Thursday, July 28, 2011

Author Spotlight: Tim Ellis

From Tim's Website:
I started writing about four years ago, but before I wax lyrical on the now, let me take you back to 1953. I was born in the bowels of Hammersmith Hospital, London, on a dark and stormy night. Grew up in Cheadle, Cheshire, frequently visiting Beach Road in Old Colwyn, North Wales where my Gran lived. After a handful of years at a Primary School in Cheadle Hulme, which I can't remember the name of, I went to Broadway Secondary Modern school in 1968, but left before taking my CSE examinations - I hated school. These were the days when you could leave school with no qualifications and walk into a job. It was during this period that I discovered one of the main musical and literary influences in my life – Leonard Cohen, and began writing poetry. A collection of my poems was duly despatched to a publisher and subsequently rejected. I therefore had my first rejection slip as a 15 year-old boy. After leaving school, I had three or four mind-numbingly boring jobs before finally joining the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) in 1971 at the tender age of 18.

I spent 22 years in the Army – which is a story in itself - leaving as a Regimental Sergeant Major in 1993. During this time, I wrote reams and reams of drivel on weighty topics such as Army Medical Organisation, Leadership, Military Law, etc. I did, however, find another three literary influences in JRR Tolkien, Bernard Cornwell, and Isaac Asimov. After leaving the Army, I was employed as a Senior Financial Manager in a Secondary School, and took up writing with a vengeance – assignments and dissertations for two Masters degrees, and a PhD Thesis.

Following 10 years of counting a dwindling amount of beans, I became a teacher of Psychology and Sociology and devoted another 6 years of my life to writing – lesson plans, objectives, outcomes, etc, but I did find more literary influences in Conn Iggulden, R.J. Ellory, and Stieg Larsson. I also began – at last – to write fiction myself.
In January 2009 – days before my 56th birthday – I had a heart attack. By this time, I had already researched and written two Historical novels on Genghis Khan (Warrior: Path of Destiny and Warrior: Scourge of the Steppe), and a YA Science Fiction novel (The Knowledge of Time: Second Civilisation). It was also becoming increasingly difficult to go to work and teach when what I really wanted to do was write fiction. I was lucky in that I was financially able to take the decision to retire, and by August of 2009 I was a man of leisure and a full-time writer.

In 1968, becoming a writer of fiction wasn’t a career option for a 15 year-old working-class boy without any qualifications. It took over forty years of living life before I could choose that option. Since retiring, I have written book after book – now standing at ten (plus a collection of short stories), branching out into crime, fantasy, and science fiction. I’ve acquired a drawer full of rejection slips, but I have had some small minor successes. My YA Science Fiction novel was accepted for publication by a small press in America, I was awarded two short story 3rd prizes, and had four literary agencies request the full MS of Solomon’s Key, which ultimately came to nothing.

Anyway, in March of this year I uploaded all of my books onto Amazon, Smashwords, etc., and made them available for the Kindle. To date, I have sold over 3,700 books, which is not bad for someone who left school at 15 with no qualifications!
For the future – well, I’m a writer now – and in a way it’s what I’ve always been. I’m currently finishing the third book in the Parish & Richards series called The Flesh is Weak, which should be available for downloading by mid-August 2011. I then plan to finish another YA Science Fiction novel called The Timekeeper’s Apprentice, which is already half written, and I've been asked to 'please finish Quigg 3: The Skulls Beneath Eternity Wharf'. I’m playing about with a biopunk novel called Triple Helix set in an alternative Victorian London, and another dozen ideas such as one called Footprints of the Dead about an American ex-policeman who lives in a haunted town and... Well, you'll just have to read them all. I have so many ideas, which I turn into the first chapters of novels so that I don't forget them, and then put them on here. One day, I might get round to finishing them, but in the meantime you can read them.

Also, I've talked about snippets of my life on my Book Blog, times like the Isle of White Festivals in 1969 and 1970, my time at the Royal Engineer's Apprentice College in Chepstow, Gwent, my ancestors - especially David the One-Eye. Well, if you want to know more - read them!

You can visit Tim's website at to learn more about him and his books.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Things That Come Out At Night:

By: CK Webb

People all around the world are intrigued by the things that send shivers up their spine. While we are young, the idea of the unknown causes many sleepless nights, but as adults we seem to gravitate towards the very things that we feared in our youth.
As a small child, there weren't many things that I was afraid of. Children are often fearless in the face of dangers that would leave grown men trembling and soiling themselves. But, there were some things that absolutely tortured my young mind and those things I hid from the world.
As nightfall would draw closer, my fears would begin their torturous assault on my psyche. What did I have to fear really? It was after all, only darkness, but the dark is always capable of hiding many hideous things from human eyes. It was inevitably, those long hours of worry and anxiety, pulling the covers tight around my feet and head that forever changed the way I viewed the world and the possibility of the things that could be in it. Each night I met the darkness with the same goal... make it through, unscathed, to the glorious coming of the dawn. As you can see, I succeeded, though many might argue that I am far from normal and perhaps they would be right. I have heard it said, by those closest to me, that the fears of my childhood were the very thing that shaped and molded me into the weaver of dark tales that I am today.
For this I say, “Thank you creatures of the night and thank you impenetrable darkness.”
One of the most memorable obsessions I had, were with Vampires. How they held my fascination like no other creature could. They were scary and unexplainable and they were real, I would have bet any number of weekly allowances on that! Then, a strange thing happened...I grew up. Suddenly the fear that had once been prominent was replaced by captivation and an unusual, sensual allure. I had reached that precipice where we cross over from fear into understanding and all those things from youth become silly. After all, vampires can't be real, can they? I will tell you what I know and you can decide that for yourself.
Through the decades, vampires and their tales have changed exponentially. One thing however, has remained a constant. For whatever reason, we are helplessly drawn to these creatures that go bump in the night.
The beginnings of vampire tales in history are extremely difficult to trace. Many different cultures have often told stories of bloodsucking abominations that rise from the dead and prey on the living. So many in fact that some people argue, vampire tales date back all the way to the very origins of mankind itself.
Vampiric entities have been written of in dozens of cultures globally and called by many different names. The Greek referred to vampires as vrykolakus, while Romanians penned the more popular name, strigoi, for their bloodsuckers.
It wasn't until the early 18th century, that the Oxford English Dictionary introduced the world to the word, vampire. The catalyst for this move was a plague of vampire superstition in Eastern Europe so strong, some corpses still bare the stakes that were plunged into their decaying remains.
In these countries, where vampire legends had taken hold, the appearance of vampires ranged from bloated, flesh eating corpses to almost human, blood suckers. All these descriptions would soon change with the introduction of John Polidori's 1819 novella, The Vampyre.
With his tale, Polidori was able to transfer fear into awe by giving the vampire a charismatic, sophisticated and beautiful appeal. The Vampyre, would also influence another writer whose novel would provide the standard by which all other vampire novels would be judged.
Bram Stoker's Dracula is, to this very day, the major catalyst from which all vampire tales have sprung. What began as a single novel has spawned an entire, distinctive genre and what has followed are books, movies, video games and even television series that focus on this one thing...the vampire. There has never been another book like Dracula and dare I say there never will be. Fortunately for us, many authors and directors have tried their hand at new tellings of this classic tale.
In 1976, author Anne Rice introduced the world to the captivatingly cruel vampire, Lestat. Rice followed up her novel, Interview With the Vampire, with several sequels that came to be known as The Vampire Chronicles. Her books were well received initially, but gained a worldwide resurgence when, in 1994, the book was released as a major motion picture with an all-star cast.
Vampires would also find a place in the comedy/horror arena with the film Fright Night which hit movie theaters in 1985. Introducing a new take on this ages old tale, Fright Night brought in the second highest gross of any horror film that year, edged out only by A Nightmare On Elm Street 2. A novelization, video game and a comic book were all spawned from this masterpiece. To this very day, I still have a copy of the first issue, first printing, October 1988 edition. Yes, I'm a big vampire, comic book geek!
In 1992, Francis Ford Coppola brought his rendition of the vampire classic Bram Stoker's Dracula to the big screen. In this entrancing film, Gary Oldman gave the world a seductive portrayal of the sensuous beast that is, Dracula. Not only was the film highly acclaimed, grossing over two hundred and forty five million dollars word wide, but it also took home an Academy Award in three separate categories.
In a world where vampires have seen their fair share of demeaning take offs including Count Chocolate breakfast cereal and Sesame Street characters, what I am about to write may be disturbing for some readers....
One of my all-time favorite retellings of the vampire tale came in the film, Dracula 2000. Although it received mostly negative reviews and did not fare so well at the box office, the writers, Joel Soisson and Patrick Lussier, wrote a storyline for Dracula's origin that was unlike any other. If you have not seen Dracula 2000, you should if for no other reason than to experience a brand new twist on this ages old tale.
Dozens of writers have taken on this creature that goes bump in the night and many have made a household name for themselves in the process. Lara Adrian, Laurell K. Hamilton and Sherri Lynn Kenyon have all written unforgettable books that center around vampires. But, there is one author whose books became a worldwide phenomenon and brought about a following that spanned every nation, gender and age. Stephanie Meyer's Twilight Saga included four young adult novels and found its way onto the big screen to hoards of screaming fans that could not get enough of her characters, Edward, Bella and Jacob. The films alone have grossed over 1.7 billion dollars word wide. Yes...billion!
When all is said and done, readers and movie goers alike, have always had an obsession with vampires. Even the darker side of these creatures cannot take away from the allure that they hold. Just when you think you have seen enough movies and read enough books with vampires as their central theme, another one comes along. For some strange reason, we just can't give up our vampires. They are strangely intoxicating and no matter how afraid you may be, we are drawn to these dark, ominous and sometimes sexy blood suckers. Are vampires real? Yes, they are alive and well and living in our books and our movies and they are there in the darkness, waiting to go 'bump' in the night.

CK Webb
Co-author of Cruelty To Innocents