Coming up I hope :)

I have requested two interviews.

1. Eviction Lab, want to know what is happening with evictions in the USA. Check this site out it's not pretty but it's important to talk about. So i have emailed and asked them for some insights.

2. I also contacted a site that does specialty tea sets. I hope to have someone from the site based in the UK contact me soon for an inerview.

3. I have also sent a request to two more people one expert on heat waves and a company that provides expert witnesses for trials.

C. T.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Football (Soccer) & Vampires? Find Out More In This Candid Conversation With Martin Tracey Author Of Beneath The Floodlights

What do football players or as we say here in North America soccer players and vampires have in common. Well each has a goal in mind. Football players like to score points and vampires like to score blood. Outside of that I can't see what else they have in common but, author Martin Tracey does. He his book Beneath the Floodlights. The book tells the tale of a team that is in bad shape and in need of divine intervention so to speak. The intervention does come in the form of a new manager and a crew of players who seem to possess incredible skills. Little do most folks know including some of the teams players that the manager and his crew are vampires and the Manager is on a quest to clone the first vampire. But, there are some slight problems that the manager encounters. I got in touch with Martin Tracey to discuss the book.

Cliff T.: Mr Tracey, or Martin welcome to Candid Conversations.

Martin Tracey: Hi Cliff, Martin is fine. Thanks for the opportunity to discuss Beneath the Floodlights.

Cliff T.: Pardon the pun but, I would like to sink my teeth into this right off the bat, so to speak. Vampires and football an interesting combo. Tell me how did you come up with the plot?

Martin Tracey: I have always been fascinated with the supernatural and horror since a small child be it ghosts, werewolves or vampires. I remember in particular around the age of 9 or 10 watching Salem’s Lot starring David Soul and it just fueled my already existing active imagination. Also like most Englanders I have always been hooked on football. In England football is a massive cultural entity which significantly dominates a variety of social circles and is very much a way of life for many individuals in this country. The team I follow is Wolverhampton Wanderers and their nickname is Wolves so I initially had the idea to have werewolves taking over a football team, but the more I thought about the plot I felt that vampires had more scope to develop the story. To many the idea of the worlds of football and vampires colliding may seem a very unique storyline, but to me it made sense to marry the two worlds together because I am writing about two subjects that really inspire me. I decided to make Cezar a Professor in Football to allow the scope for him to run a School of Football Excellence and be a credible expert in the sport and I thought if he was also a Professor in Genetics I could develop the plot of him extracting DNA to make a clone. If Cezar purchased a large enough residence he could set up both his school and laboratories at the same location. Birmingham is a major city in England yet it is surrounded by ample countryside so I decided to have the residence set up in rural Staffordshire, close to the Shropshire borders which is rural enough to possess a private dwelling yet is close enough to Birmingham for Cezar and his vampire footballers to travel to the football ground.

Cliff T.: In the book it looks like there are 4 characters that are central to the plot Johnny, the professor a girl and another vampire. How do they interact with each other?

Martin Tracey: Johnny Knox is a local boy done good. He epitomizes every school boy’s dream in that he is playing for the team he supported as a child, in this case the fictitious Birmingham team of Kingsbarr United. He is club captain and would give blood for the good of his team (you will have to read the book to see if he literally has to!) He is also a strong family man and he would die for his family without a moment’s hesitation. Johnny is haunted by the disappearance of his son some years earlier but has a daughter and also finds himself adopting a Romanian child during the course of the book. When Professor Cezar Prodanescu, the master vampire from Transylvania manages the team, he recognizes Johnny’s loyalty to the club and also his ability as a player and captain. It is never on Cezar’s agenda to compromise Johnny’s position on the team hence one of the reasons he wishes to keep his vampirism secret. Cezar is the head of a raging vampire nest which doubles as a School of Football Excellence and the most promising prospect from this school is Andrei who is a fantastic footballer and is as prolific at scoring goals as he is drinking the blood of humans. It is Andrei who helps Cezar unearth the grave of the world’s first vampire which is secretly in Sutton Park (Birmingham’s equivalent of Central Park where King Henry VIII once hunted deer) so that Cezar can attempt to extract the DNA from the ancient bones in a bid to make a clone. Whilst in Birmingham Andrei unsuspectingly falls in love with a human girl called Lily and much of the book features on his struggle to protect her from the vampire world which torments him as it is against his very being: as a master vampire he is programmed to lead the way in drinking human blood to augment his vampire race. The old saying of “opposites attract” couldn’t be more appropriate as the sweet, young innocent Lily is totally at odds to all that Cezar stands for. Andrei doesn’t share his master’s desire to protect the humans that have complemented their lives and this clash between master and servant leads to dramatic consequences. There are other strong characters in the book, for instance some of the other human footballers: Jody who loves all things 1980s, winger Charlie Cheng - a Chinese Kung Fu expert and Italian playboy Giuseppe. The products of the School of Football Excellence/Vampire nest who spectacularly merge into the team are all latter-teenage orphans mainly from the countries of Romania and Brazil. Another strong character that features is Kingsbarr fan Gene who also happens to be a seasoned vampire slayer. 

Cliff T.: Is there a bit of you injected into the book?

Martin Tracey: Sub-consciously perhaps but not intentionally. There are traits of me in Johnny I guess, my family are my main priority in life and I like to think I have strong values around loyalty but I could never play football as well as him. In fact most of the time I was a goalkeeper when I played! Many of the locations I’ve used around Birmingham and Sutton Coldfield are inspired by the love I have of my home city so when I reflect on the drinking bars of Broad Street for example some of my life experiences possibly seep through.

Cliff T.: Martin, it's mentioned that you aim to be realistic while still writing in such a way that the reader will feel the horror as well, how difficult was that for this book? And, what did you do to ensure some reality was sprinkled into the fiction?

Martin Tracey: Very good question. If certain characters are portrayed as being traditionally cynical but then become exposed to a supernatural situation that they are forced to accept I think this gives an element of realism to the story. I try to get the reader to identify with the character and consider “well if that could happen to Johnny then could it happen to me?” I get the characters to question the situation they are exposed to until they themselves come to the conclusion that they must have experienced something they could not believe possible but there indeed can be no other logical explanation other than they have experienced a supernatural occurrence. Also by placing the characters in more familiar situations and by balancing fact with fiction, this is more likely to draw the reader in when the more horrific situations occur. Many of us have fears lurking in our subconscious anyway: for example how many of us have got into a car alone late and night and found ourselves checking the back seat of the car expecting a presence to be there? Many of us have involuntary fears that can be brought to the surface if manipulated well enough.

Cliff T.: Besides this book I see that you working on two others Mind Guerrilla and Divine Inspiration, what can readers look for in these two books?

Martin Tracey: Mind Guerrilla tells the story of a tough and uncompromising Birmingham cop named Judd and his superior and friend William. They are presented with the need to catch a very unorthodox serial killer and this leads Judd uncomfortably back to a previous time in his life when he was a football hooligan. Unfortunately football hooliganism was a very big problem in Britain in the 70s and 80s but in the book its ugly mark on football has developed to a more sophisticated level. William is suffering from a debilitating illness which affects his physical being but he has always possessed a gift of telekinesis and as his illness deteriorates his telekinetic powers actually increase and this helps him assist Judd in readdressing a travesty in justice whilst at the same time seeking to avenge his sister’s misfortune at the hands of a religious cult.

An abridged version of Divine Inspiration was once published as a short story in Words magazine but I am developing it into a novel. It tells the story of a failing Rock Star who is helped from beyond the grave to try and resurrect his career. It is a proper haunted house story where Jack, the Rock Star, returns to his native Peak District in Derbyshire and purchases a creepy old mansion with a piano that seems to play on its own accord.

Cliff T.: When did you get interested in horror and why did you choose vampires for this book?

Martin Tracey: As I mentioned earlier, since I was a child horror is something that has just always fascinated me, I remember watching the old Hammer Horror films and just fell in love with them. A particular favorite is The Curse of the Werewolf starring my favorite actor of all time Oliver Reed. At a very young age my mates and I would discuss the films and invent stories about seeing ghosts – eventually convincing ourselves that the stories were real. We even kept a log book with drawings and particulars about the respective ghosts! I have never experienced anything supernatural to my knowledge but when you have an active imagination the entity of the unknown is very appealing and I keep an open mind about these things. I chose vampires because I liked the idea of their powers increasing under the darkness of the English winter sky i.e. Beneath the Floodlights. In my book vampires have evolved to stand sunlight but like other nocturnal creatures they perform best in darkness.

Cliff T.: I am assuming that the books are geared to sport and music and horror lovers, or do you have a wider audience in mind?

Martin Tracey: The book is first and foremost geared to an audience who is comfortable with mature themes. The book is about modern day footballers so swearing is par for the course. I have always been intrigued how the bite of a vampire is quite sensual in many vampire tales that I have seen and read, with the victim succumbing to the bliss that they encounter, so I have exploited this theory in the book. There are some musical references in the book mainly due to Jody’s love of 80s music and the team blast out CDs in the dressing room as a method of pre-game preparation. If the reader likes sport, music or horror then they won’t be disappointed but I believe the portrayal of the struggle Cezar has with his emotions around Lily and the human footballers allows the more sensitive and romantic reader to enjoy the book as well. There are also sprinklings of history in the book including that of British monarchs.

Cliff T.: Martin I noted that besides writing books you also do some acting and writing. Are these full time jobs for you or do you have a day job as well?

Martin Tracey: By day I work as a Performance and Analysis Manager and by night (and at weekends) I juggle my other interests whilst foremost being a husband and dad. These days the acting is very limited but I did land a part in a zombie film, called ZombieHood, which is set in Nottingham and I believe is due for release sometime this year. Both my youngest daughter and I play zombies (she needed the grotesque make up more than I) but my eldest daughter has a speaking part as the news reader who reports on the mayhem that the Zombies are causing across Nottingham. Before writing novels I concentrated on writing songs and played in a few bands around Birmingham. I had some success in the music business supporting the Fine Young Cannibals at one very special gig and I have a song called “Raging Bull” on the CD “Old Gold Anthems – the songs of Wolverhampton Wanderers”.

Cliff T.: I see that people can get the book from Amazon, can they buy the book via you're website and get copies in stores?

Martin Tracey: There is a link on my website to contact me directly to buy a signed copy; obviously UK readers can post me a cheque in sterling. I would not wish to alienate my overseas readers so if they contact me through my site in the first instance I could easily arrange to email them a PayPal invoice so they too can purchase a signed copy. I believe that they do not even need to have a PayPal account themselves to do this. In the UK the book is available in Waterstone’s store. The book is also available at Barnes and Noble, the AuthorHouse online bookstore and several other outlets.

Cliff T.: Martin it's been great to chat with you here on Candid Conversations. All the best with the books and other things you are up to.

Martin Tracey: Many thanks Cliff; I’d be happy to chat again sometime perhaps when I release other publications. All the best for now or as we say in Birmingham “Tara for a bit!”

Martin Tracey, author of the book Beneath the Floodlights, a tale of vampires and football. The book can be purchased from in print and electronic version for the Kindle. Mr. Tracey also has a website Martin Tracey wrote to us from Birmingham U.K.


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