Today is a double special day ~ it’s not just the day The “Indies” Corner first goes live, but the day I introduce you to my very first guest, writer John Hindmarsh, an Australian-born writer of thrillers and sci-fi, who used to be an ICT consultant and who just may have been around the globe more than once in his lifetime…
Between long-term and short-term assignments, John tells me he has worked in about a dozen different countries worldwide, and visited another dozen or so as a tourist. The list of countries he’s been to is truly enviable, and includes such places as Amsterdam, Istanbul, Singapore, Bangkok, Moscow, Athens, Copenhagen…
In the last five years of his career, John sub-contracted with IBM, working with banking clients at a senior level. He has now settled in the California mountains, in the company of his Japanese American wife. And John added about himself:
“[I s]topped all that [sub-contracting] at the end of 2012. I turned 79 at the beginning of this month [Feb]. I have a serious although stable health problem [a form of leukemia] diagnosed a year ago – I’m apparently too old for the typical cures. I like hiking, kayaking and skiing. I’m focused on writing aggressively! What more can I say? :-)”
John released his first book, Broken Glass, in 2011. Since then, many more titles have followed, and John is currently working on his 10th title, the 3rd volume in his Annihilation series. You can follow John on Twitter, where he indefatigably tweets about his books and promotions under the handle @john_hindmarsh, or through his webpage, which can be found at www.JohnHindmarsh.com .
The first book I read of John’s was Shen Ark: Departure, and I absolutely loved it. It is a very funny and addictive space opera, where the main characters are rats who suffer a mutation and evolve, within a few rat generations, to become highly capable, sentient and technological creatures.
By the time I had finished it, all I wanted was more of the same (yes, give me anthropomorphised animal characters anytime, and I’ll coo like an amorous spring woodpigeon). However, as I looked John’s bibliography up, I did not find more of Shen Ark, but I did find Broken Glass, the first of John’s The Glass Complex Trilogy. Its synopsis intrigued me enough to prompt me to buy a copy… and the rest is history.
I am currently reading Body Shop, which is currently still at release price of $0.99 / £0.99, and will be reviewed here on Tuesday, followed by Mark One on Thursday, and then by Broken Glass next Saturday.
Here’s John’s bibliography to date:
The Glass Complex Series
Broken Glass, Self-published, 2011, Science Fiction [space opera]
Fracture Lines, Self-published, 2016, Science Fiction [space opera]
Diamond Cut, Self-published, 2017, Science Fiction [space opera]
Shen Ark: Departure, self-published, 2013, Science Fiction [space opera]
Mark Midway Series
Mark One, self-published, 2013, technothriller
Mark Two, self-published, 2014, technothriller
Mark Three, self-published, 2014, technothriller
Mark Four, self-published, 2016, technothriller
The Darwin Project, self published, 2017, technothriller
Body Shop, self published, 2018, technothriller
The 39 Questions
It is a real pleasure to welcome you to the scribbles.
Before we start, I’d also like to thank you not just for being here, but for taking the time and having the patience to answer my many questions.
So — to begin with: could I ask you about your reading habits? Would you say you too are infected with the reading virus and, if so, how old were you when it first struck?
Thank you. I’m totally infected; since about ten years old.
Which is the first book you remember reading, and how old were you?
An encyclopedia; I was ten.
How much, and what, do you read? What are your favourite genre(s) / authors / books?
Thrillers and SF, with an occasional foray into fantasy.
Do you have any books that you return to over and over again? If so, which are they?
I’ll occasionally re-read all the books I have of a writer, mainly to re-assess writing style.
How do you read? Do you read as a reader, for the pleasure and entertainment of it? Or do you read like a writer, dissecting scenes, plot, character, action, pace, language, everything…?
I used to read as a reader and now it’s totally chaotic.
I recently read a book that left me breathless and wishing I had written it myself, and feeling that nothing I will ever write can ever be as good as that. Have you ever felt like that with a book you read, and which is the book you wish you had written?
Not sure I can properly respond. There are writers I admire for the quality of the world/universe they have created and characters they have created – Cherryh, Modesitt, Butcher, Child, Anderle, Dawson — the list goes on.
Which kinds of fictional villains do you love to hate the most? Who are your favourite fictional villain and villainess?
You mean in addition to Moriarty?
What about heroes, what type of hero/heroine is your favourite? Who are your favourite fictional hero and heroine, then?
Smiley [le Carre’s spy novels], the unnamed protagonist in Len Deighton’s novels, Bren Cameron in Cherryh’s Foreigner series, Jack Reacher [Child], Honor Harrington [Weber], …
If you were a fictional character, what sort of character would you like to be, and what genre would you hope to be written into? And who by?
Me and by me. :-) I wrote myself into my first book, and no one has ever commented on what is an anomaly. I’ll expand the concept in a later book. So a background character, with control.
Do you tend to read more eBooks or printed ones? And what do you read the most, traditional publishing house, independent publisher, small press, self-published?
More ebooks although I buy an occasional hardcover when a favorite author [traditional press] releases a new book.
What title(s) do you have on your bedside table (and on your fireside one, and your desk, and in your handbag) right now?
Um – I don’t have a handbag. I have hundreds on my Kindle in both my genres. I have Artemis by Andy Weir [waiting to be read] and Origin by Dan Brown [just read], both hard cover sitting on my coffee table and bedside.
Do you have a favourite quote about reading, and would you share it with us?
Let’s talk about the “writing bug”, then. How old were you when you started writing? Did you always know you would become a writer? If not, when did you decide you’d become one?
About 12 when I first wrote a SF story. I was raised on a farm in very rural Australia and writing was not a trade one followed. So after years of not writing I released my first book in 2011. I will release book #10 in the next 7 – 10 days.
Where do you write? Do you have a dedicated or favourite place (a desk, a study, a garden chair, maybe?) and could you describe it for us?
A study looking out onto about 30 pine trees sometimes all snow-covered; there are 20+ trees in our backyard. I am not a Starbucks writer – no appeal.
Do you journal/keep a diary? What about a notebook, do you have one that you take everywhere you go? What do you write in it?
So, how do you go about constructing your book’s reality? Are you a thorough planner, before you start writing our book? Or are you a “pantser”? Perhaps even a bit of both? Does it ever happen to you that one of your characters just suddenly decides to do their own thing?
I’ll typically have a story idea in mind for years. My current series [Annihilation – technothriller], for example, was triggered in 2014 by a quotation from a speech by Elon Musk – about artificial intelligence. I’ve had a SF story bubbling around for ten years. A thriller series for about three years. A standalone story for fifteen years. At first I was a total pantser. I now try to outline – but that makes life boring. Often a character grabs the story and away it goes.
How do you create your characters? Are there real life doubles for them?
I develop them to suit the story; no real life analogues.
If there was to be a movie made of your book, and you were to have a say in it, who would you like to see being cast as your main characters?
Hugh Jackman, Samuel Jackson, Vin Diesel, Tom Hanks, Sigourney Weaver, Liam Neeson… Depends which book/series, I suppose.
Where did the idea for your book come from? Was any of it based on a true event, a piece of news maybe, a film, a book you read?
I have this muse who sits on my shoulder and fills my mind with strange ideas. And then beats me with a baseball bat if I ignore her. It hurts…
How much is there of you in your main character?
Minor aspects I suppose are inevitable.
How much research did you do for this book, and what kind, where, how? How easy, or how difficult, was it?
Current series – more than usual – super intelligence. Generally I have a lot of experience I can weave into stories – well, apart from murdering people, I suppose.
How easy or how difficult was it for you to write about your book’s themes?
Not sure of the question.
Do you think the author knows everything there is to know about her/his characters and their life? How much do you know about your characters?
Which of your fictional heroes/villains did you enjoy writing the most, and why? Are those your two favourite characters in your own fiction?
I think I enjoy each key protagonist at the time. One of the alien characters – antagonist – in The Glass Complex series was a delight to write. Killed him off, though. My editor was sad.
Is there a sequel in the works? If not, what else is in the forge? And how far are you into writing your new title, and when can we expect it to hit the shelves?
Book #2 of the current series is up for release end of Feb, I have books 3 and 4 in mind and will write them as quickly as I can – rate to be determined. I have at least 4 – 7 books I could write this year without reaching deeply into my ideas.
Of all your titles so far, which is your favourite one? Which was the one that gave you more pleasure, and the one you found the hardest to write?
Probably my first book – Broken Glass. Released in 2011 and reached best-seller status [i.e., reached the top paid 100 and flagged by Amazon as a Best Seller] on Amazon US and UK in 2017.
For the benefit of any learning writers among us, could you describe your creative process? (how you pick an idea, develop it, draw your characters, plot the action, etc.?)
I suspect this process is unique to each author. I’ll develop an idea that includes a concept, a protagonist, antagonist, challenges, and an ending. I try to provide thrills/page turning urges along the way. Plus breadcrumbs to link each book in a series.
If one of your characters were to become a writer, what advice would you have for them?
Write more books – you need books to market. Ignore the naysayers. Write more books – the writing part of the brain is like muscle – the more you write, the fitter it gets.
Finally, what’s your favourite quote about writing?
Write more books. [Didn’t we have that question already?] LOL
Here are the quintessential questions, then — first one: why do you write?
I cannot not write. I would probably be unbearable to live with if I couldn’t be creative, preferably with words.
How long have you been writing?
Since 2013 as a serious writer. Since I was 12 as a wannabe writer.
What was the very first thing you wrote which made you stop and look at it, and think: “wow, yes, this could be something”?
So, how did you come to writing? Did you take the academic path, or is it just something you discovered you were good at, and decided to pursue?
Not the academic path. I couldn’t constrain the urge to write. Don’t know yet if I’m any good.
What kind of thing do you prefer to write, and how did you come to choose your genre(s)?
I write in genres that appeal to me – Thrillers and Science Fiction [space opera].
Do you write full time? What’s your usual writing routine?
Yes. I had interruptions to my routine through 2017 and am trying for a more disciplined approach for 2018. Target is 3,000 words a day, 5 days a week.
The “writing life”, as it is — is that something you recommend? Which aspects of the writer’s life do you enjoy the most (apart from writing, of course!), and which are you not so keen on?
Recommend – only if you seriously want to be a writer. The less enjoyable aspects are the non-writing parts [e.g., marketing].
Who are you signed with (or not)? Why did you choose the traditional path to publication? And if you didn’t… why not?
The thought of hawking my work to numerous agents and then hawking same to publishers and when/if successful, waiting 18 or more months for the book to reach a reseller – no way. I can complete a book, work through the edits, get a cover [and influence the design], format it as an ebook, and the time delay between completing the edit corrections and uploading the book to Amazon is about seven days. Also, I’m an alpha type – I like to be in control.
Ninth “quintessential” question, now: where do you see yourself as a writer, in the long term?
Successful? With 20 plus books published [currently 10]. And continuing to write.
And last but by no means least, which of these do you prefer? [
Coffee, or tea? Coffee
Cheesecake, or blueberry muffins? Blueberry muffins
Turquoise, or aqua green? Turquoise
Violets, or jonquils? Violets
Mountain, or the sea? Mountain
Music, or theatre? Music
Once again, John, thank you so much for agreeing to appear on the scribbles, and I’ll meet you here again on Tuesday, for my first review of one of your titles, Body Shop!
And here you are: John Hindmarsh, talking about books, reading, writing, being a writer, and being himself.
I’ll be back on Tuesday, with my review of Body Shop, and a teeny weeny excerpt just to further spice your curiosity about this author.
Until Tuesday, then!