Monday, 30 July 2012

Interrogating George Hamilton

 My next interrogation is George Hamilton - the author, not the baked brown American actor.

First of all, thanks for the opportunity to talk to your audience, Joo, and for the time you put into your blog and reviewing independent authors like myself.

How do you strike the balance between writing something you want to write and writing something that people want to read, in terms of the compromises you make, if any?

Some of my stories have lived in my head for years. So if I am living with these stories and characters for so long, I think it’s very important to firstly write something that satisfies me. But then I need to use techniques to make the work accessible and enjoyable to the reader. I think most stories, if told in a compelling way, can, if promoted well, find an audience.

What excites, attracts or appeals to you about the genre(s) you write in.

Genres are an aspect of writing that I wish I didn’t have to be concerned with. I think it can often be too restricting. I was reading a blog the other day that said if the novel is a suspense, then the bad guy should not be known at the start, but if it is a thriller, the bad guy should be known. I really prefer to write a scene based on what feels right for it at a particular time, rather than these fixed ideas. That’s why I’m happy that people are now talking about multi-genre novels. I’ve published in the historical, drama, suspense categories so far, but I also have unpublished works which range from thrillers to comedies. The novel I’m currently working on will probably be a cross between contemporary, suspense and thriller. I really want to keep the reader guessing and asking what will happen next, and also hopefully gaining some further insight into us as human beings.

Do you have a box, drawer, folder etc where you keep thoughts and ideas for future stories? Such as names you have come across, bits of dialogue, ideas, characters - even if you have no idea when you might use them?

I haven’t got a great memory, so everything has to be stored somewhere. I have folders thick with research material and megabytes of computer files. Scenes and research material are added to my specific story idea files as they come to mind. This may be due to something I’ve seen on TV, overheard or just popped into my head. If I notice a theme from a current event, I’ll note it down and try to find a story to match it to. I even have a couple of classic put down lines from former girlfriends noted to use in future novels. So watch what you say when I’m around, or else you might just end up in print (or is it digital ink these days)!

How do you manage plot bunnies (ideas that invade your mind that aren’t usually helpful to the story you’re writing but breed

I haven’t really experienced plot bunnies. I either set out to write a scene with a strong or basic idea of what I want to say. In both cases, but especially the latter, something almost magical happens, where an even better idea starts to form as I write. Those are the best times. Then I have to sit back and wonder, where did that come from?

How much of you is in your characters? Which of your characters is the you that you’d most like to be? Or be with?

To date, I have not directly written any book and thought that character is me. But there are characters who have come up where I’ve thought, that’s similar to what I’d do in this situation. I can think of Joshua/Nannup from Secrets From The Dust who was determined to retain a part of himself. Thereza from Carnival of Hope, who is determined to go after her dreams. But possibly the closest to me is Olga, Dr Ludmilla Toropov’s daughter in my yet to be published novel The Disease. The story really developed from the theme of a blog I wrote some time ago about a risk-taker versus a survivor personality. Olga is definitely an uncompromising risk-taker. But somewhat surprisingly, reading her frightens me.

Do you become so wrapped up in your writing that your spouse wonders if they're married to you or one of your characters? 

I am currently single. I don’t think there are many people who would put up with someone prepared to sell their home to go off and write a novel, which is what I did for Secrets From The Dust, when I went to live in Australia for 6 months. Many who know I did this think I’m a few screws short of a brain. But I’m the type who likes to prove them wrong. Just this last Sunday, I met some family friends at the shopping centre, and their tone as we talked was you’re not still trying to become a writer are you? A cousin of mine said, “Wouldn’t it have been easier for you to write a song about it instead (of spending all that time and money)?” But once the writing bug gets you, it’s hard to let go, especially when the ideas keep invading your mind. I now realise that I’m prepared to take big risks to achieve what I want to, which ties into your previous question about how much of me is in my characters.

What type of book do you like reading? Is it the same genre as you write?

I don’t read as much as I’d like to at the moment, as I’m so exhausted by the end of the day. I read a wide range of genres, but I don’t think I’m that big on fantasy, although I did read and enjoy Frank Herbert’s Dune. A short list of the books I’ve read and enjoyed would probably give a better idea:

The Road – Cormac McCarthy
The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck (and his other books)
Shogun – James Clavell
The Help – Kathryn Stockett
Lord of the Flies – William Golding
Gloria Naylor books
Toni Morrison books
The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingslover
Atonement – Ian McEwan
1984 - Orwell

What lengths do you go to convince us readers that your book has the X factor?

Is this the question where I admit to walking through the shopping centre wearing nothing but a placard advertising my books to hide my embarrassment? Well it wasn’t me! I’m not that desperate, yet.

I think one of the biggest influences on the sale of Indie books are readers and reviewers like yourself, Joo. Reviewers provide an independent voice about the quality of a book to other readers, and the more reviewers a book has, the more opportunity it has to appear on some of the most influential book blogs. So I aim to write the best blurb that I can and contact as many reviewers as time allows to request a review.

How do you feel when a reader points out the spelling mistake(s) you have made?

Sorry that I missed it, but grateful that someone has taken the time to point it out to me so that I can put it right.

What do you like most about visiting KUF/forums?

KUF is a very friendly and helpful community to engage in, and I’m happy to have found it. If I post in the wrong place on KUF, I don’t feel that I’ll be spanked like a naughty schoolboy by someone who disapproves—the advice is more gentle.

What is on your near horizon?

I recently completed the first draft of my latest novel, provisionally titled The Disease. I did the main body of research after completing the first draft, a new approach to make the research quicker and more relevant, which I have recently blogged about here. I have just started the second draft, which will incorporate the research. Here is the draft cover blurb:

Estranged from her student rebel daughter, Dr Ludmilla Toropov is a holder of the gold cross as a daughter of her nation. When a deadly virus sweeps the world, wiping out millions in days, her East European nation, under sanctions from the international community, becomes the first to develop a vaccine. But with their antiquated production facilities, they are only able to satisfy the demand of a small section of their population. Dr Toropov can either watch hundreds of her patients die, or defy the state that nurtured her by attempting to smuggle the drug out to the West. One choice will pit her against her daughter, the other could unearth unpalatable secrets and land her in a gulag jail…

Where can we find you for more information?

Currently I can be found in the following places:

Author Website:

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