What are you writing now? I’ve just released The Orange Moon Affair which is the first in a new thriller series with many more to follow soon. I wanted to create a central character, Thomas Gunn, and other key figures that I could grow and develop over time and in different situations. Thomas Gunn is dear to my heart and loosely based on a brother-in-arms and great friend, the late Terry Forrestal. I’m hoping he’s looking down, chuckling and urging Thomas on in his exploits in unraveling international conspiracies, dealing with love and relationships, being a rascal and a rogue and trying to stand for truth and what’s right in the world – while getting shot at, hunted down and all that fun stuff that goes on in any thriller, of course.
I’ve also started a sequel to An Unquiet American which is called The Most Dangerous Man on Earth and the third book in The Book of Baker humorous satire series, Genesis Revisited – so have to get those books finished soon as well. Sometimes I start a book and then leave it, often for months maybe even years – and in hindsight it’s an instinctive thing, but I realize that I don’t have the capacity, the maturity to finish it till I have grown in my own life or writing process or am willing to focus on the issues that the book requires of me – and then it flows as it should. It requires patience and trust in the process.
Can we expect any more books from you in the future? I’ve written seven books to date and never stop writing. I already have at least another seven books, so far, in my head ready to be written. Once they are published, there will no doubt be another seven following on from those. The only way I will stop writing is when I stop breathing.
Have you developed a specific writing style? I write in what is called a “stream of consciousness” style, but my own particular form of this discipline. I do not write notes or sketch out the characters or plot before starting a novel. I have the entire book in my head, which is to say the story line, places, and characters. As the book progresses, the story tells itself and the characters develop as they experience the events that occur. I find this gives me an immediacy, which I feel I would lose by constructing a novel from notes.
What contributes to making a writer successful? There are obvious things like discipline, persistence, perseverance in the face of rejection, the ability to take criticism, learn from mistakes, let go of negative thinking, being brave enough to try new ways of expressing yourself, learning from other great authors and being able to market yourself or have someone do that for you. But for me, I think a major part of becoming successful is the state of your own psyche, your own emotional health and wellbeing as a person. That wellbeing is heightened with strong personal support through all the ups and downs that being a writer entails. My mother was my greatest support in getting my first book published. Now, my wife’s unwavering presence over the last 15 years has allowed me to be more consistently prolific again and I owe so much of my progress as a writer and a person to her. Writing may be a primarily solitary activity but success is not solitary – and it’s an important distinction to make.
What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life? I have been fortunate and lucky enough to win awards, accomplish everything I have set out to do, and have best selling books as well. But the most cherished things in my life are my children and grandchildren. Whether it is my accomplishment is for others to judge, but they are all successful, happy, intelligent, compassionate and vibrant human beings and that is an accomplishment in itself.
What do you do to unwind and relax? I’ve always been very active physically so contrary to a lot of people who love to be still and lie on the beach and do nothing to unwind, I need to do something – go sailing and become one with the wind and the waves, ride a motorbike on an open highway and open up the throttle, or even just get up and make a fool of myself dancing myself silly to some ageing rock band’s greatest hits!
If I do sit around then it has to be with family or a few select friends enjoying a meal with a glass of good wine discussing everything under the sun – heated discussions are my idea of fun, the louder the better, the more passionate the more appealing – anything for a stirring debate and then a heartfelt laugh with no hard feelings and just a great sense of satisfaction at having had a fabulous time and stretched the brain cells till they nearly popped.
What is the hardest part about writing? One word springs to mind. Discipline. Basically I am lazy, so sitting down to write every single day for months on end can become a very hard thing to do, especially if I’d rather be sailing, or flying, or hiking or just watching sports on TV at the weekend. But writing requires discipline because I know that for every day I do not write means an extra two or three days getting back into the rhythm.
Do you have any advice for budding authors? This is one of those questions I get asked a lot and feel uncomfortable answering, as I still don’t think I have earned the right to become a sage. But I do think that there is one piece of advice I could offer that I have found to be true. Write from your own knowledge and experience. This gives even a fictional book an authenticity and depth that is otherwise difficult to create.
What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing? The biggest dream was to become a best selling author and prize-winning screenwriter. Two things I always thought were beyond reach when I first set about trying to find a publisher for my first book. Another dream was to be able to work from home, for myself, and earn living from my writing, which happily I have been able to do for more than twenty-five years.
When you wish to end your career, stop writing and look back, what thoughts would you like to have about your life? I never want to end my career or stop writing! May I take my last breath with a pen in my hand, (well, more realistically with a keyboard under my fingers or a microphone nearby) feeling like I still have so much to say and so much to explore in a world that is endlessly fascinating. As a writer I’d like to think my words made a difference by having been written and added to the quality of people’s lives. So when they read my obituary they would smile and sigh. A sigh of contentment, of remembering that sense of expansion and fullness of spirit they felt after turning the last page of my books and reading my last lines. That would be more than satisfying. J
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Genre – Thriller
Rating – PG13
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