Today, I’m absolutely delighted to welcome Anthony Hogger to my blog. Tony, as I like to think of him, and I met a couple of years ago on the writers’ review site YouWriteOn. Since then, we’ve been in touch on Facebook. Over to you, Tony!
Me: I’m 57, Married to Jan. I was born in the East-End of London and now live in a thatched cottage, in a small village, near Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire.
How I write: I have my own office in the garden, so the views of the surrounding countryside are nice when I look up with a head full of nothing. I use an Apple iMac with MSWord. I don’t tend to storyboard, as many writers do. I suppose that is why I am more suited to writing about people and subjects based in fact. The plot is already there, I just have to put a different slant on it.
Why I write: From an early age I enjoyed history, so I guess that’s where my inspiration to write about historical figures real and imagined came from. Although I received no formal education – I left school at 15 with not so much as an O-Level – I always loved writing essays and making up stories. An irony I always reflect upon is: I began my first year at secondary school in what was then 1.1 (1.1 being first year first class. 1.5 being first year bottom of the pile, so to speak). Within six weeks, I found myself demoted to 1.3 because my English grammar, punctuation etc. was so poor. It’s still not that great now, but I manage to wing it these days. I spent the first year languishing in a class I was clearly over qualified for and determined to improve – not least for the fact that my arm ached from constantly being raised. The second year I began in 2.1, so some pride, at least, was restored. Unfortunately, at the start of my fourth year the education system decided, in its infinite wisdom, to dispense with the ranking by intelligence and ability structure altogether. So, pupils who started life in 1.1, 2.1, 3.1 etc. were taught alongside pupils from 1.5 and so on. The decision was a disaster on so many levels as I’m sure you can imagine. I made friends with some particularly disruptive young people and my education took a nosedive from there on, a fact of which I am not particularly proud. In fact, it is a decision I shall always regret.
My Inspiration: I didn’t need a great deal of persuading to want to base my first novel around the life of Vercingetorix. But, I suppose it originally stemmed from a character that Conn Iggulden touched on in a book from his Conqueror series. I have always had a penchant for the underdog and Vercingetorix’ is a fascinating story. It led me to read everything I could about the man, including Caesar’s de Bello Gallico, and to travel to the region from which Getorix – as I have dubbed him – is thought to have lived. The trip also took me to Alise-Sainte-Reine where the battle of Alesia is said to have taken place.
My current WIP: That’s a good one. I’m flitting between three different projects, at this moment in time, all completely diverse from one another:
The first is 95,000 words, set during the Napoleonic conflict, about a young woman’s quest to find her soldier father. The first draft has been finished for ages, but it needs a lot of work and I can’t decide whether to pursue it or not.
The second is set in London during the 70’ and 80’s. It’s a gangster yarn of 40,000 words, so far, but again, I can’t decide where to go with it.
The third is very interesting and probably more my sort of thing. The characters are fact based and that seems to be what most floats my particular boat. It is based on the true story of a group of Australian nurses, during WWII, who were gunned down by Japanese soldiers on a remote beach in the Far East. Despite being shot, one of them survives and spends the rest of the war in a prison camp. It is taking an immense amount of research, I’m a stickler for accuracy, but I guess that’s what makes my writing more interesting and exciting for me; finding out something new about a character every day and using my skills as a writer to make them live again. As I write this, I am becoming excited at the prospect of reading more about the event and putting my own stamp on it.
How am I finding the indie experience: Expensive and tedious, if I’m honest. I think I will attempt the traditional route in the future. I may never be a traditionally published author, who knows, but you have to be a marketing genius with time and money to burn to do it the indie way. Yes, there are many success stories for indie authors, but when you compare them to the amount of great writers, with great books, floundering in a sea of strategy and marketing nous, they are as rare as lottery winners – and, some of them, just as lucky. I’m currently in the process of giving away more copies of WKL, but you can’t even do that for free, certainly not if you want to make enough people aware of the giveaway. Simply telling friends on social media and punting to a few “totally” free sites is not enough. You have to pay the ones with bigger memberships and some, such as bookbub, want extortionate fees just to give your hard work away. Whinge over.
Inspirational place: I suppose that honour has to go to Rome. Both ancient and modern day, I love the place. Its history is overwhelming. I love nothing more than walking around the Coliseum touching its ancient walls and feeling its history. The wine’s good too.
Wow, Tony! It’s been great to introduce you to my readers and get to know you better. I read the start of Warrior King Legacy on YouWriteOn and I’ve got it on my Kindle. Looks fascinating. I wish you every success with it and with your writing projects. Readers, you can connect with Tony on Twitter @tonyhogger.