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An Interview with Abigail Slade, author of Cancelled

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I am a forty-six-year-old housewife with a BA (hons.) in History from the OU. I was born in Mansfield, north Nottinghamshire, but now live in Reading, Berkshire, with my husband. I have always been an avid reader since my earliest memories and was devouring books like the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings in Infants School. I read a number of genres which I enjoy for numerous reasons from simple good old escapism to expanding my knowledge. My favourite authors include Raymond E Feist, Matthew Reilly, and Colleen McCollough, amongst many others.

Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

I have always loved stories, watching them unfold in whatever format—play, novel, or on a screen. There is a wonderful joy I find in the participation of what comes next and I want to hopefully pass on that experience to others with my work. I think we all have stories in us and we all have messages to share and in the case of this novel I think I found a sweet spot of finding a wonderful story in which to also pass on an important message.

What inspired you to start writing this book?

I am worried about the modern world; too many people take offence at the slightest reason and by getting caught up in these petty upsets we often lose sight of more important things. It isn’t nice to be called names and I do not advocate or support anyone doing so, but learning to deal with such things is an important step in maturing. Added to the growing left/right divide in society, which is plain destructive, everyone is being driven by echo chambers to the far extremes of the political spectrum. This is very dangerous indeed since the far edges of ideologies are where the most dangerous and destructive ideas are formed and such movements gain momentum that become more and more powerful and difficult to arrest. My novel is partially a look at a possible danger of such a situation—the practice of Cancel Culture is one of these practices with a number of inherent flaws and risks. My novel is a what-if story where one of those flaws is exposed and the risk becomes reality. Of course, it is an extreme situation because that allows for a more tense and exciting scenario, but the inherent danger that something like this might happen is no less because of that.

Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

Unusually for me, the book title and premise of the book formed almost simultaneously. This is not how it works for me the majority of the time, title creation for a novel can be an agonising process at times so it was a joy to have it happen so organically and quickly. The story of the title comes from hearing about a historian I admire losing his university position for a foolish mistake that was not malicious but was blown out of proportion. As I watched this unfortunate scene unfold before me, the question blossomed in my mind: “What if the wrong person was cancelled in this manner?” Quickly followed by “What if someone who loved or respected them or had some other connection to them decided to seek revenge?”

If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?

“Sympathy for the Devil” – The Rolling Stones

“Wake Up” – Rage Against the Machine

“The Powers That Be” – Roger Waters

Describe your dream book cover.

An isolated cave with a half-opened door partially exposing someone fastened to a chair inside as a shadowy figure closes the door behind them.

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

Waiting staff at Butlins, factory worker in a shoe factory and a car seat factory, receptionist in a sauna for gay men, kitchen assistant in a hospital and a university. Also worked as waiting staff at a number of hotels and restaurants as well.

What books did you read (for research or comfort) throughout your writing process?

Most of my research for this book was from my own knowledge of both the main region in which the book is set and other matters I have long had interest in. I still read most night and often can read through the entire day if I let myself, so I did a lot of comfort reading with included almost every Matthew Reilly novel, the Riftwar Saga, which starts with my favourite novel, Magician, plus I read a few new books including the First Law trilogy and the Gentleman Bastard’s sequence, both of which I greatly enjoyed.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

I hope anyone who reads my book realises that life is not just black and white but is filled with many shades and colours. That they don’t just take facts presented to them at face value and do a little digging for themselves and reach their own conclusions, not those someone else spoon-feeds them. My perfect reader would be open-minded, tolerant, and forgiving but also courageous and strong-willed enough to stand against a crowd and even their own friends or family when they feel something is wrong. Tolerance and kindness should never forget that it is strength and courage that enables it to flourish.

Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

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