1) How did you get into writing Matteo ?
I enjoyed creative writing; when I was at school, that was my first taste. Then many years later, my then-girlfriend was studying journalism, which rekindled my interest in writing. This led me to do my fanzine, Positive Energy of Madness, inspired by counterculture and the Acid House scene that was sweeping the UK. I got the name from the tagline in Ken Kesey’s book Demon Box, ‘Ken Kesey challenges public and private demons with a wrestler’s brave and deceptive embrace, making it clear that the energy of madness must live on.’ I just added the word positive. Back then I was into Kesey, Hunter S Thompson, Tom Wolfe. Their raw, pacey style depicts everyday life in an engaging yet brutal narrative. I suppose this is the template I have been using ever since. The fanzine frizzled out in 1997, then I got back into writing in 2003, and more seriously in 2009 when I launched my website ZANI. I wrote my first novel, A Crafty Cigarette – Tales of a Teenage Mod, in 2015. Since 2009, it has been a natural and enjoyable vibe. When I was younger, it was stop, start, as I put a lot of my creative effort into being in a band by playing rhythm guitar and song writing. Being in a band is fun, yet so is writing. I love books and music in the same breath.
2) What inspired you to write Tales from The Foxes of Foxham?
As a child, I spent many Easter and Summer holidays in Norfolk with my English grandparents. They had moved from the outskirts of East London to the countryside. I fell in love with the ambience, the woodlands, the folklore, and the wildlife, especially foxes, as my grandmother had knitted me a toy fox which I called Foxy. My brother and I were huge fans of horror films, the classic Hammer and Universal movies during this period. Furthermore, any book, fictional or factual, be it fantasy, folklore, thriller, or horror, I would beg my grandparents or parents to buy it for me as an early ‘birthday’ or ‘Christmas’ present; like most children, I would use emotion to manipulate the older generation! Those loves, whether Norfolk or Christopher Lee as Dracula, never left me.
My first two books, A Crafty Cigarette – Tales of a Teenage Mod and The Magnificent Six in Tales of Aggro, are homages to my passions, Mod, The Jam, London-based situation comedies, and London theme crime films and books. So, for my next book It felt right to pay tribute to the enthusiasms of my childhood, like Foxes and Witches. The three books are interlinked, called the ZANI Tales Trilogy. A policeman from The Magnificent Six in Tales of Aggro makes a cameo in Tales from The Foxes of Foxham.
3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?
First and foremost, it’s a magical adventure story of good vs. evil. I want readers to be excited and entertained with a smile on their faces. Scootering magazine says, ‘it’s a book for the young and young at heart.’ In Foxes, war, racism, prejudice, and animal cruelty are woven into the story without preaching. I have had friends and readers, say that they have read the novel with their children or grandchildren and how they have all adored the story as a family. That is fantastic feedback.
4) What drew you into the fantasy genre?
The loves of my childhood, which I mentioned earlier. The books I read as a kid; Wind in The Willows, One Hundred and One Dalmatians, Enid Blyton’s The Magic Faraway Tree series, Midnight Folk. There are illustrations in those books that add magic to the story. Therefore, I wanted pictures for my first fantasy-themed book, and Andy Catling (the illustrator) has brought Tales from The Foxes of Foxham to life.
5) If you could sit down with any character from Foxes of Foxham, what would you ask them and why?
Charles Renard, he’s the leader of Foxes across Europe. Charles lives in a mansion called Fox Hill Hall in Foxham. He is a dapper dresser and likes the finer things of life. Not only that he is also a fair yet firm fox who negotiated with the then prime minister, Winston Churchill, for animal equality, after which Churchill had approached Charles to get the foxes and other animals to help with the war effort. I would ask Charles about his life, how he went from working on a farm to becoming a chief, while making a killing at the Bank of England in the process. After that, I would ask Charles for a guided tour of Foxham to meet all the other residents and see the landmarks. Then finish the day with a pint with him at the local pub in Foxham, The Six Bells.
6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?
Facebook and Instagram, not so much Twitter, but I wouldn’t rule it out. LinkedIn for contacts, that’s how I met the illustrator, Andy Catling, who I now regard as a good friend.
7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?
Forget the doubters, have fun, but keep to a timetable. Please don’t wait for inspiration; you can create it. As you write the book, absorb yourself with similar books, TV shows, or films of that particular genre. Maybe read a chapter just before you start writing. I find this an excellent practice to get the creative juices flowing.
Remember writing the book is just one part of the process. Find someone who can help or advise with the marketing, either as a favour, or that won’t dip into your savings. But at first, learn to do it yourself; it’s a good learning curve. Put the book in front of as many people as you can in a respectful manner. Don’t worry if you get a negative response; keep knocking on doors.
Shop around for typesetters, proof-readers, and graphic designers, as you would when buying a house, a car, laptop, etc.
8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?
ZANI, my website, which I use as a banner to publish my books, is growing. Irvine Welsh has already brought out a book on ZANI, Performers, which is terrific. ZANI is bringing out a fashion book with unique illustrations, The Desired Article: A Concise Look At Style. Written by my friend, Jason Disley, an author and poet. The fashion articles originally appeared in ZANI in the summer of 2020. Jason and I believe they will work well as a book.
I want to take Foxes of Foxham to the top, so I will keep pushing and believing. I will bring out more novels, no question, as I enjoy writing. The future looks promising.
About the Author
Matteo Sedazzari developed the zest for writing when he produced a fanzine entitled Positive Energy of Madness during the height of Acid House, in 1989.
Positive Energy of Madness dissolved as a fanzine in 1994 and resurfaced as an ezine in 2003, which became ZANI, the ezine for counter and pop culture in 2009, promoting online optimism, along with articles, reviews, and interviews with the likes of crime author Martina Cole, former pop star and actor Luke Goss, soul legend Bobby Womack, Clem Burke of Blondie, Chas Smash of Madness, Shaun Ryder of Black Grape/ Happy Mondays and many more.
After producing and writing for his own publication, Matteo’s next step was to pen a novel, A Crafty Cigarette – Tales of a Teenage Mod. Matteo is influenced by Hunter S Thompson, Harlan Ellison, Kenneth Grahame, Arthur Conan Doyle, Mark Twain, Irvine Welsh, DH Lawrence, Alan Sillitoe, Frank Norman, Joyce Carol Oates, Mario Puzo, Iceberg Slim, Patricia Highsmith, Joe R. Lansdale, Daphne du Maurier, Robert Bloch, George Orwell, Harry Grey and many more. American comics like Batman, Superman, and Spiderman, along with Herge’s Tintin, also provide Matteo with inspiration.
Matteo also finds stimulus from many films like Twelve Angry Men, A Kind of Loving, Blackboard Jungle, Z, Babylon, This Sporting Life, Kes, Midnight Cowboy, Scum, Wild Tales, The Boys, Midnight Express, La Commare Secca, Dr Terror’s House of Horrors, so on and so forth. As for music, anything that is passionate, vibrant, and with heart is always on Matteo’s playlist.
Matteo Sedazzari resides in Surrey, which he explores fanatically on his mountain bike. Matteo supports Juventus, travels to Italy and Spain, eats and dress well, as he enjoys life in the process.