Guest Post by Peter Liney: “Literary Quisling”

Meet Peter Liney! Liney’s first novel, The Detainee, was published by UK publisher Jo Fletcher books a little over a week ago. Judging by its blurb, this futuristic dystopian novel—first in a trilogy—sounds pretty epic, too!

When the fog comes down and the drums start to beat, the inhabitants of the island tremble: for the punishment satellites – which keep the tyrannical Wastelords at bay – are blind in the darkness, and the islanders become prey.

The inhabitants are the old, the sick, the poor: the detritus of Society, dumped on the island with the rest of Society’s waste. There is no point trying to escape, for the satellites – the invisible eyes of the law – mete out instant judgement from the sky.

The island is the end of all hope – until ‘Big Guy’ Clancy finds a blind woman living in a secret underground warren, and discovers a reason to fight.

To promote his book, Jo Fletcher is organizing a small blog tour with a series of articles written by Liney. We have the honor to present “Literary Quisling,” the last article in the series. Take a look at his previous guest posts at Civilian Reader, J for Jetpack, Speculative Assessments, and Gavreads as well!


One of the hardest things for a writer to be in 2013 is cross-genre. It’s a bit like someone asking you if you’re gay or straight; you’ve got to be able to give a definitive answer so they can file you accordingly. “But which shelf do we put you on? Who is your reader?” Versatility appears to be the least admired quality in today’s cost-conscious marketplace. Everyone wants a known quantity, a name everyone knows and can trust and, as a consequence, is that much easier and more cost effective to market. “Oh you mean the conspiracy theorist guy!” Even hinting that you would like to write something different is a bit like saying you’re a potential traitor, that there’s every chance you might defect to the other side – it just won’t do. And when that day finally comes when you, the writer, make the big break, Lord pity you if it’s not in the genre you’re most fond of, because that might well be the one you’re stuck with. “What do you mean, you don’t want to write another novel about vampires?”

I guess it’s a bit like being typecast. I expect Hugh Grant would love to play an out-of-work dustbin man living on a council estate in Sheffield, with twelve kids and a wife who needs a crane to swing her from the bed to the toilet, doffing his cloth cap and constantly spouting Marx with an accent straight out of Brassed Off. Similarly, I expect Wilbur Smith would secretly like to write for Mills and Boon, that inside there is a tender heart waiting to beat just a little faster. Maybe J.K. Rowling would like to ditch Harry Potter and write a story for grown-ups about life on a council estate… no, no, I go too far.

Of course, you can always write something different under a pseudonym. I did try it for a while, but… what if my alter ego is more successful than I am? That would be a concern. What if my pseudonym gets on the bookshelves and I don’t? Jealousy’s a funny thing. It can drive you insane. Maybe I’d end up killing myself and everyone would think it was suicide.

But really, I can’t help but feel that readers can be every bit as versatile as writers. That they too would welcome a change of style and subject from their favorite authors every now and then. I mean, would you ask a chef to always prepare variations of the same dish? I don’t think so. Not without receiving a mouthful of abuse.

I guess that’s the answer. I’ll see myself as a chef of words, always looking to try to whip up something new. Starting off with the sizzling red meat of The Detainee, and then tomorrow, who knows? Period paella? Sexy sushi? I might even try a little vegetarian. The literary world is my Oysters Kilpatrick.

About Stephan van Velzen

Stephan van Velzen
A 31 year-old Communications student, Stephan loves publicity and design, particularly web design. When he’s not designing websites, he can be found in a comfy chair reading a fantasy book. In The Ranting Dragon, he has found a way to combine these passions and discover a new love for writing to boot. Stephan lives in a small town in The Netherlands with his wife Rebecca, an editor for The Ranting Dragon, and their two cats.

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