Today on Paws4Thought I continue my Sins of the Past series with British author T.D. Harvey. Tell us a little bit about yourself, Tee.
My name is T. D. Harvey, but you can call me Tee. I live in Hampshire, which is on the south coast of England. I’ve been writing all my life, but in spring 2013, I decided to get serious. Since then I have had three stories published and have many more scheduled for this year. My writing is generally dark fiction, but can go in any direction. I am a discovery writer. I make no plans, nor do I plot my characters’ journeys. I simply sit at the keyboard and write. It’s a wonderful experience, but it makes editing a nightmare.
My writing time is limited. I work full time as a Business Analyst—a job I very much enjoy. However, my dream is to drop my hours and concentrate more on my writing, perhaps even write full time. I also have to make room for my chronic pain condition, Fibromyalgia, that can make me too ill to write. So, I scribble at every opportunity; in my lunch break, whilst waiting for a doctor’s appointment, when I am unable to rest at night and when my partner is out of the house and I have some peace and quiet.
Who are your favorite authors?
My favourite authors are varied.
Mark Tufo (Zombie Fallout series) is a fabulous storyteller and an inspiration for Indie writers. He has built a loyal fan base by developing a relationship with his readers. He’s someone an aspiring Indie writer can learn from.
Tell us a bit about your Sins of the Past story?
In the Stillness and the Silence came to me whilst watching some of the World War I anniversary coverage on television in 2014. It got me thinking about how difficult life was in the trenches and how brave those men were, how much we owe to them. When the idea of an historical horror anthology was first raised, I was intrigued, but not particularly interested in submitting.
History, as my GCSE history teacher will attest, has never been my strong point. However, the WWI coverage struck such a cord with me, that I wasn’t surprised when the story made itself known. As a discovery writer, I never plot or plan a story. So when I sat at my laptop and started typing, Frank appeared. At that point, I didn’t know this was to be my ‘Sins’ submission. I just typed and waited to see what Frank’s story was.
What inspires you to write?
Life, the universe and everything. I was recently driving to work and a single word inspired me to write a story the moment I stopped the car. I keep pens and pads with me at all times because I never know what will trigger a new idea.
If you could travel to any time and place in the past where and when would you go?
I found this a difficult question. As I said, history never interested me when I was younger. The older I get, the more interested in history I become. There are many periods in history I find fascinating, but if I were to have been born then, I wouldn’t be in a good position in life. But as a visitor, I could simply observe and enjoy. So, I think I’d probably visit 1910 through to the late 1920’s Britain. I find that part of our history fascinating. There was so much change around then. The fall of the big estates and the servants that held them together, the rise of Hitler, the increased reliance on new technologies…The rate of change back then must have been exciting for the young and terrifying for the old. I think there are many similarities between the then and now. It would be fascinating to see just how much.
What do you like to do to relax?
With physical activities no longer open to me, my relaxation often comes from TV, movies and audiobooks. I also have two Tonkinese cats and three tropical fish tanks. I like to grow my own vegetables too and my partner has built a greenhouse and garden on stilts so no bending down or digging for me!
We love kitties here at Paws4Thought. Tell us a little about your furry friends Tee.
Kike (Keekay) is my 4 year old, brown tabby Tonkinese. She is smart, cuddly and a complete mummy’s girl. We tragically lost her brother, Kai to a very rare cancer in March. She was devastated and miserable without him, as were we. Tonkinese do not cope well with being alone, so in June Ajali joined our family. Ajali is a chocolate mink Tonkinese. He is now 18 weeks old and has brought life and laughter back into our home. Kike loves him, although he can be a bit too rambunctious for her. He is smart, lively and a daddy’s boy.
What are you currently working on?
It’s a very exciting time for me. I’m completing the editing of my first novel, Paper Dragons and Shadow Demons. This is the first in the Hidden Realm trilogy, a dark fantasy series for middle grade readers. It is not for the faint hearted. The artwork is in progress. My wonderful illustrator understands the tone required and has produced some fantastic proof of concept pieces already. I have been recording some trial readings of the novel, as I intend to publish an audio version, read by myself.
I am working on the second of the Hidden Realm trilogy as well as discussing with my illustrator a series for younger readers, based on the Hidden Realm universe.
As ever, many short stories are whizzing round my head, as well as three other novels, all dark fiction for an adult audience.
I’m also in the progress of finishing up a fun anthology project with the theme of pants, or trousers if you’re British like me. We’re in the final editing stages now, the cover art is complete and we’re nearly ready to publish. It’s a multi-genre collection of stories that stemmed from a bet between friends that we couldn’t possibly write a story all about pants. How wrong we were.
How can readers connect with you?
I have a Facebook Author’s page here: https://www.facebook.com/T.D.HarveyAuthor
I also have a blog here: http://tdharveyauthor.wordpress.com/
I love to connect with my readers, and I look forward to meeting more of them. If you wish to contact me directly, my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for taking your time to answer my questions Tee.
Want to read a little of Tee’s story? Sure you do …
In the stillness and the silence, Frank could imagine he was night fishing with his pals back home in England, instead of in a trench in France, fighting a war he didn’t entirely understand. In Frank’s imagination, there was no ‘Great War’ with Germany. There was only night fishing.
He stares into the Pacific, waiting for that elusive tug on the lines. At the peak of high tide, the sea stops its ebb and flow, becoming still and quiet. No fish take his bait. No men speak during these minutes of calm quiet. The temperature drops, a mist develops over the sea and the cold creeps inside his bones. Just when it seems the world has stopped forever, the eerie atmosphere is broken by the sound of water rolling once more. As the tide begins to drop away, the spell of emptiness is lifted and the fish begin biting once more. Frank pulls sharply on his rod, bedding the hook in the fish. He reels frantically as the fish ‘runs’ and the world returns to normal.
“Frank? What the bloody ‘ell are you doin’?”
“What does it look like I’m doin’?” he answered the private on patrol. “I’m fishin’, ain’t I?”
“In a trench in the middle of France? Look, I know we’re practically swimmin’ in ‘ere, but it’s not exactly the Atlantic, is it?”
“Where else am I gonna fish?”
“You ain’t gonna catch nothin’ ‘ere! And besides, you ain’t got no rod an’ line, ‘ave ya?”
“Don’t need one,” Frank said. “Just dreamin’.”
“Dreamin’? You dream when you sleep, not stood up actin’ it out.”
“I dream however I want to.”
“Well, if you wanna catch something, why not take the dog for a walk an’ see if he can catch some rats? Or you could pop on over to Jerry and catch one o’ them.” The private laughed at his own humour but Frank just shook his head. “Maybe…maybe you’re tryin’ to get invalided out? Tryin’ to say you’re nuts? That’s it, innit?”
Frank simply sighed at his friend, “’Course I ain’t, Bob.”
“You’d have to try ‘arder than that, anyway. You’d ‘ave to be really nuts for ‘em to take you outa here.”
“Get back on patrol before they catch you chattin’. And put that bloody cigarette out before you do. Idiot, gonna get yourself shot!”
“Don’t you worry,” he said. “I got the angels lookin’ after me. Me Mum sent ‘em.”
The private continued his rounds, still smoking his cigarette, its glowing end the only thing visible as he moved further away. The cloying scent of tobacco drifted past in his wake.
“Bloody idiot,” Frank muttered under his breath.
Alone once more, Frank was returned to silence. He hated the silent trenches at night. The eerie quiet of slack tide was a party compared to the trenches. His nerves were wrought with the tension, but his body and mind were exhausted. The night could be broken at any time by a single sniper shot or a full attack. In the day, the trench was filled with the bustle of constant battle, superiors shouting their orders, men running, guns firing. At night, there was often silence. Though not always.
His reverie was broken by movement to his left. Bayonet raised he searched in the darkness. He tried moving silently towards the spot where he had caught the movement, but his boots squelched in the mud and sloshed in the water. He advanced cautiously, placing his feet carefully to reduce noise and avoid losing his footing. It was a cold night but the air around him seemed to freeze, reminding him once more of slack tide. A low fog was spilling over the edge of the trench, filling it with an ethereal curtain that obscured his view.
“Shit!” he whispered when a dark figure appeared, the white mist seeming to glow around it. “Who’s there?”
The figure did not answer him but simply stood, still and silent. Frank couldn’t even tell if the figure was facing him, or away from him because it was nothing more than a silhouette. Frank felt a trickle of sweat roll down his spine and shivered from the cold. His hands, protected by gloves, were stiff and frozen; his fingers felt thick and immovable. His trench coat was warm, but not warm enough. He wasn’t sure he could fire the gun. The shape began to dissolve, dissipate like smoke. He advanced quickly now, thinking the figure was moving away. Surrounded by the fog, Frank could see nothing but wisps of white. The air was damp on his skin, he shuddered but kept going. The cloud of moist cotton began to break up; tendrils of mist clung to the bottom of the trench as the rest dispersed.
Frank whirled around in surprise. The patrolling private was back.
“What the ‘ell are you doin’ leavin’ your post?”
“I saw someone,” Frank answered, “In the fog.”
Bob pushed past and shone his torch. He advanced up the trench with great caution, gun raised. When he returned he shook his head.
“Nothin’,” he said. “You sure you weren’t dreamin’ again?”
Fists clenched, Frank said, “I wasn’t dreaming.”
“Well, whoever it was, they’re gone now. Probably just someone stretchin’ their legs.”
“Then why didn’t they answer me?”
“Probably didn’t hear you. Stop spookin’ yourself! Shift’s over soon an’ we can get some sleep.”
Bob continued his lonely circuit and Frank returned to his post. He stepped up and peered cautiously over the parapet, seeing nothing but a slight mist covering the ground. No man’s land stretched beyond the defences of the trench. Barbed wire lay in a deadly patchwork, covering the ground. No planks rested atop it—a tell-tale sign, if it had been breached. Frank knew he had seen something. Someone, he quickly corrected himself. He stepped back down and into the hollow in the earth where he would spend the rest of his uneventful shift.
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