Interview with Nicholas Boving

Today, we're speaking with Nicholas Boving. He's here to tell us about his novel, The Warlock. He's also sharing a fantastic excerpt with us! Let's take a look at the blurb for the book before we get started with the interview...

There is nothing as terrifying as horror on a bright sunny day. It is out of place. It is unimaginable.

I had taken a sabbatical at a monastery on a Greek island; and what had started as a holiday, a temporary retreat from the harsh realities of business life, to cleanse the poisonous detritus of city living from my soul, evolved into a nightmare I shall never forget, and I will never be the same again, for the impossible happened, and those things which normal, sane people take to be no more than fantasies, or at worst the sick imaginings of psychotic minds, actually occurred.

I was warned by the abbot, but it seemed so unlikely, the product of an overactive imagination that I didn’t take his warning seriously and half a dozen men and women; good, evil and plain misguided are dead because of it.

The entity, the frightful fiend that was loosed was no delusion of a sick mind, but a monstrosity summoned from the depths of hell by a psychotic madman and black magician who has been taken into the darkness he sought to control; and if there is justice he will suffer for eternity.

Tricia: Welcome, Nicholas! Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Nicholas: I was formerly a mining engineer and travelled the world widely, but now live in Toronto.

Tiring of the mining industry (my unalterable conviction being that mining in 40 degrees in the shade was a vastly overrated pastime) and wanting to experience more of the world firsthand, I also worked from time to time as a docker, fruit inspector and forester. My books and screenplays draw on these experiences to provide characters, backgrounds and scenes.

I am the author and publisher of the “Maxim Gunn” series of action/adventure books - nine books and counting. I have also written some nine other novels: dramas and thrillers, and a handful of screenplays all which follow the central character to countries and places - a couple futuristic - where the forces of nature as much as people provide the conflict.

My current interests, not surprisingly, are writing and reading and thinking about writing. Sounds a bit dull? Well, think of all the places I can go and things I can do – the imagination is limitless.

Tricia: When did you begin writing?

Nicholas: More like when did I not. At eight I had a short story published in a school magazine: I think it ran to about 100 words. I wrote a book of short stories at the age of nine – bound with loving care by my grandfather – I still have it. And it’s been pretty much an on and off process ever since; though I did settle down to it seriously about twenty-five years ago – and that firmly betrays my age.

Tricia: Describe your writing process. Do you plot or write by the seat of your pants? When and where do you write?

Nicholas: I do more or less know where the book is going, but my tendency is to have a great big file into which I throw a huge grab bag of scenes, description, action and dialogue. That being said, I’m now trending towards doing an outline and storyline: I find it less stressful. I’m also a great believer in writing an idea or chapter while the thoughts are fresh because with the best will in the world you’ll never remember it later. The result is I won’t necessarily start at page one line one. If I’ve got a great ending, it could well be written first. However, taking that to extremes, I’ve just come to the end of the first draft of a book in which I wrote each chapter as a discreet event and cobbled them together – never again: it was a nightmare.

My writing place is a small spare bedroom. My writing time is any time. I write more in winter than in summer as Toronto winters don’t encourage me to be outside much. I keep copious notes on small yellow pads and more often than not they are the basis for future scenes and dialogue. A paragraph today or five thousand words tomorrow, it doesn’t matter to me. Sorry, I’m not disciplined enough to set aside specific times of the day.

Tricia: Can you tell us about your most recent release?

Nicholas: “The Warlock” was released in October 2012, published by Taylor Street Publishing in San Francisco. It can best be described as an occult/thriller/chiller. For some reason it got pegged as a horror story, but although there are horrific incidents, I don’t think of it as being in the horror genre. I think of much more as a discovery that evil really exists as a force, and that it can be manipulated like any other force by someone with the requisite knowledge. Basically it’s the story of an overworked executive who goes to a lonely Greek island to get rid of the stink of city life, and, despite the best efforts of the abbot of the local monastery to dissuade him gets involved in a black magic set up. At first he thinks it’s just post adolescent nastiness, until it all starts to go horribly wrong.

Tricia: How did you get the idea for the book?

Nicholas: Frankly I have no idea. Notes, bits of dialogue, a character a bit like Aleister Crowley, maybe the influence of John Fowles and Dennis Wheatley (I was a lot younger then). And then the snowball grew. This was one those books like Topsy, it just growed. I really did not have an outline, but I did have a lot of characters in search of an author.

Tricia: If you could recommend just one of your books to my readers, which book would you choose?

Nicholas: “The Warlock” is the one I’d recommend. It is written with some pretentions of depth and strong character development, and I’m told it’s a damned good read.

Tricia: Of all your characters, which one is your favorite? Why?

Nicholas: Definitely Maxim Gunn, the main character of the action-adventure series. The first in the series was in fact the first full-length novel I wrote – more years ago than I care to tell you – and typing “The End” changed me forever from a dabbler into a writer. The first draft, which I still have, is appalling and should be shredded, but with Gunn just having had his ninth adventure and another coming up, he’s more or less “real” to me.

Tricia:  What was the most challenging aspect of writing your book?

Nicholas: The actual writing is the easiest and the fun part. But there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that editing is the toughest part; and by that I mean serious editing, not just a quick whip through and a few changes. It’s the laborious process of making absolutely sure that it all hangs together, that the dialogue is realistic, that you don’t blather on or start preaching, that what you’ve said on page thirty isn’t contradicted on page two hundred; that there are no typos, spelling mistakes (spell checkers don’t cut it). It’s literally a line by line process. This is all the more true if you self-publish as so many people do these days, when you’ve got no professional editor to catch the dropped ball. Such a pain, but it’s got to be done.

Tricia: What would you like to tell us about your book or your writing that someone wouldn’t discover during a casual review of your blurb or website?

Nicholas: I like to think that my writing has matured over the years, that my characters are deeper, more three dimensional and have come alive. The Maxim Gunn stories have evolved from tongue in cheek fun stuff, to being much darker. They started as almost YA books, but that is definitely no longer the case.

Similarly with my thrillers and dramas. The simplistic good versus bad has developed more blurred lines. The back blurb and inside cover précis never tells the full story, and never tells how the writing has dealt with the problems. The blurb for “The Warlock” simply tells the potential reader it’s a story about good versus evil; but it’s also a love story, a story of redemption and of revenge. The revues on Amazon and Goodreads give a more in depth picture – most good, one not so good. You can’t have everything, and hopefully any potential reader will see past this and want to read what some consider to be good writing and a good story.

Tricia: What is your primary goal as an author?

Nicholas: To entertain. To have someone drop me an email or write a revue saying how much they enjoyed what they’ve read is really a huge boost, or to meet someone at a library or bookstore and hear them say, “Oh yes. I’ve heard about you.”

Tricia: Which authors have inspired your writing?

Nicholas: Rider Haggard, Conan Doyle, John Buchan, Geoffrey Household, Hammond Innes, Leslie Charteris’ Saint stories, Sapper’s Bulldog Drummond. As you can tell I’m a bit of a romantic at heart which is probably why I get such as kick out of writing the Maxim Gunn books because they steal a little bit out of each of the above august crew.

Tricia: What projects are you currently working on?

Nicholas: I have a novel “The Disputed Barricade” currently with my publisher. This is a fictional biography of an environmental activist turned environmental terrorist. He can’t get the powers that be to get on with it, so he’s taken things into his own hands. The story largely takes place in Tasmania where his biographer winkles the truth out of him: and there are side stories in which he deals drastically with a mine in the Rockies, a logging operation in British Columbia and an offshore dredge in Chile. Good stuff: action, environmental issues and a love story.

And, I’m starting the editing of a horror story that takes place in a defunct coal mining town in Yorkshire where the devil’s assistant shows up. “I intend to make Malthorpe the horror story of the century,” so he says.

“The Malthorpe Slaughterhouse” may just catch the imagination of readers as it is rather different, and comes under the genre of Comedie Noire. Not a lot of comedie, but a lot of noire. So you see, I switch gears regularly and refuse to get typecast or stuck in one genre.

Tricia: What advice would you offer to new or aspiring authors?

Nicholas: I hate giving advice, but if pressed I’d say something like read everything, try everything, don’t be afraid or too proud to junk the whole project and start again and, in the words of Winston Churchill: never, never, never give up. Oh, and don’t listen to advice, just do your own thing.

Tricia: Thank you, Nicholas, for stopping by to talk to us about your book. For those readers who would like to learn more about Nicholas Boving or "The Warlock," please visit the following links:

Chapter 1

There is nothing as terrifying as horror on a bright sunny day. It is out of place. It is unimaginable.

I should have laughed, at least smiled, at the sheer impossibility of it all, but there was nothing to laugh at, and anyway, I knew romance had long-deserted that place, and that it was not true that horror lurked in dark places, shunning the light.

It was not true then, and is not now, for in that place with the Mediterranean sun blazing, the buzz of crickets and the laughter from the beach below, the devil had stalked, elegant and urbane, with the welcoming smile of the perfect host.

Melanos was that kind of place. Melanos: black, not because of its past or what happened, but for the colour of the volcanic sand on its beaches. Coincidence? Maybe. But I know that what happened in that idyllic place changed my life beyond measure. What started as a holiday, a temporary retreat from the harsh realities of business life to cleanse the poisonous detritus of city living from my soul, evolved into a nightmare. I shall never forget it. I will never be the same again, for the impossible happened, and those things which normal, sane people take to be no more than fantasies, or at worst the sick imaginings of psychotic minds, actually occurred.

The last time I had looked on that scene the sun had shone from the washed-out blue sky that is unique to the Greek islands. But now it was night, and I had come back for reasons even I was unsure of. Maybe it was to lay the ghosts of the past, to erase the last vestige of hope, to recapture something that I might not have held at all. I wasn’t sure why, only that there had been a compulsion that wouldn’t be denied.

I felt a chill despite the warmth of the night, and looked down on what lay spread out below, falling to the moon-blazed sea. It was an impossible postcard, a scene stolen piecemeal from a romantic Hollywood film.

Every cliché imaginable sprang to mind. The moonlight like quicksilver on the water, reflecting almost hurtfully bright from the whitewashed walls, the dark silhouettes of the cypress trees, an owl swooping across the sunken gardens making for the pines on the headland. I watched as it settled with practised ease on a branch, and then its single hoot echoed.

I turned away from the moonlit perfection and saw the Villa Thelema crouching as if asleep. Only it did not sleep. It was dead. The monstrous creature had been slain. The dead eyes of its barred windows would no more open, would no more flood the gardens with yellow light, and never again would the sound of music and laughter drift into the soft Aegean night.

I walked slowly up the meandering flag-stoned path, rank weeds sprouting from the cracks, pushed aside the untended overgrowth of oleander, and stood before the great, iron-studded main door. I reached out a hand, a reflex action, and tugged the wrought iron bell pull. It gave a rusty clank, a sound as dead as all else.

The Villa Thelema would never rise again. The hand of God had blasted it, and rightly so. I stood back, looking up and along the whitewashed walls, and saw the cracks and pock-marks revealed like the raddled face of an ageing whore.

And yet I had to know. There was a compulsion. I had not got this far to go back with the final questions unanswered. And so I turned the handle, its rusty creak unnaturally loud in the night stillness, and pushed the great door open.

No chimera rushed out, there was no Cerberus guarding the entrance to that particular gate to hell. Instead I felt an ineffable sadness, heard a sound like the sighing of one in great sorrow, and a fitful gust of night wind sprang up, swirling dead leaves around the courtyard in a ghostly dance.

Marat was no more, dumped like garbage in an unmarked grave, and if there was justice in the afterlife, his eternal resting place would be as cheerless and uncomfortable as the dark cellar beneath the villa where one of the last terrible acts in that appalling drama had been played.

I looked slowly around, half expecting to see a parade of ephemeral shades, grave-clothed, seeking rest. But there was nothing. Just the night wind softly moaning in the tall pines outside the walls.

Marat was dead these five years; and Diego, who came from somewhere in northern Spain. He looked and behaved like one of those dark souls in an El Greco painting. Diego was an enigma, even towards Marat - towards the rest of us he appeared coldly arrogant.

The figure of Aphrodite wandered in from stage left, dark and sensuous, her eyes and hands continually seeking assurance and love from her brother. And her brother, Adonis - they really must have been twinned, for they were as alike as children from the same womb could ever be - wrapped in unhealthy union with each other that at times disgusted but always fascinated.

Then there was Alberta: tall, elegant, beautiful and of what is politely called 'a certain age', which I suppose meant she was on the wrong side of forty, though why there should be a wrong side I never fathomed as she oozed sexuality and used it like a weapon. Had she been Marat’s mistress? Possibly, even probably, though what any woman could have seen in him I cannot say as he was not physically attractive, although he exuded a magnetism that is tritely called animal. She was English, and there was a touch of the demi-mondaine about her that suggested he had collected her somewhere along the way and perhaps she stayed out of gratitude as the lifestyle she enjoyed in his company was good.

Whatever her relationship with Marat, it did not appear to have prevented her using her attractions on the other men who passed in and out of that strange world at Thelema, myself included, and perhaps because he owned her, considered her his creature, he made no obvious objections but had treated her escapades with a kind of amused tolerance. After the awful events of that never-to-be-forgotten night, she quite simply vanished, for when I had returned to the villa, her room was empty. There was not even a vestige of a personal possession to suggest that she had ever been, save the lingering scent of Joy.

It was a surreal scene. In the centre of the open space, a courtyard, one side fronted by a narrow colonnaded walkway that gave onto the living rooms, squatted the bulk of a neoclassical fountain, cherubs frozen and dolphins halted in mid flight. At one end, near the great room, the scene of so much I still cannot fully comprehend stood the scattered and fallen wicker chairs where Marat had on occasion held evening court. A large umbrella, dust-covered and starting to tatter, leaned at a drunken angle, and the table, wrought iron and glass, still had an algae-greened pitcher and glasses that held the pathetic corpses of dead insects and a layer of pigeon droppings. It required little imaginative effort to re-people the scene and watch the play of tensions and antagonism generated by Marat’s cat-like cruelty.

I crossed the colonnade and pushed open the door to the great room. It still hung from one hinge, blasted by the storm, and screeched protest.

It was exactly as I remembered it. The flag-stoned floor, each piece a yard square, the great fireplace carved from a slab of marble that must have taken a dozen men to move, the dark ebony furniture still assembled in a half circle around one larger chair as if before a throne. And indeed a throne it was, Marat’s throne, for he was the lord and master of Thelema and those who came to rest, by accident or design, within its walls, his subjects.

It was like the rest, dead, the fabrics rotting, surfaces dust-covered, the cold ashes of a fire still in the grate, and no phoenix would rise from them. And as I moved from room to room in a kind of slow voyage of exorcism, I felt snake-like skins sloughing away, each one a tight-held memory that until then I had not been able to let go.


  1. Very nice interview with a very talented writer.
    I'm reading The Warlock right now, and it's excellent.


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