{Short Sharp Shocks! Book Review/Interview} The Stranger & The Ribbon: Tim Dry

Short Sharp Shocks! #2

Tim Dry: The Stranger & The Ribbon

Reviewed By Steve Stred

The Short Sharps Shocks! Series has delivered for me time and time again, but alas I didn’t completely dig ‘The Stranger & The Ribbon’ by Tim Dry.

In bits and pieces, this thing has some enormously entertaining moments. The folklore/demonic stuff that was mentioned was really cool and the seductive enchantress plotline in the second half was a lot of fun. But as a whole, it didn’t resonate.

I think a big part of that is the screen play-ish way it is written, or more accurately told to the reader. I found it very jarring to read lines that were essentially; “A restaurant. A man and a woman are sitting at a table. Suddenly the man gets angry.” Once I was done and read the biography of the writer, I understood a bit more about just why his approach was like that, having been an actor and writer of stage and screen for decades, but I found it just didn’t translate in this setup.

I will say though – the LSD infused football scene was a fun diversion.

A fun, if not slightly jumbled, entry into the SSS! Series of releases and one I still think folks should check out.

The Stranger & The Ribbon

Abusive, out of control drunkenness, a dreadful accident, sexual desire, hallucinations, cigarettes, two daughters whose father is a shape-shifting alien, a house that constantly remodels itself, heads will roll and more, so much more.

Welcome to the dark imagination of writer, actor and musician, Tim Dry!

You can buy The Stranger & The Ribbon from Amazon UK & Amazon US

Tim Dry: The Kendall Reviews Interview

(This interview was conducted back in November 2019)

Kendall Reviews: Could you tell me a little about yourself please?

Tim Dry: Tim Dry is an eclectic, contradictory, inconsistent artist with a very low boredom threshold. But in spite of these disabilities he has managed over the last thirty years to carve out careers as an actor, award-winning photographer, pop musician, famous mime artist and now writer. His saving graces are charm, a questioning mind and a legendary sense of humour. He is emphatically not available for Bar Mitzvahs, socials or weddings!

KR: What do you like to do when not writing?

TD: I spend a fair amount of time walking around all the differing areas of Central London taking photographs of the old, the new and the unusual, whether they’re buildings, cemeteries, parks or statues. I have enough good quality images for a coffee table book now and I think it would appeal to an American market. So I’m working on that. I love movies old and new and good TV shows so most evenings are spent either watching favourites from my large collection or seeking out new shows. I enjoy travelling and because of my involvement in one of the original Star Wars films I get invited to be an autograph guest at conventions all over the world, which is very exciting!

KR: What is your favourite childhood book?

TD: Rupert Bear annuals! Alfred Bestall’s stories and illustrations were wonderful, evoking an idyllic Englishness that was timeless and innocent. I used to love The Eagle annuals too, they had really good and informative articles and illustrations as well as stories.

KR: What is your favourite album, and does music play any role in your writing?

TD: Oh, that’s a tricky one! I cannot possibly narrow it down to one album by one artist I’m afraid. So I’m going with everything David Bowie recorded from 1970 to 1980, every album by Kate Bush, Kraftwerk, Brian Eno, William Orbit, Beatles, The Who, Dead Can Dance, Goldfrapp, certain movie soundtracks and many more. When I’m writing I tend to just listen to ambient or instrumental music because as soon as I hear lyrics I get distracted and emotionally involved. I find that the work of Max Richter is a great and mood full aid to conjuring up a foreboding atmosphere, which adds to the drama of a story. Especially his soundtrack to the TV series Taboo and his debut album Memory House.

KR: Do you have a favourite horror movie/director? 

TD: Not really a favourite horror director to be honest but I do love the work of The Soska Sisters. I loved the early work of Nic Roeg and David Cronenberg. Clive Barker’s Hellraiser was a unique movie in the horror genre. Also movies by Ridley Scott, Alejandro Jodorowski, John Carpenter, Hitchcock, Guillermo del Toro, Powell & Pressburger, Kubrick, Tarantino and lots more!

KR: What are you reading now?

TD: One of several books by Christopher Fowler in his Bryant & May series. I have about 10 of them so far! They’re immensely enjoyable and quirky and very English.

KR: What was the last great book you read?

TD: Tricky one! It would be The Dark Masters Trilogy by Stephen Volk. Whitstable alone is a marvellously evocative piece of writing.

KR: E-Book, Paperback or Hardback?

TD: Paperback preferably. Hardbacks are somewhat difficult if you read in bed! I rarely read Kindles or E-Books, as I like to give my eyes a rest from screens! I love the smell and feel of books bound in paper.

KR: Who were the authors that inspired you to write?

TD: Originally? Stephen King, Colin Wilson, Michael Moorcock, Jorge Luis Borges, Kurt Vonnegut. Latterly? Clive Barker, Rupert Thomson, Stephen Volk.

KR: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?

TD: A weird combination of both! I usually have a quick idea that I can enlarge upon bit by bit. Sometimes I might scrap that though and start again in a completely different direction. Most of the short stories I’ve written for anthologies were easier in many ways because you’ve already been given a theme upon which to base a tale. I’m writing something for myself at the moment that is entirely based upon dreams that I’ve had over the years that I’ve managed to write down and thus relive and enlarge upon them and work them into a work of fiction.

KR: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

TD: I enjoy doing research for certain subjects and I usually do that once I’ve started. One of the short stories of mine that was published in an anthology concerned an undead Witch in a certain part of England and it was fun to research that. She had a Council estate built over her ancient habitat and that pissed her off! Of course the Internet today is absolutely invaluable for that. In the old days you’d have to trawl through your local library hoping to find something relevant and useful and if they didn’t have what you were looking for you’d get them to order it for you, which could take weeks. Or you’d have to buy a new book from a bookshop and hope it contained the info that you needed. Pricey! I am the proud owner of a great many books of every description so these days I’m pretty well equipped for sources of information.

KR: How would you describe your writing style?

TD: Because I originally trained as a visual artist I do tend to see my work in visual terms, quite often in a stripped-down, cinematic style. I do always try to add in a degree of black humour to a story as I find that it helps to distract a reader from what’s about to happen next. I do quite often use a song as a signpost too, in the way that Stephen King has done on several occasions.

KR: Describe your usual writing day?

TD: Undisciplined and chaotic! I’m not the sort of person that allocates specific hours of the day to writing. I tend to be easily distracted and do my best to actually avoid getting down to it. I’m not a good or a natural typist so the act of doing that is a bit of a chore for me but having said that the use of Word for example is a very liberating tool, thanks mainly to its ability to cut and paste sentences, paragraphs into a new and unthought-of order. A process, which if done by hand would be arduous. I like the William Burroughs/Brion Gysin cut-up approach as another means of expression as I tend to not write in a linear way. I do make a lot of notes in hastily scribbled writing that quite often reveals something instinctive and exciting. Other times of course I read (or try to decipher) some of them and find myself completely at a loss as to understanding what the Hell I was getting at!

KR: Do you have a favourite story/short that you’ve written (published or not)?

TD: I can’t say that I do. Every story has a different personal place in my heart and I can’t favour one over another. It’s easy to say that the last one or the current one is your favourite but I don’t adhere to that, they’re all my little children and I love them all!

KR: Do you read your book reviews?

TD: Of course!

KR: How do you think you’ve developed as an author?

TD: I think I’m always developing incrementally. I don’t have a target to aim for in terms of satisfaction with my writing, I just want to keep surprising myself!

KR: What is the best piece of advice you’ve received regarding your writing?

TD: Just start! Try not to think about how to get to the end result but instead just go with the flow and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

KR: What scares you?

TD: In life? Ignorance, intolerance, anger, politicians, violence, inequality, the destruction of nature in the name of progress, greed, organised religions, the abuse of power. In fiction? Not that much actually.Having said that the novel The Shining did profoundly affect me because of Jack Torrance’s gradual and well-defined disintegration as a man with writer’s block who abused his son in a moment of anger and is also a recovering alcoholic. If you add in the dreadful isolation of his job and its location let alone the inhabitants of the hotel you have something frighteningly out of control taking place. It’s a masterful piece of writing.

KR: Can you tell me about your latest release please?

TD: My debut novella ‘Ricochet’ is going to be re-published by a well-respected small press in the UK in the New Year and I’m excited by that. Apart from that I have a couple of short stories to complete and also a possible second novella is currently gestating.

Tim Dry

Tim Dry is a writer, actor, mime, musician and photographic artist, best known for playing two characters in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (‘J’Quille – Whiphid’ and ‘Mon Calamari Officer’), the alien in cult ‘80s Sci Fi/horror movie Xtro and for being half of a duo, Tik and Tok, that popularized robotic mime in the UK in the 1980s.They appeared on 26 TV shows in the UK (The most notable being The Royal Variety Performance 1983 in the presence of HRH Queen Elizabeth), recorded 5 singles and 2 albums and supported Duran Duran, Gary Numan, Ultravox, Adam & The Ants and Depeche Mode amongst others.

Tim’s TV appearances include Father Ted, The Bill, Eastenders, The 10th Kingdom (Cable TV series) Casualty, Cliff! (Cliff Richard special), In Dreams (Lenny Henry drama comedy special) and Goodbye Mr Steadman. He co-presented the Channel 4 food and drink series Feast in 1997.Tim has been featured in over 90 TV Commercials and played the leads in Steven Berkoff’s Harry’s Christmas, Kevin Laffan’s Adam Redundant and Moliere’s School For Wives on the London Stage. His film roles include the title role in the short SON Of Nosferatu, Entourage 7 in Steven Berkoff’s Decadence, The Death Provider in Le Accelerator and Melvyn in the short Pier Pressure.

Tim is the author of two published books of memoirs: Falling Upwards – Scenes From A life and Continuum – The Star Wars Phenomenon As Experienced From The Inside. His first novella, entitled Ricochet was published by the Spectral Press imprint Theatrum Mundi in 2015. He also has short stories in eight Horror anthologies.

Steve Stred

Steve Stred writes dark, bleak horror fiction.

Steve is the author of three novels, a number of novellas and four collections.

He is proud to work with the Ladies of Horror Fiction to facilitate the Annual LOHF Writers Grant.

Steve is also a voracious reader, reviewing everything he reads and submitting the majority of his reviews to be featured on Kendall Reviews.

Steve Stred is based in Edmonton, AB, Canada and lives with his wife, his son and their dog OJ.

You can follow Steve on Twitter @stevestred

You can follow Steve on Instagram @stevestred

You can visit Steve’s Official website here

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