Tuesday, 19 May 2009

A. J. Hartley - Author Interview

Novels: Act of Will
What Time Devours
Mask of Atreus
On the Fifth Day

Website: www.ajhartley.net

> Pitch your newest novel?

ACT OF WILL is about Will Hawthorne, a young actor/playwright in a vaguely Elizabethan world, who falls foul of the authorities and winds up taking refuge with a group of principled adventurers who are trying to identify and defeat and mysterious army of murderous horsemen. Will is a wry, cynical guy with none of the usual hero skills, a smart mouth, a deep skepticism concnerning unselfish virtue, self-sacrifice and magic. The book is his journey into meeting some of these things head on in situation which, I hope, readers will find both funny and thrilling. From what I'm hearing back, it particularly appeals to readers of Terry Prachett.

> What are your favourite three books?

Hmmm. Tricky. My favorite "books" are probably all Shakespeare plays, and I would probably want to add Philip Larkin's poetry collection The Whitsun Weddings, but I'm guessing you want novels so I'll say (somewhat arbitrarily) Neil Gaiman's NEVERWHERE, J.K. Rowling's HARRY
POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS and Kingsley Amis's LUCKY JIM. I know that's a pretty random list...

> In the books you’ve written, who is you favourite character and why? Or what character is most like you?

Hmmm. I like Deborah Miller a lot (MASK OF ATREUS) but I have to admit that Will Hawthorne (ACT OF WILL) is probably more like me. In fact I suspect, if readers were honest, he's like a lot of us... sarcastic, self-involved, cynical, even a little cowardly, but with a kind of moral compas burried inside somewhere deep down. Very deep down...

> What was the first novel (published or unpublished) that you wrote and how long did it take to write it?

My first novel was an Agatha Christie style murder mysery with literary pretensions. I started it when I was 19 and finished it in about a year. It was terrible. I revised it a few years later and made it less terrible but just as unsellable.

> If you still have one, what’s your day job? If you don’t, how long did it take before you could support yourself only on your writing?

I still have (by choice) a day job. I'm a Shakespeare professor, specifically a performance theorist and critic. I work as a theatre director and dramaturg and most of my scholarly publications are about modern performance issues concerning Renaissance drama.

> What is your university degree in?

BA, MA and Ph.D all in English literature though I'm now in a theatre dept.

> When and where do you write?

Mornings, as soon as I can get the house to myself. I need privacy and total silence, and I have a dedicated study for the purpose.

> What is something you didn’t know about the publishing industry before you had your first book published?

Lots of things, most of them depressing. I didn't know that the vast majority of books get no real marketing budget at all, the tiny number of massive names getting the bulk of the promotional resources. Not that I'm bitter.

> Do you have any advice for hopeful authors?

Never quit, but take the word of people you trust seriously.

> How many rejection letters did you get for your fist novel or story?

Too many to remember. I wrote 8 novels over 20 years before one was

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