You know by now that we sometimes get lucky and have a guest paying us a visit. Our guest today is none other than Ian Hall
When I fist got in touch with Ian, I naively said I would like to read his book first before sending my questions after all the rationale of Center Stage is to read the book, review it and then ‘chat’ with author on Center Stage. Ian must have laughed when he said his book was 200,00 words strong 605 pages. I gulped. He offered that I could read in bits, I stared at the computer screen wondering if I just read those words 605 pages. I gave a timid reply asking if there was a review I could read meanwhile I took a look at what he had sent. Heck, it is history book of guns, war, sickness and Jamie. 6 pages into the book I was laughing while I wanted to give Jamie a spanking too. Well, Ian is here and I would like to share him with you. Ian Hall author of the very readable and enjoyable book “OPPORTUNITIES”
First of all I would like to congratulate you. That was one hell of a story Ian. I am at best an old lady of 61 living in the middle of nowhere in Nigeria and you took me back into the middle ages and one hell of a journey that I was shocked to find I did not want it to end.
This is incredible as my jaw had dropped when you landed 605 pages on me! I would like to assure you I am reviewing my naïve promise that I give to authors that I need to read the book first. Seriously though, I feel exhilarated almost confused myself into thinking I am a sailor now.
1.Now Captain, if we may start this sail appropriately, please tell us about yourself
I’m 51, born in Edinburgh, Scotland, and immigrated ten years ago to Kansas in the USA. I started writing 15 years ago, but only seriously for twelve or so. Midlife crisis, etc. Opportunities isn’t my first novel, but it’s the first one to be actually finished.
2, Opportunities like an onion story has a lot of layers and it is a straight adventure story, why did you write it?
I’m a bit of a historian, you’d never guess, and when I found the Scottish Darien story, it was a bit of a surprise to me. I’d never heard hide nor hair of it before. It kinda became a big-interest deal for me; I wrote a song about it, and it must have festered in my head for a few years. Then I wrote the (then) short story of Jamie stowing away. (I must say here, that if it hadn’t been for my wife Karla, Jamie would never have been born) When I opened the second chapter, I still didn’t know where Jamie was, and the story then wrote itself. I was only along for the ride. After Jamie was under my skin, the rest was almost a compulsion. Jamie really has become a member of the family.
3, Jamie grew right in our eyes from a cold faced street savvy urchin to prosperous shrewd merchant ship owner making the title of the book “OPPORTNUNITIES” most apt. Man is always given opportunities and what he makes of it becomes his responsibility right?
Whether it be begging (or in Jamie’s case) stealing a penny, or using your business acumen to prosper, there are ‘opportunities’ everywhere. I believe that God has a purpose for everyone, and it’s up to us to open our eyes to find it. The short story was called “Opportunities”, and the theme never changed; right to the very end. It also carries Jamie into his later adventures.
4. In today’s world, do you see your book picking up interest and steam?
Good question. If you look at today’s genres, historical fiction is selling very well. Also, Hollywood is dying before our eyes looking for new, fresh material. My plan is to get Jamie (Opportunities) to the Edinburgh International Book Festival next August, and present it there.
5. What made you want this kind of writing?
I’m not constrained by genre. I’ve also written Sci Fi, Horror, and American. I’ve had high plaudits and won awards in other genres.
6. Have you ever wanted to be a sailor, a pirate or an empire builder?
Oh, heck, NO. While I’m at my pc, I’m relatively safe. I know the facts about life back then, two million sailors dying from scurvy etc. Plus, I’m crazy scared of heights. I get on rung two of a ladder, and I’m getting nervous. I don’t even buy thick socks!
7. The world is full of people like Byres, Pennecuick and Kidd, what exactly were you trying to tell us about such leaders?
Basically, I told the story as the historical facts presented themselves. These men were asses, almost the lot of them. Good ideas have to be driven by good men to succeed. If the leader is not perfect, he can surround himself by good men, and he can still achieve great things, but if there’s not a rock foundation to build upon, there’s nothing at the core, so the idea withers away.
8. It is said that if we look hard enough, there is always a moral in every tale, what is it for “OPPORTUNITIES”?
I guess the whole idea behind the book is what’s called in American Football, the “Hail Mary Pass”. It’s the last chance for victory, when not getting the pass to the appointed player, absolute disaster occurs. In the late 1600’s, Scotland had many years of bad harvest. England was at war with every nation we traded with, so all the ports were blockaded. It was Scotland’s last chance for survival. We missed the pass. And as a result, England annexed Scotland, and we were powerless to stop it. Now, the very act of union in 1707 actually set Scotland free, into a bit of a renaissance, but it spelled the end of us as a single nation. My wife, Karla, said that I embodied all my love for my country into that little boy. I just hope he can cope!
9. What comes after this? Are you on a new story?
Oh my. You had to ask that one. Here we go; Jamie 2 is 70,000 words done. “Opportunities; Jamie Leith the Jacobite.” Six years past the end of Opportunities, Jamie gets ‘restless’. A mysterious Scot offers Jamie a chance of a big ship in exchange for helping put King James VIII back on the throne. So book 2 goes from Providence RI, to France, Scotland, Ireland. There’s also a heartwarming chapter when he meets his mum again.
I also discovered Kindle and Nook, so am in the middle of putting all my shorts, and a couple of novels onto Kindle. I’ve also just finished a Sci Fi novel collaboration novel, with book 2 also being written. And I’m also in the middle of another five, maybe six projects.
10. I loved specially Jamie Leith making good but there is the sneaking feeling that he survived not because he had heroes worth emulation, Drummond was a weak wicket and Fonab made me yawn, what effect do you think the story of Jamie will have on modern street children?
I’m not advocating thievery as a way of getting to the top, but there is the undercurrent of never giving up, never letting go of your dreams, no matter what hits you.
11. 605 pages was a lot of pages for a novel, read more like an epic, is that going to be a standard with you?
No. At 200,000 words, Jamie will probably be the longest book I’ll ever write. I thought about breaking it in two, but there was never a good chopping point. The Sci Fi collaboration is 37,000 words, and Jamie 2 will probably be about 150,000.
12. Share a day with us on your writing schedule.
Ok. I get up when I wake up (7am-9am, it just depends on what I did last night, or how the night went). No breakfast. I go next door to my ‘man-cave’ (yes, I have one) and put on Mike Oldfield. I write till 10am, maybe more, but I try to keep 10 as my cut-off. I try and get at least 1000 words done a day, but have done 4500 at times. I then have to ‘work’; two doors away to the ‘jewelry room’ and make jewelry, circlets, tiaras for a few hours. (lunch sometimes) Post office, then dinner, then back to the man-cave for more writing or watching sci-fi, tv, or soccer.
13. Please give us links to sites where your book might be purchased.
www.amazon.com (search for Ian Hall in books, or in Kindle)
www.barnesandnoble.com (same search)
14. Do you have a fan page? Please supply links.
http://www.jamieleith.com/ (Jamie Leith Chronicles website)
15. Who would you recommend this book to?
Anyone who likes History, Scottish History, Real life Adventure, or a rollicking good yarn.
Thank you Ian for coming on Center stage.
Thank you Abiola