Wednesday, July 5, 2017

This Is Me #OurAuthorGang

Rick Haynes

I was born in South London, England, not long after the end of the Second World War. My family was poor, but I never knew because my childhood was fun. I was always outside, playing in the street. I was happy.

I passed the 11+ exams and was lucky enough to be offered a place at a local grammar school, but any desire to read was lost in a world of sport and watching those strange and beautiful creatures - girls. 
My sister gave me a copy of The Devil Rides Out by Dennis Wheatley, a story of the occult and black magic. Risqué it was for a thirteen-year-old, but a revelation. Yet even though I had to study English Literature, general reading still didn’t grab me at all. 

I left school and little changed until, in my 30’s, I read the book that would engulf me. It took a long time to read The Lord of the Rings, longer to understand it and even today - having read it 7 or 8 times - I find bits that I have missed. I began to devour books, gobbling them up one after another. Anne McCaffery with her dragons, Isaac Asimov with his robots, Brian Herbert with his giant sand worms, I was hooked, but once again as the years passed my interest in reading faded.

In my 50’s an author appeared who would subsequently change my reading life forever. I read a book about a hero, Druss, a giant with a code of honour, and my love of David Gemmell’s work exploded. 
Like a kid I fell under the spell of pure imagination, yet whilst I still had no desire to write, I’d fallen in love with reading once more. I collected all his books and have read them many times since.

But time waits for no one and my body started the downward spiral into decay. I was diagnosed with cervical spondylitis in the neck in 2006 and was forced to give up my job that I loved, due to the pain, but I wasn’t finished at the hospital, not by a long way. I went so many times that they nearly gave me my own parking space. As if? But as a substitute, they did give me a lollipop for being a good boy.

In all, I had 7 knee ops, 2 shoulder ops, several injections in my neck and was diagnosed asthmatic.  
Why is it they give you a nice shiny metal knee and forget the oil can? My knee squeaks louder than a horde of mice at times. 

After so many months of housebound imprisonment, I was sitting in the lounge, feeling sorry for myself and going stir crazy as the walls closed in. I shouted, asking my wife where I should go, to release me from my incarceration.

‘Try the kitchen,’ she said. 

‘Come on love, what should I do?’ I asked seriously.

‘Try the washing up,’ she said. That didn’t go down too well either.

But then my beloved suggested that I write my feelings down. It was that wonderful light bulb moment. I was up the stairs just faster than a snail, and I started typing. Only I couldn’t type - and I still can’t even now - but I’m a tenacious sod and I refused to give in.

I eventually wrote a diary of getting old. I had no idea what to do next but a new local writing group had started and I joined. Full of pride, I showed them my diary. Euphoria lasted just 5 minutes as I saw their faces. They were trying to be kind but sympathy was written all over their faces.  My writing was crap; I was crap. I did the only thing that I could. I listened, learned and spread my wings through the written word. My teacher was very inspirational and her style of teaching suited my fledging career perfectly.

I started writing Drabbles, those little 100 word gems, and won an international Drabble competition. 

As the dew gently caressed the leaves in the wood, a soft light slowly grew in luminance. The coalescing sparkles began to take the shape of a young girl. A pure white gown swished and swirled around her as she moved towards the graveyard, her slender feet leaving no tracks in the soft soil. 
The fresh grave had been hastily refilled but all her attention was focused on the sobbing cries of a terrified infant.

Holding out her hands to the cold earth, she spoke soothingly.

“Come forth you beautiful child, for I will take you to your true home.”

From that I got my first break. Four authors had decided to write an adult story for Halloween, Drabble style, but one pulled out and I was invited. It’s a naughty, sexy, adult tale, as you can guess from the name of my character HumpZeLot. I was way out of my comfort zone but it was great fun to write, and all the proceeds went to a charity.

My confidence grew. Along came a novella for all the family, short stories and eventually two novels.
Yet being an author is not all a bed of roses as you can’t please everyone. For those that want me to change, I say this - throw money at me, lots of it, and I’ll think about it.

Thanks to Tolkien and Gemmell, my passion is heroic fantasy, but writing my first novel, Evil Never Dies scarred me to death. Maybe the title had something to do with it. I remember talking to myself. ‘How do I start? Where do I start?’ I had the shakes, the trembling and the panic as it suddenly hit me that I was writing a novel. In the end, the answer was simple. I found the right cover and drew a map of my imaginary world, and then I was up and running like a three legged donkey. The imagination flowed, I became a recluse, and divorce papers were issued. 

Eventually, Evil Never Dies was professionally edited and published. We took a holiday as my wonderful wife needed a break more than I did. How she puts up with me is beyond all logic and I love her dearly for all her wonderful support. 

I am pleased to say that so far it has received 15 reviews all 4 or 5 star. And it made my day when 2 top reviewers likened by book to those of the great David Gemmell.

After a good break, to recharge my batteries, I started the follow-up but had no idea where it was going. Heroes Never Fade is the 2nd in the Maxilla trilogy but is a standalone book. It follows on about one year after the first book. It’s once more a tale of good and evil, yet shows that all men and women are flawed, for I show that war brings out the best and the worst in even the gentlest of folk. Once more a reviewer has compared my work to that of David Gemmell, but this time it was an Amazon top 500 reviewer after reading Heroes Never Fade. My head is currently in the clouds but with much humility.

Heroes Never Fade has.

Short chapters – I want you to keep turning the pages.

Strong male and female characters – I want you to emphasize with them.

Many twists – It’s a good job I have an editor who loves my genre.

As one well-respected reviewer posted, “To say it is a well- researched book shows how believably the characters, both human and fantasy, have been created. A definite 5* for fans of the genre, and highly recommended for other lesser mortals.”

That is a tiny insight into the world of my creation as all is never as it seems.

When I finished the book and it had been edited, my mind refused to function. It was if all my imagination had been used up as my head was as empty as a new dustbin. Once devoid of all superfluous thought my brain initially failed to respond to a long list of chores that I had promised to do over the previous 12 months. What a pity. I thought I’d got away with it. 

I’ll continue to write until my time is up, for the power of my imagination is beyond measure and I love to see my words on paper. Like tiny seeds, they gradually grow and blossom into one magnificent tree.

I always say this to my wife. This time next year love, we’ll be millionaires, so I’ll leave you with this thought.

If you don’t have dreams, how can they ever come true?

Thanks very much for reading. Please let me know what you think.

Love and laughter. 

Heroic fantasy

Heroic fantasy

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