Wednesday, October 24, 2012

(Interview) Derek Haines Interview: Get Introduced To One of the Best Writers Around

1. I know you have written many books, but what inspired you to write your first?

I'm not sure that I really wrote a first book in fact. It was more a collection of thoughts, poems and essays that I'd been scribbling into a series of spiral bound notebooks for many years. There were songs as well, and melodies, handwritten on pencil drawn staves. Probably due to the fact that I didn't doodle or draw pictures, I had the brilliant idea one day to turn my notebooks into a book. As I was involved in the printing industry back then, it wasn't difficult to run off a hundred copies, but after I did that and had my first book in my hand, I had no idea what to do next, so I gave most of the copies to my mum. She quite liked them. It was a collection of poetry titled 'Loss, Limbo, Life and Love'.

With the poems out of the way, but much later, I then went about doing the same with the essays and short stories I had written over the years. I published the book by Print On Demand and was quite pleased with myself at having a book that this time had an official ISBN. I can't recall exactly when I published 'An Uneducated View of Sex, Food And Politics', but it was well before e-books hit the market.

2. Your large body of work has touched a number of genres; do you think you mastered any?

In no way whatsoever because I write for the love of writing and while I suppose it would be more logical to stick to one genre and make my book marketing much easier, once a story gets into my head, that's the end of the matter. Except for the trilogy of The Glothic Tales, which kept me going on science fiction farce for quite some time, I haven't stayed in one genre long enough to get close to knowing what I'm doing. I warped off from the last Glothic Tale to a romance. I've got no idea why, other that an idea popped into my head.

3.  Have any writers influenced you work?

I hated reading as a child and teenager. Perhaps it was my schooling or the teachers, but I always seemed to have something better to do than read The Grapes Of Wrath. Luckily though, I stumbled across 'Chariot Of The Gods' by Erich von Daniken and was absorbed by his theories of ancient alien visits to Earth. From then on, I was hooked on reading anything science fiction. Just as an aside, I bumped into Erich von Daniken just a few years ago when I was holidaying in a little Swiss village called Beatenberg. He lives there and was buying his Sunday morning newspaper. Funnily enough, he seemed remarkably ordinary for a childhood hero.

4.  Maybe it was just the genre of Milo Moon, but there seemed to be a clear influence of Phillip K. Dick throughout the book, was there?

No. The writers who have most influenced me, and I keep reminding myself not to imitate, are Douglas Adams, Rob Grant and Doug Naylor, who write as Grant Naylor, and Jasper Fforde. After I'd finished writing 'Milo Moon', an editor read the manuscript, as I was considering whether to publish with a small press at the time. He made a clear point that my use of 'I don't like Wednesdays' in the book was a 'lift' from Douglas Adams. But I'd forgotten all about Arthur Dent's dislike for Thursdays and had used the line because I had lost a few family and friends on a Wednesday in the few years before I wrote the story. Well, in the end the editor wanted to remove it, and I said, 'Over my dead body.' So I self- published.

5.  What’s your have writing process, if you have one?

It usually starts with one character. I like losers, anti-heroes, marginals or a character with flaws or a childlike innocence, and then develop the character in my head for a while. The story comes after I get to know my character well. From there I play around with plots, but then I'm usually guided by what the character would do given certain situations. I tend to write way too fast though, so I usually get ahead of myself and have to backtrack a lot to fix the craters in the plot that writing too fast creates. I don't know how many times I've given a character a brother or sister and then made them an only child later in my rush. However, I'm quite happy to do the repair work later if the story is coming out easily.

6.   In my book review of Milo Moon, I identified you as one of the best writers around. Are there any fellow writers you would recommend?

With the way publishing and social media has become almost completely entwined now, I have so many writers who are friends or I know through the Internet. That makes it hard, as I would be completely biased in my recommendations by my friendships. I think the best recommendation I could make would be Geoffrey Chaucer, as by reading his works, he really proves that nothing has changed all that much in society, or writing, since the fourteenth century.

7.    You only have to visit Milo Moon’s twitter account to find out the books reach.  Why do you think Milo Moon has gained such a large following?

Twitter is the strange beast of social networking. I have no idea why the old Milo Moon account was so popular. But alas his account is no longer, as I changed it recently to focus more on publishing and in particular self-publishing. As the main topics of the messages haven't changed that much, the account has remained quite popular and is still growing. But there is a lot of follow for the sake of following on Twitter, simply to build up numbers, so I am always cautious about the real number of people who actually read Twittter feeds.

8.  What do you think of the state of the book market today?

I don't think anyone knows the answer. It's certainly in a state of flux and where it's heading is anyone's guess. E-books have certainly changed the game, but the current boom in e-book reading must be viewed in perspective, as most of the change has been in the US market. When I read new articles and blogs that relate to e-publishing, very little information regarding the advance of the e-book outside of the US is mentioned. I was in the UK recently and the bookstores there are still doing 'business as usual' with traditional books. Where I live in Switzerland, and in adjoining France, the ebook is almost non-existent. Therefore I think it's a two-part question. What is the state in the US market? That would have to be described as volatile. What's the state of the book market outside the US. Business as usual.

9.   Do you see the growth of self-published books and authors as good thing?

Of course. Not just from the income perspective for authors, but because it expands freedom of expression. I read a lot about the quality aspect of self published books, but I think this is just literary knit picking. What I love about self-publishing is that there is no lock keeper on what you want to write about anymore. While there needs to be a certain degree of control over a small number of very sensitive social and perhaps security topics, I think the opportunity for people to express themselves is of social value. Whether they sell a book is another issue though.

The only downside I see is the control electronic publishing gives to corporations. It's not fully understood that when you buy an e-book on a Kindle for example, that Amazon can remotely remove your purchased book from your device. So do you really own the e-books you buy?

10 .  Last question, do you have any new book projects in the works or anything not too far from release?

I have started on a new story but it's still a long way from completion. Enough to say though, that I have been predictable and have not only chosen a new genre to play with but have also decided to change from my habit of writing in the third person. It should be fun.

1 comment:

  1. I been following Derek's blog for quite some time. Although I have yet to read one of his books, I read everything he posts. His commentary is thoughtful and informed.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...