Spirits of the Dead – Character Insight

Spirits of the Dead – Character Insight

I was recently asked who my favourite character is from Spirits of the Dead. It is always hard to pick a favourite character that I have written about. Part of the fun in writing, is coming up with lovable or evil characters! If I write well, I hope to enjoy each and every one of them.

My lead kid, Christopher is pretty cool, and his friend, Jason too — who is the standard sidekick and comedic relief. I actually really like Jason, as I had a friend just like him when I was young. I really enjoyed remembering him and letting him be such a big part of my story.

Another character that sort of moved from the background to the foreground was a chap called Dr Tabernacle. This is one interesting guy. He is a combination of a few people that I know. He has some good qualities and reminds me of gentlemen of a bygone era that naturally emanated manners and etiquette — a sorely missed attribute in this day and age. Whether his outward manners mask any darker intentions, one will have to see as the series progresses.

But in this book, my favourite to write was actually the utterly evil local priest, Reverent McBride. He has some wonderful characteristics that were just so much fun to create. Actually he is a composite character based off a few stories that I have heard, and people I have met.

Writing for a dark and twisted soul was always going to be great to get my teeth into. These fellows are somewhat complex, in that they are also the driving force behind the main characters pitfalls and terrors. They have their own mental reasons for doing what they do, and the darker they have fallen from a place of morality, the more it tends to show upon their face and in their actions.

I find that evil characters are the glue that provide the excitement, the apprehension and the reasons not to go out late at night for both our main characters and my readers!

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Spirits of the Dead – My Inspiration
November Newsletter – Amazing Giveaway!

November Newsletter – Amazing Giveaway!

Well, with the Christopher Daring rush of madness now settling into a more normal routine I thought it was time to give some love to my other books. That is why I am excited to say that I am participating in another Book Hub giveaway!

Book Hub are offering readers a chance to win Amazon vouchers and a thriller book bundle this month. Enter here to win a copy of my book, What’s the Time Mr Wolfdog? plus five other great thrillers: Enter Giveaway!

Currently, I am occupied finishing up By Order of the Shaman. This was to be another novella to fit into my series of short true stories, currently consisting of One Winter’s Day in June and Time for Obsession. However, it has naturally progressed into a much bigger story than I originally planned. The second draft is all but done and will shortly be in the hands of my beta-readers. So keep your eyes peeled for more information there.

I already have some exciting artwork I had specially created for this book. These are called ambigrams and they have a large significance within the story. You can get a preview of them here:


I hope you are currently enjoying some great books!

All the best,
Stephen J Willis

Spirits of the Dead – My Inspiration

Spirits of the Dead – My Inspiration

My initial inspiration for this book came from a real ghostly building in my local town. The high street here contains many preserved buildings dating as far back as the 14th century so it has many old and unusual locations.

One foggy morning, at 3am, I was out walking along The High Street, trying to shift a rather nasty migraine. I remember stopping in my tracks as an unexpected pressure upon my chest caused me to take in a deep breath.

I looked up at an old bicycle shop, where a big period bike sat gathering dust in the window. Everything about the shop display was grey and lost in the past. There was a pull to the top floor windows, where I felt the presence of someone looking down at me from behind the blackened windows. It was a very odd sensation. As I stared up I got the impression that the person was a young girl who had been stuck up there for over a hundred years.

I remember thinking how that poor girl had died up there so many moons ago. I of course, immediately questioned where on earth that feeling had come from. Being late, I tried to dismiss it and press on with my walk, still determined to shift the migraine. The seed of a story, however, had been planted in my mind.

What really made it real for me was that over the next few weeks, I happened to walk past the same shop with two different friends. On both occasions when I asked them what they thought of this practically invisible shop, they too raised a hand to their chest and mentioned that they suddenly felt an odd constriction there. They were both bowled over when I told them of my earlier experience and agreed that the place gave off a dark sort of foreboding.

The seed of this story blossomed into what became the short story, The Ghostly Penny Farthing, and now the full-length story, The Spirits of the Dead.

October Newsletter – Spooktacular News

October Newsletter – Spooktacular News


Another month is hurtling along… and with my birthday only days away, they seem to pass faster every year!

Well, I thought I’d update you on the last month or so. As you can imagine, it is quite a promotional period of time. You would not believe the amount of time and energy used getting everything ready. But it finally happened, I had my first book signing!


The book signing was a complete success and I practically sold out! People came and went all day, some staying for tea in the Book Shop and others diving off again because of the afternoon rain.




I must say, John Pye, the owner of the East Grinstead Book Shop was the perfect host. A natural orator and entertainer and he even effortlessly looked after the handful of kids that turned up at the shop. I also would like to thank the delightful Sarah Gillett for all her help and guidance in making sure that I was well prepared!



We had a competition at the book signing to win a £10 Amazon gift card if you subscribed to my mailing list. I want to announce and congratulate the lucky winner, Jake Reynolds! Please email me here, to claim your gift card.

I got to chat with the two bubbly presenters James Cannon and Lesley McCabe the other week. It was a great interview, wherein we talked about the two new books and the series overall.

I also had a great chat with local radio presenter Samantha Day. I was in the studio at 10:15 am (Wed 26th September) chatting about the books and my previous acting stints.


Incidentally, after our show aired, Sam shared with me a current project that she is also working on. She really is quite an adventurer herself and was telling me about her expedition trip to Malawi in Africa coordinated by Orbis Expeditions, a specialist company for educational, and philanthropic travel. There she is supporting various local groups promoting, amongst other things, female health. The two business initiatives are Tine Pads and WOLREC. If you are interested in supporting her initiative you can find out more here: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/ania-jeffries-1

I want to thank a few more people, then I’ll leave you with some photos of a few of the kind people who came to the signing.

Dave Neave, for his good company throughout the day. Katy Newell for coming down with her camera and taking an abundance of photos and Visit East Grinstead who very kindly mentioned the books and the launch in the local East Grinstead news.

Finally, I want to thank Leah Chalmers, from Chalmers Writing Services who has been flat out with all the coordination to pull everything off. If you are looking at writing or need some help in these areas, then she is your go-to-girl!



Well, I guess that is all for now… So, whilst I work away on my next book, a psychological drama based on a true event — I wish you all happy reading!

All the best,



September Newsletter – Christopher Daring – No.1 on Amazon

September Newsletter – Christopher Daring – No.1 on Amazon

Finding my new book: The Forest of Riddles at a number one slot on Amazon last Saturday really made my day!

The book, set for release on the 21st of September, will be accompanying its sister book in the Christopher Daring series: Spirits of the Dead.

On Thursday of this week I also had some amazing news, with Spirits of the Dead hitting number ONE in its category. So as you can imagine it has been a pretty good week.


To find out what all the excitement is about, and find out more click on the links below:

Spirits of the Dead: UK & US

The Forest of Riddles: UK & US

It’s certainly a busy month! To add to the current buzz, the on-line giant BookBub will be featuring Spirits of the Dead on the 29th September.

BBC Radio Surrey, also requested an interview with me to discuss the new launch. So I had the chance to chat with presenters James Cannon and Lesley McCabe on Tuesday around 9:15am on 11th September. It was a great interview, wherein we talked about the two new books and the series overall. If you missed it and want to have a listen to the chat, just let me know.


And speaking of radio interviews, I have another on Wednesday 26th of September, where I will be talking to my local presenter Samantha Day at Meridian107 FM. I will be in the studio at 10:15am chatting about the books.

If you miss it and fancy a catch up over a cup of tea, you can find it here: http://www.meridianfm.com/listen-again/


The Magical Video Trailer

To put you in the mood for the feel of the new books, you can watch my updated video here:

Don’t forget the book signing of both books will be on the 6th October 2018 at The BookShop, at the top of town in East Grinstead, West Sussex, England.


Earlier Incarnations

Now, I’ve spoken in the past about the illustrators that have worked on my most recent Christopher Daring books— whether for the covers or for the inside illustrations — but I don’t believe that I have mentioned the first graphic designer that jumped on board in the early days.

Jesse Reuben Wilson, of BeyondMedia, was the first person that I discussed the idea of branding with. Now Jesse, apart from being an excellent music producer and the editor of the on-line Bandit music magazine, is also an incredible designer. He is one of the few people I know who is just amazing at whatever he does.

I approached Jesse a few years back with my original Christopher Daring short stories, and he was keen to get the book covers just right. He has a natural eye when it comes to creative design. And not just that, he also tends to underpin his talent with some pretty clever intelligence.


So if you are looking for an amazing graphic designer, then contact his company here: www.beyondmedia.co


Below are the original Christopher Daring book covers that he created. They are no-longer available, as these two short stories together are what is now the new full-length book:The Spirits of the Dead. It is a shame to let them go…