I started writing stories as a kid, and very quickly turned to drawing comics as well. Fantasy and science fiction were in short supply back in England in the 1960s, so if you liked far-out adventure stories, you had to try and write them yourself.
What inspired you to write Candle Man?
London graveyards! I had the idea back in the 1990s. I was working for Marvel Comics UK, writing in my flat all day. For a quick break to clear my head I would stroll in nearby Brompton Cemetery. Wandering around there, surrounded by the stone angels and overgrown monuments, I started to get some of the creepy notions that grew into Candle Man.
The idea of a hero who glowed in the presence of danger was inspired by a line in the Hobbit, about Gandalf having a sword that glowed when goblins were around. I started to imagine a hero who glowed in the presence of danger. That struck me as rather a quaint, old-fashioned notion, so I began to link my glowing hero idea with England’s Victorian past. The idea snowballed from there.
How did you come up with the title?
The series title ‘Candle Man’ is the name of a Victorian crime fighter, whose life casts a long shadow over the fate of the book’s modern-day hero, Theo.
The first book is called ‘The Society of Unrelenting Vigilance’. This refers to a bizarre ancient society that have been keeping a watchful eye over Theo – from a distance.
I was reading lots of Sherlock Holmes just before I started Candle Man, and Conan Doyle’s wonderful mixture of mystery and clarity struck me. I also think the spy stories of John Le Carré are a big influence. Reading him gave me the idea of making this an unfolding mystery as well as a fantasy adventure. Tolkien, especially The Hobbit is bound to have influenced me. I like the fact that in the Hobbit, everybody, including all the bad guys is allowed to have their own point of view - and are entertaining.
How do you go about researching your novels?
Candle Man really sprang out of my imagination. In some ways I have taken my vivid childhood impressions of London and adapted them. Towards the end of book one, I wanted to check one or two things. I visited some churches in the centre of old London, until I alighted on Southwark cathedral to be my entrance into the network. Recently I went down into the Paris sewers to get the feeling of what it’s like creeping around in tunnels under a big city.
What can we expect from your books in the future?
Theo is heading into some terrifying adventures. He will find that there is more to being a Candle Man than stepping into the shoes of a Victorian crime fighter. He is part of a mythology that is more ancient – and if anything, more scary than he at first realized.
Is there anything you would like to say to your readers?
The first book is quite gothic and creepy, but the later books may well open up a bit, and introduce the readers to a more varied fantasmagoria of ideas. I hope the readers will stay along for a nice horrible ride!
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