They thought it was just a video game, but it’s not. Someone is out there. Watching.
“Chapman has a brilliantly unique style of story-telling that plays and tests with your every emotion in each and every chapter.” Jim Murdoch for Mojomums.co.uk
Nick is somebody who needs his life to change. Exhausted, broke, and cracking under the pressure of trying to hold everything together, it begins to seem like there is no end in sight. Then the video game he’s spent two years developing alongside his best friend Dan mysteriously disappears to be replaced with something new, something better, something finished.
Initially unsure whether to release the game, Nick makes a snap decision when he learns of the impact that his struggles finishing the game are having on his wife, Lily, who has a history of depression. Before long, positive reviews and sales come rolling in, but Nick finds himself in a worse position than ever before. Because the game is not content to simply be played. It wants to change, it wants to grow, and most disturbing of all, it seems to want something from them.
What made you decide to write a novel based around a game?
I love anything that plays with the boundaries between what’s real and what isn’t. Games are great because when you play them you can be somebody else- for me that’s a really fertile place for stories and ideas, and writing about a game meant I could take my novel in all sorts of different directions. I also spend a fair bit of time playing videogames- so it made sense!
Why did you decide to write about depression in a sci-fi novel?
I suffered from depression when I was a teenager. It started when I was sixteen and continued for around a year- though it’s hard to say for sure when it started and when it finished. It was a very strange time. I didn’t really know what was happening to me and it changed the way I thought about everything. I genuinely believed that other people didn’t like or care about me- I remember going off on my own on a night out once and being genuinely surprised that my friends had noticed I had gone, let alone that they cared. I found being around people very difficult and the only person I confided in was my boyfriend (now husband). It was this bond I had with him which inspired the depression storyline in Networked.
I’m not sure specifically when I made the decision to include depression in Networked, though for me it made a lot of sense alongside some of the other themes in the novel, and so much of who Nick and Lily are in the present of the book ended up based on Lily’s history of depression in the past. I’m not sure if it’s what people normally expect in a sci-fi novel, but it felt right to me. Also, since depression was such an important part of my past, I think there was a part of me that wanted to express it in my first novel, making the whole thing a very personal journey for me.
What is the picture on the cover?
The back of an old motherboard. Along with help (quite a lot of help!) from my husband, I make my book covers myself.
Did you do much research before starting the book?
I did a lot of research into indie game development before I started writing Networked and found loads of useful information out there. Here are some of the things that inspired/informed me most:
To write about depression in Networked I drew on my own experiences to help create the fictional story in the novel. I also have a background in psychology and have volunteered for mental health charity Mind, and if you want to read more about the issues covered in Networked, their website would be a good place to start: