Today we speak to author Dan Tyte about his novel The Offline Project, OUT NOW!
My first novel, Half Plus Seven, was written, in the main, in Cardiff but its story took place on the streets and in the suburbs of an Everycity. It was probably an unconscious homage to the director John Hughes, who set his films in the made-up town of Shermer, Illinois, but the reality was I felt like the issues of the book could and should resonate with people everywhere; Toronto, Tokyo; that setting a novel in Cardiff could have been a barrier to that.
Those feelings of universality are the same for this new novel, The Offline Project. It’s the story of Gerard, a millennial who moves back home to Cardiff from London. Perennially online and defined by those interactions, his sense of self-worth is inextricably linked to his online persona. Too much internet fries his brain and he leaves Wales and goes off-grid living in a community of former online addicts in the Danish woodland, where the new way of living might be more sinister than it first appears. These themes and conflicts feel like a very real issue, for me at least, and perhaps a lot of others in society today, coming to terms with how to be good to our brains and bodies after collectively sleepwalking into relying on the internet for almost everything.
Despite the themes being broad-brush, and novel’s one’s location decision, it felt important to me to set the novel in Cardiff. There aren’t many books I can remember reading that have been set here: Dannie Abse’s Ash on a Young Man’s Sleeve, John Williams’ The Cardiff Trilogy, Roald Dahl’s Boy; and only one of them is purely fictional. The city continues to grow in stature and unless its artists are confident enough to use it as the backdrop for stories, why should the rest of the world care?
The Offline Project’s Cardiff is a modern Cardiff, the city of the here and now, looking towards the future but grounded in myth and mysticism. For Gerard, for lots of us, that’s a city of freelance creatives, of Welsh mams, of world class museums and minimum wage jobs, of craft ale bars and intercontinental visitors. A city hurtling towards tomorrow helped by a history of industry and internationalism. I hope you’ll like spending time there.