Part of having gone through the crowdfunding process for me with Unbound Publishing for my upcoming noir thriller East of England is the sense of community that develops with other writers who are doing - or who have done - similar. So, this series of questionnaire-format interviews explores other writers who have works either in process or in print with Unbound. Today it's the turn of Maximilian Hawker, so it's straight over to him:
1. Who are you and what’s your book about?
My name is Maximilian Hawker and my debut novel, Breaking The Foals, is about a Bronze-Age royal torn between upholding his duties to his despotic father, or defending the people over whom his father rules. Oh, and it’s all set in the city of Wilusa – which was the historical Troy of myth. (Yes, Troy was a real city.)
2. Why should folk read your book?
For £3.99 on Amazon you will get a very different take on the tired let’s-retell-the-Trojan-War trope of modern literature. I love the mythology as much as the next person but have delved beneath it to discover the historical reality behind Homer’s poetry; my research has informed Breaking The Foals and this is the first time I believe any writer has actually tried to portray Troy in all its raw, unfamiliar sincerity.
3. What’s the appeal of your book?
If you like family drama, war, natural disaster, tragedy, humour, crazed rulers who consider themselves divine and communities that worship the bones of extinct creatures as gods, then you may very well enjoy my novel.
4. Sounds great! Where/when can I get hold of a copy?
5. Describe a typical writing day, or at least a typical day with some writing in it.
Frustratingly, the idea of having a day of writing is laughably optimistic for me. I work in frontline children’s social care and have a wife and two children, so getting any time to myself is a treasure. However, my top tip is to get up earlyish on the weekend, let your kids watch a bit of TV and/or play, and then get on that laptop and hammer out a few thousand words before the miniatures have completely woken up. Mornings are definitely my optimum time for writing.
6. Pick one book about writing. What it is and why have you chosen it?
Never read any. My reading time is precious and I prefer to lose myself in fiction and enjoy another writer’s skill – that teaches me plenty enough.
7. Pick three books that have influenced or inspired you as a writer.
Number One is Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières; I read it at GCSE and it was the revelation that propelled me into writing and into reading a lot more than I had been. It is, in my mind, perfect and de Bernières’ style of blending the comic with the tragic is something I try to emulate. Number Two would be The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell, which taught me how an expert delivers exactitude in description and scene development. Finally, Geomancer by Ian Irvine, which consoled me with the fact that a writer can throw themselves into a novel and make a lot of it up as they go along, while delivering something that hangs together well and is a real page-turner.
8. Pick three desert island books - works you couldn’t live without.
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières (for the reasons outlined above); Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë; and The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy.
9. Any words of writing wisdom?
Expect nothing and write for enjoyment.
10. Let’s make a movie of your book. Give me the high-concept pitch.
It’s a historical drama called Breaking The Foals and tells the story of the real Troy of myth, gripped in the throes of a political uprising with Hektor, crown prince, torn between whether to defend the oppressed people or remain loyal to his dangerous, irrational father.
Social media contacts:
Unbound URL: https://unbound.com/books/breaking-the-foals/
Poetry and short stories in a number of publications, but I ain’t gonna list ‘em all!
And that's it! Huge thanks to Maximilian for his time. I've read Breaking the Foals and it's well worth your time, so if you're in the mood for a mythic retelling, then give this book a whirl!