Joining me today is Christopher Hoare, author of Deadly Enterprise and The Wildcat’s Victory both from Double Dragon Publishing (http://www.double-dragon-ebooks.com/). Deadly Enterprise was released this month and The Wildcat’s Victory will be out in January 2008. Chris paid me a visit to chat about his new release, his writing process, and what’s coming next.
Welcome to my blog Chris! It’s great to have you here.
Thank you, I'm very pleased to be able to visit your blog.
Let’s start off by finding out more about you. Who is Chris Hoare? When did you start writing? Were you inspired by anyone to become a writer?
I'm a retired oilpatch surveyor, born in England and living in Alberta, Canada, on the edge of the Rocky Mountains. My first published works were a few articles that appeared in the “Sunday Ghibli” an English language weekly published in Tripoli, Libya. Back in the 60s I was working in the desert and the city readership were hungry for news and views from the interior. I then switched to fiction, aiming straight for the hardest of course, and never published another thing until I did some articles on GPS for the Waterton National Park paper in the 90s.
I guess I became hooked on the idea of writing novels when I was a teenager. My mother used to borrow books from the 'penny' library at a local newsagent (the same one I delivered papers for) and I started reading a series about a special investigator of the 1930s. Don't remember titles or author, but Norman Conquest and his Hispano-Suiza roadster – his sidekick and wife Pixie – set me dreaming about adventure and storytelling.
You write speculative fiction in various genres. What is speculative fiction exactly? Have you always concentrated on this aspect of writing?
I think all fiction is speculative to some degree, but I admit I tend to write about other worlds or other realities in ours. The first novel I completed was a historical novel set in the fifth century with the arrival of the Saxons in Roman Britain, but it had its speculative side. I introduced characters who could have been the progenitors of the more mythical characters and histories – Hengist, Horsa, Arthur – who are syntheses of many other individuals whose actual names and careers have been embellished.
Speculative fiction proper is accepted to mean fantasy, science fiction, and anything with a supernatural element. My Iskander series has a group of moderns in a 1700s type world – it has to be on an alternate Earth, because my moderns change the course of history. My fantasy novel takes place on a fantasy world, and has different takes on magic, religious fanaticism, and technology than most other works in the genre.
What is your writing process like? Do you write every day? Is there a time of day you are more productive than others?
I finished writing my historical novel when I worked in an oil refinery. Much of it was written long hand in pencil in exercise books while I was on night and evening shifts. I sat at the control room desk, writing and living in the 5th century while glancing up periodically to watch for charts going out of range or alarm lights blinking. With that training I can easily adapt to any schedule.
Retired from my day job, I write most days, but I tend to put off new work until the evenings while my wife watches TV programs I'm not interested in. Physiologically, my best writing time is probably in the morning, but I run the dogs then. I tend to work out scenes and motivation while the dogs are doing their thing, and commit the details to memory for later.
Deadly Enterprise was released by Double Dragon Publishing this month. Where did you get the idea for this story?
Two main sources for the series. I have always been interested in history, military history, and the development of technology. The scenario for a group of modern technologists in an older world grew out of some what-if speculations around inventions and insights that are anachronistic, but could have changed the course of history in our world. Alternate timelines fascinate me.
The other impulse grew from reading and watching TV programs that had overly patronising attitudes toward female action characters. I think a British series on PBS about a young woman who was left a private detective agency in a will – it was called, I believe, “An Unsuitable Job for a Woman”, was the one that made me start writing. I wanted to create a female protagonist who could hold her own against anyone, and I think everyone who reads Gisel Matah's story through the three (at present) novels published or awaiting release dates will agree that she can handle anything that's thrown at her. If I met her in full cry, with those dark dark eyes flashing, she'd probably scare the sh*t out of me.
Deadly Enterprise is an action adventure story set in the 17th century on an alternate earth called Gaia. What kind of research—if any—did you need to do in order to create the world in which Gisel (your female lead), the Felgers, and the Emperor exists?
If any, seems to be applicable to most aspects of the stories and scenario because they grew out of a huge assortment of otherwise useless information in my head. But I still research specific details. Action in The Wildcat's Victory required me to check into the historical accounts of the effect of high velocity rifles on cavalry tactics – they effectively put horse cavalry out of business, but I needed to know the process over time and the troop levels at which the rifles made cavalry movement impossible. I found some websites that had historical accounts from the Franco-Prussian War and the French/Italian campaigns of Napoleon III. Then I exchanged e-mails with a military historian who had authored some of the material and he enlarged upon specific details for me.
Tell us about Gisel Matah. Who is she? Why will readers care about what happens to her?
Being somewhat of a rebel throughout my own life, I hope her combination of rebellion and compassion will strike a chord in readers. I have a detailed, two page bio on her, that I wouldn't attempt to paste here, but her ancestry is Anglo-Indian and Greek (which fits certain plot requirements), she has a stormy relationship with her father after the divorce of her parents, and until she meets the right man has had three tempestuous affairs. She steers a tight course between the somewhat arrogant attitude of her modern compatriots toward the 17th/18th century locals, and these people's often cruel and savage ways. I try to show her making good decisions when she's faced with moral dilemmas.
Being a surveyor, I suppose maps are a part of my writing. I like to know where everything is and how characters move around. Because some of my readers pre-publication have also wanted to know where things are, and because the map file cannot be downloaded with the e-book, I have the maps on the website where they can be accessed. The Philips map is actually one I copied and modified from my Mother's old school atlas – which is around 100 years old, and which the company was kind enough to let me use for free.
With Deadly Enterprise coming out this month and The Wildcat’s Victory due out in January of next year, it must be an exciting time for you. What has been the best part about the entire process of getting published? Is there anything you would change?
I think I'm beyond getting excited. In the 70s my historical novel almost reached publication; in the 80s the novel I wrote about workers trying to buy an oil refinery (based on a real attempt at the one I worked in) was accepted by a publisher who never raised the money to publish it; in the 80s I had a collection of funny stories from oil exploration close to acceptance until the senior editor figured he knew more about the industry than I did; in 2001 I had a novel accepted by an e-publisher who went out of business after 9/11. I think I'm playing this one cool – when it comes out I will set to work to see if it will let me make up all the ground I've lost.
What’s up next for you? Anything exciting we should know about?
I have a third novel in the series accepted by Double Dragon for release in 2008, as well as my fantasy novel to be released by Zumaya the same year. I'm just finishing a new short story for submission to the next Twisted Tales anthology from the Double Dragon authors – titled “Fear”. Haven't written short stories for years, or anything in the horror line before, but J felt the story I sent for Twisted Tales II was fit to be seen in company with the writings of the established Twisted Tales crew and I'm going to see if he thinks the same about this.
Is there anything else you would like to share with us today?
I'm part way through a new novel that brings NASA spaceflight into the same world as the exotic arts of Tibetan Buddhism, with a protagonist who visits other worlds through the power of the mind. It's another of my speculative adventures into realities outside our usual paradigm. I'm still seeking the edges of our universe.
Thanks for chatting with me today Chris. It’s been a great pleasure to get to know more about you and your work. Congratulations on your books. I wish you much success.
I must thank you for letting me chunder on so much. It's been a pleasure to answer your well aimed enquiries.