Interview with Essi Tolling

Essi Tolling is alive and well!

We have received many emails since Watchers was first published and especially regarding the publication of book two The Hidden Hand. We have tried to respond to as many as we could while also being mindful of the author’s need to be given space and time to write. So now that book two is being published on August 3rd and a revised version of Watchers has just been released we have had a chance to catch up with Essi and ask him some of the questions you have been sending to us.

KP: Essi many readers have been asking about you and wondering where you were and when they could expect the second book.

Essi with Angela Timmins, Waterstones Hereford

Essi: Firstly, my apologies for the extremely long silence. Secondly, more apologies for the delay in publication of the second book in the Tilly Greenway series. I’m happy to say that both issues are at last remedied with immediate effect!

It has been a challenging time since I last posted an entry on my blog or sallied forth into the world of social media. As readers will know, back in the spring of 2013 my publishers asked me to make some changes to the storyline of both book 2 and 3 in the trilogy. This was largely because things that were destined to happen in the books were actually playing out in the real world in a way which they were not comfortable with.

KP: Can you expand on that a bit?

Essi: To give you an example: in my last blog post I forecast further wars and predicted that Syria would be the next place of major conflict. That, like many other parts of the old subplot of the books, has sadly proved to be true. With an underlying element of criticism of governments (and the powers that run them) deliberately stirring up wars for their own benefit, it was deemed that the storyline was in fact a little too “hot to handle”. Making a few small changes to a long-planned, complex plot – with plenty of subplots for good measure! – was not as simple as it first appeared. Then in 2013 a series of events meant things had to be put on hold. These included health issues for the main editor and the terminal illness of my father, who passed away early last year. I returned to the UK to be closer to my parents and family and my focus moved away from the books.

KP: We are very sorry to hear about your father. It must have been a difficult time for you.

Essi: Yes, losing a parent creates many challenges – both foreseen and not so – and moving country, along with setting up new work was certainly an upheaval. It was really only midway through 2016 when I finally felt ready to return my attention to the Tilly Greenway stories.

I should probably have let readers know before now, but somehow the timing has not been right. I wanted to be able to be fully engaged again, to reply to messages and emails – and of course to be able to make school visits, do book-signings etc. All in all, things simply took the time they did.

KP:  Your decision to revise Watchers I know you made along with the publisher’s suggestion to revise the covers and book size. What led to your decision?

Essi: Well…there was the whole ISIS issue (another example of strange synchronicity between fiction and reality that did not help!) which just had to be dealt with.

For those of you who read the original version of Watchers, you will know in the story there is a secret society that runs the world from behind the scenes. I called that society ISIS. This was a deliberate choice. The name is an acronym for the Inner Sanctum of the Inner Sanctum, but I chose it more specifically because of the resonance with the Egyptian goddess, the first well-known mother-with-child archetype. This fitted in with my idea that those involved in “dark” magic hide behind the cloak of seeming-lightness (both in the books and in reality!). In this case, they were using the name deliberately to corrupt it. It also fitted well because back in the late 18th century, Robespierre and his Illuminati cohorts chose to use a sheaf of corn/wheat as their symbol during the French Revolution– an image long associated with goddesses like Isis, Ceres and so on. So there was some historical basis for using it in the stories.

However, events in the world overtook me. On my return to the UK I realised that the only resonance the name has for people now is its association with the terrorist activities that have become an increasing part of our world. This itself was another irony, given that in the books the Director of Terror – a woman responsible for increasing terror rather than helping to diffuse it – was a part of the secret shadow-government who carried that name!

Obviously, with all the horrific things that have been happening in the world,  this had to be changed and I apologise to anyone who has read the original version in recent times. No offence was intended by the use of the name. Indeed, when I drew up plans for the books back in 2008, the only meaning of the word ISIS was the goddess herself and there was no way of knowing how that particular name was to become so high-profile and why.

This year, therefore, before releasing The Hidden Hand, the old copies of Watchers had to be pulped and a new version produced. This has now been completed. ISIS has been replaced by HORUS (more on what this means another time) – a name I hope will not be picked up on in quite the same way!

KP: Are you happy with the new look Watchers?

Essi: Absolutely! I love the new cover. It is more in keeping with how book-covers in 9781999757007general have evolved over the six years since Watchers was first published and suits the story perfectly. I love the single eye (reminiscent of the Eye of Horus!) and the pathway through the trees, with Tilly and Zack in what looks to me like a dreamscape. Perfect! The cover of Book2 is also wonderful – as are the new in-text illustrations by fabulous artist Meraylah Allwood!

On top of that, I was happy to be able to make some minor revisions to the text. There was no change to the story. It was more a case of tightening the language in some places and reverting to the opening sequence that had been in the very first draft of the book which in hindsight I preferred. There was also some clarification of the  relationship between HORUS, The Others and the Dark Brotherhood. Without wishing to give any plot-spoilers, I’ll leave it at that, but I think readers of the original book will enjoy what I see as improvements in this revised edition!

For those of you who would like to see the new cover – and perhaps read the revised edition – of Watchers, here are the links:

Amazon UK:

Amazon USA:

KP: What can we expect from The Hidden Hand?

9781999757014Essi: Again, I don’t wish to say too much about it as it would be a pity to spoil any surprises for the reader (of which there are plenty). Suffice it to say that The Hidden Hand has all the magical elements of Watchers, including a host of fantastical creatures (sea monsters, dragons, bogwights and giant swans to give just a few) mixed with a slightly darker edge than in Book1. A new baddie joins the throng of people hunting Tilly and Zack and the Dark Brotherhood come to the fore as the hidden history of the world is slowly revealed.

I can reveal that much of the story takes place on the south-west coast of Ireland, including a visit to Skellig Michael, a place featured in the latest Star Wars films…yet another example of one of the strange synchronicities that have accompanied the tale as Skellig had been set as the location for book two back in 2009!

On the way to Skellig (Illustration from The Hidden Hand by Meraylah Allwood)

I’ve deliberately kept the chapters really short (something I know a lot of people enjoyed) to keep the story rattling along, whilst still having time to explore the magic. I’m sure it’s always a bit nerve-wracking when writers launch a new creation on the world and I have to admit to being a tad nervous as we finally approach publication, especially after the success of Watchers. All I can do is keep my fingers crossed that The Hidden Hand lives up to expectations and say that I’ve written a book that I love and enjoy. Here’s hoping plenty of others feel the same way!

KP: Thank you Essi for chatting today and we look forward to the release of The Hidden Hand!

Essi: You’re very welcome. Again, I apologise to all the readers who have waited long and patiently (and to those who waited long and impatiently!) for the second instalment. I should perhaps have explained things earlier, but one thing led to another and I’m afraid that when I focus on writing I’m inclined to withdraw from the world outside.

Thanks to all my readers for your encouragement. I look forward to reconnecting with those of you who have already been in touch and to making new acquaintances with those who are discovering Tilly, Zack and the mysteries of the Ancient Keys for the very first time!

One thing is for sure – you definitely won’t have to wait so long for Book 3!





Hidden Hand cover

The Hidden Hand will be available from August 3rd. We are posting an interview with Essi Tolling this Friday. If you have any questions just add them in the comments and we will send them to him.

In the meantime here’s a sneak peak at the new look Tilly Greenway series.

We have new covers and a revised edition of Watchers now on Amazon. Full details on all of this on Friday…

Tilly Greenway series Book Two – The Hidden Hand

We apologise for the delay in publishing book two of this series.

Thank you all for your emails and messages requesting Book 2 The Hidden Hand. We are delighted that you are sticking with the world of Tilly, Zack and the Guardians and we do so apologise for the continuing delays.

As you all may or may not know, the book has been delayed to date due to illness and move of residence on the author’s part.

The book is now ready. We are waiting for a funding grant decision and we hoped this would be in place for December, unfortunately it is not and the book cannot be released in advance of this decision.

Tilly as you know is a beautiful production and so is time and cost intensive. If we can secure this grant it will enable us to produce the print version more quickly. The terms of the grant do not allow publication in any form before a decision is made.

We feel it is worth the wait and we still plan to release the kindle version earlier than the print version so the wait should not be too much longer.

We are really sorry for the inconvenience caused by this further delay but the author has promised that Book 3 will follow very quickly as he is working on both at the same time.


Thank you for your patience.

Choose Your Own Adventure: You Are a Bear

This is a fun website and very innovative idea…

Hello, I am a bear

You are a bear. You wake up in a dimly lit cave. Your eyes are adjusted to the low light, so you are able to see the textures of your surroundings. You are about to begin a new day as a bear. There will be many obstacles, mental and physical, for you to overcome. You might find something important. You might meet someone important. You might get hurt. You might eat something. It is up to you. As a bear.

Your fur is warm but dirty.

The cave floor is soothing. Cool.

Your surroundings motivate you to…

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New Publication – Playing the Great Game of Life

Playing the Great Game of Life

by Richard Cawte

is now live on Kindle


For the Law of Attraction to work you need to know about the other secret laws. Inspired by the teachings of Florence Scovel Shinn and many others, as well as his own extensive experience as an intuitive mentor for corporate and individual clients, Richard Cawte takes readers through the secret mystery teachings and ancient laws and makes them accessible for modern 21st century living. This indispensable guide book is a course on how to apply the laws of the Great Game of Life to enjoy success, personal happiness and fulfillment in all areas of your life.

Kindle UK            

Waterstone’s Autumn Schedule for Essi Tolling

This is the current Autumn/Winter schedule for Essi Tolling’s appearances at Waterstones.

He will be signing copies of Tilly Greenway and the Secrets of the Ancient Keys – Book One – Watchers and chatting and answering any questions that interested readers may wish to put to him!

Please feel free to come along and say hello..


Sept 15th Waterstones Yeovil

Sept 29th Waterstone’s Cardiff the Hayes 

October 6th  Waterstone’s  Swansea

October 20th Waterstone’s Salisbury

October 27th Waterstone’s Woking

November 3rd Waterstones Trowbridge 

November 10th Waterstone’s Bristol

November 17th Waterstone’s Hereford

November 25th Waterstones Southampton West Quay

December 15th Waterstones Swindon

Essi Tolling - Author

This autumn I’m doing a tour of Waterstones Bookstores, signing copies of Watchers. I started off as soon as I got back from Ireland with a visit to Wells Waterstones on Saturday 18th August.

It was the hottest day of the year, which normally means fewer folks are out buying books, but we had a really excellent day with a steady stream of people coming to the desk. Thanks to Sarah and all her staff for helping to organise everything. I really enjoyed my visit with you.

Wells is a beautiful city, full of higgledy-piggledy side streets and wonderful medieaval nooks and crannies. The Cathedral is one of the most spectacular in the country (amazing to have such a vast building in such a small place) and is definitely worth a visit if you haven’t been already (or perhaps another visit, if you have!).

One of the pleasures of being…

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Book Signings – Cork, Ireland

Organico Cafe, Bantry, Co Cork

Organico Cafe – Serving delicious (mainly vegetarian) organic food.  Fair trade coffees and tasty cakes…

During the West Cork Literary Festival and at certain times during the summer, both Essi Tolling and J.M. Hurley will be doing pop-up lunch time book signings at the lovely Organico Cafe in Bantry.





Whyte Books, Schull, Co Cork

On July 19th Essi Tolling will be doing a reading and book signing at Whyte Books in Schull. He may even read a short extract from the forthcoming Book Two – The Hidden Hand!

Whyte Books is an oasis of calm and beauty for book lovers. A trip to Schull is worth the effort. You can see the seals that hang around the harbour hoping that you’ll give them a nice fresh fish or eat french crepes in the creperie, (where they also do gluten free crepes!) or just enjoy the ambiance of this lovely seaside town.

Waterstone’s, Cork

Waterstone’s Cork
Click this pic for a map

On August 9th, Essi Tolling will be in Waterstone’s, Patrick Street, Cork signing copies of Watchers and generally interacting and chatting with customers. Come and say hello!

What’s the s-TOR-y? A scene from Watchers appears in the Olympics Opening Ceremony!

One of the key scenes of the rural England centerpiece of Danny Boyle’s 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony is said to be that of Glastonbury Tor with a tree emerging where the iconic tower now stands.

Glastonbury Tor is a well-known landmark of the British countryside, a place of pilgrimage for hundreds of years. But the Tor is famous not just for the hill itself, but for the striking silhouette of St. Michael’s Tower on its peak. This is the image that everyone is familiar with. The Olympic Opening Ceremony, however, apparently will feature the Tor with the tower replaced by a fully-grown tree: an image that has never been seen before, or has it?

Actually, a magical tree emerging on Glastonbury Tor is exactly the key closing scene of the 2011 young adult fantasy novel Watchers by Essi Tolling.

According to this report in the Daily Mail:

The set will include a recreation of the Glastonbury Thor [sic] and an enormous fake tree, which will appear in the first scene, entitled ‘green and pleasant land’

Illustration from Watchers – Glastonbury Tor by Meraylah Allwood

In addition, the book opens with London in the grip of an emergency evacuation brought on by a fake flood warning made believable by heavy downpours coming from man-made rain clouds!

Also according to the Daily Mail: “Boyle, who directed the multi-Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire, said the aim of the ceremony was to create ‘a picture of ourselves as a nation’, and to ensure it is authentic there will even be giant fake clouds which will pour with rain.”  Read more

Like Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code, Watchers blends fact with fiction and uncovers dark secrets and hidden histories that have huge contemporary relevance. The magical history of the British countryside features prominently in the story.

Without giving too much away for those of you who have not yet read the book, here is the paragraph that describes the event:

“Up thrust the tree in a mass of flickering silver and grey. At first its slender trunk grew inside the walls of the tower, but as it got taller its branches pushed outwards, cracking the tower to pieces. The top stones fell first, cascading away down the Tor. Then the rest gave way until even the foundation stones, deep-set and strong, fractured and crumbled to dust.

“In an instant the tower had gone and there in its place stood a majestic tree.” (Watchers p. 528)

Tolling would not be drawn further on the significance of the tree’s appearance on the famous landmark. “I don’t want to spoil the surprise for the thousands of readers who are buying the book, but it’s fair to say that the scene where a tree grows on the Tor is pivotal to the plot, not just for book one but for the whole series.”

Maybe Danny Boyle or someone working with him read Watchers and was inspired by elements of the story or perhaps it’s just a case of wonderful synchronicity. In either case we are delighted, as it affirms that the great response we are getting from readers may be in part because the book is capturing a new and emerging zeitgeist; one which is leaning towards beauty, nature and the desire for unity in the face of world policies that seem hell bent on destruction, control and decay.

Essi Tolling comments: “To say it is Glastonbury Tor and then replace the tower with a tree is interesting to say the least.  Why not use just a regular hill and tree surrounded by England’s green and pleasant fields? Maybe Danny Boyle is tapping in to a deeper mystery; the same mystery that inspired me to take up the pen in an effort to expose hidden truths? I would be fascinated to find out!”

Watchers, the first book in the Tilly Greenway and the Secrets of the Ancient Keys series, was published in 2011 and is available in most Waterstone’s bookstores and from amazon, as well as from several outlets in Glastonbury and Avebury. Book two The Hidden Hand will be released in spring 2013.