What's in a name? It gives us our character, usually defined by our attributes or a feeling a parent has about how we will eventually turn out. "So why not give your name to something you are inherently proud of?" This is a question I regularly get asked by readers of my work and I always give the same answer. "A name is a marker. I am giving the reader no markers at all." No indication of age, gender, creed, religion, location, socioeconomics, etc. gives no room for preconceptions.
Then comes the inevitable "Why J.W.Carter then?" The J is for Jacob, the first protagonist I created within a seminar environment whilst studying at Manchester Metropolitan University. He was a bit of a 'Jack the Lad'; Jacob when his mother disapproves of his behaviour. W for William, my grandfather's forename. The relationship between my grandparents and my writing grew as both were in deteriorating health. When I began my application to my preferred university, they revelled in knowing I was going to truly relish the opportunity to study at one of the top Writing Schools in the country. Carter's a common surname but it's not just the acknowledgement of anyone being able to write; it's about being able to craft a story, to transport someone to another world via language, the words we all share.
Caged was a strenuous project in its development. Growing from an idea to its appearance on the Amazon Kindle Store, it cemented itself as a challenge and a testament to where I began, the roots of me as an individual.
I didn't want the piece to be a showcase of writing (even though the praise and response it received was pleasant and an added benefit). The story was a dedication to two individuals that had helped in my upbringing and had been a constant fixture in my life. My grandmother passed away from dementia in late 2011. After stringent research on the NHS and with having second-hand experience of the disease itself, I set out to fully understand the condition and to banish my personal grief.
All the characters are understatedly Northern; their dialects, their acknowledgements of each other and even the places they inhabit. The town of Warrington in Cheshire is a character in itself, alluded to by Black Bear Bridge, St. Mary's Street and the Wire (Warrington is, of course, famous for its wire works). It's my birthplace and a town the majority of my family have spent their lives in.
Caged is an ode to family, to humanity, to that fine, fine line between what's real and what's not. It is something I will forever be proud of associating myself with.
Caged is out now on Amazon Kindle.