Tales from The Foxes of Foxham ZANI’s Tales Trilogy Matteo Sedazzari
A magical adventure story, packed with colourful characters and exciting situations, in a battle of good versus evil. Set in 1950’s Naples and Norfolk.
It is the late fifties and the Witches of Benevento are determined to plunge the world into darkness by kidnapping and sacrificing the jolly and young Neapolitan fox, Alberto Bandito, in a sinister ritual.
Yet, fortunately for Alberto, he is rescued, then guarded, by his loving mother Silvia and mob boss father Mario with his troops, a good witch Carlotta with an uncanny resemblance to Marilyn Monroe, the Bears of Campania, the boxing wolves’ brothers Francesco and Leonardo, and other good folks of Naples and beyond.
However, their protection is not enough, for Alberto has been cursed. So, the young fox, along with his family, has to travel to the village of Foxham in Norfolk, the spiritual home of foxes across the world, to rid himself of this spell. The ritual has to be performed by a good fox witch, Trudi Milanese, but there is a problem, Trudi doesn’t know she is a witch….
Tales from The Foxes of Foxham is a magical adventure story, packed with colourful characters and exciting situations, in a battle of good versus evil.
Interview with Matteo SedazzariWelcome to JB’s Bookworms with Brandy Mulder, Please tell us about your newest book.
Tales from the Foxes of Foxham is an archetype tale of good vs. evil, mainly set in Naples and Norfolk in the late 1950s. The foxes, dogs, bears, wolves, badgers, the odd crow, and a handful of cats are anthropomorphic. For less than 200 years, the animals have been living alongside humans, which has caused a few issues. There is a young and jolly fox, Alberto Bandito, the son of a Mob boss, Mario. Alberto is kidnapped by the newly resurrected Witches of Benevento for a sacrifice that will plummet the world into darkness by making all the children sleep for eternity as the witches slowly and cruelly take over.
However, Alberto is rescued from the witches’ castle on the outskirts of Benevento by a one-time bad witch, now a good witch Carlotta. She is young, rides a scooter, loves rock ‘n’ roll, dresses well, and looks like Marilyn Monroe. Yet it is far from over, poor Alberto has been cursed, and the spell can only be broken by a good fox witch called Trudi Milanese. Trudi lives in the spiritual home of foxes, Foxham in Norfolk. There is a slight problem; Trudi doesn’t know she is a witch; therefore, she has little practice removing jinxes. Yet Carlotta knows from an early age that Alberto and Trudi are part of a prophecy, and the conclusion hasn’t been written. So she leads Alberto and his family and their Doberman bodyguard, Diabolo, to Norfolk.
Meanwhile the Witches of Benevento are regrouping and now led by a dark overlord, Enoch, who hates foxes. He and Ettore, a black cat in a hat, the witches, and an army of goblins plan to invade Foxham so that they can take over the world. It is a light-hearted fantasy, adventure, horror story. A fun read packed with excitement and amusement.
Writing isn’t easy. What was the most difficult thing you dealt with when writing your newest book?
For Tales from The Foxes of Foxham, I had a clear idea of where it would start and where it was going to end. I knew the characters would take on a life of their own. The hardest part was finding an illustrator; after doing research, I found Andy Catling, my first choice. I did the usual intro email, scheduled a call, had a meeting and Andy got the vision; he did. The character’s looks and features in the book are his creations, with a bit of guidance from me.
Tell us a little bit about your writing career.
I am a self-taught writer. I started off doing a fanzine; a cheap indie photocopied magazine called Positive Energy of Madness many moons ago; back then, I saw myself as a Hunter S Thompson or a Ken Kesey.
The fanzine went on a hiatus, then resurfaced as a website before I changed the name to ZANI. So I have been writing on and off for a few years. However, since 2010 I have been writing prolifically, be it reviews, social commentary, content writing for clients', interviews. I have interviewed Clem Burke of Blondie, soul legend Bobby Womack, and the now-departed Monkee Peter Tork, to name a few.
I am an avid reader, all genres all authors. I am currently reading R.L Stine’s Fear Street, the Beginning. I like his down-to-earth style, as he creates an eerie atmosphere. I will read all the Fear Street’s novels, but there is a lot. I like fast-paced writers, Mario Puzo, author of The Godfather springs to mind, , and I like writers that use dialogue which sounds authentic, like Mark Twain did with Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. I try to have a raw yet engaging feel to my writing.
From 2015 to the present, I have written three novels, A Crafty Cigarette- Tales of a Teenage Mod, with a foreword by Punk poet legend John Cooper Clarke. It’s a coming-of-age story about a teenager discovering Mod, and The Jam, in the UK, it has been well received. My second novel is entitled The Magnificent Six in Tales of Aggro, a crime, rites of passage, a humorous anthology set in West London, centering on six lively young teenagers who dabble in this and that, with a sense of fashion. This novel is slowly picking up momentum. Then I moved away from British subcultures to write a fantasy novel, but they are part of ZANI Tales Trilogy, a homage to the music, style, books, friends, films, places that have inspired and entertained me since I was a child.
They say Hind-sight is 20/20. If you could give advice to the writer you were the first time you sat down to write, what would it be?
Don’t get distracted and pressured into going out; a night out is fine, but writing a good piece is priceless and timeless. After the creativity comes the logistics of getting an ISBN number, a graphic designer, a typesetter. After that, you have to market the book. Research all this, go to writer’s forum, and such like. Marketing a book is the hardest part, yet rewarding when feedback, sales, reviews, etc, start to trickle in. Reply to anyone who has read your book and been good enough to send you a message. Most of all, enjoy the whole procedure, as it is great for personal growth, development and confidence.
What was your most difficult scene to write?
The final battle scene in Foxes of Foxham, which spans over three chapters, took the most drafts, as I had to create excitement and danger and keep within the plot and the characters and their traits. But I never got disheartened, I would take breaks, not just an hour but a day or so, then I would return fresh and relaxed.
Are themes a big part of your stories, or not so much?
Yes, all three of my novels have the theme to honour popular culture, whether the British band, The Jam in A Crafty Cigarette, or paying tribute to Wind in the Willows in Tales from The Foxes of Foxham. The theme or the genre gives me the platform to construct the story and develop the character. I will know how certain things can and can’t occur and how a particular character will react. Furthermore, you can relate to the reader via a theme, using Crafty Cigarette as an example. The theme is the British band, The Jam, which I have mentioned, and the subculture Mod, the story of a kid discovering the band and Mod is the plot. A fan of the Jam and a former or current Mod will relate to the theme, therefore, have an interest in the plot. With Tales from The Foxes of Foxham, the theme is a classic fantasy story of good vs. evil, with anthropomorphic animals, witches, and a bit more. Potential and current readers who enjoy those themes should be interested in the plot and the beautiful illustrations by Andy Catling.
What are you working on now?
My main project is promoting Tales from The Foxes of Foxham to the full. I will review my next book in April 2022, which may be a follow-up to Tales from The Foxes of Foxham, or a story about a commedia dell'arte troupe led by a clown that try to bring down a totalitarian regime in renaissance Florence, which I drafted many years ago.
Is there a release date planned?
Late 2022 or early 2023.
Who is your favourite character from your own stories, and why?
I can’t answer that, as I loved them all, be it Alberto the young fox from Naples or Monica leader of The Benevento Witches, they were all a pleasure to write.
Most writers were readers as children. What was your favourite book in grade school?
It was Wind in the Willows, as like millions of others, it transported me to a magical world. Be it picnics by the river or the battle of Toad Hall with Rat, Mole, Badger, and Toad; I fell in love with storytelling, the countryside, and the wildlife. Wind in The Willows kick-started my desire for adventure and triggered my imagination. And now, I am paying homage to this beautiful book, with Tales from The Foxes of Foxham. Paying tribute to the cultural items that have inspired and entertained me, I suppose is the driving force behind my writing for the first band I fell in love with, The Jam, which I revered in A Crafty Cigarette.
What are your plans for future projects?
ZANI, which is my website for popular and counterculture, has published other books; A.G.R‘s thriller trilogy, The 7PS, one and two are already out. Paolo Sedazzari’s Feltham Made Me is a witty coming of age story about three Feltham friends in the 1970s and 1980s. Dean Cavanagh’s humorous, brutal, poignant, and philosophical novel, The Secret Life of The Novel and Irvine Welsh and Dean Cavanagh’s Performers, staged at the Edinburgh Festival in 2017 about the cult film from the 1960s, Performance. Yes, Irvine Welsh has published a book with ZANI.
We are bringing out Jason Disley’s The Desired Article: A Concise Look At Style. Fashion articles written by my friend, Jason, an author and poet on ZANI last summer, were well received, so Jason and I thought, let’s do the book. We plan to go to market by the end of 2021.
I am currently speaking to more writers, and there are other ideas in development. But they are just ideas, not works in progress or an accomplishment.
Is there anything you would like to add before we finish?
If you are young at heart or wish to share a fantasy and delightful story with your children, nieces or nephews, or grandchildren, get Tales from The Foxes of Foxham. It is a magical tale that is not offensive and even covers prejudice and racisms without preaching. It is an extremely anti-blood sport. It is an enchanted book that will make you, your family, and your friends smile as you spend a day in Foxham.
Good luck with your newest release, and thank you for being with us today.
The pleasure was all mine.
ExcerptUpon hearing the conceited tone of Andriana’s declaration, Carlotta glances at Francesco and Leonardo, and says, ‘Which one of you fancies your chances then?’
Leonardo, the elder of the brothers, slowly takes off his three-button tailor-made jacket, neatly folds it, places the item of clothing slowly on the ground, then valiantly declares, ‘I do.’
Then the fearless wolf runs towards the red-capped goblins, who quickly disperse upon seeing the oncoming, scary-looking animal. Andriana gazes at Leonardo with astonishment, which turns to shock as Leonardo leaps high into the air, grabbing the front handle of Andriana’s broomstick.
‘Get off me, you crazy filthy wolf,’ Andriana screams, yet the courageous and strong Leonardo shakes her broomstick so hard in mid-air, regardless of his own safety. Leonardo has one thing on his mind—for Andriana to drop her leather satchel of spells.
His bravery pays off, as he rattles the flying broomstick so hard that Andriana has no choice but to use both her arms to steady it, allowing the bag to slide all the way down her left arm and into the cypress trees sloping on the roadside.
‘No!’ screams Andriana, as she sees her weapons of mayhem drop with so much force that they break many branches before hitting the dusty and hard soil, which explodes upon impact.
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 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 CommareSecca, 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 dresses well, as he enjoys life in the process.