Dystopian book lovers can immerse themselves in a gripping fight for survival set in Leicester, thanks to the latest novel by local writer Tharun Chelley.
Border Monkeys is the debut apocalyptic novel by the Scraptoft author, which follows the story of Layton, who was born into a world that has lost all sense of value.
Following the breakdown of modern society, people have resorted to primitive means of survival. A group of motorcycle-riding outlaws called Border Monkeys run riot in the city, taking whatever they desire no matter what the cost.
The 27-year-old, who graduated with a degree in English Literature and Education Studies from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) in 2012, said: “I wanted to explore the post-apocalyptic genre, but to write it in a different way.
“1920s Germany was brought to its knees through hyperinflation and I wanted to know what would happen if that was applied to today’s generation and on a global scale.
“At a time where money equals influence, I thought that stripping it away would be an interesting way to see what people would do to survive and gain power.”
Setting the book in Leicester was a no-brainer for Tharun, who says he ‘knows the city ‘inside out’, and he features well-known locations such as Narborough Road and Fosse Park, as well as CityBlock student accommodation.
Despite not being an avid reader during his childhood and teens, DMU is where Tharun discovered that he enjoyed creating fictional worlds and stories.
“Funnily enough, I only chose to study the subjects I did, because my parents wanted me to follow in their footsteps and become a teacher,” he said.
“I knew early on that teaching wasn’t for me, but English Literature helped me hone my passion for writing and pointed me in the right direction.
“One of the best things about going to university was meeting people from all kinds of backgrounds. Hearing their life experiences, both happy and sad, have given me a lot of inspiration to draw from.”
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Persuing his dream has at times been at odds with Tharun’s British Asian heritage.
He said: “When you come from an Asian background, you’re taught that your future success depends on job security and a good salary.
“Personally, I find that way of thinking to be claustrophobic. There’s so much Asian talent in the arts and technology, but breaking the mould isn’t always easy as there’s so much pressure to choose a ‘safe’ path instead.
“I didn’t realise how hard writing would be until I gave it a go – Border Monkeys took around six drafts and I had lots of rejections before getting published.
“Life is all about taking risks though. They don’t always pay off, but when they do, it all becomes worth it.”
Border Monkeys will be the first title in a series based across the Midlands, but before then, Tharun has a ‘palate-cleanser’ in mind.
“Immersing myself in a dystopian world for so long was tough, so I’d like to write something a little more grounded next,” he said.
Returning to the realism of his first published novel, A Tainted Secret, Tharun’s next venture is likely to centre around a stalker, a concept inspired by his real-life observations.
Published by the Book Guild last month, Border Monkeys is available to buy online and in bookshops.
Posted on Thursday 9th August 2018