An Interview with Richard Hardie
When did you first decide you wanted to become an author?
I think I was seven or eight. I can still remember the first story I ever wrote, or at least the page I completed. It started with “Stephen Keen turned the corner and walked into the lamp post”. I didn’t get much further, but I was only 8 at the time! Some years later I started writing stage shows for the Scouts and Guides Associations, called Gang Shows. They were great fun and one of them had a storyline that I felt could be developed into a book. That was in 2002 and it changed my life.
Why do you write? What drives you to do it?
The short answer is that it’s the thrill of creativity. Thinking up a baseline plot and then developing it into a story with characters that actually live is a wonderful thrill. That’s even more true of a series where the characters become so real that they almost write their own story and dialogue. Sometimes they go too fast and I have to make them slow down a bit!
Finishing a book is a great driver, especially if you have the plot of the next one in mind, and for my part I love the marketing which includes book signings at shops and other outlets. I also give talks at schools, libraries and societies. I love meeting people.
What is your writing schedule like?
It varies so much. As I run Authors Reach Ltd, the publishing company, much of my time is taken up in planning and distribution, so I try where ever possible to allocate two to three hours a day to writing. Sometimes that can mean only completing one page or maybe even less, however just occasionally the words flow and I don’t want to stop.
If a book is to be successful, promotion immediately after release is critical. For paperbacks that means signings at bookshops, for eBooks that tends to mean social media and for audio books that means releasing promotional codes to spread the word.
Do you have any particular writing habits, e.g. a place you like to sit or a favourite time of day to write?
I always write on my laptop in my study, sitting on a settee, usually with my cocker spaniel curled up beside me (as he is at the moment!). I tend to write in the afternoon, usually between 1.00pm and 3.00pm. I usually have a cup of coffee when I start and it’s nearly always only half finished when I decide I’ve had enough, or my dog decides he wants a walk.
What inspired you to write The Temporal Detective Agency novels and why YA?
I’ve always liked working with kids. I was a Scout Leader for 15 years and during that time wrote and produced five Gang Shows, one of which was in collaboration the great author Terry Pratchett. That show gave me the plot for Leap of Faith, the first Temporal Detective Agency novel, and some of the characters. Since then, the characters have become stronger as the series has progressed. I love the humour of Young Adults and their sense of adventure. Plus, of course, it helps to keep me young!
Do you tend to base your settings and characters on real places and people?
The main characters in my Temporal Detective Agency books are well-known from the legends of Camelot – though in my books they may not be as we remember them. Tertia and Unita and their boyfriends are my invention and I have to admit I’m rather proud of them.
The first book in the Temporal Detective Agency series (Leap of Faith) is mostly set on the beautiful Gower Peninsular in South Wales. I lived there for many years when I was young and know the area very well, so all the locations in the book are real. One of the rules of being an author is to write about what you love.
Many of my sub characters were also real people such as William Shakespeare, Caesar, Cleopatra, as well as a number of people in the third book in the series, which is still in the process of being completed … so no hints as to who they are.
Do you have a favourite book, place or character from your own work?
As I mentioned, I love the Gower Peninsular and any author’s first book tends to be their favourite.
As to my favourite character, that has to be Tertia. As a 14 year old girl, she narrates all the Temporal Detective Agency stories with loads of humour and verve. I actually based her on one of my Scout patrol leaders who was a black belt in Taekwondo, a county netball and hockey player and one of the finest footballers I’ve seen!
Which three words would you use to describe your writing (either your style or a particular book)?
Humorous, adventurous and surprising.
I could think of loads of other words, but those three will do!
What are you currently writing, if anything?
The 3rd book in the Temporal Detective Agency series is more than half complete, and I’ve written several chapters of the 4th book. I also intend on bringing out a collection of short stories based on the Agency, some of which I’ve already written.
What makes a good story in your eyes?
A beginning that grabs your attention and drags you into the story. A plot that makes sense and characters that match the plot. An ending that ties all the loose ends together and leaves no unanswered questions.
What do you like to read?
I love reading Terry Pratchett’s books, especially the Discworld series. They appeal to YA and adults alike and he kept the quality of his writing consistent for more than 50 books.
I also love reading Bernard Cornwell’s books on Sharpe’s adventures in the Napoleonic Peninsular wars, as well his latter Uhtred Saxon series. Both are wonderfully written.
I love reading factual history books. I never particularly liked history at school, but I now find it fascinating, especially the Tudor period.
What power does writing hold for you?
At my age I would normally have been told to retire and enjoy the fruits of my labours by pottering around the garden. As an author however, I can carry on writing as long as I can think of plots and my characters enjoy being in them.
Writing a book allows me to tell a story at length, knowing that if I do my job properly people will enjoy reading it and hopefully look for a sequel.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
I suppose the best bit of advice is to certainly write a book if you feel you have one inside you, but don’t expect it to be published. It’s a fact that for every book that is traditionally published, around 1,500 are written. Some then are self-published and put on Amazon where they stay.
Just occasionally an unknown author is snapped up and becomes a best seller, so the best advice is to live the dream and write that book.
My first agent gave me one piece of excellent advice which I’ve tried to always follow. She told me to write the letters GOWTS on a piece of paper and make sure it was near the screen. The letters stand for Get On With The Story!