Last Exile’ (2008) and ‘The
Mephisto Threat’ (2009), featuring
off-the-book MI5 spook, Paul Tallis, E.V. Seymour once more hurls him
undercover in ‘Land of Ghosts’ (March
decided to put on its cloak and
unsheath its dagger to find out more about the shadowy world of Paul
and his real handler.
Q: Okay, let’s get this question out of
the way first.
How and why does a sophisticated lady such as you decide on writing spy
and having a bloke as a
character? (Not that there’s anything remotely wrong with
I’ll start by answering the last bit of the
question first! Truth
is, I feel more
comfortable inhabiting male characters.
I don’t have to work hard at it.
It’s all pretty instinctive.
genuinely like men. And,
no, I don’t sit
down at my computer with a fag in one hand and a pint of best bitter in
other as was suggested to me by a radio presenter!
Seriously, I’m no psychiatrist, but writing
as a bloke is possibly connected to my upbringing.
I lost my mum when I was eight.
Home was my father and two older
brothers. On a
different note, in
female-led fiction, even in the thriller genre, I believe
there’s a requirement
for a certain degree of angst and interior thought.
With a bloke, you can be forgiven for cutting
to the action and having more fun.
(That’s not to say that I think the male of the
species is an insensitive
and thoughtless brute!)
well, what’s not
to like? Initially,
reasons, I chose to go down the spy route because I thought it would
more latitude. The
crime market was
dominated by detective fiction so a bit of me was thinking try
little different. Now
I’m into it, I’m
fascinated by anything connected to espionage, the more dangerous and
Q: We’ve got twenty seconds before this
lands, so for those who haven’t yet plugged into the world of
Paul Tallis, give
us a quick intro to his latest adventure.
A: Tallis is
tasked with finding old school friend,
Graham Darke. Darke has been working deep undercover for the Secret
Intelligence Service in the mountains of Chechnya, his
to keep a watching brief on a savage warlord with suspected links to
Muslim fundamentalists. However,
it’s feared Graham has become
sympathetic to the Chechen cause and turned rogue agent. Worse, he’s been
linked to a number of high
profile murders of former military men in Moscow. If true, Anglo-Russian
relations are set to
take a nose-dive. It’s,
imperative Tallis tracks down Darke and brings him in.
Of course, things don’t go according to plan!
Q: Is there a single film or book which started
the spy thriller road?
illicitly munched through Ian Fleming’s
Bond series after I finished my “O levels”!
Q: Give us a back-of-a-matchbox description of
Tallis, your maverick freelance spook, and how you formed his character.
under pressure with a sense of
humour. He also
hurts and bleeds – this was
really important to me. I
him to be a one-dimensional action man.
He’s a cause merchant, prepared to bend the
rules, and very much his own
fair to say that
Tallis was born in December 2005 after a visit to ‘a
place’ where firearms
officers train. (Not
supposed to name it
for security reasons). My
ignited following the Stockwell shooting.
Contrary to some media coverage at the time, firearms
trained to very high levels. Given
enormous pressures on them, it’s not a job I’d
fancy, but I thought it would
provide a perfect career for Tallis to make his debut.
Q: You’ve chosen as the background for
Land of Ghost, Chechnya and a potential 3rd
Cold War threat.
Anything you know that we don’t?
don’t have a crystal ball!
Q: You’ve said
that during your research you inhabit some fairly dark places. Assuming
doesn’t mean you morph into a psychotic vampire that eats its
young, can you
elaborate a little?
A: Oh, blimey, you’re asking me to bare
my soul! All right,
I was totally affected by the
research. The sheer epic cruelty carried out by all sides made me
appears in the novel is lightweight
by comparison to events I’ve actually read about.
Q: You include female
characters in your books, but appear on the surface to have slightly
sympathy for them than for Tallis. Do you feel more at home writing
A: Got it in
Q: What delights your creative muscles most -
A: Bad guys
Q: Do you have specific audience in mind when you
A: I should
do, but not really. I
just want to engage and thrill as many
people as possible.
Q: Pen or PC, music or silence?
A: Pen for
research. Mac for
when I can grab it, not easy when you
have a budding rock muso across the landing!
Q: You’ve got a power chair,
haven’t you (I’ve seen it
in the video). Is that a prerequisite for a good day’s
It’s a prerequisite for my shoulder not
Q: Did your background in PR prepare you in any
a thriller writer?
course, all those long lunches and
Q: You say you read a lot in preparing Land of Ghost.
Does this mean you’re a planner or a freewheeling kind of
I’d love to be a freewheeler.
I am lost in admiration and praise for those
who can pull it off. I’m
too much of a
scaredy-cat to give it a go. Having
that, I’ll happily go off piste if it feels right, but I tend
to work from a
thirty-page treatment divided up into scenes and acts.
Q: There’s a fair bit of chopper flying
in the book.
Can you pat your head and tummy at the same time?
I did actually take the controls for all of about thirty
seconds. I thought
I was going to die of fright and
pleaded to relinquish them.
Q: Where do most of your ideas occur –
reading or out of nowhere?
of information from newspapers,
those elusive pieces on the inside pages.
Q: Who do you read for pleasure and what, if any,
A: I have
catholic tastes. Just
some: Bernard Cornwell, Conn Iggulden,
Robert Crais, Gerald Seymour, Michael Connelly, Tom Rob Smith, Stephen
Tom Clancy, Robert Ludlum, Nicci French, Frederick Forsyth, Tom Cain. Influences:
hard to say. I
Dostoyevsky to get into the whole Russian thing prior to writing Land of Ghost, but I’m not sure
Q: A hint about where Paul Tallis will crop up
returns to his Croatian routes so
it’s back to the Balkans – more darkness,
for your time – it’s been a pleasure.
read – and hear –
more about E.V. Seymour (and see her power chair) by going to her
website at: www.evseymour.co.uk
teamed up for a competition to giveaway
10 lucky winners a signed
copy of Land
of Ghosts. Simply
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But if you want to buy it click the link.