In Tyner Gillies's day job, he goes by the title corporal, and he can most often be found in a Surrey RCMP patrol car.
The Langley resident's other life is literary. An aspiring author since he was a teenager, he said he finally got serious about making time for writing six years ago.
He said he made one attempt at a novel in his teens, an epic fantasy with elves and dragons.
That hasn't seen the light, but Gillies's darker imaginings are now in print.
"I realized I'm not good at writing fantasy, but I'm not bad at writing horror," he said.
His first novel has been printed by smallpress Toronto publisher Dark Dragon.
The book both is, and is not, a reflection of the old advice to "write what you know."
Constable Quinn Sullivan is the main character of The Watch, an RCMP officer assigned to a sleepy tourist town on the coast of B.C.
Unfortunately for Sullivan, there is more than petty crime going on in Resolution Cove. Demonic forces are stirring, and they're driving otherwise harmless citizens to acts of murder and mayhem.
Gillies, who grew up reading fantasy novels such as those of Terry Brooks, has dropped his RCMP protagonist in the midst of a very dark fantasy story set in contemporary B.C.
While the source of his expertise on police procedure and the workings of the RCMP should be obvious, the fantastic side of the work was also inspired by his patrol duties.
"You go into a lot of pretty dismal dwellings," said Gillies. "The idea came to me: these places have memories of their own."
What about a place that only had bad memories, he thought. What sort of darkness could be conjured there?
The idea lay in his mind for a while, and emerged during a writing event at the Surrey International Writers Conference.
The event involved the first two pages of an author's novel being read aloud, while a panel of agents listened. Once an agent had heard enough, and had lost interest, they put up their hand. If two agents put up their hand, that was it and the reading was over.
Gillies noticed that the most common reason for a reading to be stopped was for the agents to get bored at the lack of conflict, whether emotional or physical. If nothing was going on, if there was no reason to stay engaged, they were done.
"A Mountie in a gunfight, that's something that's vitally interesting to me, anyway," Gillies said. He started writing, zoning out the rest of the event. By the end of it, he had two pages that were the first two pages of The Watch.
While he's working with an RCMP protagonist, the character isn't exactly an autobiographical sketch of Gillies, the author said.
"He does things that I would never, ever do," Gillies said.
The character is dealing with demons, and he bends the law a bit to solve a decidedly unusual problem.
On the mundane side of the ledger, nine years of working as a Mountie in Surrey has provided plenty of grist for the mill in the form of people and incidents that inspired parts of the book.
After a year of writing (and re-writing, and re-writing again) Gillies was happy with the results of his work, and he began sending The Watch to agents and publishers. He was pleased to land with Dark Dragon, and to get it professionally published and onto Amazon.ca in both electronic and print format.
Gillies has already finished another book, set in Surrey, about a washed-up boxer who's stabbed and gets another chance at life, and he's at work on a third novel, still in its first draft stage.
He says eventually he'd like to even take another crack at writing an epic fantasy.
The Watch has been available online since July.
@ Copyright 2013