Exclusive Interview with
When did you start writing?
I started writing when I was in elementary/primary school, writing to enter competitions and for creative events of the curriculum.
What makes writing your passion?
I am also an artist. Writing provides me with an alternative pallet, where I can create in colour and form without the use of paints, on a canvas of words. I like to weave thoughts and emotions into a multi-layered narrative that leaves much to the imagination of the reader - quite different to paint on a canvas where the aim and effect are quite the opposite.
How long have you been writing?
I've been writing since I was in elementary/primary school when I wrote creatively for competitions and as part of the school curriculum.
What was the feeling when you published your first book?
Holding the physical book in my hands was the culmination of a long road to publication of a story I had to write. The fictional narrative was the product of many hours of research and interviews with members of my family, now deceased, and ancient records from the first world war. So, publication of my first book was a mixture of relief and elation. I, at last, could see that the serious messages, implicit in the story, would now see the light of day and maybe provide benefit to those willing to listen.
What’s the story behind your choice of characters?
The characters in my books are based on real people, or sometimes mixtures of real people, the mixture of characteristics designed for dramatic effect, but nevertheless real people I have met form the basis. My choice of the actual characters is dictated by expedience, the need to push and pull the story in certain direction. However, in my experience, the characters usually take charge of the narrative at some point, and so, I leave them to their foibles, mistakes, failures and triumphs. They are ultimately in charge of their own fate.
What annoys you the most in pursuing a writing career?
Writing, creation of a story, fashioning the words, the sentences, chapters, the narrative arch etc is the easy part. Getting traction with potential publishers, breaking through the publication barriers is the hard part, as is the promotion/marketing of your saleable product. There are many talented writers who never gain recognition for their works, simply because traditional publishers are obsessed with commerciality, often ignoring innovation and real talent.
How do you get over the “writer’s block”?
I personally don't get "writers block", that is prolonged inability to let my imagination flow to words, paragraphs, chapter and stories. What I regularly need is downtime, where I allow space for the characters in my books to determine where they are headed and what to do next. This downtime from writing can take the form of a good night's sleep or several days of thinking or research into the story's background. Inevitably, I return to the narrative with renewed vigour.
We all know the writer’s path is never easy, what makes you keep going? What advice would you give to new authors?
The writer's path is multi-faceted. Most time, the process of actually writing is the easy bit, relatively easy, because you have the ideas, the story can readily be mapped out and the path can be followed. Editing the draft can be brief, before turning it over to an experienced editor. But finding a home for your story can be, is likely to be, a long drawn-out process. My best advice to any aspiring author with the product of their imagination and talent ready for publication is: Persistence. Have belief in your product, stick at the task of finding a home for it, and when inevitably it does find a home, be fully committed to its publication and marketing, devoting yourself to its success.
If you could go back in time and talk to your younger self, what would you say?
The lesson to my younger self is: be confident, belief in yourself, be committed to success and relentless in pursuit of well defined goals.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with the bad ones?
Yes. I enjoy reading reviews of my books. But, the written word is like art and music: Their appreciation is very much dictated by personal taste. One persons treasure is another's trash. So, a bad/negative review can be used as a guide to the potential weaknesses of my narrative. I must admit though, it pleases me when readers see through to the underlying basis of my stories, to the core of their meaning. Luckily, as yet, I haven't had any negative reviews.
What is the feeling when you get a good review?
For me, a good review penetrates to the core meaning of the story, to the message I want to present; and that is is very pleasing.
Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?
Characters, situations, locations are all derived from my personal experience, and, in the case of my first two novels, from actual events during the military campaign in palestine during the first world war, modified of course to fit the narrative, but always "invented" from my life, people I've known, places I've lived and worked and historical records. It's a delight to bring them to life from the recesses of my memory.
Which of your characters you can compare yourself with? Did you base that character on you?
Yes, elements of the character, Harry, in my novels, The Veiled Thread and The Severed Cord, are based on myself, though I hesitate to admit to as much dysfunction as shown by Harry or as much drama in life. The hold of the past however, the influence of the trauma in past generation is very much a part of my life as is in Harry's.
What do you think, the book cover is as important as the story?
No, the book cover is merely a window on what the book has to say, a clue about the contents, a device to get people to pick it up, examine the theme and hopefully buy it and read it. The aim is: to be noticed, to intrigue the potential reader, to stimulate the desire to delve into the contents.
Do you connect with your readers? Do you mind having a chat with them or you prefer to express yourself through your writing?
My writing is really only the start of the conversation. I like to provoke thought, self-examination and a desire in the reader to delve deeper into the meaning of the words, as they relate to themselves and people at large, past and present. And frequently, that involves lengthy conversations with readers, conversations that ranger and wide from the relatively confined subject matter of my books.
How do you feel when people appreciate your work or recognize you in public?
I don't look for public recognition, like carrying a placard around with me advertising who I am and what I've written, but, it pleases me to talk to readers, impromptu, to discuss the basis of my books and the broader messages I'm trying to convey.
Who is your favorite author? Why?
I appreciate many authors at different levels, for different reasons: Peter Temple for his brevity and ability to capture mood, John Le Carre for the quality of his prose and complexity of his plots, Albert Camus for the mood he gives and the passion. I admire so many authors for their ability to paint on the canvas of words.
What’s the dream? Whom would you like to be as big as?
"Big" probably the wrong description of where I want to be as an author. I want to be respected for the depth of my prose and the relevance of my narratives. "Big" implies mega-sales, with exposure in every airport world-wide, irrespective of the quality of my writing and the meaningfulness of my message. I would like readers to be saying to fellow readers about my books: "Read this, it really made me think about my life and my relationship to my family, my forebears and what I'm passing on to my children and my children's children." Not just a great story, but a story with lasting meaning. So, a writer with a mixture of imagination and serious message: Margaret Atwood, Peter Temple