Graeme K Talboys was born in Hammersmith, London. He still blames his parents. Since then, he has been coming to terms with the fact that he had his head taken apart in the ‘60s, whereafter the bits were exposed to loud music from various sources, strange movies, stranger writings, and some downright weird people. It eventually got put back together, but there were bits left over and they never did find the budgie.
In between being a space cadet and teaching in schools and museums, he has written nine works of non-fiction, eight of which have been published (on museum education, drama, and matters spiritual). He has also written twelve novels. The first (written when he was seventeen) was lost on a train. The next two (written in his early twenties) he wishes had been. Four later novels have been published, three of which are still in print (Wealden Hill, Thin Reflections, and now Stealing into Winter) and a collection of short stories (Stormwrack) will be published later this year.
The Story of a Circle
Once upon a time, a long time ago, in a land with no computers, just two channels on the television, and a distinct absence of central heating (otherwise known as 1960) a young boy made a discovery. He was surrounded by books, had learned to read at an early age, and around about the age of seven he realised you didn’t just have to read other people’s stories, but that you could make up your own and write them down.
That was how it all began. Sitting at a small table in his bedroom, he would fill little red cash books with stories that were lavishly illustrated with brightly coloured felt tipped pens. It might all have faded away; he was also rather fond of an enormous construction kit and loved to build things. But in 1962 he started to take a new, weekly magazine for children called Look & Learn.
Look & Learn was a large format, full colour magazine packed with factual articles and superb illustrations. It covered every subject under the sun and was well balanced between the sciences and the arts. What particularly captured this young boy’s imagination were the articles about writers and the serialisations from classics of literature. In a pre-computer age when owning a television was still considered a luxury, this magazine opened up the world to a hungry mind. It stuck a compass point into a blank sheet.
The young boy grew up and eventually I became a ‘proper’ writer; a journey that had the best send off imaginable. I still revisit those magazines, appreciating as an adult just how well-written they were: informative, interesting, literate, never patronising. That the magazine later incorporated such comic strips as ‘The Trigan Empire’ was just the cherry on an already well-iced cake. For such a confection, it was nourishing fare.
The writing journey has never been an easy one, but it has always been fascinating, with an almost obligatory surprise at each turning. Somewhere along the way, quite early, I began to read the books of Michael Moorcock and New Worlds, the magazine he edited. The fertile ground in which my imagination had thrived was given a whole new slant (and some very weird fertilizer). Much later I became associated with a project that is compiling a Michael Moorcock bibliography. There I learned that early in his career, he had written for Look & Learn; a fact that had the compass turning to sketch in, for me, parts of a circle.
But the closing of the circle, and an event that has given me enormous satisfaction, is the endorsement for my latest novel provided by none other than Michael Moorcock. As one of those instrumental in inspiring me to start writing, who encouraged me in the ‘70s to continue, and whose work (in all fields) I much admire, I feel honoured to have one of my titles associated with his name.
This foray into a more commercial form of fiction is not exactly new (I had a spy novel published in 1999), but it is the first time that I feel I have come full circle and, armed with experience, I now feel ready to set out on a whole new journey.
A free, signed copy of Stealing into Winter will be sent to someone chosen at random from the comment trail.
When Jeniche, a sometimes successful thief, found her prison cell collapsing around her, she knew it was not going to be a good day. Certainly, the last thing she wanted once she had escaped into the war-torn city was to become involved with a group of monks and nuns on pilgrimage. Even less did she want to help them escape and guide them through the desert and into the mountains so they could get home. Of course, the last thing you want is often the first thing you get. In a world growing painfully from the ruins of a long past catastrophe, it is not just the Imperial ambitions of the Occassan nation that worries people; it is the all too real danger of the past rearing its vicious and mysterious head. What did happen all those centuries ago? What has it do with a thief? And why are the Occassans so interested in her skills?