Born in Zimbabwe in 1962, Tim Wickenden spent his first few years there and then the UK and at the age of five went to Hong Kong. “It was idyllic,” he told me, “we were army brats, having a great time, running wild, skinny dipping in reservoirs.”
Age eight his family moved back to the UK, and he went off to boarding school. His parents were posted to Germany where they spent most of the next ten years; he and his sisters joining them during school holidays.
“My first two years at boarding school were about as bad an experience as you can imagine. In 1972 the school closed and I moved on. I spent ten years in boarding schools. It was lonely and hard, but the experience made me independent and strong.”
And those experiences, have been drawn upon, as all good writers must, to create complicated and believable characters in his writing.
Tim’s latest work also draws upon that youthful connection with Germany. Angel Avenger is set in 1960’s Berlin. Tim describes it as a classic story of revenge.
“It’s not a whodunnit,” he explains, “We know who has committed the act of revenge from near the beginning. What we do not know is why.”
Tim goes on to explain that it is a book of two halves, one dealing with the murders and the other the pursuit and psychological story. Max Becker is the central detective. “I was keen not to have a maverick, loan detective. I wanted him to be different: married, a family man. While I was researching into the war, I noted that stories from ordinary people get lost.”
And Tim’s team of detectives are all ordinary people in extraordinary jobs, at a remarkable time in history. He has created them as rounded, real people, who work well together. Amongst them is a strong female character he admits he has entirely fallen in love with. She introduces a little romance to the plot, and he intends that she will play an increasingly important role in future work. People who have reviewed the book have liked the characters; it is the essence of good storytelling.
Romance aside, Tim has pulled no punches. “I did have a moment of worry that the murders might be too horrific, but my beta readers encouraged me to be bold. I think I have struck it just right. In the second half of the book when the team find out the history behind the killing, they are faced with a moral dilemma: they find themselves caught between duty and justice.”
Tim explains that he is re-learning German now, the better to think in the language, which he believes adds authenticity to his plot. In time he plans to have his work translated into German.
I asked Tim to tell me more about the inspiration for this book.
“I had been taken to Belsen (an infamous Nazi concentration camp from the Second World War) when I was 12, and I was really struck with the eeriness of the place, its sense of history. It started a life-long interest, and at boarding school there was nothing to do but read. I read whatever I could get my hands on, including much military history. As my family were living in Germany I became interested in the Second World War from the German perspective, and my research went on from then.”
Tim goes on to tell me how he came across a story about an horrific atrocity perpetrated by the Russians on women and children in a place called Nemmersdorf.The Nazi regime used the incident as anti-Soviet propaganda, and some say it didn’t really happen. During his research, Tim found and read a war memoir of a German machine gunner (Blood Red Snow by Günter K Koschorrek – Frontline Books), an eye witness, who was horrified by the experience.
Tim quotes from him.
‘It is impossible for me to describe all the terrible sights we have witnessed in Nemmersdorf. I can’t find the right words, and it is repugnant to have to talk about the horrific acts perpetrated on innocent women, children and old people.’
Tim says, “I began to wonder. What happens if you survive something like this and then later meet the men who committed these atrocities? The idea for the book developed from there.”
I ask Tim about his other work, and he tells me about Girl Hunter, a slim volume that Tim wrote initially as part of Angel Avenger. I realised that it worked best as a short story in its own right, and so I published it first as an ebook.
“The first reviewers said they wanted to hear more about the characters, so I knew I had to continue with them. ‘Girl Hunter’ has been getting 4+ star reviews so I decided to print paper copies. I employed some local girls for the cover, and we’re making a mini-movie for advertising.”
Very cleverly Tim has used the back cover of the book to advertise the latest work, Angel Avenger, showing the striking front cover by professional artist Zoe Foster (zoedrawsthings.co.uk) from Newport Gwent.
Copies of Girl Hunter are being given away free to help promote his work: Manor Town House hotel and Victoria Bookshop have copies for their customers. Tim says, “I am happy to supply other businesses with copies for their customers, just contact me via social media if you’re interested.”
I ask Tim about his writing routine.
He explains that he sees writing as his job.
“I write in the same place each day. I have a target of 1000 words, but sometimes, when things are going well, I can manage 3 to 4000. I need to be quiet, though I am not anal about that. I don’t handwrite, it all goes straight onto the computer. I use ‘Scrivener’ which helps keep all my research and characters etc. in order. I recommend it for writers. It’s a good piece of software.”
“Writing is a journey. I always know where I want to go, but I also let things come to me. I will often wake at night with dialogue in my head”.
Tim says he is continually working. The second full-length novel, ‘Lüdkes Game’ is in progress now, the plot following on from the current book. Tim reveals that the detectives we come to know so well in Girl Hunter and in Angel Avenger will be fighting for their survival in this new book.
He is also working on a short story (Tiergarten 4) on how Max became a detective, and it links with Lüdke’s Game too. He hopes to publish the short story around Christmas time.
As Tim has published the books himself, I ask if he has tips he would like to share?
“There has been a lot of snobbishness talked about self-publishing and vanity publishers will publish anything for a fee. You need to do your research every step of the way. It is possible to publish without spending any money. You can create an ebook on Amazon, and they will print copies on demand for a fee, but marketing is essential if you actually want people to read what you write.
I did my research and have employed several firms to help with marketing. It’s the American sites you have to crack first, and you need honest reviews through review sites like lovereading.co.uk, Goodreads and, of course, Amazon.”
Following his good reviews ( averaging 4+ stars) Tim has gone on to print his novel. He has put a lot of effort into competing with the big publishing houses but believes it is worth it.
He is particularly happy that his Mum, lived just long enough to read Angel Avenger, which came out on July 31st (2019), “she really enjoyed the book, too.”
So what does Tim Wickenden do when he isn’t writing?
“Swimming and bodyboarding. I am lucky enough to live overlooking Fishguard bay, so I swim and walk a lot. I like to be out-doors when I am not working. My son is into making videos, and we do that together, but I do feel a strong compulsion to write. I am hoping that what I write is as compelling to read.”
Thank you Tim. We wish you every success with your books and hope to hear much more from you in the future.
Where to obtain Tim’s books:
The books are available direct from Tim (signed: both Hardback and Paperback), or you can order both eBooks and a paperback from Amazon.
He has donated 5 copies to the Pembrokeshire library service to go in the 5 main libraries, and it is on sale in Victoria Bookshop (Haverfordwest) and Seaways (Fishguard) stock the paperback.
Review by Devine Zane for Readers’ Favorite – April 2019
Angel Avenger: A Max Becker Thriller by Tim Wickenden has a
strong appeal to fans of thrillers and sleuth novels. It is September
in 1960 and a serial killer is doing a lot of ghastly killings in
Germany. The first victim is discovered tied to a tree; naked,
tortured, shot in the head and left in the Spandauer forest with a
message on his body. Detectives Max Becker and Bastian Döhl,
from the Berlin Kriminalpolizei, are out to uncover the killer. But
with more bodies surfacing, they quickly understand this crime is
more complex than it seems. Who is killing Russians with criminal
pasts? Follow this engrossing narrative and discover what it means
for a detective to be caught in a difficult dilemma. Will Max choose
his conscience or his duty when dealing with a crime with deep and
While this is an entertaining story, it poses powerful moral
questions, placing the protagonist in a very delicate position. The
characters are rock-solid and relatable. I loved the shadowy
Günther and the effect he has on the protagonist. The author
ensures the characters are thought out with roles that help the
narrative move forward. It is intriguing and packed with action, a
deftly plotted novel with a setting that captures the cultural and
historical elements of a people. Angel Avenger: A Max Becker
Thriller is hypnotic, a well-crafted story with great characters. It has
many strong themes and the prominent one is the quest for
revenge for an age-old crime. Tim Wickenden does more than write
a story: the author compels readers to follow the characters and to
find out where the action takes them next. A pure delight for fans of