On Prophecies, Popes and Publishing

Watchers Cover

I’ve not been blogging for the past few months because I’ve been working on the second and third books in the Tilly Greenway series. The second book, called The Hidden Hand, was due to be released this spring. That’s all changed. My publishers have decided that some of it is simply too contentious, given what is happening in the world right now!

Readers of Watchers, the first book in the series, will know that the story blends old-style myth with a modern-day conspiracy tale in which the plot revolves around a shadow-government that rules the world from behind the scenes. I’d always wanted to mix these two elements because I like both and although they don’t seem to match, I wanted to do something that no one else was doing – to break new ground.

I’m really glad I did. With letters and emails flooding in from readers of all ages who love Watchers, I’ve felt that I have a mandate to continue on with a story truly unlike any other.

For the conspiracy element, I researched a lot of articles on current events and studied a lot of history. I also read many old prophecies that predict either the end of the world or specific major events. I then wove a plot in which a modern day shadow-government (like the Illuminati of The Da Vinci Code) not only follow these ancient prophecies – they do all they can to make them happen. For instance, the first book, Watchers, begins on June 5th, which is indeed referred to in a number of almanacs as “The Night of the Watchers.”

Little did I know, however, that so much of my fictional plot would turn out to be virtually identical to what is going on in the real world!

I’m fascinated by dreams and visions and how they have shaped our history. It seems prophecies have flourished all over the world, from the earliest Sumerian writings, through the religious texts of almost every culture, including the bible, the Oracles of Ancient Greece and the Sybils of Rome, through Nostradamus, right up to today.

My particular writing method is unusual. I use a technique I have developed called the Alpha State Meditation. All dreams happen when our brains dip down into the alpha-wave pattern, rather than the beta-wave of waking life. So, if you like, I dream the stories – neither fully conscious nor unconscious – which is perhaps why so many people have written to me saying that the style is very visual.

It’s an interesting way to write; like watching a movie where I can become any one of the protagonists, experiencing a scene from their point of view (I’m pretty sure we’ll be able to do this in cinemas soon). So, whilst I may have the overall plot worked out in advance, I am often surprised by what unfolds. I’ve even had new characters arrive “out of nowhere.” I’ll write more about this technique another time. For now, let’s return to the reasons The Hidden Hand has been held back.

Most conspiracy theories are just that: theories. The Illuminati, however, are real. Formed in the late eighteenth century by a German called Thomas Weishaupt, documents intercepted in Bavaria twenty years later revealed that Weishaupt and his co-conspirators had the specific aim of infiltrating the highest echelons of government, the church, the media and businesses worldwide in order to gain control over the world’s population. They began in France, where their success can be measured in the number of heads severed by the guillotine. Every high-ranking member of Robespierre’s “Reign of Terror” was a member of the Illuminati.

This seemed a perfect place to begin a tale of mystery and intrigue that stretches right back to the dawn of time.

As you will find out when Book 2 is finally released, the fictional shadow-government of my story forms an “Axis of Power” that involves London, Washington DC and Rome. Intent on reducing the world’s population, this Axis of Power begins with a programme of micro-chipping Londoners with mu-brains, tiny microchips that control human thought.

The twist in the tale is that these people are working with a host of invisible entities who live in another dimension and who feed off human fear. This idea itself is not new. Many of our oldest stories are filled with warning of demons and devils who visit us in our sleep, like the Night-Mare, the Succubus or the Incubus. In the Tilly Greenway series, the shadow-government does a deal with these demons, spreading fear through the media so that people are unwittingly turned into a source of food or made easier to manipulate.

I had originally foreseen the use of the Olympic Ceremonies, the Music Industry and war in the Middle East as the main events/stages for this shadow-government to drive through its plans during Book 2 and 3.

Having seen the Olympic ceremonies last summer, having looked at the images and words being pumped out in many music videos and having followed the wars that have rocked Iraq, Egypt and Libya – with the very real danger of war in Syria and perhaps Iran to come – it has become plainer and plainer that the fictional plot of my books has to a large extent foreshadowed real life events.

To give you an example:

Centuries ago, an Irish seer called St Malachy foresaw a line of 112 Popes, the last of whom he calls Petrus Romanus, or “Peter the Roman.” Petrus Romanus, says Malachy, will “pasture his sheep in many tribulations: and when these things are finished….the terrible judge will judge his people.”

The original draft of The Hidden Hand begins with a quote from Malachy’s prophecy and continues with a Papal Conclave during which Petrus Romanus is elected.

Back in the real world: Benedict XVI was the 111th pope on St Malachy’s list. Benedict surprised the world by resigning on February 28th, but what no one has mentioned is that February 28th is the Feast Day of a certain St Romanus!

As I write this post, the 115 Cardinals who will decide who will become the 112th Bishop of Rome are entering the Sistine Chapel. The Conclave has begun. Obviously, when I was drawing up the plot of the Tilly Greenway series, I had no idea this was going to happen just a few weeks before the second book was due to be released.

Given all this, my publishers have asked me to re-write some sections of the next two books. Without spoiling the plot for you, that’s about as much as I can say right now!

Full info and reviews of Watchers here:

Paperback amazon.co.uk      Paperback amazon.com

Kindle: amazon.com         Kindle: amazon.co.uk

Waterstones Book-Signing Events with Essi Tolling, Autumn 2012

With the Reynolds family at Camberley Waterstones

This autumn I am doing tour of Waterstones bookstores, signing copies of Watchers. It’s been a busy programme, with signings every weekend since the middle of August! I love doing these events: such a great way to meet readers, chat about their favourite books – and, of course, to have a browse around the shelves myself too!

Bookshops are just such fantastic places. I know the market for kindle and e-book sales is rocketing and more and more people are buying online, but nothing can replace the excitement of heading into a real store. It’s a whole different experience to shopping on the Internet. Something unexpected often catches the eye in a way that simply can’t happen unless you’re surrounded by the books themselves. If you’re seeking inspiration you can ask for help from the staff, who often suggest titles you’ve never even heard of. And then there is the simple pleasure of reaching out, opening a book, feeling the paper as you thumb the pages, smelling its unique smell, as you let the words take you off to another place…

That first page is always the one that does it for me!

Don’t get me wrong: I welcome the surge in e-book sales. More people reading more books has to be good news, and I have a hunch that many people who read the electronic versions will go on to buy physical books too. But there will always be a special place in my heart for bookstores, much as I prefer reading from the page rather than the screen.

Maybe it is because it’s a social thing? Although we hunt for titles in our own little “bubble”, when we are in bookstores we share the space with others who love reading – whereas shopping online is a solo experience.

If you enjoy visiting bookstores as much as I do – and if you’d like to meet me sometime soon – you can find me in the following Waterstones stores over the coming weeks:

Saturday November 3rd: Waterstones Trowbridge

Saturday November 10th: Waterstones Bristol Galleries

Saturday November 17th: Waterstones Hereford

Sunday November 25th: Waterstones Southampton West Quay

Saturday December 15th: Waterstones Swindon

All signings are between approximately noon and 3pm. Do come along and say hello. I’d love the chance to meet you!

With Sue Brooks at Cardiff Waterstones

Sacred Sites in Ireland – Kealkil

One of my favourite sites in south-west Ireland is the Kealkil Stone complex. It’s not big, but it IS spectacular.

Looking out across the Ouvane Valley to the north and Bantry Bay to the south, the site is the largest of a line of stone circles and standing stones that runs along the spine of a mountain-ridge from East to West until it meets the bay. Most of the hilltops in this area are dotted with such sites.

The Kealkil Stones

The first thing that catches your eye when you approach the Kealkil Stones is the two stones in the centre of the complex. One is tall and thin, the other short and broad. They remind me very much of  The Cove stones at Avebury. Here are pictures of both so you can see what I mean:

The tall stones at Kealkil

The two remaining stones of “The Cove” at Avebury

Apparently the tallest stone at Kealkil was once six feet higher than it is now, but it broke and had to be shortened when it was re-positioned.

As well as the two large stones, there are two circles at Kealkil – one of five stones about chest-high and an even older stone circle that is largely hidden in bushes and is made up of stones that are no more than a foot high.

Stone Circle at Kealkil

Even though some 50% of sites like this have been destroyed since the second world war, the south-west of Ireland still has plenty (more than anywhere else in Europe). I love to visit them, to sit quietly, to listen, feel, breathe. Each has its own unique qualities, it’s own tales to tell. But I have a soft spot for the Kealkil Stones.

There is something about the site that makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. On one visit the mist came tumbling down from the tops and we were suddenly enveloped in a silent white shroud. Time stopped and if someone from 5,000 years ago had emerged, I wouldn’t have been surprised!

You can see the stone circle and the tall stones here. The smallest stone circle is hidden in the bushes on the right

Looking south from the Kealkil Stones, you can just see the sea in the distance.

Once in a Blue Moon is Tonight!

Tonight sees that rare occurrence, a second Full Moon within one month – a Blue Moon! Being August, it should also be a HUGE moon when it rises above the horizon…

The last Blue Moon that I saw was December 31st 2009. As one year shifted to another, that Blue Moon weaved its way across cold winter skies.

I was in Ireland at the time. I watched it before going to bed. Then I watched it when I woke up. It was still in the sky at 9.00am, heading for the range of hills that I can see from my kitchen.

I watched it dip lower..

And lower…

And lower…

Until eventually it disappeared…

..from sight.

But the Magic wasn’t over.

A few hours later the sun broke through, revealing a dusting of snow on the distant mountains (snow in Southern Ireland is as rare as a Blue Moon – some people might say sunshine is too!)

It was New Year’s Day 2010 and a Blue Moon had given way to Sunshine and Snowfall. Pure Magic. The year that followed proved to be just as special. It was the year I finished writing Tilly’s first adventure!

Best wishes – Essi

Watchers in Waterstones!

Book-signing in Waterstones bookstores is always fun!

This autumn I’m doing a tour of Waterstones Bookstores, signing copies of Watchers. I started off as soon as I got back from Ireland with a visit to Wells Waterstones on Saturday 18th August.

It was the hottest day of the year, which normally means fewer folks are out buying books, but we had a really excellent day with a steady stream of people coming to the desk. Thanks to Sarah and all her staff for helping to organise everything. I really enjoyed my visit with you.

Wells is a beautiful city, full of higgledy-piggledy side streets and wonderful medieaval nooks and crannies. The Cathedral is one of the most spectacular in the country (amazing to have such a vast building in such a small place) and is definitely worth a visit if you haven’t been already (or perhaps another visit, if you have!).

Wells Cathedral – front view

One of the pleasures of being back in England is the variety of architecture, spanning so many centuries. Just look at this fabulous arch-work inside Wells Cathedral!

Wonderful interior – Wells Cathedral

It was market-day in Wells and the streets were packed with people hunting for goodies. It was so hot it felt more like being in southern France than England. Reminded me of when I was 17. A friend and I spent the best part of a year in Provence, picking whatever fruits were in season and doing any jobs we could find. Sometimes we would get up at the crack of dawn to take cherries to the local business-market and afterwards we’d wander back through the village, sampling the wonderful olives, cheeses and fruit. Mmmhmm!

There was no market in Camberley yesterday, where I was signing books at the Camberley Waterstones, but as it was a wet day lots of people were out and about (rain is good for book-selling I’m told) and we had a record-equalling day of sales, which was great!

One of the things I enjoy about doing book-signings is the chance to meet and chat with people of all ages and from all walks of life. Each meeting is quite brief, but it’s amazing what comes up within those few, short minutes. It seems book-buyers love to tell their own stories as well as buying those written by others! And of course, as I writer, I’m not averse to telling my own…!

My thanks to Tracy, Louise and rest of the Camberley Waterstones staff for all your help.

At Camberley Waterstones Saturday 24th August

Next Saturday, I’ll be in the Haywards Heath Waterstones from noon until 2pm. Do come along for a chinwag if you are in the area. I’d love to swap stories with you!

For now, I’d better get back to writing the last chapters of The Hidden Hand – my deadline is approaching fast!

Summering in Ireland

A month without blogging: what’s going on? The answer is that I’ve been in Ireland for the last couple of months, beavering away at Book 2 of the Tilly Greenway series, The Hidden Hand, which is going really well.

Ireland is such a beautiful place. I especially love the south-west (Cork and Kerry) with its misty mornings, its craggy shores and the magical mountains rising above the sea. Not that I’m a big fan of the weather. In eight weeks we must have had seven of almost solid rain – but that’s an Irish summer for you!

Sunset over the Beara Peninsula

There are plenty of compensations. Take yourself up onto almost any hilltop and you’re almost certain to find a stone circle, standing stone, burial mound or fairy fort. There are more stone circles in this part of Ireland than anywhere in the world.

Drombeg Stone Circle

I’ve found that the Irish remember their myths and legends – and pay heed to them too – in a way that is increasingly unusual (in the west) these days. No one, for instance, would EVER build a house on the site of a fairy fort. They have too much respect. I like that. I like the sound of laughter too, which I seem to hear far more frequently there.

Then of course there are the innumerable rainbows, the green green fields, the windy headlands and the curlews calling like sirens from the shore.

A favourite spot

Ireland is like that for me. Too much of it and I get itchy feet (the grey clouds can get to you after a while!). Yet, as soon you are gone, its lilting song drifts back over the seas, calling out: “Come back! Come back! Come back!”

Which, being (at least half) a Celt, I’m sure I will!

Best wishes, Essi.

Taken from ” the hill at the back”…

Breathing Magic into the Olympic Ceremony

I’ve had a lot of emails about my last post “Olympic Earthquake Song – Striking the Right Notes?”

Most people agree that using the song “Earthquake” during the Olympic Celebrations is at best “crass”, at worst “horrifying”.

I’d like to think that the organisers of the world’s most wonderful spectacle of sporting achievement are just “too stupid” (as one correspondent suggests) to notice the messages of the songs that are being used during it, but I find it very hard to believe that they could have failed to notice the underlying energy of violence and aggression within those songs.

This underlying energy is hugely important.

To me, life happens as much in the invisible realm as in the visible. That’s the core theme within my books. What we experience on a subconscious (subliminal) level is far more powerful than anything we consciously perceive; which is why dreams, intuition and visions play such a dramatic part in our daily lives, just as they have throughout history. It’s also why subliminal advertising is so effective.

We all emit and receive millions of micro-waves of electro-magnetic energy every second. These speak to us on a deep level, informing us of frequencies (of light and sound) that our eyes cannot see. But just because we don’t see them does not mean they are not there. To a great extent, they shape us deep within.

When you have a billion people tuning in simultaneously to an event like the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics tonight, you have a chance to communicate with them on both the visible and invisible level. It’s an opportunity to be uplifting, to unite people together in a joyous occasion. Whether you choose to take or not is another matter.

I’ll happily comment on tonight’s ceremony once I have seen it, but for now let’s stick to what we actually know to be true.

The official song for London 2102 is called Survival, by a group called Muse. On the face of it, the lyrics are not so bad, but I have deep reservations. Here they are (bold pieces highlighted by me).

Muse – Survival Lyrics

Race, life’s a race
And I am gonna win
Yes, I am gonna win

And i’ll light the fuse
And i’ll never lose
And I choose to survive
Whatever it takes
You won’t pull ahead
I’ll keep up the pace
And i’ll reveal my strength
To the whole human race
Yes I am prepared
To stay alive
I won’t forgive, the vengeance is mine
And I won’t give in
Because I choose to thrive

I’m gonna win

Race, it’s a race
But i’m gonna win
Yes i’m gonna win
And will light the fuse
I’ll never lose
And i choose to survive
Whatever it takes
You won’t ṗull ahead
I’ll keep up the pace
And i’ll reveal my strength
To the whole human race
Yes I’m gonna win

Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!
Win! Win! Win! Win!

Yes i’m gonna win

[Lyrics to Survival performed by Muse]
First seen on LyricsPremiere.com

Just to repeat myself: this is the OFFICIAL Olympic song. I don’t suggest you listen to it, but if you do, you may well be struck by the fact that it doesn’t really make you feel great. There’s a reason for this. After a melodious beginning, it becomes increasingly discordant.

My take on this is:

1)      The theme of violence/bombs that we have noted continues with the phrase “I light the fuse” and the instruction to “Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!”

2)      “Vengeance is mine” is something you’d expect to hear in a Jacobean Tragedy, rather than during a celebration of sporting prowess!

3)      “Whatever it takes” implies that rules of fair play do not apply.

4)      As to the words “I won’t forgive” – my personal view is that a culture improves in equal measure with its ability to show forgiveness and compassion.

You might be interested to know that the album (to be released in September) that this song comes from is called The Second Law. The law it refers to is the second law of thermodynamics, which according to Wikipedia “is an expression of the tendency that over time, differences in temperature, pressure, and chemical potential equilibrate in an isolated physical system so as to result in the natural entropic dissolution of the system itself.”

In other words: it is the law that states that order will break down into chaos, unity into separation.

And there we go again…that underlying message of chaos and destruction which seems wholly inappropriate to the Olympic Games, but which has been chosen to represent/be associated with them.

One thing is for sure: along with the visual extravaganza, there will be a lot of subliminal messages pouring out to the billions of viewers from the poly-pyramided Olympic stadium tonight. Let’s hope that those messages, contrary to some of the music choices that we’ve seen so far, are filled with love, fun and hope, containing a vision of humanity that makes us all happy to be part of it.

For that is what I see the Olympics as. It’s a chance for individuals to excel, to celebrate extra-ordinary personal achievement whilst representing closely-knit teams. As such, it is a microcosm of our world, each of us being uniquely special, yet all of us inextricably linked by the same magical breath of life which continues, day in day out, whether we are awake or deep in dreamland, wherever we are in the world.

That’s the sort of message I’d like tonight’s Opening Ceremony broadcast: a message of light and hope for a brighter future in which the wonder of life fills our hearts with shared magic.

Let’s hope it does!

With best wishes,

Essi.