In August of 2014 we were privileged to meet, and make, a new friend. An author who had just had his debut novel, “The Devil’s Ark”, published.
Of that novel it has been said;
“…it’s a very gripping read.”
~ Krystal Sim, SciFi Now UK
“The Devil’s Ark is a great fun read. Sometimes you can be happy knowing what sort of thing to expect in a read and here in The Devil’s Ark the reader is not disappointed. Like a good Hammer Horror movie or a Weird Tales magazine story, the fun here is not in the actual events as they happen but in the telling.”
~ Mark Yon, SFF World.
“Creepy, classy … full of dread and lust and echoing with the sorrows of war. We need more stories like this.”
~ Christopher Golden, New York Times bestselling author of Snowblind
“As much about the horrors of war as the primeval horrors that lurk in the depths of the human psyche.”
~ F.R. Tallis, author of The Forbidden
Bedford, U.K. Based author, and Head of English at Bedford Modern, Stephen Bywater has just released his new novel, “Night of the Damned”
The novel is based in the depths of the Amazon rain forest and, in part, on the extraordinary concept of automobile magnate Henry Ford.
Fordlândia is a now-abandoned, prefabricated industrial town established in the Amazon Rainforest in 1928 by American industrialist Henry Ford to secure a source of cultivated rubber for the automobile manufacturing operations of the Ford Motor Company in the United States. Ford had negotiated a deal with the Brazilian government granting his newly formed Companhia Industrial do Brasil a concession of 10,000 km2 (3,900 sq mi) of land on the banks of the Rio Tapajós near the city of Santarém, Brazil, in exchange for a 9% interest in the profits generated.
As Stephen tells us, of the work;
“Night of the Damned, like The Devil’s Ark, leans towards the supernatural but instead of an archaeological dig in Iraq, the action takes place deep in the Amazon jungle in the 1930s. The setting is loosely based on Henry Ford’s Fordlandia, which was a vast rubber plantation the car magnate founded in the heart of the Brazilian rainforest. It is a tale about immorality and obsession, where very little is as it seems. Labourers begin to disappear and pale, cadaverous figures are glimpsed in the jungle surrounding the settlement. With the story partly inspired by Ford’s own forgotten city it interweaves fact and fiction and leaves the reader with an unsettling vision of a very ‘modern’ hell.”
“It was the setting which first grabbed me, the Amazon jungle and the failing rubber plantation. This was quickly followed by wanting to imagine what it would be like to have an automobile magnate’s ability to shape a hostile landscape: the idea that men from Michigan could succeed in forcing the rainforest to bow to logic of the assembly line, that no concession would be made to the climate, pests or diseases, that an American settlement, complete with street lighting, fire hydrants and ice-cream parlour, could be created in amongst the ghost towns which cling to the muddy banks of the Tapajòs.
The novel took just over a year to write and what I’ve ended up with is something far more sinister than I intended. Think Heart of Darkness meets The Dawn of the Dead , with Nabakov’s ingénue lurking somewhere in the shadows.”
We asked Stephen whether the tale had been influenced by local legends or folklore of the Amazon;
“I went with Dante’s Inferno and the entrance to hell being deep in the Amazon, the idea being that hell is full and the damned are walking the earth. I also take zombie back to its origins with the idea that it might be an insect bite or voodoo – docile and biddable and perfect for the assembly line /rubber plantation.”
It would seem that our friend, Stephen, has come up with another “very gripping read” and one which is sure to win him further critical acclaim; and an even bigger fan base, for his literary prowess.
“A legend uncovered, an evil that cannot be contained”
Copyright RVL and Stephen Bywater, 2015
1) Dempsey, Mary A. (1994). “Fordlandia”. Michigan History 78 (4): 24–33.
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