Million Eyes by C.R. Berry (plus an interview too)

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I had a great time reading this book. It could have seemed to be confusing in it’s timeline, but I was able to follow through it’s strange narrative relatively well. The past, the future, the real, the unreal, it all was knitted in a story that was quite believable and sound, if that makes sense.

The action is constant in the book and one must pay attention to not miss a beat because if you miss something at one point as everything is connected into this story,  you might become confused later on as this story takes places in any place and time in history. And through all this time travel madness, it all ends in a way that is chilling. How seeing Trump as president will change things? Only time will tell. And in this story, anything is possible.

If you love anything that has to do with history, time travel, monarchy, and how one little change in time can bring devastating consequences, then this is a story for you. Happy reading.

Million Eyes is published by Elsewhen Press and is available here.

C.R. Berry

C.R. Berry caught the writing bug at the tender age of four and has never recovered. His earliest stories were filled with witches, monsters, evil headteachers, Disney characters and the occasional Dalek. He realised pretty quickly that his favourite characters were usually the villains. He wonders if that’s what led him to become a criminal lawyer. It’s certainly why he’s taken to writing conspiracy thrillers, where the baddies are numerous and everywhere.

After a few years getting a more rounded view of human nature’s darker side, he quit lawyering and turned to writing full-time. He now works as a freelance copywriter and novelist and blogs about conspiracy theories, time travel and otherworldly weirdness.

He was shortlisted in the 2018 Grindstone Literary International Novel Competition and has been published in numerous magazines and anthologies, including Storgy, Dark Tales, Theme of Absence and Suspense Magazine. He was also shortlisted in the Aeon Award Contest, highly commended by Writers’ Forum, and won second prize in the inaugural To Hull and Back Humorous Short Story Competition.

He grew up in Farnborough, Hampshire, a town he says has as much character as a broccoli. He’s since moved to the “much more interesting and charming” Haslemere in Surrey.

– Interview –

1- At what age did conspiracy theories interest you and what was the very first one that made you prisoner in its narrative?

My interest in conspiracy theories started when I was in Year 7 at school, aged 12. I learned about the suspicious death of King William II and it stuck with me for years, which is the reason I incorporated it into Million Eyes.

Basically, William II went hunting in the New Forest and was ‘accidentally’ shot dead with an arrow by one of the hunting party. There was always something odd about the official story. The arrow was said to have glanced off a tree and hit him in the chest, but no arrow would have enough force to do that if it had already hit a tree. And the shooter, Walter Tyrrell, was an experienced bowman who was unlikely to have taken such a devastatingly clumsy shot.

Even more suspiciously, William’s brother, Henry, hightailed it to Winchester and seized the throne immediately. It’s suspected that Henry may have masterminded a conspiracy to oust his brother, one that could’ve involved the French royal family, to whom Walter Tyrrell had known links.

2- What inspired you to write about time travel and conspiracy theories, and why?

I adore time travel and have since I was small. I was addicted to the Back to the Future films and the time travel episodes of Star Trek. I love the fish-out-of-water scenario of a character going forwards or backwards to a time when people and technology are so different, and having to adapt. Plus, seeing the contrast between multiple time periods makes us think more deeply about the things that are happening in the present.

As for conspiracy theories, it was probably reading and hearing so much about the death of Princess Diana that inspired me to write a conspiracy theory-driven book. Million Eyes basically takes Diana’s death, William II’s death and the mysterious disappearance of the Princes in the Tower and ‘explains what really happened’. With time travel, of course!

3- What is your favourite time in history to work with in your writing?

My favourite is the time of the Tudors and Stuarts in Britain, between 1485 to 1714. Henry VIII and his six wives. Bloody Mary. The Spanish Armada. The Gunpowder Plot. The English Civil War. It’s an era rich in stories, scandals and religious and political strife. I’ll give you an exclusive if you like: the Gunpowder Plot is going to feature heavily inMillion Eyes II. There’s also a subtle link to the English Civil War.

4- Are there conspiracy theories you believe to be true? And why?

As much as I love writing about conspiracy theories, urban legends and paranormal events on my blog, there aren’t many conspiracy theories I actually subscribe to—although there are a few. I think Steven Avery of Making a Murderer fame really was set up by the police so they could avoid the enormous payout for his earlier wrongful conviction. And I think Karen Silkwood was deliberately run off the road because she had evidence of serious health and safety violations at the Kerr-McGee nuclear facility.

5- What is your favourite conspiracy theory to write about? And why?

Probably the theory that Princess Diana was murdered, which is why it ended up in Million Eyes. That was the first domino, so to speak, then the rest of the story fell into place. I was intrigued by all the unanswered questions, in particular the white Fiat Uno that had glancing contact with Diana’s Mercedes but was never traced. I wanted to invent a story that answered these questions, pulling in other mysteries and conspiracy theories from history along the way.

6- If you could go back in time, what would you change in history, and why?

I’m fortunate enough to have had a really happy life, so I’m not sure I’d change anything about it. Apart from secondary school maybe, which I hated, but at the same time, my experiences there contributed to who I am today. I could say I’d go back to the 1300s, taking modern cures with me and saving the 50 million people who died from the Black Death. Or go back to the 1930s and kill Hitler, saving the 85 million who died in WWII. The problem is, what if doing those things led to something worse happening? And even though I’d be saving millions, I’d be causing millions of others to cease to exist. Me included, actually. My Granny only met my Grandad because her first husband died in WWII. So if time travel were possible one day, I think I’d be more inclined to be an observer than a tinkerer. You just don’t know what the outcome would be.

Actually, scrap that. I’d go back 65 million years and save the dinosaurs from extinction. How cool would that be?

7- Do you think something like the Million Eyes corporation could exist today? And who do you see fulfilling that role?

Million Eyes, the fictional global tech conglomerate in the book, are inspired by companies like Apple and Microsoft. It makes sense to me that a company that is secretly watching and manipulating everyone would be a technology company—they have the means to do it. And companies like Apple and Microsoft have penetrated our lives so deeply that, if they were to have a hidden nefarious agenda, there’d be no escaping them.

8- Questions about the status and significance of the monarchy are important in Million Eyes. What are your views on the Royal Family?

As a lover of history, I have enormous respect for what the Royal Family represent, although I question whether we need them today. They’re not actively involved in running the country anymore and the fact that they have to be politically neutral makes them bland. Even though she’s no longer with us, Princess Diana’s still my favourite of this latest lot. That’s because she went and did whatever the hell she liked, regardless of the feathers she might ruffle. She wanted to do some good in the world and didn’t let tradition or decorum get in the way. That made her interesting to me.

Interview and Review by S.Hould

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