About the Author
Charles has earned his living by writing for more than 15 years. Previously a senior executive in the UK telecommunications industry, since 2001 Charles has crafted sales and marketing literature for major organisations – some of them household names – enabling them to improve their business performance.
Charles R. Stubbs is a featured author at Freebooksy.
‘Web of Deceit’ – Interview with the author
1. What inspired you to write a story set in the Welsh mountains?
For many years, while our children were growing up, my wife and I owned a chalet at a holiday site near Caernarfon. I would spend many hours walking in the mountains of Snowdonia, sometimes retracing routes I had first climbed during a cycling holiday way back in 1972. The scenery inspires me. Many of the feelings about North Wales attributed to Travis, the main character in Web of Deceit, are my own.
2. The title of the novel gives very little away. Is this intentional?
Throughout the novel there are repeated instances where one or more individuals, for various reasons, uses technology to deceive others. Even the main character, Travis, does this several times to keep the police and his tormentor at bay. Between them, the players in the story do indeed weave a ‘web of deceit’. In 1999, when the novel is set, the internet was fairly new, especially in non-business environments in the UK. People were far less suspicious of what they found on the ‘Web’, and were willing to take at face value anything that was posted on it. This was exploited by the media for a while: in real life as well as in the novel. In different ways, the internet is still being used to deceive us today. I hope the title I have chosen for the novel is one that readers will reflect on and remember, long after they have read the story.
3. You set the novel in 1999. Why did you do this, and do you think that things have changed? How would the story differ if it were set now, in 2012?
A crucial part of the plot focuses on how characters use emerging technology to gain information, communicate with one another and influence events. Quite often the plot works only because the internet and cellular phone technology were new in 1999 in the UK, and far from ubiquitous. Further, in the novel the possibilities and implications of the technology are not appreciated equally by all, which gives some characters an advantage. If the same story were set today, this imbalance would not be so pronounced. I think we have all become far more adept at using technology, and far more aware of how it can be misused. The police, too, have far more sophisticated technology at their disposal today.
4. Much of the plot of Web of Deceit hinges on birdwatching, and depends on the actions and habits of birdwatchers. Why did you choose birdwatching as such a significant theme?
I started watching birds when I was 13 years old, then ‘rediscovered’ birding in the year 2000. When I visited the RSPB bird reserves at Holyhead, Conwy and Point of Ayr, and other birdwatching sites in North Wales, the plot for the novel began to form in my mind. Birding can take you to some fairly isolated places at unusual times of the day. In Web of Deceit this fact is exploited, both by Travis’s tormentor and by Travis in turn.
5. Your setting, in North Wales, is quite unusual. Why do you think there are so few British novels based outside of London? Is it difficult, for example, to set novels in specific parts of the UK? What challenges did you face in this respect?
Perhaps it has been simpler to set novels in London and other urban communities, where locations and characters are closer together. But nowadays, with better transport links and shorter journey times between places, and the ability for characters to communicate using modern technology, it is possible to spread the action of a thriller, say, across a wider, more rural area than might have been the case in the past. Certainly I encountered no difficulty in setting Web of Deceit in North Wales. In fact, the diversity of the scenery across such a relatively small area helped me with both plot development and keeping action scenes fresh and interesting for the reader. The major challenge for me was in describing the places in North Wales sufficiently well to keep the reader ‘on track’ with where the action was, while not detracting from the pace of the novel. Another challenge was to do justice to the magnificence of the scenery, which truly is outstanding.
6. Your writing style in the novel is very detailed and precise. Were you inspired by particular writers or genres and, if so, how did they influence your style?
As you might expect, in the lead up to actually writing Web of Deceit I did read many thrillers: spy novels mainly, although some crime thrillers as well. I didn’t consciously copy the writing style of any particular writer. However, I did feel the need to help my reader through what is sometimes a complex plot. Consequently, I have employed techniques such as parallel narratives and flashbacks that are commonly used by thriller writers, and at times have described in some detail what is happening to the characters. I also believe readers should be able to learn new information from their investment of time in reading my novel. So I have included facts about locations in North Wales that I found while researching, and which add background and depth to the narrative. In this way, readers get to learn something about the history and culture of the area, as well as enjoying a good story.
7. Do you have plans to extend the story to follow any of the central characters on new adventures? Do you think there is scope to follow up the novel in this way?
I have the outlines of plots for two sequels to Web of Deceit. There is ample scope for the central characters to develop in subsequent stories. The first sequel will be set in 2004, and the third in the series in or around 2008. I want to explore how the characters cope with the increasing sophistication of technology, with Travis, in particular, using it to stay one step ahead of his adversaries. I shall also retain the birdwatching theme throughout.