JW; Thank you so much Adam for being a guest on my blog, it is a huge honour!
AH; Thanks for inviting me to be on your blog, Jude. Without enthusiastic bloggers and reviewers, life would be quite difficult for authors in a world in which critical mass is essential to capture people’s attention, so I really appreciate all the support.
JW; I’d like to start by asking, have you always wanted to be a writer? And what was the inspiration for you starting to write?
AH; I’ve always written. My parents moved around a lot when I was a child, so I was always having to make new friends, which can be quite challenging. Writing stories gave me friends I could take with me. My family was working class (Tony Kent and I recently discovered we grew up on the same council estate) and we didn’t know any professional or creative people, so I never even realised being an author was a viable career. People can forget that exposure is essential for equal opportunity. If children don’t see people like them in certain professions, they simply won’t consider them as options. I kept writing for myself but finally decided to try to become a screenwriter and author after my father died suddenly. It was one of those ‘life’s too short not to do what you love moments.
JW; Where did the original inspiration for The Other Side Of Night come from?
AH; Our middle child, Elliot, asked me a question when we were out for a walk in the Peak District. He was eight years old and the question was so touching and profound I knew instantly there was a great story in it. I can’t reveal the question because it’s a spoiler, but I got to work on the first iteration of The Other Side of Night immediately. It took me five years to get it into shape, but I think I’ve done justice to Elliot’s question. He’s certainly given the book a big thumbs up – although it did make him cry.
JW; The Other Side Of Night is a different book in style from your usual thrillers, how easy was it to write?
AH; I wrote The Other Side of Night as a short story originally, then as a screenplay, then part of a book, then a screenplay again – it went through so many iterations and I didn’t realise what I was missing until I found it: perspective and voice. I needed David Asha, the storyteller, to elevate the book from a twisty procedural into something quite profound. I feel safe claiming it’s a profound read because I wrote it, must have read it more than fifty times, I know exactly what’s coming and there are still parts of the book that make me well up.
JW; When writing with James Patterson, does he mentor you? And how does it work from different corners of the World?
AH; I’ve learned a great deal from Jim, and co-writing with him has been a really positive experience. We’ve always been on different continents, so moving to Africa hasn’t changed much.
JW; Who would you like to see playing the parts of David Asha, Harriet Kealty, Sabih Khan, Ben Elmys and Elliott Asha if The Other Side Of Night is turned into a movie? (It HAS to be!!)
AH; I think The Other Side of Night would make a great film, but I’m going to be really boring and say I have no idea who should play the roles. There are people with greater expertise than me, casting directors, producers and directors who will spot a quality in an actor that I might not be aware of. More than the cast, I think the key to a successful adaptation is choosing the right people behind the camera. Then you have to trust their judgment as they bring the adaptation to life.
JW; As a child growing up, were you an avid reader or was television your thing? Do you have a favourite childhood book or television programme?
AH; I took part in an event recently and almost every author pointed to Enid Blyton as their favourite childhood read. I know it’s heresy but I was never much of a fan. The children seemed to come from such an alien world and there was never any real sense of jeopardy. I grew up in some rough parts of London and saw people getting mugged, stabbed and shot, so tales of smugglers and helpful dogs seemed tame in comparison. I grew up reading my mum’s collection of John Wyndham books, and then moved on to James Herbert, Stephen King and Thomas Harris when I was twelve. I was a voracious reader and my favourite book of that time was probably Black Sunday. I also watched a lot of TV and my favourite childhood programme was probably Battlestar Galactica or the A-Team. I’m pleased to say our own children have all loved Enid Blyton, which is a testament to the more sheltered lives they’ve had.
JW; As we’re now in September which book that you’ve read this year has been your favourite? OR which are you most looking forward to?
AH; My favourite book so far has been Peng Shepherd’s The Cartographers, and the one I’m most looking forward to reading is Anthony Horowitz’s The Twist of A Knife. Anthony is such a skilful writer and I always learn something from his books – as well as enjoying the tale.
JW; Have you ever been starstruck by meeting one of your heroes in real life?
AH; Authors are generally an approachable bunch, so I’ve never felt starstruck meeting a fellow writer. I was overwhelmed when I got to sit down with Sylvester Stallone to discuss a Rocky project a few years ago. I was in his office, surrounded by Rambo and Rocky memorabilia talking to a man who, in addition to being a movie icon, clearly has a very sharp mind. After the meeting, the producer and I bumped into Peter Weller right outside Stallone’s office, so I met Rocky, Rambo and Robocop all on the same day.
JW; What do you consider your greatest achievement?
AH; Gosh, these are difficult questions. I don’t tend to look back at the things I’ve accomplished. I enjoy the process of doing things, but I rarely try to hold on to achievements, because for me life isn’t about milestones or success as an event. It’s a journey, an experience to be enjoyed, and that means my mind is more on what’s to come than what’s behind me. That said, I look back fondly on parts of the journey, most fondly of all on my family.
JW; If you could go back in time, to one historical event, to witness it, what would it be and why?
AH; The assassination of John F Kennedy. There are lots of historical events I’d be interested in going to change, but if I can only be a witness, I’d like to know what those guys were doing on the grassy knoll and why, after all these years, there are still questions hanging over what really happened that day.
JW; Can you share a shelfie with us? (A photo of your bookshelf)
AH; Sure. We moved continent recently. So nearly all of our books are still in the UK, but the collection is slowly building again here. Here are some of our shelves, complete with lazy dog.
JW; If you could invite four people to dinner, living or dead, who would you invite and why?
AH; My dad. He never got to meet his grandchildren and I think he’d very much have liked to. It would be nice to have one last conversation with him. I probably wouldn’t invite anyone else because they wouldn’t get much of my attention. I’ll think of a new roster of guests if you have me on your blog again in future.
JW; What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
AH; I’ve had too much good advice from different people over the years, but the one that comes to mind today is learning to be patient. I’m not talking about standing in a queue politely or waiting virtuously for an Amazon parcel to arrive. I’m talking about patience as understanding. Taking the time and care to form a proper opinion of the world before speaking or acting. We live in an age of sound and fury, of attention deficit news, of everyone and their cute cats having a social media account to influence how we think and feel. We react, often too quickly, and our haste amplifies mistakes. The errors cascade because each can be shared with and felt by millions of people. Patience is about peace. Forming our opinions in the quiet peace offers. Acting only when we know we’re motivated by truth and that we’re being driven by the right reasons.
JW; What’s next? What are you currently working on??
AH; I’m working on a very unusual stand-alone crime thriller. It upends many expectations of the genre. I’ve just finished the first draft and am sending it out to trusted industry colleagues to see what they think.
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