David P. Elliot, Clan
Today, we're joined by Davi P. Elliot, author of Clan, who's agreed to give away one copy of his book to a lucky blog visitor, and taken some time out of his busy schedule for an interview.
Please tell readers about yourself and your background.
I was brought up in a strong working class family with 2 brothers and a sister, a Scottish father and an English mother from the East End of London who would never have met had it not been for the second World War; which has I think left me with an awareness of the fragility and randomness of life. I spent 8 years in the Police Service, mostly in the CID. I left having become a Sergeant in the Thames Valley Police to enter the IT industry. On a cold, rainy February night in 2005 I was driving home from work after another meaningless meeting, when I decided that there had to be something better than this and decided at that moment to give up my “proper” job to become a writer. I became very poor, very quickly, but have never been happier. I now do something I consider worthwhile for a living.
Besides writing, what are your other interests?
I love reading; mostly thrillers but also biographies and history. I love the theatre and fell in love with Shakespeare after teachers at school stopped forcing it on me and I also love film. My other great passion is cooking. I couldn’t live without music and work on the Duke Ellington principal, that there are only two types, Good & Bad so love everything from Rock, through the great American Songbook to Opera.
Clan is your most recent release. Please tell us about the story.
‘Clan’ is fundamentally a tale of Good versus Evil. The story is told from the perspective of a flawed father and grandfather, David Elliot, who after 3 failed marriages and once again finding himself out of work he is on the point of a breakdown when his daughter, persuades him to take a trip with her, his son-in-law and beloved grandson Thomas, to the Borders of Scotland to research the bloodline of his father, who’s early death he has really never come to terms with. A chance meeting with a strange old man leads them into terrifying danger and suddenly Elliot has to confront evil of both a supernatural and more modern kind, to protect his family and particularly his young grandson. Apparently totally unequal to the challenges before him, the story questions the nature of bravery and whether love and family are really enough to defeat otherwise insurmountable odds.
How would you like readers to view your characters David Elliot and William de Soulis?
As mentioned earlier, I hope readers will view Elliot as a flawed human being like most of us, and identify with him as such. Hopefully they will recognize in him, how easily ordinary people can be ground down by our society. William de Soulis was a real person and a powerful Lord, probably with an even better claim at the time, to the Throne of Scotland than Robert the Bruce had himself. Perhaps his greatest error was to challenge The Bruce and fail. History, as we know, is written by the victors. Perhaps had he succeeded, someone would be writing a book about the Great King of Scotland William and casting The Bruce as a villain! As mentioned earlier about the chance meeting of my mother & father, life is random and fragile.
Were there any surprises as you researched and wrote the book?
Many! One of the most satisfying responses I have had from readers are the questions regarding what was real and what was fiction. I love the books of writers who blur the edges a little. It is a truism that truth is often stranger than fiction. One of my favourite quotes is from writer Tom Clancy – “The difference between fiction and reality? - Fiction has to make sense.” There is often controversy about the validity of what is sometimes called “faction”. For me creating characters readers can identify with within a real historical setting really brings home to them the history of the time, by giving characters that they can identify with – in a sense they become more “real” than the simple historical characters who otherwise have no context. I also loved discovering the suggestion that Robin Hood might have been based on William Wallace – who in my mind is probably the greatest hero I have ever encountered.
The power of the clan and a family heritage is very evident in your story. What does clan mean for you?
Clan gives me a place in the World and a shared heritage that means pretty much everything to me. Clan and family are interchangeable as far as I am concerned and is something worth fighting for. In the modern World we have managed to make people feel vulnerable, impotent, alienated, and lonely no matter how big or small the community may be that we live in. I know that as part of my Clan, there will always be someone who cares what happens to me and will mourn my passing.
What’s next for you? As I suggested, you could easily scare readers to death as a horror writer.
It’s funny – I have never considered myself a horror writer. When I wrote ‘Clan’ I called it a “historical, supernatural thriller.” I was surprised when my publisher categorized it as “horror,” but then I put that down to him being a bit of a wimp. Actually, it seems I am out-voted on this point! I personally, do not like what I would refer to as the “slasher” type of horror, but real life can be more horrible than anything my fertile brain can ever come up with and I think for true heroism to exist – and we all need heroes – real menace needs to be present. However, the supernatural is a recurring theme in my writing and I am currently putting together a compendium of short stories which I would categorise as of the “Tales of the Unexpected” type. I am also working on a sequel to ‘Clan’
Please provide your website and blogs where readers can learn more about you.
My website is at http://www.davidpelliot.com/ and I blog at http://davidpelliot.blog.com/. I also publish a small online magazine at http://www.clanmagazine.com/
Any closing thoughts you would like to share.
If I could change one thing in the World today it would be to reverse what seems to me to be a sad decline in the reading of books. It is not coincidence that where freedom is removed in this World, dictators often start by burning or banning books. Books change the World in a way that film, television and computers cannot. We lose them at our peril. I would love to see half the IT budget in all schools taken and spent on encouraging children, especially teenage boys, to read. Maybe one day!
Thanks for your time, David, and best of luck with Clan.
Don't forget to leave your comment to win a copy of the book, and thank you for visiting the Historical Novel Review blog.