Thomas Welsh releases the first of his Metiks Fade trilogy this month with Anna Undreaming published on 20th March by Owl Hollow Press. Glasgow is a key feature of this urban fantasy novel and Thomas speaks to The Fountain about the feminist premise of the novel and the ways in which the city has influenced his writing.

TF: Anna Undreaming is out this month, what is the premise of the novel?

Anna was a student, and now that she’s finished her studies, she’s just trying to survive the city. Tragedies in her past pursue her, always just a few steps behind. If they catch her, they’ll destroy her. On a night out with another couple, she is slipped a date rape drug and through the experience of trying to save her friend from a predator, she discovers the world of the Aesthetes. These are artists who can paint, dance, sew or sing new realities. She slowly uncovers more about their wonderful, dangerous world, but soon learns she’ll have to face the horrors of her past as well as her future if she’s to save her old world as well as her new one.

TF: And what is it been like working with Owl Hollow Press?

They have been amazing! I had interest from a few publishers, but Owl Hollow intrigued me the most because they promised to help me make the book even better. The other publishers told me it was perfect and ready to go to print, but Owl Hollow said that although they loved the story, they wanted to work with me to improve it. After putting in lots of work, the finished book is so much better for their support and advice.

TF: And it’s one of a trilogy, ambitious, what is the concept behind the trilogy?

The great thing about Metiks Fade is that it’s about reality being warped and reshaped by art. In Anna Undreaming, the Dreamers can paint, dance, sew or sing new realities, so I have a chance to write about monsters and demons, cyborgs and old, forgotten Gods, and any other crazy thing I can imagine. That means on one level it’s a big playground for me to explore all the weird, dark, hopeful, dangerous ideas and situations I can imagine. There’s lots of philosophical ideas blended – perhaps mangled a little – throughout the series too, and while I think there’s an overall question Anna is trying to answer, I don’t want to set that out right now. Hopefully she’ll find an answer by the end of the trilogy, and so will I!

TF: The spirit of Glasgow has been a big influencer behind this book, being resident there, in what way so?

When I write I pull little details from the world all around me. That can include environments, people, buildings, shopping malls – everything. So when I write about a place like Avicimat in Anna Undreaming, even though it is a version of the underworld, I think about the little tunnels near the Clyde or the paths around the canal. I’m probably remembering some of those places incorrectly, but that doesn’t actually matter.

Also, nothing makes you melancholy and thoughtful like walking in the rain!

TF: And women are key to this trilogy also, what are your views on the representation of women in your novels?

In my novels I hope they are aspirational. Anna is a hero to me, blending the best characteristics of all the strong women in my life, including my sister Claire, my mum Annette and my wife Nana. And Anna is a bit like me too, stubborn, willing to fight for what she thinks is right, and absolutely a feminist. At the start of the book it seems like Anna might be a sidekick to her mentor, but I invert that gender dynamic very early on. Her partner “Teej” remarks that it’s ironic that he saves her from danger at the start of the book, because from here on, she’ll be the one saving him.

Anna Undreaming is out via Owl Hollow Press on 20th March 2018.