Mother of Demons
A Department 18 Novel
By Maynard Sims
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Published: August 2015
Genre: Supernatural Crime Thriller/Horror
The hunt is on!
Alice Logan has gone missing, and Harry Bailey and Department 18 have been called to help find her. The main suspect is Anton Markos, a satanic cult leader who has a predilection for young women like Alice. Members of Markos’s cult start turning up dead—shredded by what seems to be a wild animal. Is there a madman within the cult? Or is it something far more horrible?
Can Department 18 discover the impossible truth and end the spree of murder, insanity and carnage? Or will they become the prey?
What inspired you to write your first book?
Our first published book was a collection of ghost stories in 1979 – Shadows At Midnight – published in hardcover by William Kimber & Co of London. There were ten ghost stories that everyone said were inspired by M R James but in fact we preferred H R Wakefield, Andrew Caldecott, A N L Munby, L T C Rolt and E F Benson. In 1999 we had the chance to have the book re-issued through Sarob Press and we re-wrote the stories and added two more in an expanded and revised edition.
Do you have a specific writing style?
We now have a Maynard & Sims style. It was a painful process to get to the fluent process we have now. We started with short stories back in the 70’s and all of those stories were a learning curve of course. What we didn’t realize at the time was that we were both not only learning to write – and all writers develop at different speeds – but we were also learning to write with another person. Those two things combined certainly made for a combustible mix.
One way it would work was one would start a story, stop for a variety of reasons, hand it over to the other for them to finish. We then had a jointly written story. We decided very early on that each story should have one author voice – by which I mean more than just a style, although a cohesive style was important. Another way we did it was for one of us to completely write a story and then hand it to the other to edit, revise, as needed. That was when a lot of rows began. How dare he suggest changes to my precious story? We had a meeting place by the river, near the pub, and after a row, sometimes hours after, we would meet up there as if by pre-arrangement and come to an agreement about the story. Pregnant pauses were our specialty, with silence as a weapon. Over the years we have smoothed it all out. We are open and honest with each other, and no offence is taken when change is suggested.
Taking it right up to the present day, when we write as many novels as stories, we each write the complete book/story and then hand it over to the other for revision which includes proofing, copy editing, as well as revising if we feel it needs it. With each book we spend days at the end reading it together, page by page, for grammar, continuity, repetition and other flaws we find.
With the novels, each has been different. We find it is important that a book has a single voice – an author point of view, a narrative drive the reader can connect with. Luckily our styles have developed over the years into a single M&S style so there is never a case of anyone being able to see the joins. So we write separately – we live about 25 miles apart – and send a finished piece via email. The other reads and proofs and revises. Usually there are typos of course and continuity issues but often paragraphs or whole chapters are added in.
How did you come up with the title?
Our current book is book 5 in the Department 18 series of supernatural crime novels. It is called Mother Of Demons. It is loosely based on the Artemis legend, and she was reckoned to be a mother, and she mixed with demons and so the title kind of wrote itself. Titles are funny things. Sometimes we get a story idea from a line in a piece of music and that becomes the title. Other times the content of the book dictates the title
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
No, we write for pure entertainment – thrillers that thrill.
How much of the book is realistic?
The factual elements about police procedure are as realistic as we can make them based on research and conversations with serving police officers.
Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
What books have most influenced your life most?
With Mick it is the 87th Precinct novels of Ed McBain which are wonderful. With Len it is the novels of Jack Higgins.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
What book are you reading now?
Writing at the moment so never read when the writing process is ongoing as it is far too easy to get distracted. On a recent holiday Mick read a Simon Kernick, James Patterson, Paul Finch, Sandra Brown and Clive Cussler. Len is reading factual books for his current Department 18 novel and a 1950’s set crime novel.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
There are lots of good genre writers out there.
What are your current projects?
Department 18 book 6, Jack Callum book 2, Bahamas book 4, a standalone supernatural novel, a standalone thriller and a romance novella on the writing front. With books written and getting published there is always promotional work to be done, proofing and so on. That would be Department 18 book 5 Mother Of Demons out from Samhain, a e-novella, Convalescence out November form Samhain, and our tenth collection of ghost stories and strange tales, Death’s Sweet Echo out this year from Tickety Book Press.
Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Hugh Lamb, Steve Jones, Don D’Auria.
Do you see writing as a career?
It is now we have both taken early retirement from the long term day jobs – long term as in forty+ years each. Writing has always been a career in the way we have approached it seriously and professionally but it has never paid enough to be able to support us financially.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Mother Of Demons has gone through our usual vigorous editing revising and proofing process whereby whoever wrote it hands it over to the other and they take it apart and rebuild it. It is the best we can make it before we send it off to Don.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Mick was always interested. At school his best subject was English and he read books every day. Len began with comic books and migrated to anthologies and it was actually Len who wrote the first story, inspiring Mick to follow and we never stopped form there.
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Mother Of Demons is about Department 18 which is a fictional (or is it?) unit of the government that investigates paranormal and supernatural events. It used to have its own website but it got hacked – which conspiracy theorists might wish to look into – was it accidental or where forces behind it? Now the department lives and breathes at a page where the history and a few case files are located http://www.maynard-sims.com/contents/DEPARTMENT%2018.htm
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Writing is the most natural thing in the world. The marketing, promotional stuff is hard but the actual sitting in front of the screen and creating stories and characters is sublime. There is no better feeling that to lose yourself in the pages and feel the story, the plot, evolve. We write organically, rarely planning out in detail and so the story flows with the characters. Finding an agent has been hard – we don’t have one. We have a thriller series with three completed novels and a new crime series that we want to get published but it is not easy. Our supernatural standalone novels and the Department 18 novels have a great home at Samhain with Don, and our short stories and erotic romances (under a pseudonym) also have good home but out crime and thrillers are hard to get placed for some reason.
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Mick – Ed McBain – his stories and his characters in his 87th Precinct series are always fresh and interesting. Len – Jack Higgins for the action and pace of his thrillers.
Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Only to London for book events.
Who designed the covers?
Samhain do all our horror covers and before that it was Dorchester / Leisure. Our short story collections have been the various publisher’s choices. The three thrillers we published last year through our own Enigmatic Press were done by Len’s son Iain Maynard (Maynard Art & Design) and they are very good.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The middle part of any book is always the hardest and Mother Of Demons was no exception. The first 25/30000 words tend to flow pretty well and the ending, say the last 10/15000 words are generally okay. It is that middle section where the pacing needs to be maintained and the characters have to explain themselves a bit that is hard work.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Never give up. Write every day. Write what you want to read. Send it off to an agent. Keep sending it off until you get one. Send stories off to magazines and anthologies. Don’t take reviews too seriously – good or bad.
What genre do you consider your book(s)?
Mother Of Demons, in fact all the Department 18 books are supernatural crossed with crime. We also write standalone supernatural novels that have a variety of themes – ghost stories, creature features, ancient curses. We write erotic romance under a pseudonym. Our short stories are ghost stories and strange tales. Our thrillers tend to be crime / action.
Do you ever experience writer’s block?
We have been writing a long time and life throws stuff at you that you have to deal with. Deaths, divorce, births, marriage, all the usual life events that can knock you off your stride. Our writing history sort of settles into roughly ten year periods – the early traditional ghost story period of about ten years from 1974: a middle period, when we wrote a lot without sending much off for possible publication. During this period we wrote and broadly destroyed about 11 novels, and wrote numerous stories. This ‘barren’ period lasted about ten years from about 1984. The third period began around 1994 and is when we began again in earnest and happily continues to the present day. During this period a lot of the published work featured on our website, bar the novels, was written. The fourth ten year period began around 2004 with the publication of our story collection, Falling Into Heaven. This phase is dominated by novels. But we have also produced two ghost story collections. From 2014, the new ten year period, we have been very prolific and long may it continue.
Do you write an outline before every book you write?
No. Start with an idea, often vague, about the plot and let the characters flow where they want to go. We pull in the reins and make sure continuity is right but often what happens is as much a surprise to us as we hope it is to the reader.
Have you ever hated something you wrote?
Everything. We have never had much confidence.
About the Authors:
Maynard Sims is pen name for authors L.H. Maynard and M.P.N. Sims when they right together.
They are the authors of the thriller novels, Shelter, Demon Eyes, Nightmare City, Stronghold, Let Death Begin, Through The Sad Heart, Falling Apart At The Edges, and the Department 18 books Black Cathedral, Night Souls, The Eighth Witch and A Plague Of Echoes, have been published in paperback and ebook. The fifth Department 18 book, Mother Of Demons, a ghost story, Stillwater, and a novella, Convalescence are scheduled from Samhain for 2015. Erotic romance novels under a pseudonym have been published.
2015 will also see the publication of the Bahamas trilogy of thrillers, Touching The Sun, Calling Down The Lightning, and Raging Against The Storm. They are working on a crime series under a pseudonym, and a standalone thriller.
Their first screenplay, Department 18, won British Horror Film festival Best New Screenplay Award 2013. They have several other screenplays in various stages of development, including funding.
Numerous stories have been published in a variety of anthologies and magazines. Collections include, Shadows At Midnight, 1979 and 1999 (revised and enlarged), Echoes Of Darkness, 2000, Incantations, 2002, The Secret Geography Of Nightmare and Selling Dark Miracles, both 2002, Falling Into Heaven in 2004, The Odd Ghosts, 2011, Flame And Other Enigmatic Tales, and A Haunting Of Ghosts both 2012. They are working on their tenth collection.
Novellas, Moths, The Hidden Language Of Demons, The Seminar, Double Act, and His Other Son have been published in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2007 and 2013 respectively. is out exclusively on Kindle, 2013.
All their short stories and novellas were published as a uniform eight volume collection in 2014 as The Maynard Sims Library.
They worked as editors on the nine volumes of Darkness Rising anthologies. They co-edited and published F20 with The British Fantasy Society. As editors/publishers they ran Enigmatic Press in the UK, which produced Enigmatic Tales, and its sister titles. They have written essays. They still do commissioned editing projects, most recently Dead Water, and they are working on an anthology as editors for the ITW. They also do ghost writing commissions.
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