Justin Robertson, DJ, artist and broadcaster has announced the release of his much anticipated debut novel, The Tangle later this year. Justin is no stranger to Campfire, joining us for ‘Meet the Creators’ in 2020 to talk about his long career in both music and art. Now, with the novel complete, we have had the chance to talk again with Justin to learn firsthand a little more about The Tangle, a journey into the ‘brilliant darkness’.


How much is the novel a product of lockdown? Was it already started and you had the chance to focus on its completion, or was it a sanity-maintaining project that began because of it?

Justin: I started it well before lockdown, so it’s not the product of the pandemic, though the state of the world at the time did help sharpen the dark corners of the book. It’s a supernatural trip into the mysterious knot of nature, where human concerns generally receive little sympathy from the spirits of the Tangle. Vengeance, murder and a terrible reckoning await those who stray into its inscrutable heart, but there is hope and redemption too, so in a way the lockdown helped me see those themes more clearly.

The editing process was definitely more focussed with the enforced isolation as was the illustration work, I had time to brood and formulate ever more refined ways to dispatch my characters, and occasionally save them of course. In terms of sanity… I’m not too sure it helped, but I loved every minute of it.


"The Tangle is a meditation on estrangement and metamorphosis. A journey into the ‘brilliant darkness’ where the timeless divine spirit of the ‘Tangle’ weaves its spell and all mankind’s hubris is rendered insignificant by the radically non-human force of phantom ecology."


"In brief it's Hammer Horror meets J.G Ballard in a time machine."

How would you describe the novel?

Justin: I guess I touched on that above, but to expand a little, The Tangle is a meditation on estrangement and metamorphosis. A journey into the ‘brilliant darkness’ where the timeless divine spirit of the ‘Tangle’ weaves its spell and all mankind’s hubris is rendered insignificant by the radically non-human force of phantom ecology. Faulty Human travellers find themselves, like all good pilgrims, lost in the woods where they are confronted by a timeless entity, whose true nature is beyond the limits of their understanding. The Tangle was once part of them as they were once part of it.

But now it represents a dimension where human concerns and perspectives are annihilated and rearranged. Some find peace in the roots, others are dispatched or repurposed by the uncanny intelligence lurking in the boughs. The Tangle is a realm without us. A place where Human ambition can find no purchase. It is an ever-present layer that cannot be defined or quantified, because at its core it is nothing. But if you surrender to the abyss then you might just survive.

The 13th century mystic Angela of Foligno describes a spiritual journey into ‘the divine darkness’ where divinity reveals itself in the blank void of nothingness. This surrendering of all Human preconceptions and precepts is the tithe the Tangle demands. Attempts to cheat it will spell your demise. Or in brief it’s Hammer Horror meets J.G Ballard in a time machine.

Some say debut novels are autobiographical, yours is set in a trans-dimensional journey that weaves a spell on all mankind….is there something you are not telling us?

"Years spent in acid houses have given me certain trans dimensional insights."

Will there be more?

Justin: Yes, I hope so. I absolutely loved writing it and have started on the next one. It’s currently a kind of continuation of some of the ideas contained in the Tangle, but exploring a different dimension. I aim to write a trilogy of supernatural tales, mainly because I’m not sure what you call a collection of two books, a duology?

Some say debut novels are autobiographical, yours is set in a trans-dimensional journey that weaves a spell on all mankind… is there something you are not telling us?

Justin: Years spent in acid houses have given me certain trans dimensional insights.

"To quote Odilon Redon ‘art puts the logic of the visible to the service of the invisible’. Music operates in the same way, it’s transcendent and liberating. Also I do like belting out vigorous dance numbers in sweaty basements."

Is there a thread that links your music, art and writing?

Justin: Hard to say, I think I’m perhaps too close to it to see all the connections clearly. I love making things and all these aspects are just part of the same thing for me, so i’m never sure where one stops and the other starts. My more robust techno sets have been known to terrify some people so maybe there’s a connection to the supernatural there? The art and writing are perhaps the most closely connected. They often deal with similar themes, philosophical, historical and theological questions that I like to explore.

None of these works are intended to be manifestos or guides to life, they aren’t political in that sense, but i do hope to explore and expose mystery and grapple with the absurdity of it all. Schopenhauer would say these pursuits are attempts to reveal the nature of the world as it is, not how it is perceived when mediated through human will, I’m interested in the unseen and what might be lurking beyond our perceptions.

To quote Odilon Redon ‘art puts the logic of the visible to the service of the invisible’. Music operates in the same way, it’s transcendent and liberating. Also I do like belting out vigorous dance numbers in sweaty basements.


"I’d say my hand was guided by more mysterious forces. Though Conan Doyle was a spiritualist, I think Saki, Ballard, Michael Moorcock and Brian Catling were hovering in my subconscious."


Music, art & literature create a very broad trilogy of pursuits, are there any other creative fields you are drawn to?

Justin: I’d love to learn carpentry. Oh and pottery looks good, but I’ve never tried it.

Did the ghost of Conan Doyle guide your hand?

Justin: I’d say my hand was guided by more mysterious forces. Though Conan Doyle was a spiritualist, I think Saki, Ballard, Michael Moorcock and Brian Catling were hovering in my subconscious. But there are a few other touchstones for me; Daphne du Maurier, Denton Welch, Ursula Le Guin and Richard Brautigan were all influential to some extent.

Pre-Order 'The Tangle' HERE and available in all good bookstores on 4th November