Good evening, my friends. Did you ever watch a movie and just realize that you like it even better because it is based on real events? I sometimes feel like that's the case with books. Sometimes, we need to read about things that really happened to somebody else. People are curious by nature. Besides, the experiences of others can have an educational or emotional impact on us. That's why, from time to time, I also like to read a good memoir.
My next guest writes fiction, and has recently written and published his own story. Please say hello to Tim Rees!
Hi Tim. It’s so cool to have you here. Thanks for dropping by. Will you introduce yourself to the readers?
Hello, I'm Tim Rees. My background is BBC drama. But before that I was in the army, the First Battalion Welsh Guards to be exact, where I experienced active service in Northern Ireland and the Falklands war. It was after military service I got a job in BBC drama and made a Play For Today about the Falklands war. 'Mimosa Boys' was broadcast on BBC1. I went on to make many more BBC dramas and films. I left the BBC to focus on my own material. My first novel was a thriller titled Raw Nerve about the first black president of the USA - I'm Welsh and live in the UK, by the way. My experience with Raw Nerve and traditional publishing is too long to go into now, so to cut a long story short, one vice president of one of the biggest publishers in New York personally accused me of stretching credulity to breaking point and beyond by suggesting America would ever have a black president. I had actually flown to New York to sign a deal with HarperCollins, but it's part of the long story I mentioned earlier; suffice to say that the novel was hailed by pretty much every editor in the big publishing houses my agent at the time sent it to, but the presidents of those publishers felt it too controversial. "We cannot be associated with riots in the streets," was one reason I remember being told. In the end I self published Raw Nerve, but that was in the very early days of self-publishing before Amazon. I unpublished Raw Nerve when Barack Obama was elected as it sort of rendered Raw Nerve redundant, although I have had requests to republish as, I'm told, a good book is always a good book.
Anyway, after Raw Nerve I fell in love with a woman who had two children and spent years in the literary wilderness, metaphorically speaking. But I had to return to writing and knew the industry had changed radically with the advent of Amazon. So I decided to write a memoir to get my foot in the traditional publishing door and subsequently, In Sights: The Story Of A Welsh Guardsman, was published by The History Press.
The 'foot in the door' didn't work as the novel I wrote to follow up my entry into traditional publishing, a story titled Delphian, came in at 170,000 words, that equates to around five hundred pages, and, according to my agent, traditional publishing don't take risks on big print runs now to get the price point right and printing costs over two-hundred and fifty pages escalates, so I found myself back at self-publishing again and exclusively electronic publishing as I learned my agent is right. If I were to make some money from a self-published paperback version of Delphian I'd have to charge around twenty dollars per book.
Yes, tell me more about Delphian. It is a thriller focused on British intelligence. Where did you get the idea from?
That's easy to answer: I wanted to expose the hypocrisy that is vivisection, yet I accept the argument that if I had a child dying of cancer I would be desperate for a cure. Thus the story begins with someone's child being used as a vivisection subject.
And I was intrigued by the challenge of creating a Jason Bourne type character who's also a master of disguise, like Forsythe's The Jackal. For a long time I have played with the idea of a character who can re-invent himself almost daily. How difficult would he be to catch?
I also wanted the story to have a strong female lead and the young lady that walked into that role has exceeded all my expectations.
What is special about your novel’s protagonist and his struggle as an agent?
Vincent's job as an intelligence agent was to cover up potential political banana skins. For example when it was discovered there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the scientist David Kelly was very outspoken about our political leaders knowing that. David Kelly died supposedly of a heart attack. As a writer that scenario sparks my imagination. So, in short, Vincent was a government assassin. However, when he's confronted with a young girl being used as a vivisection subject in medical research funded by the British government, he goes rogue. He's determined people are going to pay, thus his struggle is now with his own conscience.
Your other novel, WTF: An Untypical Love Story, “is a story told through the eyes of a 21 year-old SAS-type soldier as his life crashes from one life changing drama into the next against a background of national news headlines” (book description quoted here). What is the main difficulty that the main character has to cope with?
James has so many problems in WTF that I don't know where to start. And, actually, to lay it all out will be a spoiler for anyone wishing to read the novel. Suffice to say, as you mentioned, he's twenty-one and he falls in love very easily - too easily. I think it's okay to say that being headline news doesn't help an SAS-type soldier whose job requires his identity to be secret.
The style of WTF is quite unique. What inspired your style, and what makes it as special as it is?
Everything about WTF is different about how I normally approach a story. First of all my mother died and I began the novel the very next day as a means to focus my mind on something else. I finished the first draft in six weeks, which is alarmingly fast for me. It's quite a linear storyline written in first person, but I see and feel so many layers to it. As for style, the book begins in short, punchy sentences that hopefully convey the breathlessness James is experiencing. But I could talk about WTF all day, but it's for the reader to decide whether I've succeeded in writing a story that is first and foremost entertaining, whilst offering thought provoking perspectives. It's certainly a unique novel for me to have written and I personally haven't read anything quite like it, by that I mean, as challenging of so many commonly held views.
What was the most memorable event of your life?
I wrote about a very memorable event of my life in In Sights: The Story Of A Welsh Guardsman. The Falklands war was a huge life and character changing event. You don't go through an experience like that without changing your perspective on every aspect of life. But my time in Kenya, also recounted in In Sights, had a profound effect on me. But discovering my creativity is my most memorable period because only then was I able to fully love me. If there is one thing I could change, that would be to have started writing a lot sooner and have said to hell with every thing else.
What is the best thing about being a writer?
Oh, that one's easy too. As a novelist I can create the change I wish to see, at least on the pages of a book, but that's a start isn't it? If I offer readers a new or alternative perspective that cause them pause to think, so much the better. But first and foremost a novel needs to be entertaining. I believe it is by wrapping difficult subject matter in entertainment we make it so much more digestible.
If you had the opportunity and all the means necessary to change the world, what would you do?
I would say to humankind that all life forms add their own colour to the world and that it is important for us to embrace all the colours regardless of personal taste.
What is your next project?
I am currently writing a stand-alone thriller that again features Vincent.
What is your greatest ambition in life?
My ambition is to write that next novel and to make all my novels into films so the stories can reach a wider audience. I have already adapted both Delphian and WTF for the screen.
What inspires you the most?
Planet Earth and the myriad stories written in each leaf of every tree. Human and animal rights and the parity that needs to exist between the two.
Do you watch TV? Do you have a favourite TV show or movie?
I do watch a lot of TV and films. I don't have a favourite as there is so much brilliantly creative dramas I see all the time.
What kinds of books do you usually read?
Thrillers mainly now, but my favourite book has to be James A. Michener's Centennial. I especially loved the story about Little Beaver. Also, as a teenager I loved the Tarzan books by Edgar Rice Burroughs. I would encourage all young men to read Tarzan Of The Apes as, for me, it is a profound study of one man's evolution in harmony with our planet Earth. It is through those pages I learned to appreciate all life we share this planet with.
Thank you very much for dropping by, Tim!
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