Sunday, July 7, 2013

Interview with John Hanley author of Against the Tide

John Hanley

Have I ever told you that I love my job, well I do! Reason: because I meet men and women like John Hanley, interesting people with a energy that keeps you motivated. I can interact with them and find that we have  a common ground in writing, our struggles and life in general. We all started some where, life that triggers us into the next phase of our lives so that we can be among the greats in the literary world, leaving something valuable behind of our thoughts and how we see the world.

Here is his answers to my Questions

       1.       Are you famous is the general question I get when family and friends introduces me to their friends. It always left me with a pause as quick comebacks filters through my mind but ending up saying something like ….”Oh gee thanks” and give a shy smile, silly I know but the idea unsettles me. (a)Does this happen to you and (b) what do you say?

a.       It doesn't happen often but I usually respond 'Only in my own lunch time' or something else self-deprecating — I'm English for goodness sake!

       2.       In general do you like to talk about you writing and published books or are you very close-lip about it? If no why?

a.       I'm happy to respond to questions though prefer not to initiate a conversation (natural reserve again). Quite a few people seem to assume that I've been extremely lucky to get published! They understand that it's a lottery but also believe that it will make me rich! I quickly abuse them about that and launch into an explanation about the publishing world and why I decided to self-publish though I tend to describe it as 'partnership publishing'. I suppose I am a bit self-conscious about taking that route especially in England where the criteria for success can be quite odd. Luck is always accepted but being too pushy and promoting yourself has never been socially acceptable – at least to my generation. I've been interviewed several times on BBC radio and only had to dodge around the self-publishing issue once.

       3.       What book/s are you currently writing and what is it about?

      a.       My second novel, The Last Boat, is due for publication on 1st August. I'm in 'partnership' with a traditional publisher, Troubador. They published the first in my series, Against The Tide, last October. I'm now working on the 3rd novel and hope to have it published next summer. The series is set before, during and after the 2nd World War and follows the activities of two male and two female  teenagers as they are sucked into the maelstrom. On the surface the stories are action and adventure but the meat of the series is the relationships amongst the four of them.

4.       Why this particular genre?

a.       Growing up in Jersey which was occupied by the Germans from 1st July 1940 to 9th May 1945 I've always been fascinated by that period. The island is littered with the artefacts of war as Hitler was so obsessed with keeping the only English territory he seized that the Germans poured excavated more earth and poured more concreted into the Channel Islands than they did in the entire Atlantic Wall on the continent.

      5.       What inspire or motivate you to write?

a.       My mother had been trapped in the island and had to endure those five long years. I wondered what it would have been like for me had, like her, I'd been born in 1920 so decided to find out through writing.

      6.       What is the writing process like for you?

a.       I love the research and planning though I do tend to let my characters improvise (that was my day job for nearly 40 years – teaching Drama and specializing in improvisation skills.)

      7.       How did/do you teach yourself to write?

a.       I've had to writing millions of words to gain my qualifications and in the course of my teaching and managerial career so the discipline of writing to deadlines wasn't new or a great challenge. Writing readable fiction was though and through a process of trial and error I developed my current 1st person narrative style. I sought feedback from professional editors and learned a lot about showing and not telling. I also tested my writing on an authors' website where, in return for reviewing other's work, yours gets the once over as well. That was a sobering experience as stories are allocated randomly and it was not unusual for someone whose first love is vampire stories found themselves reading my historical fiction. I learned that achieving a broad appeal is not simple. 

      8.       What aspect of the craft do you think is most difficult to learn?

a.       I found the story writing suits me far better than the promotional side though I have been throwing myself into networking and trying to raise my profile's visibility. There is so much to learn about the various media and often I have been stumbling about in the dark. There is also the danger of addiction to social media which steals available time from writing!

     9.       What has been the most encouraging comment someone has made about your writing?

a.       Against The Tide has received many 5 star reviews but the most welcome comments have been about how I managed to hook the reader and keep them turning the pages.

     10.   What is the best and/ or worst part of being a writer?

a.       The best is the sheer joy of creating and the surprises ones characters produce. I'm still stunned by someone one of them said which changed the direction of the story dramatically! The worst part is trying to build and audience without coming across as desperate or even being accused of spamming.

     11.   Any advice for struggling writers?

a.       It depends on the nature of their struggle but, from what I've read from many aspiring writers, I would say get an opinion from a professional about your style especially your sentence construction, try to eliminate basic errors and don't rely on your spell checker!
b.      Don't overwrite. Are your adverbs really necessary? I killed thousands of mine to improve the flow and suffered no regrets!

     12.   What is your favorite genre to read or write?

a.       I have eclectic tastes but I do like a page turner with credible characters, sound plotting and sharp writing. I love historical fiction but get very annoyed when I come across anachronisms or other evidence of sloppy research as I immediately lose confidence in the author.

     13.   Favorite author?

a.       John D MacDonald closely followed by Lee Child.

     14.   Do you have a favorite spot to read and write? 

a.       I write a lot in my head especially whilst exercising in the swimming pool or gym but the workstation in my office is very comfortable. Jersey's local newspaper ran a feature on my writing even though I no longer live in the island. Here's my den. 

      15.   What did you do before you became a writer?

a.       I've always been a writer from the time I taught myself to type at the age of 14 but I only really invested serious time in it once I retired from teaching teenagers English and Drama.

     16.   Was it a life long dream or triggered recently?

a.       It's always been a dream or a series of day dreams when carrying out the multitude of managerial tasks my ultimate role in education demanded.

     17.   What do you like to do when not writing? 

a.       I have two daughters who have each produced a son so I love looking after them. I also swim (I'm lucky enough to have mine own outdoor pool – it's England so swimming in the rain has to be enjoyed as well.) I play golf, strategy games on the computer and watch TV shows like Glee which my friends find appalling. However, I used to produce musical shows with my students and love the buzz.

     18.   Do you have a bucket/ to-do list and would you share at least two things on it?

a.       My wife and I want to visit Australia and I'd love to go see California.

     19.   Most daring thing or experience you have done you would like to share?

a.       Risked my job to sabotage a political attempt to close my school. Fortunately, I won but it cost me any further career advance.

     20.   This or that questions:
            ·         Coffee or Tea –
o        Neither now as I can't take the hot acid anymore. But I used to consume vast quantities of strong coffee!
            ·         Sweet or savory –
o        Savory follow by a good pudding!
            ·         Home made meal or takeouts –
o        Home made
            ·         Winter or summer –
o        Summer every time
            ·         Night-owl or Early-Bird –
o        Night Owl
            ·         Telephone or visits –
o        Visits but always telephone first!
            ·         Which social network do you prefer?
o        Not sure about this but I find LinkedIn quite useful.
            ·         Blogger or website?
o        Website – I don't have the energy or the opinions for blogging.
            ·         What does your family say about your career? Supportive or Clueless
o        Very supportive about my retirement career.

And Finally
Moto/wisdom in life you live by.

                Like millions of others I've always been inspired by Kipling's poem 'If' especially about 'keeping your head when all about you are losing theirs'. I found that particularly useful in my water polo career as I used to play centre-forward which meant constant physical abuse from defenders whom I would often provoke into an assault on me while looking innocent in front of the referee! This would mean their exclusion and my team's opportunity to score a goal! I'm not sure if Kipling would have approved.

Buy Links
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Contact details and buy links of the newest books you would like the readers to know.

Thanks once again for your willingness to share with me and the readers.

Your Host Lynelle Clark

Support the authors, those I feature here and those I don't, buy their books, tell them what you think by giving them a good review and tell others about the book you just read. Keep the reviews constructive, do not throw-up in the review, we have feelings too, rather speak with us by mail. 

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