How important is humour in a story? I think humour is one of the best ways of judging whether a society is healthy or not. A society, or person for that matter, without a sense of humor, without the ability to laugh at itself and life’s absurdities is, to my mind, a bit “off” – either too full of its own importance or in such a state of depression or altered reality that it’s sad and dangerous. Humour is a natural part of life and therefore a natural part of any story. Even in my memoir Contact which describes the horror of combat and conflict there are humorous moments, because it was humour that allowed us to release the stress and feel like we were human again. The kind of humour I like to write best, however, is satire – I use humour for the purposes of social commentary in my The Book of Baker series (Dreams from the Death Age; Armageddon) by creating larger than life characters, outlandish situations and to tackle taboo topics like politics, religion, sex, and self-importance. I could never get away with saying what I say otherwise – so humour can be very useful to an outspoken individual like me!
What do you think about writers being described as self-indulgent? Well, it’s true isn’t it? We’re the most self-centred lot on the planet – together with other creative types, like artist, dancers, musicians, actors and all that lot – and politicians of course (oops! Did I say that?) But let’s take a look at this for a moment – I do think any creative activity requires a certain amount of self-centredness and inwardly turned focus, as a person’s creative power from within is expressed in some outward form. And that’s good and healthy – and is true for every person on the planet, not just writers or artists. When any creative process becomes self-indulgent .. ah – well, actually then that’s not such a good thing at all. That’s crossing the line from a focused activity that requires some self-centred attention in order to generate an outward flow to others – to a self-centred activity for its own sake to indulge that person only ….. and that’s where it goes from being healthy to unhealthy. If that makes sense at all ….
Do you have to travel much concerning your books? My parents lived and worked abroad for most of my life, and I have traveled extensively – including Hong Kong, India, Libya, Iran, New Zealand, Australia, Mexico, Canada, Malta, Sicily, Italy, France, Germany, Scandinavia, Spain, Turkey, USA. So all my experiences find their way into my books – the different cultures, ways of life, values, ethics, food, music etc. And of course these days I can follow-up on my memories or new ideas and locations using the internet, which is a different way of traveling and a rich source of information but can also be misleading and inaccurate. So going where you want to write about is the best excuse for travel I’ve ever come across!
What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why? It is difficult to choose between two that I love, because I think both give me great solace as an author and keep me going through the hard times, when the writing is difficult and the reviews harsh.
The first is from John Fowles in his wonderful novel Daniel Martin:
“No creator can like critics. There is too much difference between the two activities. One is begetting, the other surgery. However justified the criticism, it is always inflicted by someone who hasn’t, a eunuch, on someone who has, a generator; by someone who takes no real risks on someone who stakes most of his being, economic as well as immortal. “
The second from TE Lawrence’s extraordinary Seven Pillars Of Wisdom:
“All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake up in the day to find that it was vanity, but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.”
Who is your favorite author and why? This is such a hard question because I have several favorite authors whose books I would take with me to a desert island, but I think if I was forced to choose only one I think that would be JP Donleavy. His books The Gingerman, A Singular Man, The Onion Eaters and many more, opened my eyes to the fact that creative writing is a living organism. When you write creatively you have the ability to invent in many ways, both grammatically and even with vocabulary, which, if it works, creates a vivid colorful and satisfying event.
What are you writing now? I’ve just released The Orange Moon Affair which is the first in a new thriller series with many more to follow soon. I wanted to create a central character, Thomas Gunn, and other key figures including a strong female character that I could grow and develop over time and in different situations. The series will reveal Thomas’s past he’d rather forget and how he deals with love and relationships while trying to stand for truth and what’s right in the world – and of course getting shot at, hunted down and all that fun stuff that goes on in any thriller. It’s a series that will stretch your mind to its extremes in terms of what dastardly things could be possible in the world and blur the edges between fantasy and chilling reality.
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Genre – Autobiography / Biography & Memoir
Rating – 18+