1. Who is Nathaniel and how long have you been writing?
I’m from Kent in the South East of England and, away from writing, work as a Civil Servant in London. My love of writing started in my late teens. I had a hundred ideas and got about half out on paper as short stories, but during those tender years, lacking skill, wisdom or confidence, it remained a personal hobby. Only in my mid-forties did the three converge at a level by which I wanted to share my work. I studied history at university and it provides the thread linking all my work. History is the story of humans, of how they interact, how they love and fight, create and destroy, live and die. For my novel, Liberty Bound, I speculate on how those interactions shape the future, but I’ve also delved into the past, writing a World War Two novella entitled Triumphant Where it Dares Defy, and a comic children’s book called Mooge – The Prehistoric Genius.
2. What was the idea behind Liberty Bound?
The ideas behind Liberty Bound have been marinating for a long time. While set in the distant future, there are a lot of contemporary observations within its pages. For a while now, I’ve noted the drift in society towards building walls and fences to protect ourselves and our property (gated communities, security doors at schools, barbed wire around village halls etc). Fear drives these actions, as does an unwillingness to face up to, or see, the underlying problems. For Liberty Bound, I wanted to build a world which progressed this trend and took it to the extreme. Lawful society is now living behind the restrictive walls and it is the wide open spaces where the lawless and prisoners live. Fear and ignorance have prevailed. Everywhere within the novel you will find barriers imprisoning the population: the town walls, the mountains and desert, the environment, society’s strata, the addiction to a drug, the psychological mindset of its characters. It is through the journey of the main characters, their development and actions, that these walls come down.
3. Is there going to be a sequel to Liberty Bound and if so, what can people look forward to?
There is indeed. It is called Where Liberty Lies and I’ve written around 90K words so far, with about 20K to go. Where as the first novel explores how fear and ignorance impacts on our liberty, this sequel will look at how lying and misdirection restrict the freedom of a society and individuals. The world is on a grander scale, while the trials and tribulations of the familiar protagonists from Liberty Bound are equally dangerous and thrilling. There are lots of new, interesting characters but I’m pleased at how it retains an anchor back to the original story. I learned a lot from writing and editing the first novel and hopefully that comes through on the sequel.
4. I had the pleasure of listening to the audio version of this book. What was the process like working with your narrator, Hugh Kermode?
Hugh is a top vocal artist in the UK with a lot of experience. Therefore, the process proved very smooth and enjoyable, all undertaken in the not so conducive period of lockdown. One vital factor not often mentioned in the process of recording an audiobook is the importance of a top sound engineer/producer too. I used one of the best in Leon Chambers. After I providing a steer on some of the pronunciation of names and places, Hugh recorded a few chapters at a time. He shared these with Leon, who did the initial editing and production, and in turn shared with me his own comments and queries on how Hugh had delivered a pivotal line or word. Having a professional read it for me brought to light the odd clunky phrase, allowing me to edit and improve the text. However, all in all, there was very little that I had to change or Hugh had to read again. Leon then mastered it and, from being a first time author, I was suddenly a proud purveyor of a top quality audiobook too. If you want your audiobook to be professional, then having it produced by professionals is the only way to achieve that.
5. Dystopian books can be hit or miss. What were the hardest, easiest and most enjoyable parts of writing this book?
While there is no doubt Liberty Bound is a dystopian novel, I never approached it as such. As touched upon in my first answer, I wrote it with today’s society very much in mind and fashioned it as speculative fiction and wrote it as an adventure tale. I was looking to create an extreme and that’s why it ends up situated at the end of civilisation. My measure of good dystopian fiction is it acts as a warning for the behaviours of today, not as a celebration of destruction. A germ of hope must rest between the lines.
Fortunately, the planning came fairly easily. I plotted out a full story arc and fleshed out each chapter guide with consider speed. Writing the first full draft had its good and bad moments. Like a marathon, I surged out of the starting block, but it is the middle section where will power and determination are required. I never stopped writing, but it slowed down. When the finish was in sight, I found the energy to sprint. This may not be normal, but the most enjoyable part for me was the editing stage. It’s the ‘colouring-in’ stage of writing and I love creating another dimension to the narrative, revisiting the words I chose when my objective was just to reach the end, and polish it into literature.
6. What advice can you give other writers out there?
Writing is a solitary action but not a solitary process. Particularly when starting out, it’s so important to draw upon the expertise and views of others. It can be an intense process and you’re in the middle of it. But taking a step back, reading it out aloud, letting others read and challenge, revisiting, not being afraid to rewrite sections if you have to, and doing it again and again, are the only ways for it to stand on its own as a piece of art and not a vanity project. I found writing a novel quite an organic process; the story starts leading the author rather than the other way round. This worked really well in developing the characters, as you see them grow as their personality responds to the situations placed before them. It’s important to plan and be guided by markers along your story arc, but allow flexibility within that framework. Consumed in the creative process, your mind starts to see new strands that flow along with the main narrative, adding depth and intrigue to the story.
7. Where can people find you on social media?
I have a dedicated webpage www.nathanielmwrey.com which contains information relating to my writing for adults and a website for my children’s book www.moogeprehistoricgenius.com which includes additional, free learning resources. You can follow me on Facebook www.facebook.com/nathanielmwrey or on Twitter with @nathanielwrey
8. Final thoughts?
I hope Liberty Bound generates interest beyond the dystopia genre. For those that like a fast-paced adventure with strong characters (male and female) and some cerebral stimulation, then it’s stuffed full of it.
Published Date: September 11, 2022.