ+ fiction into the world.