By Cosmo Clark
Cosmo Clark is a cybersecurity analyst and observer whose first novel, Blue Eyed Infidel, a satirical sci-fi thriller in the vein of Orwell’s 1984, hits the UK shelves this week. Here Clark (a pseudonym) shares four of the most valuable lessons he learned as a child that have shaped his extraordinary writing today.
Have you ever woken up at night worrying about stuff? I used to. All the time. For a start there was my job. I was trying to analyse when the next Islamic terror attack in London was likely to be, and how likely a nuclear war was between the USA and North Korea. Then there was the really serious stuff – my mum was going to hospital to get her knee looked at, after overenthusiastically digging potatoes.
A couple of months ago, the threat level in the UK was set at ‘Critical’. (Of an Islamist attack, not the potatoes). That night, I woke up at 4am, worrying if I could somehow have done more to help. Normally, at that point, I’d turn on the news and pray nothing had happened. But this time, a voice popped into my mind. A drunken, giggling, voice with a broad west country accent that I hadn’t heard since I was a kid.
Old Charlie was a farm hand who had a side-line of brewing scrumpy cider. All of us country kids would regularly sneak down to his illegal little brewery hidden in the nightingale woods, and get rip-roaring drunk on a couple of thimblefuls. That stuff was strong enough to power a tractor. Old Charlie, being constantly three sheets to the wind, had a habit of repeating himself. But, looking back on the merry old fruitcake, his homespun, booze-addled wisdom actually made a lot of sense for helping me deal with my grown-up life and with a career in writing:
When it’s all too crazy, you’ve just got to laugh.
Charlie could remember the Nazis. He talked about the Blitz spirit, and how, even though it all seemed bleak and we were losing the war, Britons found something to laugh at. Like Hitler’s silly moustache! We all have to admit when things are out of our control, and when that happens, laughing about it always helps. Finding the funny side is something I always look for in my writing. In my first book, Blue Eyed Infidel, I managed that by poking fun at terrorists, politicians, religious extremists and politically-correct zealots with a pointed satirical stick.
Don’t lecture people, tell them a story
Old Charlie knew a lot about apples. He was brilliant at giving them names and inventing life-stories for them. He was hilarious. In my world, I spend a lot of time thinking about the future of the UK as an Islamic state and whether Donald Trump would push the big red button. So, instead of writing earnest articles and being serious about it, I do my best to turn it all into fun, satirical stories that read like a great movie. Yes, the real world is sobering at times, but we all love a good story.
Expressing our feelings helps make the future feel more human
What’s your favourite thing in the world? Mine is feeling close to someone and how wonderful a cuddle is, especially when it’s dark and stormy outside. In my book Blue Eyed Infidel, the characters express their feelings a lot. The simple, small human acts are often the ones that mean most. My favourite character, a kick-ass female character called Kat, goes from wanting to run away and hide to being a tough and powerful leader.
Nothing beats a bit of action
I’m lucky. I have a muse. A very smart lady who advises me on what to put in my books. When writing Blue Eyed Infidel, I asked her what she thought was important, aside from making it satirical. She said, ‘more action, more strong female characters and more sex.’ And I’m happy to say I fulfilled that brief!
Blue Eyed Infidel by Cosmo Clark is out now, priced £9.99 in paperback and £3.49 as an eBook, and is available at Amazon UK. Visit www.cosmoclark.com