Featured Interview With Tim Rees
Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?
I’m Welsh and living in Wales. Currently I’m selling the house and plan to move to Spain where I intend to continue writing and exploring how far I can stretch my imagination.
My background is BBC drama, but prior to my time with the BBC I was in the army. My military memoir, In Sights: The Story Of A Welsh Guardsman, was published by The History Press in 2013.
I saw active service during the Falklands war and that experience became a Play For Today titled Mimosa Boys, which was broadcast on prime time BBC1. I made a lot more dramas and films with the BBC, but left to pursue my own scriptwriting career. Over time the scripts became novels and during that period I had a short story commissioned by the BBC as part of an arts series.
At what age did you realize your fascination with books? When did you start writing?
When I first discovered books I began to tell my own stories. Then I discovered girls and joined the army and my storytelling days were few and far between. Oddly, it was during service in the army where my creative juices again bubbled to the surface. I became the battalion photographer and was also heavily involved in the production of a magazine called the Leek. It was a magazine containing articles and stories of various activities and duties the battalion carried out and was only published and distributed internally, but it certainly got me writing more frequently again. When I left the army and joined the BBC I immediately found myself working very closely with the scriptwriter Ewart Alexander on The Play For Today, Mimosa Boys. To say the least, I learned a lot from him. After Mimosa Boys, I was constantly working on film projects where I edited scripts that were mainly military stories. My job was to bring realism in both dialogue and action to the scenes. It was a wonderful period when I work with creative individuals at the top of their specialisation, many of whom were BAFTA and Emmy award winners, and, to my astonishment, I found I fitted in perfectly.
Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read. Who Inspires you in your writings?
My all time favourite book would be Centennial by James A. Michener. I especially love Little Beaver’s story within the novel and from that I learned native American culture and was profoundly impressed with their harmony with their natural environment. When I was a teenager I read and re-read all the Tarzan novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs and I desperately wished I had been born in Africa. For me, Tarzan is an experience I, thankfully, have never recovered from. After reading Centennial I wished I’d been born a native American of a few centuries previous. Those deep feelings taught me the power of the fictional novel. Now I mainly read thrillers by Lee Child, John Grisham and Harlan Coben. I love discovering characters I can learn from, characters who offer me new and fresh perspectives and I try to provide that experience in my novels.
Tell us a little about your latest book?
In Delphian I wanted to expose the hypocrisy that is vivisection, yet I fully accept the argument that if I had a daughter and she was ill, I wouldn’t care how the scientists came by the cure. Thus Delphian begins with someone’s daughter being used as a human guinea pig in medical research financed by the British government. Vincent is a British agent who stumbles across the lab whilst in pursuit of a human trafficking ring. He turns rogue agent and sets about exposing the laboratory experiments, whilst realising the importance of the medical research… The whole of British intelligence set out to stop him… To say more would spoil the story for readers.
Suffice to say I always seem to be attracted to difficult subject matter. But I love the challenge of wrapping difficult subject matter in entertainment and offering new perspectives on harsh and often conflicting realities. In my first novel, Raw Nerve, written in the nineties, I tackled racism in America. The novel began with the question: why didn’t Colin Powell run for the White House? And upon that question I began to write the novel in rural Wales. Yes, I was completely naive. When I’d finished the book, I sent it to an agent in New York who signed me within the week. I later discovered she was African American and thought I must be black too? Very quickly I found myself flying to New York to sign a publishing deal with HarperCollins. Everyone, it seemed loved the novel – everyone, that is, except the powers that be. To cut a long story short, Raw Nerve wasn’t published. One vice-president of a major publishing house accused me of stretching credulity to breaking point and beyond, whilst a president of another house stated she couldn’t have her company associated with riots in the streets. They were referring to my suggestion in the novel that America were about to elect the first black President.
In my other novel, WTF, I have a character pursuing love against a background of national headline news. He just happens to have a friend with very strong views with regard religion… So, you see, I do seem to court controversy. And, to be honest, that knowledge excites me. I often tweet my own quote: Art is perspective. Great art is perspective that pokes us in the eye…
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