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Rain God, by Ian Dowson.

Many thanks for the invite from Jennifer Jackson to contribute to the Authors’ Lounge. It takes much work to promote a book from a small press and I’m grateful for the opportunity to write about ‘Rain God,’ here.

It’s the near future and, in the alternate world of a northern U.K. city, it has not stopped raining for five years. Every second, every minute, every hour for five years: the incessant rat a tat-tat of rain beneath dark skies. 

On the drenched streets, a serial killer, it seems, strikes again and again. They call them  ‘Rain God’ and they walk amongst a city slowly crumbling like an old bar of soap. Everyone is depressed; everyone has an analyst as people’s nerves shred in the face of the rain and the killings. Anti-depressants are being handed out like sweets and the clouds above define the mood. ‘Rain God’ is the ‘shadow in the corner’ transmitted like a viral infection onto the city’s consciousness. They infect the sewers, live in pipes, they have a hook for a hand, no eyes, filed teeth, they are the maniac who lives in the woods. They belong in an asylum and the city in which they stalk has become certified.

“Five years of rain and counting. The rain washed the blood away, but still the bodies lay.”

Amongst the madness, Detective Kate Payne walks through the collective psychosis of a population where ‘death cults’ honour the ‘Rain God’ praying for their ‘hour of destruction.’ She wades through the mayhem of ‘Post Code’ gangs and ‘Cartels’ that thrive upon the chaos. And everyday she deals with the horror that ‘Rain God’s’ first victim was her own sister, Grace, whose voice spins around her head amongst the memories of their love and dependence upon each other. Grace depends on her sister finding her killer.

Rain God is an alternate world thriller told through the eyes of Payne in a city whose river has burst into the streets and whose famous football ground has been transformed into a mental institution. Dark and violent, it is a serial killer thriller from another future with a clear message for the present.

One evening, some years ago, from the window of a train, I looked over the skyline of Newcastle upon Tyne (U.K.) It was raining and had been raining for days. I wondered if it would ever stop. I wondered what if it never stops? From that single thought Rain God was conceived. 

There were several things that I wanted to do. I wanted to write a story that unfolded like a classic film thriller, I wanted the reader to be able to read it in the time it took to watch a great film. I wanted the reader to sit down and not get back up again until the story was finished. I wanted the reader to see the story as Detective Payne tells them it. The novella format seemed a perfect fit.

The story is set in an alternate northern U.K. of the near future but Newcastle and the contemporary U.K. are the inspiration. As well as tell a thrilling story, I also wanted to comment on how it is we live today. How mass psychosis can take hold. How greed and the selfish gene drive everything. How close we always are to social breakdown (Rain God was completed two years before the pandemic.)

My target audience is young adults and adults into dark, dystopian thrillers: with a couple of hours to spare!! Interestingly, I’m an English teacher (15-16 year olds) and have used excerpts from Rain God to teach English reading and writing skills. The young people have enjoyed it so much that some have been inspired to buy the book; so there you go.

The book was enabled by Holland House Books (an independent U.K. publisher) as part of their Novella Project during which I was teamed with a group of interns as part of their first working roles within publishing. It was a great experience and led to my conviction that I would write two more thrillers, from the ‘world of rain,’ to both accompany and complete Rain God. I am well on the way to achieving this and eventually hope to pitch the trilogy as one anthology.

I arrived in this world, 1967. I was forged in the town of Bishop Auckland, County Durham (U.K.) and educated and energised by the politics, music and film of the 1980s as well as the English teachers of Bishop Barrington Comprehensive School. I struggled through soulless jobs and 'the dole,’ returning to education in the 1990's c/o Northumbria University: English (BA Hons) and Creative Writing (MA). During this time I formed my first narratives as poems and became an active member of Newcastle's 'live' poetry scene. Later, I edited the literary magazine 'Billy Liar' and delivered creative arts projects to young people from Cumbria to Teesside. I wrote plays and films alongside the same young people. In the 2000's I started developing stories and ideas across genres and in many shapes and forms: balancing that with the world of work and raising a family. I am currently teaching GCSE English at a Pupil Referral Unit in County Durham and following (home and away) the alternate reality that is Newcastle United football club.

A book trailer I did as a bit of fun for mood and atmosphere.

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