Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
I’m Jon Hartless, and I’m now far too old to admit my age.
Fiona: Where are you from?
The Black Country, in England, so named after the huge amounts of smog in the area which literally turned the sky black during the Industrial Revolution.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I attended my local university in Wolverhampton for both my BA and then the MA; I still sometimes wonder about going back to do my PhD. I’ve worked in shops and also as a tour guide at the local museum, but the past ten years or so have been in IT training.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
On the writing side, I’ve just sent the edits off for my next book, a sequel to 2017s Steampunk motor racing adventure Full Throttle. Provisionally entitled Rise of the Petrol Queen, it’s scheduled for a September release with Accent Press. And on a personal level, I am buying a new house. Not sure which of these requires the most concentration, really…
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Writing was about the only thing I was ever good at and it’s something I enjoy, so I have been pursuing for the best part of twenty years. I think I’m just beginning to get the hang of it, now.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Although I’ve had a lot of tuff published over the years, in some ways I don’t feel like a writer at all. Sometimes, I feel like I’m just shouting into the void.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book in your new Steampunk series?
It was a mash-up of ideas coming together in my head; the era of the Bentley Boys, (famous racing drivers of the 1920s), coupled with a home-made car called Brutus built by a chap in Germany, all mixed in with general Steampunk aesthetics. I realised with these elements I could say something about the huge gap between the rich and the poor via the medium of Steampunk motor racing.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Full Throttle was the title of Tim Birkin’s autobiography, (Birkin being the most famous of the Bentley Boys), and it was a compromise title as the publisher didn’t like my first idea, which admittedly was terrible, but neither did they like Birth of the Petrol Queen, which I rather liked.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I’m not sure I have a style, as such; it seems to change depending on the book I’m working on. Full Throttle and its sequels are different as they are written as though by a man on an alternative timeline looking back at a woman who lived one hundred years beforehand and whose reputation he is trying to repair; as such, the style is very different to a “straight” third person narrative.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Despite the Steampunk setting, I have tried to create a recognisable, grubby world of privilege and inequality. Some of the experiences are taken from factual books, articles and personal testimony, so there is hopefully a shared familiarity and understanding present in the novels.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
Thankfully, no. I can’t afford to travel. Except to local bookshops and the like.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Accent Press see to it all; the first one was an absolute pip, so I hope the second will be as good.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Think about everything; question everything. Many elements in society presented as “normal” are no such thing but are instead manifestations of inequality and group control.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
I haven’t really got a new favourite as there are so many talented writers out there, but in any case I’m reading far less fiction these days than I used to as my tastes have moved more to factual tomes. Though I’m still reading some mainstream authors such as Kerry Hadley-Pryce, and also many from the indie author community including CL Raven, LM Cooke, Steven C Davis, Ash Hartwell, Antony Nick Britt and many more.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
Various friends, certainly, but no organisations if that is what you mean?
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Not at all, I’m afraid, and I’m always amazed to see articles claiming that the average income for a writer is something like £11-12000 per year. The most I have ever earned in a year is a little over £250. For me, it’s a hobby, albeit a passionate one.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Yes; I think the preface is a little overwritten and could be pruned, and I’d also jiggle the timeline a little. Still, too late now.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I looked into the history of the suffragette movement, though that entire section got culled during the editing process, and I also had a closer look at the way newspaper articles articulate their bigotry and hatred against anyone who is different.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
I honestly have no idea as I don’t watch that much contemporary stuff; how many Amazonian 6’2” (188cm) tall red-heads are there out there? Suggestions please 😀
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Do it for the fun and personal development.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
I hope you enjoy Full Throttle and maybe think about a few of the themes also… and the sequel is out in September
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’ve just finished A Legacy of Spies by John le Carre; I wanted to see how it fitted in with the previous Smiley books, of which Tinker, Tailor… is one of my all-time favourites. And I’ve got a few biographies on the pile, ready to go.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I’m afraid not.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Awful jokes tend to do both.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
No; a great many historical characters were terrible people with good PR. It would be somewhat stressful to have to be polite to them.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
I’m part of a local Steampunk group and we go out to places including museums and art galleries, but we also do charity shop crawls as well, which can be fun. But please note; never, ever get between two Steampunks when they see a vintage piece of clothing. You will be trampled.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I don’t watch that much these days but I am partial to older programmes on DVD, including cult bygone classics such as The Prisoner, Blake’s 7, classic Doctor Who, the Carry On films, Hammer Horror etc.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Chocolate, black, and classical
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Be very miserable, I suspect. Writing is all I can do.
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
I’d probably tell a lot of people how I feel about them. For better or worse.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
Keep the noise down.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Thank you very much 😀