You’ve probably seen me make mention of something called Dark Legend every once in a while but you might not know what it is. Never fear though because I’m here to fill you in. If you already know this stuff then consider this a refresher course but if not you’re about to be welcomed into the world of my epic masterpiece, my magnificent octopus…
WHAT IS DARK LEGEND?
Dark Legend is a series of books mainly centring around ‘arrogant, wannabe hero’ Will and his fights against a mutant infestation which threatens to destroy the world. All standard sci-fi/horror fare so far… But by fighting these mutants, the graffe, Will finds himself becoming a reluctant celebrity (the legend of the title) and throughout the books he gradually learns how he can use this to his advantage and inspire people to fight back against the apocalypse. Then things are complicated by a series of twists, turns, new threats (such as the answer to the question, what happens when these things start breeding?) and the outbreak of war as well as an awful lot of people who are out to use the infestation to serve their own ungodly ends.
WHAT TYPE OF BOOKS ARE THEY?
Generally sci-fi/horror but don’t let that put you off because they are so much more than that. They in fact take the michael out of sci-fi and its tropes half the time. The books are also about love, life & romance. They’re about coming of age, about what makes us human and what separates us from the animals. Are we nothing more than animals? Some of it pokes a very large stick at aspects of modern society (youth culture, the role of the media, modern warfare…) Some parts are laugh out loud hilarious, shocking, sad or will make you think. Mostly they are character pieces. The characters and their relationships to each other play a central role and in my opinion that is the most important part.
TELL US A BIT ABOUT THESE CHARACTERS THEN
There’s so many of them… But let’s start with Will. He might look like a demigod to some people but he can be a morally ambiguous, cold hearted son of a bitch sometimes. He’s a twat a lot of the time and this attitude isn’t helped by the fact that his best friend, Joe, is a manipulative arsehole to people he doesn’t like and to begin with (before he grows up and starts seeing it as a problem) this attitude rubs off on Will. They are joined by a Doug, a no nonsense, sarcastic sort of guy but who goes along with everything, no matter how crazy it gets. Their friends include Randy, a smothered guy who goes off the rails (and no thanks to the behaviour of the other characters) and Dan who after a rough start ends up sharing a beautiful bromance with Will. Then come all the villains- The moustache twirling (and doesn’t everybody know it) Jonathon Harris who thinks he’s in control of the graffe and who’ll do anything to bring Will down is the most prominent but there’s also Niamh, a one night stand gone disastrously awry, and the completely unhinged Dr Goldsmith to name but two. And all of these are only just scratching the surface. The actual full cast of characters is enormous.
HOW OLD ARE THE CHARACTERS?
Depends on the book. In the first book the main characters are approaching their late teens (Will is almost seventeen at the start) and by the third book they’re more or less adults but they’re still relatively young. Harris is probably the eldest of the mains, being about nineteen or twenty at the start. Older characters have a decent role as well, local police chief Peter Fisher, though not a main, is certainly an important secondary character. It isn’t all teenage angst if that’s what you’re worried about, that’s just in the first book and a minor part of the second.
HOW MANY BOOKS ARE THERE AND HOW LONG ARE THEY?
There will be six books in total, three of which have been released and the fourth will be out at some point this year. The length varies between books but most of them (apart from the second) are about 300 pages or so. The second book is the longest by quite a margin, clocking in at almost 500 pages. However, each book is split into between two and five sections so if a book is too long for you then you can take them section by section if you want. There are some good cliffhangers if you read it that way as well.
DO I HAVE TO START AT THE BEGINNING?
If you want but it isn’t a golden rule that you have to. You can start at the second or third book if you want. You’ll soon pick up what’s going on and who’s who. If you start with the third or second then you can always go back to the first later on. Just don’t read the first and then skip the second for the third because you’ll only get confused.
WHAT OTHER THING ARE THE BOOKS MOST SIMILAR TO?
A lot of people compare them to Doctor Who but I can only see that being the case in very vague terms. There’s no time travel and only a few limited hard SF concepts. Although being a lifelong DW fan boy some of it must have seeped in as an influence somewhere. There’s a touch of Misfits and The Inbetweeners in there as well. There isn’t a lot that can truly compare though. In my own inimitable way it’s radically different to almost anything else you’ll see around. And that’s a good thing in my opinion.
HOW MUCH VIOLENCE, SEX & SWEARING IS THERE?
The books are very violent in places. People are dying and being mutilated in gruesome ways right from the start. The sex is limited to begin with, only alluded to (apart from one or two scenes) in the first book and then there’s one full blown sexual encounter + a sexual moment in the second book and a minore one in the upcoming fourth book before everything becomes practically pornographic in the fifth. The swearing gets less as the characters get older but they still do it quite a bit- The good news is it’s good old fashioned British swearing- The words twat and dildo are used a fair amount, as are a few other words.
IS IT ALL JUST MUTANT FIGHTING?
No. The graffe and their counterparts are a huge driving force in terms of the plot but there are many times (like in the third book) when they play second fiddle to more human conflicts or to the character’s personal lives. They’re pretty much absent for the first half of the fourth book, for example- Although then when they do show up it gets nasty!
I’M WORRIED THAT IT MIGHT ALL BE A BIT… BRITISH!
Don’t be. That’s part of what makes it unique and different. I see your point though, there might be a few British terms and phrases that people from outside the UK don’t understand but not too many I hope. There are some very British moments in there though- One major part of the first book involves a cup of tea (yes TEA) and Cliff Richard makes a cameo appearance at one stage. You don’t get much more British than cups of tea and Cliff Richard!
HANG ON… CLIFF RICHARD MAKES A CAMEO APPEARANCE?
Because throwing him in seemed funny at the time I wrote it. His appearance kind of serves as a brief respite from all the grimness before everything really goes downhill.
ANY OTHER INSANITIES WE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT?
Plenty. I don’t do normal. I won’t say what most of them are but I will give a hint that one of them has to do with Dolly Parton.
GIVE ME ONE GOOD REASON WHY I SHOULD EVEN LOOK AT THIS THING?
Because about 90% of the people who have seen/read it so far (or all the ones I know) have either at least enjoyed it or really loved it and who is to say that you won’t love it too?
GIVE ME ONE BAD REASON WHY I SHOULD EVEN LOOK AT THIS THING?
Because I’m the greatest writer of the twenty first century and these books are awesome. Is that a bad enough reason?
ARE THE BOOKS DIGITAL ONLY?
Yes, unfortunately. I would love to see them properly but unfortunately very few agents and publishers in the UK will touch science fiction with a barge pole. It will be out in print form eventually, I hope, but not until I’m firmly established and what the publishing industry call ‘bankable.’ Either that or if it suddenly explodes into a ‘fifty shades of grey’ style sensation. If you want a print version soon it has to go viral in other words. But the problem with viral sensations is that they’re flash in the pan things and Dark Legend deserves so much more than that in my opinion.
HOW MUCH WORK HAS GONE INTO THIS?
Too much. I started working on the story when I was seventeen. The books are only the latest (and the best) incarnation but over the nine years since I started there has been a heck of a lot of hammering, chiselling, moulding, forcing, sweat, blood and toil to get it to the point its at today. I’ve spent a long time with the characters, the plot and the story and I’ve made a lot of changes over the years. Hopefully that shows in the finished product.
DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING ELSE TO SAY ABOUT THESE BOOKS?
Yes… Go and at least take a look because you might like what you see and they’re not too expensive an entertainment. I know the plot might be a bit over the top sometimes but trust me when I say they are worth reading. And I’d really love it if somehow enough people got into them that a little cult fandom started developing. I’d love to see the fan art. The first two books also have new, shiny hopefully error free editions just out this year and I might get around to revising the third sometime soon as well.
WHERE CAN I FIND THEM?
Just follow the links below!
Will & I
The Writer and the Romance (Other non-Dark Legend characters included as well)
An In Depth Synopsis
A Different Kind of Man (some stuff but a lot else besides)
Miss Otis Regrets (Short story, takes place during book 2)
Links are to the UK Amazon page but they’re also available worldwide… Just change the ‘.co.uk’ to .com or whatever and you’ll go straight to them. Also… As I said in the piece, I’d love to see some art for it, even if it’s just based on one of the previews.- Any that get tweeted at me (@JPCrocks) I’ll gladly like and retweet etc. My sketches are below. If you have any friends who might like this as well, point them in my direction. It always helps.