It wasn’t much of a hotel room. Might have been once, but now the paint was faded, the plaster flaking, the paper peeling. A cracked window overlooked an empty promenade and a rocky beach where the grey sea heaved up and down like a grimy half-set jelly, foaming in the shingle. Another room in a run-down hotel at the edge of the city.
-Wrath of the Deep by Simon Bestwick
PS: Welcome Simon.
PS: What’s in your room at The Hyde Hotel?
SB: Not much. Wallpaper that was put up when John Major was Prime Minister, an en suite bathroom and a bed with a knackered mattress. Oh, and a Beretta Model 84 with a thirteen-round clip and a silencer.
PS: Tell us a bit about Kellett, your main character. I suspect he has a fascinating backstory.
SB: He’s a bent copper who’s done a number of dirty tricks for a gangster called Montagu. Everything from passing information to moonlighting as a hitman. Unfortunately, his colleagues found out what he was up to and now he’s on the run. Which is why he’s hiding out in a place like the Hyde Hotel.
PS: What about Dunwich and the King Beneath the Sea?
SB: I’ve long been fascinated by the story of Dunwich, by the whole idea of it – a once-great city that fell into the sea – and I’ve wanted for some time to write something touching on it. This won’t be the last thing I write about the subject. As for the King Beneath The Sea – well, every culture has its sea-gods, or at least every culture that’s ever found a home in Britain has: occupational hazard of living on an island! The King Beneath The Sea sounded just mythical enough to be any of them without specifying which – and I suppose there’s a touch of the Lovecraftian about it too.
PS: Do you have a favourite story in Hyde Hotel collection?
SB: I have a terrible confession to make: I’ve hardly read any of it yet!
PS: What’s the appeal of the hotel as a setting?
SB: It has the intimacy of a house, a place of nominal shelter – but it’s also not your home. It’s temporary, transient, not a place you can make a mark on. You’re out of your comfort zone, away from the things and people you’re used to: it’s often a place where you can be confronted with the things you’ve done, isolated, alone.
PS: What’s your favourite hotel story/film?
SB: I was thinking I couldn’t manage anything more imaginative than Kubrick’s The Shining… and then I remembered The Grand Budapest Hotel, which is a wonderfully funny and sad film, clever and inventive and rich. Can’t recommend it enough.
PS: Do you have any new projects you can talk about?
SB: Currently I’m writing Devil’s Highway, the second book in the Black Road series which began with Hell’s Ditch. That’s going to be out in October, so it’s keeping me busy! Beyond that I have a huge novel I need to rewrite. Meanwhile, a crime novel I wrote last year has gone out to publishers, so I’m waiting to hear on that. A dark fantasy novel called The Feast Of All Souls is out from Solaris in December. And I have a new collection due out in the not at all distant future, which I can hopefully announce soon. In the meantime, I’ve been meaning for some time to sort out a Patreon, and I want to write some more short fiction. Watch this space!
‘[Simon] Bestwick is brilliant,’ the Guardian says; he thinks they’re probably mistaken, but being British, also thinks it would be very impolite to disagree with them. He is the author of the novels Tide Of Souls and The Faceless, plus the collections A Hazy Shade Of Winter, Pictures Of The Dark, Let’s Drink To The Dead and The Condemned; his latest books are the novel Hell’s Ditch and the chapbook Angels Of The Silences. He’s been a fast food operative, an insurance salesman, a fast-food operative, a call-centre worker; all of these were horrible. When not writing, he goes for walks, watches movies, listens to music and does all he can to avoid having to get a proper job again. Two new novels, The Devil’s Highway and The Feast Of All Souls, will be out later this year; a new story collection is forthcoming too. He lives on the Wirral with his long-suffering partner, the author Cate Gardner, and uses far too many semicolons.