Author Interview: Speculative Fiction Author Christopher Hoare


Welcome to The Writer's Life, Chris! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

My first writings were anecdotes from the Libyan Desert written for an English language weekly published in Tripoli. I worked in the country at that time as a surveyor in oil exploration from 1963 to 1967. Since then I've had several extended attacks at the writing craft. During that time I moved from being a Brit working in N. Africa to become a Canadian Citizen working in various aspects of the oil industry in the Arctic, Rockies and Northern bush. I'm now retired and writing full time.

Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

"The Wildcat's Victory" is the second published novel in the Iskander series, following "Deadly Enterprise" released in July last year. The series features Gisel Matah, a strong and gutsy female protagonist who is a security/military officer of a modern group of people marooned in a 17th century world -- an alternate Earth. Two impulses gave rise to the series -- the desire to write about a strong and capable female protagonist without any chauvinism or condescension, and my interest in exploring some historical/technological what-ifs when modern ideas and knowledge are introduced into an earlier culture.

What kind of research was involved in writing “The Wildcat’s Victory”?

Quite a lot, but it's almost all research I had done over the past fifty years. I've always had an interest in history, military history, and the history of technology so the backgrounds are those I knew about. The most research I do now is into making Gisel a realistic person, because let's face it, it is her presence and humanity that turns the scenario into story.

How much input did you have into the design of your book cover?

For the two novels, I've been asked to provide thumbnails of incidents in the book that might trigger design ideas for the illustrations. What results is the artist's interpretation -- never exactly my idea, for better or worse.

Has it been a bumpy ride to becoming a published author or has it been pretty well smooth sailing?

Really bumpy -- been tossed off a few times. I've had acceptances for two novels and a non-fiction book that fell through later -- the last for a novel with an e-publisher that vanished after the 9/11 shakeup. I wasted a lot of time pursuing NY agents before I realized I live at the opposite end of their galaxy and don't have the necessary access to the conferences and booksellers they regard as essential.

For this particular book, how long did it take from the time you signed the contract to its release?

This one has taken fifteen months from date of signing. The next novel in the series, "Arrival", the prequel to these two, will be a bit quicker, about 12 months because I grabbed a slot when the publisher announced to his authors he was going to have to suspend taking submissions until production caught up.

Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

No. As I mentioned, at present we live in different worlds, perhaps different galaxies. At some stage, when I have a number of books selling consistently -- which is possible with e-publishing -- I may approach one to handle a work I feel would interest a corporate publisher. Reading the e-mails of my writer friends makes me unsure whether I want to subject my writing intentions to some middleman who seems to believe writing should function like a widget production line.

Do you plan subsequent books?

I have two published, two more under contract, and two in progress. I also have one set aside for a new rewrite, and ideas for several more. As a pensioner, I feel the government is paying me a stipend to become a valued older citizen -- and mean to repay society with my volunteer work and writing.

Are you a morning writer or a night writer?

I can write at almost any time. I wrote large sections of two novels while on night shifts in an oil refinery and a gas processing plant. When the busy-work people are not around, and the processes run smoothly, an operator has lots of spare time. Currently, I read the news from around the world on the Internet and run the dogs in the morning, deal with mail and promotion issues in the afternoon, and write fiction in the evenings, but I could easily alter that schedule.

If money was no object, what would be the first thing you would invest in to promote your book?

I suppose I would like to be able to afford the travel, accommodation, and registration fees to attend a few writers' conferences. Luckily this may happen anyway, because World Fantasy 2008 is coming to Calgary late this year (Calgary being only two hours away by road) and Zumaya, the publisher who signed my fantasy novel Rast, will provide ARCs and perhaps even be able to attend. It will only indirectly promote this book, but I regard all promotion as steppingstones to a full writing career.

How important do you think self-promotion is and in what ways have you been promoting your book offline and online?

Without self-promotion a new writer today would have no promotion. There are only two ways to achieve a decent sales record, besides being able to write, and those are by putting your work before the public and making sure the public notices. Offline promotion for my first novel didn't repay the effort in the small community I live in and the cities are too far away for a couple of book sales per reading to repay the cost of gas. I intend to focus almost entirely on the online community, with readers from all over the world, who belong to social sites and discuss books in writing groups.

Any final words of wisdom for those of us who would like to be published?

Consider a writing career plan that takes note of the realities of the publishing business. You are more likely to be struck by lightning than have a NY publisher fall over themselves to push your novel as a bestseller. Acceptance on their list can be a liability when the returns come back unsold and your reputation heads south. Work with a competent and helpful group of other writers to perfect your craft and establish a group of loyal readers before you even think of mainstream publishing. Not only does your writing have to be perfect (and let's face it -- nobody's is) but you must have an established writer's network with booksellers and customers before the corporate world will spend a dime on furthering your career.
Perfect your craft, and look for a supportive small or online publisher.

Thank you for coming, Chris! Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

My online sites are --
http://www.christopherhoare.ca/ -- http://mdbenoit.blogspot.com/
http://www.serial-adventure-fiction.blogspot.com/

The books are on Amazon at The Wildcat's Victory and Deadly Enterprise.

On Double Dragon Publishing my e-books can be found through my author page Christopher Hoare.
Christopher Hoare's virtual book tour is brought to you by Pump Up Your Book Promotion and choreographed by Cheryl Malandrinos.
Leave a comment here and you can win a free copy of his book, The Wildcat's Victory.
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