Personal dignity and integrity
What is your least favourite quality about yourself?
I find my mind wandering when I’m listening to something that is of less interest to me than it is to the speaker. It sometimes makes me feel shame.
How has your upbringing influenced your writing?
Immeasurably. My parents were both wonderful people. My father was the most humble person I knew personally and my mother was one of the most adventurous people I knew. She had a lust for life. Together they cocooned me and my sister in love and we both had happy childhoods. People underestimate the importance of the nuclear family. With more than half of all marriages now ending in divorce, the world has become a very sad and insecure place. My parents taught me to value qualities like respect for others, self-respect, integrity, honesty, humour, dignity, charity, empathy, kindness to strangers, truth, the body is a temple, a sound mind in a healthy body, variety is the spice of life, finish what you start, good manners, and a host of other lesser qualities that have become anachronisms in today’s dog-eat-dog world.
I sometimes despair for my children’s and grandchildren’s futures. It was a respect for these qualities and a recognition that they are largely absent in today’s world that ultimately motivated me to write my novels. My teenage years were, to say the least, unique. My parents owned and ran a Finishing School for Young Ladies, and that facilitated my exposure to the lifestyles of the rich and powerful (some of the young ladies’ fathers) at a time when I couldn’t have cared less how many houses a man owned. Frankly, I still couldn’t care less. What those years gave me was an understanding that material wealth is not necessarily a measure of a man’s (or woman’s) quality as a person and is not necessarily indicative of a happy and fulfilled life. If anything, there seemed to me then to be an inverse relationship and, frankly, it pisses me off when men and women in positions of power behave as if they are important. As one of my psychology professors once put it: When you’re standing at the urinal, all men are the same.
One of the most important gifts that my parents gave me was a moral sense of what is right and what is wrong. And there’s a lot wrong in a world where people of charisma and charm but devoid of ethics are voted into political power. Whose fault is that? In all honesty? It’s your and my fault. We voted for these bastards. And we voted for them because they made empty promises on which it was impossible to deliver. And we chose to believe the lies.
Nevertheless, to end the thought on a positive note, I have been hugely impressed to see that Bill Gates and Warren Buffet seem to have a low level of interest in hedonism and a high level of interest in giving back to society. Perhaps they can have a positive influence in bringing humanity back to its senses in terms of what is really valuable – which is precisely what I am attempting to achieve with my writing.
What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life?
Our children, although they are battling to cope in the world as it is, all have backbones of steel and a value set that reflects the same values that my parents passed on to me and my sister; and that Denise’s parents passed on to her. I have a lot to thank Denise for the high quality people that our children have become.
On a material level, over 30 years ago, I created and produced “The Africa Collection” of statuettes which sought to (and I believe do help to) preserve African Tribal Heritage for posterity. Of course, I didn’t sculpt them myself, but I did initiate and manage the project. My rationale was that, in seeking to “westernise” Africa, I believed humanity had been done a grave disservice. The tribal way of life respected Mother Earth for reasons that Western Society has not yet begun to understand. You can see what The Africa Collection was all about by visiting this page on my website: http://www.beyondneanderthal.com/the-author/
I am also particularly proud of my two factional novels. If they survive to be read by future generations, those generations will gain a contextual understanding of what life was like in the early years of the 21st Century, in much the same way (but certainly not as well executed by me) as, say, Charles Dickens captured the essence of life in England in the 19th Century. I imagine people in 100 years time reading my books and saying: “It’s hard to believe that the people who lived at the beginning of the 21st Century were so ethically and morally challenged. What were they thinking? How did civilisation survive?”
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Genre - Conspiracy Thriller
Rating – MA (15+)
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