Clive Hindle, author of The Eighth Square, talks about his approach to writing and his plans for the future.
Why do you write? Is it something you’ve always done, or always wanted to do? Or is it something that you started fairly recently?
It is as good as a life long thing – at least since early teens but I don’t think I found a voice until much later.
Tell me a little about your books.
Dark Side Crossing and Jakarta Monkeys are semi-autobiographical but I guess so are the rest really. The Mummer’s Song is about the fear of being or becoming the Scapegoat (with a capital s in the sense expressed in Frazer’s The Golden Bough). The Vixen is about someone who became a scapegoat (with a small s) for some bent coppers and lived to gain his revenge; The Night Doctor is about someone who is kidnapped and mugged in Lithuania (happened to me in 1997 but not in the same way as depicted in the story – it was just money in my case). The Dragon’s Tale is a Jack book about the Hong Kong triads and the Russian mafia in Macao (based on a true event when a friend of mine was murdered in Vladivostok), The Emperor of the North is about Jack, the Northern villains and their “big boss” (there are a few who will be disappointed it wasn’t them). There are others but those are enough for now. At the moment I am finishing JM and TMS and I am writing one called Gross Darkness The People about the utter disgrace and depravity of the predatory women-trafficking from the former Eastern Bloc countries, which has filled me with such a hopeless depression that I felt compelled to write about it. Actually I was inspired to write it when I stayed at the house which also inspired John Buchan’s 39 Steps. So you can guess it’s got a bit of action in it. Generally speaking my books have upbeat endings but I am struggling with this one.
Are there any authors who inspire you?
In no particular order, among the modern fiction writers, Roberto Bolano, Cormac McCarthy, W.G. Sebald. There are a lot more – I do like some John Fowles, I like Alain Fournier, I like Hermann Hesse and Thomas Mann when he is not pontificating. Among women writers my taste is much older and I can’t really go past Jane Austen and Emily Bronte. Of the poets Ezra Pound and Emily Dickinson. I have missed many out here and will kick myself tonight for some I didn’t mention, so please take that as a selection.
How do you write? Do you make yourself write a certain number of words per day?
I really need the energy to write and sometimes I have to force myself to do it. I went through a period perhaps 20-25 years ago when I wrote the templates of a dozen or so books. I now complete and revise those and add something new from time to time as and when I am inspired. I don’t force myself to write new when it doesn’t just come but I do revise and amend.
Did you try to get a conventional publisher or agent interested before you opted for self-publishing?
I have a thick file of rejection slips.
What goals have you set yourself? Do you want to sell a certain number of books in 2012? Is there some way you measure success, on your own terms?
Not really. I would like to get conventionally published. However, I am fortunate in having a day job I quite like and I don’t have to write for anyone other than myself.
Away from Amazon, have you had much luck with other outlets? Do you use Smashwords, Barnes & Noble etc?
No. Heard of them but that’s about it. Tried Goodreads and actually replied to a high rating from someone basically to thank them and it went on as if I’d given myself a rating. I am not computer illiterate but they sometimes leave me gasping.
Do you worry about Amazon gaining a monopoly in the ebook market?
I don’t worry about it but I have a distinct aversion to monopolies of any kind and now you have alerted me to it I shall no doubt think what I can do about it. I do have a Kindle however, which is very useful when you’re going on trips.
What’s next? Are you working on anything at the moment? Do you have anything new coming out in 2012?
I guess I answered that above. In truth I could bring out 6 books in what is left of 2012 if I had to work to a timetable. I actually want to do a historical novel too based on the poet, Francois Villon, and Richard Plantageneat (the younger of the princes in the tower). In this book Villon was not hanged in Paris (no one really knows) and Richard wasn’t killed (again no one really knows) and they have a good time together. I have started it but I need another prod to really get me going.