Sum up The Light That Gets Lost for anyone who hasn’t read it.
The Light That Gets Lost is the story of small boy who through witnessing the murder of his parents, swears that he’ll get revenge one day. Eight years later, the demon inside Trey is driving him towards revenge. He knows that the man who sent his parents to an early grave and his brother to a nursing home is a man of the cloth and works at Camp Kernow, a work farm for delinquent youths. Trey has committed a crime to earn a place in the camp, determined that ‘This was the place where things were about to rewind to the point of wrong and settle back right.’ Trey believes avenging his parent’s death will be a simple in-out mission and he’ll soon be on his way to emancipate his brother. However, Camp Kernow is not what it seems and while infiltrating the camp was easy, no kid has ever escaped and Trey is quick to make enemies within the electrified fences. The Light That Gets Lost is a story about revenge, healing, salvation and the offer of friendship in the dark …
The Light That Gets Lost can be described as a dystopian novel, as can Winter Damage, your debut novel. What is it about the genre that attracts you?
I write dystopian novels because they are exciting, I can create a world that is just a little way into the future, a few years maybe, I want readers to think, ‘This could happen.’
Dystopia to me is routed in the actual, unlike most Young Adult books which are more Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Comparisons are going to be made with Lord of the Flies – was that something you thought about when you were writing the book?
There will be comparisons but apart from the violence I don’t think there are many other contrasts. The kids in The Light That Gets Lost have been incarcerated because of crimes committed and they come from disadvantaged backgrounds, unlike Lord of the Flies.
You write outside, in a three sided-hut. How important to your writing is the outdoors – and the Cornish landscape?
When I write I’m drawn to the outside countryside around me out of necessity. It’s a way to clear my head and immerse myself fully with the world that my characters inhabit.
As a writer, the countryside is very important to me. It’s where my characters get to survive in the open elements, make sense of their lives and generally play havoc. This is their environment, they own it. Nothing coaxes jumbled thoughts into coherent sentences like sitting by a river on a summer’s day or under a tree in a rainstorm, either way I know I’ll produce my best work.
As a Cornish writer born and raised in Cornwall, landscape is more than just scenery: it is the interaction between people and place; the bedrock upon which our society is built and as a writer it is everything. Cornwall’s landscape is exceptionally important to me and my writing, I feel a belonging to this landscape, a knitting of self and world, clarity and focus, of being fully present, and this is why I write outside and why the stunning, diverse, unique Cornish landscape is so important to me.
Trey thinks Kay has a way of saying things ‘that were simple and complicated and perfect all in the same breath’. How would you describe your writing style? How does your work as a poet influence your prose?
My writing style has developed over many years and is definitely routed in verse. It comes to me in patterns and colours and textures and that translates to the page. When I write fiction I am aware of the story’s rhythm and shape and that comes through in the prose.