Today we are going to learn about another favorite author of mine. Monday we met Norah Wilson and Tuesday we learned about Amber Scott and her efforts. I tell you, starting up this blog was the best thing that I’ve done in years. I had been reading the same, relatively small, collection of authors for quite some time – never venturing out to read something new. I am now presented with so many choices in my reading and I’m enjoying every minute of it!
Before we meet Philip Ellis, I want to remind you that this week I am giving away both a Barnes & Noble Gift Card and a copy of His Elle by Jemima Valentino. Read my post on His Elle to find out about the book! To be entered, just leave me a comment with your e-mail address. This draw will occur on Sunday.
Philip Ellis is another example of me breaking out of my comfort zone. He asked me to read his book, Sweet Tooth. Sweet Tooth is certainly not an example of the glittery Regency Romances that I usually lean towards. Feeling adventurous, I loaded it onto my Nook and headed off to read while the kid’s activities took place. I was both captivated and horrified in a dozen pages. I couldn’t put the book down!
After reading Sweet Tooth, I asked Philip to be part of this week by putting together a blurb that I can put on my blog about him and his writing. Here is what he has to say!
When I was a child, real life was never quite enough for me. A keen devourer of books that were slightly above my reading level, I was constantly under the impression that my world would soon blossom into something more thrilling. If the Pevensie children could escape the drudgery of life in the Forties through a wardrobe, why couldn’t I? How was it that Huckleberry Finn was allowed to make his own way in the world, when I could barely make it to the end of our road without hearing somebody call me back?
So I retreated, like many other kids, into my imagination. When we went on holiday in Wales, I became convinced that the mountain overlooking the beach was in fact a sleeping dragon. The old woman who lived at the corner of our street was a witch (even now, as an adult, I am convinced of this). My grandfather’s garden gnomes were an army of dwarves, similar to the kind I read about in The Hobbit.
Of course, I grew up. My imaginings changed. I no longer wondered what life would be like if magic was real or if UFOs existed. I thought, what if that person over there felt about me the way I feel about them. I thought, what would the world be like if my father was still in it. I thought a lot of things, and so my stories became a series of “what if” scenarios.
Sweet Tooth, my debut anthology of short stories, is compiled of fiction written over the last five years. Each piece was written in isolation, with no other purpose than for the sheer pleasure I felt when writing it. I had no idea until I came to put them together that all along I’d been creating a world. Not the kind where there are dragons, or magic. A world that might almost be real, were it not for the curious events that happen from time to time. Essentially, this world was built by my inner child who was always screaming for life to be more interesting.
In my world, misfits get to play by their own rules. You’re lonely, and sick of people pitying you for being on your own. Why not simply make up a girlfriend? Shut them up and be a little happier for the fantasy. Any decent person, upon finding somebody else’s diary, would resist the urge to read it. Not in this world.
Obviously, writing is an incredibly personal process. And as soon as Sweet Tooth was complete, I began to feel protective, even defensive, about its contents. Did I really want anybody and everybody treading the streets in my town? The answer is, of course I do. It’s not just my world anymore, nor should it be. Some of the stories in Sweet Tooth take you to a pretty dark place. But others , I hope, lift you out again. If I had to sum it up, I’d say my twisted little book is about pleasure and pain. Darkness and light. Love and hate.
Just like real life.
As I mentioned above, I was lucky enough to get an advance copy of Sweet Tooth from Philip to read. I had some trouble find the correct words to describe it, but here is my effort.
Sweet Tooth dives under the skin of the twenty-first century animal to bring you stories of love, loss, desire and revenge. An unearthed diary yields terrible secrets; a lonely young man tells a lie that spirals out of control; a trip to Italy goes horribly wrong for two lovers, and a little girl hears screams from the house next door…
At times funny and poignant, at others chilling and provocative, ‘Sweet Tooth’ is Philip Ellis’s page-turning debut collection of fictional tales that will leave you wanting more.
I got a copy of this book to read and review from the author. It seemed so far removed from my comfort zone that I agreed to read it, but if I didn’t like it, I would decline to review it. Mr. Ellis agreed. It took me a bit to get to this book, but finally the time had arrived. So I read it……in one sitting….and then couldn’t sleep. Did I like it? That seems to be such a lame word with respect to this book! Let’s start with the fact that I was absolutely astounded with the excellence of Mr Ellis’s writing! I don’t think that I’ve read something this clear and concise in a long time. This little book is a collection of 16 stories. Although I like reading anthologies, I have a great deal of difficulties reviewing them.
Some of the stories I loved, some I thought were cute and creative, some were graphic and disturbing and some completely freaked me out. I find it amazing that in just a few short pages, a story can be created that causes me to lose sleep!
My two favorite stories were The Girlfriend and Nine Lives.
The Girlfriend is started with the quote from Sir Walter Scott: “Oh what a tangled web we weave,when first we practice to deceive.” This story is about a young man, Paul, who is tired of being single and lies to his friends, telling them he has recently started dating Caroline. He creates this whole fantasy girlfriend whom his friends and family never meet – there is always an excuse. He gets himself in deeper and deeper, and as the the quote says, when we practice to deceive. I won’t give away the ending. The reader is allowed to totally sympathize with this young man, tired of being alone, tired of looking for someone to share his life with.
Nine Lives is a story about a cat and a dog who knew each other in a previous life. The form of this life is insinuated and the outcome is assumed. This one is my favorite because of the wealth of information that is packed into 3 short pages.
As I said at the beginning, this book is about as far removed from my cherished Regency romances as I can get. That said, I would recommend this book and this author to anyone regardless of preferred genre. His writing is not to be missed! I look forward to what he produces next.
Jemima Valentino also had the opportunity to review this book. This is what she had to say: “I was lucky enough to be able to read Sweet Tooth with an advanced reader copy given to me by the author, Philip Ellis. Normally I am not a huge fan of anthologies as I have found it difficult in the past to fully focus on an entire book made up of a sequence of stories. But, Sweet Tooth is something else entirely. Each work of fiction is uniquely and beautifully crafted. One or two had me laughing until I cried (watch out for that one line in particular in ‘Local Haunts’ – you’ll know the one I mean when you get there) and others made me say “Oh my God!” out loud, so my husband asked me what the hell I was reading. My favourite reads within this anthology were; Nine Lives, Vlad, The Girlfriend and Can’t Go Back.”
Please take the opportunity to follow Philip on Twitter, or his blog and do yourself a favour and buy a copy of his book – prepare to be amazed!