Come inside and meet the lunatics.
For those uninitiated among you, I nicked that line from Labyrinth. Am I sorry? Guilty? Repentant? Well, not really. If they put funny lines in, someone will pinch them out.
Anywho, it’s me. Sin. I’m joined, today, by Tim. Why do I like Tim? Because his answer to my question about the crispiness of a certain delicacy close to my heart tickled me. It made me laugh, much like a particular scarf-wearing worm.
What’s your name?
Hi Tim. Where are you from?
West Essex, England.
Do you like living there? If not, where would your favourite place to live be? Is yes, where would you least like to live?
It’s a great place to live. Essex isn’t at all the way it’s portrayed in all the jokes. Well, not entirely. We read books and stuff here, innit?
The place I’d least like to live is somewhere with no books or internet access. I like my creature comforts.
The plasticine animals from Ardman? Oh, you meant... OK. If you’re a writer/film-maker, is this your ‘day job’?
No, I work full-time as a doctor in the NHS, and cram in the writing wherever I can find a free minute.
I know a certain doctor who likes to cram in a little writhing when he’s free. That’s of the patient writhing kind. I think he should look up the word ‘care’. Tell me about your latest project.
It’s a spy thriller called Jokerman, the third featuring my series protagonist John Purkiss, who’s a sort of policeman to the spies, hunting down British Intelligence agents who have gone rogue.
Like Bond, Sherlock Bond? Or not... How do you feel about bacon? A crazy person once said it was the food of the gods. OK, I admit that person was myself...
I love bacon but chasing the pig is hard work, so I often don’t bother.
That’s part of the fun! Fast little tykes, though, hmmm? What is your favourite film?
Disney’s The Jungle Book. Well, maybe not my favourite. It’s certainly the one I’ve seen most often, and the one I know the words to almost off by heart. I have a five-year-old, you see.
Any excuse. We know the truth... Have you always wanted to be a writer, or is it something you found yourself doing one day?
Always wanted to. I started writing adventure stories when I was six or seven, started again as an adult at the age of about twenty-seven, did the whole pretentious artiste thing of writing only when my muse struck - and consequently didn’t finish anything for ten years. I began writing seriously in 2007 and it’s just gained momentum, particularly with the advent of the fantastic self-publishing opportunities we now have at our disposal.
Excellent. So you grabbed the muse by the throat and didn’t let him go? That’s the way to do it! Do you have so many ideas they dribble out of your nose if you don’t get them down, or do you have to hunt around the floor and the back of your sofa to find where your Muse is hiding?
My muse is an imaginary being, like the Loch Ness Monster or the Tooth Fairy. I’ve learned not to wait for it. As for the ideas, yes, they dribble out of nose, ears and other places, but like a primordial soup they’re unformed. Moulding them into shape is hard graft for me.
The Tooth Fairy is imaginary? Really? Gee. Thanks... If you were in an asylum, what would your particular delusion or psychosis be?
That I’ll one day earn enough to be able to continue my day job part-time and working for free. And there’s no “if” about it - I live this delusion every day.
Good for you. What genre(s) do you write?
Thrillers, mainly of the action variety with a strong element of espionage. Think Alistair Maclean but with a modern, gritty ethos.
Ah, so a Sherlock Mallory then? Nice. What genres(s) do you read?
Quite a range. Thrillers, mostly, and not just action but suspense as well. Some crime novels. A lot of literary fiction. Some SF, some horror, though I’m very picky about authors in these genres.
If these are the same, what attracts you to them. If they’re different, why do you think that is?
I read in my own genre to plunder ideas. Seriously, though... I like any story that can surprise me. Being quite gullible, I’m easily taken in by plot twists, and I love them. I was a big Agatha Christie fan growing up, and could never guess whodunnit, which was part of the fun for me.
I think I’m drawn to espionage thrillers because I reckon I have many of the qualities of a great spy myself. I like to travel, for one. Of course, I have a few qualities that wouldn’t make me all that suited to the life. Gullibility, technological cack-handedness and extreme physical cowardice, to name but three.
I actually agree. Not on the plundering part, of course, but on the whodunit point. I don’t even try to work out twists and culprits. I want to be surprised! Bacon – just cooked or crispy?
Burnt as a Salem witch.
I love that phrase! Now you’re in the asylum with me, how do you aim to get out? Do you have an escape plan?
My plan is to distract you with these answers while I undo these... oh, rats. I shouldn’t have said anything.
Hey, you don’t have to distract me, I’d happily help. I’m one of the inmates, not one of the orderlies. Quick, while no-one is looking!
Tim Stevens was born in England and grew up in Johannesburg. He lives near London with his wife and daughters, and works as a doctor in the National Health Service.
His debut novel is the acclaimed thriller Ratcatcher, and its sequel Delivering Caliban, featuring the return of John Purkiss, is also available on Amazon Kindle. Severance Kill, a thriller without Purkiss, was published in November 2012.