Interview with Bob Hyslop

When did you first start writing?
I first started writing about 50 years ago - a few short stories. In fact, two of my published books - ''Mutatis Mutandis' in print & 'And Death Will Have His Day' on Smashwords - existed way back. 'Mutatis' (written as 'Robert Hyslop' developed out of post-graduate research into early Tudor History while 'And Death...' originated as a 'spoof thriller'. Both have been considerably changed over the years.I should add here that I began a historical trilogy in 1992 ('The Wanderer' as 'R. Hyslop') which was published in print in 2008.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I'll ignore the restructuring of my 4 printed books into 10 ebooks. The last of the 'Jonas Forbes Saga' is meant as a fitting climax to the 16 books featuring that cocktail of Simon Templar, Philip Marlowe & James Bond and is set in 1973 Washington dominated by Watergate. Jonas may be married but a leopard doesn't change his spots. So he treads on the toes of both CIA & FBI, takes on a component of the Mafia with typical malevolent glee, embarks on a passionate affaire with a total stranger and ignores any real contact with the UK. He's there to solve a murder but jumps with both feet into the political furore of the century. Apart from keeping notes he's leaned nothing from 18 years of walking a tightrope. But then......... You'd better read that for yourself, but be assured the factual background is well researched.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I've had a lifetime urge to write, a fascination with History since infancy, and a love of thrillers. I found the orthodox publishing world somewhat stifling and, even worse, the system of marketing and distribution. In addition, although I have a love of the printed page, I recognise that ebooks are the future. They offer a win-win situation in providing a far better opening for both author and reader with wider choice, speedier and cheaper publication .
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I've found Smashwords an extremely helpful and considerate organisation to work with. The actual process of publication is really uncomplicated - although I must admit my memory sometimes lets me down with even the most simple of procedures and I have to resort to getting help from their staff!
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Firstly, there's the intellectual exercise of developing an outline plot. As my ebooks are set in the period 1955-73 this involves careful historical research. Then there's the creation of characters, perhaps using physical traits, mannerisms etc. of people I've met and certainly trying to see the world as they'd have seen it. I draw up a plan but inevitably it changes as I write because characters 'refuse to behave'. So as I'm writing I become a reader, hopefully rushing on to find out what happens next. At the end there's the immense relief of getting the book out of my system and a wonderful sense of 'self-actualisation' to use a psychological term.
What do your fans mean to you?
Feedback is wonderful - even if it's negative - because you can learn by it. Perhaps that's a question of just being noticed, but really it's more one of seeing the effect of what you've produced, like any craftsman. Of course, no writer ever experiences more than a tiny percentage of what readers feel about their work. Basically I write in a vacuum and the book becomes a personal debate - should I use this word? why would a certain character do that? Would that be realistic? It may come as a surprise to find out how many people think I've been wrong!
Who are your favorite authors?
Let's mention the classics such as Chaucer, Dickens etc., many of which I've taught in the past. Then there is historical fiction - T. Bengtsson, Lindsay Davies, Robert Graves, Hilary Mantell, E. Peters, C.J. Sanstrom and Wilbur Smith. . Re' thrillers, the genre in which I now write, I must include Raymond Chandller, Leslie Charteris, Jeffrey Deaver, Colin Dexter, Elizabeth George, John Grisham, Reginald Hill. Ian Rankin. and Dick Francis.
What are you working on next?
I'm not. I've transformed 'The Wanderer' trilogy into 9 online parts and 'Mutatis Mutandis' has become 'Tudor Turnaround', an online historical novel. I've completed the 16 online books making up the 'Jonas Forbes Saga' and brought it to a fitting conclusion. I MAY carry on writing short stories - but note the CAPITAL letters!
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
The thought I can still do it. There's so much out there to do and enjoy.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Reading, playing the guitar, walking, researching Family History and watching TV / films
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Tracking down authors I've read in the past, reading reviews, finding references to books or authors in my reading, recommendations from friends etc.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes, when I was about 20 (though I must have written stuff before at school!) . It was called 'Secret Dread' and was a horror story involving a doppelganger.
What is your writing process?
Now, it's to fill in gaps in the 'Jonas Forbes Saga' & find suitable historical events / personalities around which to build a plot, then produce a plot outline. and do the required research and finally start writing. Of course, THEN to find it's changed so much I need a serious redraft!
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Apart from Fairy Stories etc. for early readers, I suppose the first PROPER novel was 'Treasure Island' which caused me to hunt down stories of REAL pirates. Actually before then I'd started reading REAL History & become absorbed by Ancient Egypt.
How do you approach cover design?
Think of the key components of the plot. Then track down images which can link up with that requirement.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
In no particular order:
'Jane Eyre' (C. Bronte) which operates at a two-fold level as the character) - the same is true, except the feature relates to the 'narrator', for 'Great Expectations' (C. Dickens). 'The Quincunx' (C. Palliser) which is a wonderful pastiche of Victorian Fiction. 'Lord of the Rings'' (J.R.R. Tolkien) - mind-blowing imagination. Then there are a collection of contenders based on different authors and I can't choose any individual books - 'Harry Potter' series(J.K. Rowling) - for imagination; Jeffrey Deaver & James Patterson for plot twists & John Grisham for teaching me about US law!
What do you read for pleasure?
Whatever catches my fancy - fiction or fact. The last FICTION was a (4th?) RE-reading of one of the parts of the 'Millennium' trilogy by Steg Larssen At the moment it's time for historical fact so it's been 800+ pages of Part 3 of Jonathan Sumption's account of The Hundred Years War ('Divided Houses') and I've just bought Part 4 so there's plenty to keep me going.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Printed page & then Kindle
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I haven't seriously tried any as I really write for personal enjoyment.
Describe your desk
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
Croydon, England. As a child I benefited from Croydon possessing one of the largest libraries in southern England so I could read all kinds of books. Reading stimulates writing and there we go.
Which of your books has been most influenced by events in your life?
That must surely be ‘HAVOK Goes To Moscow’. It’s about the tour of a rock group across Europe by coach to perform in Moscow in 1967. Jonas Forbes accompanies them as an ‘assistant-manager’ - ostensibly to protect the lead guitarist, convinced his life’s in danger.

Like so many of my generation I’d taken up the guitar so much of the repertoire of the group I’d played. After a year’s evening classes on the USSR (sponsored by London University)I was one of a group to Moscow & Leningrad by coach. HAVOK follow the route we took and some of the incidents are based on what happened to us. But we didn’t have a killer on board!

I should add that the ‘Jonas Forbes Saga’ rests firmly on my research when I taught 20th century History in college - as well as having lived through those years.
Write your own question here!
Is there any sort of book you wouldn't try to write and why?

Answer: three types and all because I don’t feel competent to tackle them with the expertise they deserve and I wouldn’t choose to read them myself.

Young Children’s books
Romantic Fiction (as published by ‘Mills & Boon’)
‘Slash & Gore’
Published 2017-02-02.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Endgame At Watergate
Series: Jonas Forbes Saga, BOOK 16. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 68,900. Language: British English. Published: January 3, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense
Washington1973. Jonas Forbes is sent to help find the killer of a diplomat. Is he always straight with the MPD - and the FBI investigating the mess surrounding Nixon's election? How are the Mafia involved and can Jonas keep his head when ensnared by a femme fatale? A thriller firmly fixed in the 1973 Washington scandal that brought down a President.
So Few Come Out
Series: Jonas Forbes Saga, BOOK 15. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 60,830. Language: English. Published: October 28, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense
Nigeria 1969. Jonas Forbes aims to find a surgeon missing in the horrors of the Biafran Civil War. he soon disappears as well, is threatened by both sides and confronts a madman in the anarchy of one of the most costly conflicts of the century Set during the death throes of the biafran republic This thriller employs research into a conflict still controversial.
Havok Goes To Moscow
Series: Jonas Forbes Saga, BOOK 13. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 69,840. Language: English. Published: June 3, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense
Europe 1967. The first rock band to head for the USSR includes a would-be killer - plus Jonas Forbes with a cypher for opponents of the Soviet regime. Will the killer get away with it? Will Jonas deliver the goods? Or will the KGB, watching all the way prove the real stars? A thriller with researched background
Stay-Alive Runs Away
Series: Jonas Forbes Saga, BOOK 1. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 68,700. Language: English. Published: February 27, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Historical » General
Kenya 1954. Jonas Forbes in the colonial police battles vs. Mau Mau.. Askari Stay-alive Johnson witnesses a massacre but deserts rather than give evidence .jonas has to bring him back but the tale isn’t over by a long way, especially when love and jealousy play their parts. A thriller set against the violence of the Mau Mau Emergency in Kenya
Family Business
Series: Jonas Forbes Saga, BOOK 12. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 65,920. Language: English. Published: November 21, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Crime thriller, Fiction » Historical » United Kingdom
UK 1966 Criminal families hog the headlines. One gang are double-crossed by their corrupt lawyer. In the resulting violence the brother-in-law of Jonas Forbes is nearly killed. Jonas strikes back and is then hunted by both police and gangsters . The contest becomes a matter of family business – and survival. A fast-moving thriller closely set in its historical background, chiefly in Kent.
Lies Hunt In Packs
Series: Jonas Forbes Saga, BOOK 10. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 69,020. Language: English. Published: August 15, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » General
USSR 1964 . Khrushchev has fallen. Somebody wants a dissident smuggled out of the Soviet Union. Jonas Forbes is sent as he's considered 'expendable'. Everybody seems to be lying and complications abound with the KGB torn by inner struggles and trouble continues even after Jonas (plus dissident) escapes into Finland.
Find Bormann!
Series: Jonas Forbes Saga, BOOK 8. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 66,120. Language: English. Published: July 10, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Adventure » Action
Uruguay 1962. Jonas Forbes, Mossad, Kameradenwerk and a mysterious German girl are all looking for fugitive war criminal Martin Bormann and that means means trouble. Add the Uruguay Police and the CIA and the trouble gets bigger. a fast-paced thriller, with close attention to historical background.
Series: Jonas Forbes Saga, BOOK 6. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 69,690. Language: English. Published: May 30, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Crime thriller
London 1959. The Shah of Iran is visiting Britain but somebody aims to kill him. Jonas Forbes is hired to protect him, but from whom - religious extremists or left-wing revolutionaries or an unknown enemy? His chief Iranian contact is Reza Karimidad: his chief M15 contact is Jack Sharpe. Who is helping but who is not? How does he distinguish truth from lies? A thriller firmly set in the period.
Cuban Rummy
Series: Jonas Forbes Saga, BOOK 4. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 68,430. Language: English. Published: December 7, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Historical
Cuba 1957 Too many cooks almost spoil the broth when Jonas Forbes hunts a sadistic serial-killer . He rubs shoulders with Batista’s Security Battalion as well as Marxists. He’s helped and hindered by two senoritas and the occupants of two Embassies. Does anybody really want the killer to elude capture?
Scrambling South
Series: Jonas Forbes Saga, BOOK 3. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 66,540. Language: English. Published: August 8, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense, Fiction » Historical » General
Egypt & Sudan 1956. Jonas Forbes secures a cypher-code hidden in the Karnak Temple in Egypt but is hunted by more than Egyptian Security as he disappears into the desert on the way to Sudan and safety. A thriller firmly set in the post-Suez Crisis period.
Californian Nightmare
Series: Jonas Forbes Saga, BOOK 14. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 67,870. Language: English. Published: July 13, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Historical
California 1968. Jonas Forbes is hired to uncover a plot for using a UK hit-man to murder a US Presidential candidate. Almost at once he finds himself under threat at home due to treachery. Even so, he identifies the proposed killer & follows him to California – with a personal score to settle as well as to save Bobby Kennedy. A thriller set in both London and San Francisco.
The Awkward Package
Series: Jonas Forbes Saga, BOOK 5. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 70,570. Language: English. Published: December 21, 2010. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » General
Western Europe1958. King Feisal of Iraq has been overthrown and contract is put out to kill Prince Abdullah, a distant (and spoilt) cousin living in Rome. Jonas Forbes has the job of bringing to London a most uncooperative individual. The Mafia, the Unione Corse and others set out to kill the Prince, who comes to hate and fear his protector. Will the 'package' arrive undamaged in London?
Well, He Would, Wouldn't He?
Series: Jonas Forbes Saga, BOOK 9. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 64,600. Language: English. Published: October 27, 2010. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Historical
Britain1963 The Establishment becomes rocked by the ‘sex-and-espionage'’ scandal centred on John Profumo and Christine Keeler. Both are being threatened so Jonas Forbes is hired to protect them. He stumbles on murder and acquires the basis for future nightmares involving zombies and sewers. This lightly-written thriller, rich in period detail, uses actual legal and police accounts.
And Death Will Have His Day
Series: Jonas Forbes Saga, BOOK 11. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 71,120. Language: English. Published: October 26, 2010. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Historical
Britain 1965.The country teeters on the edge of racial unrest – encouraged by the ruthless plans of unknown forces. Jonas Forbes becomes involved, using his own ‘unorthodox’ approach to clearing up villainy but is almost undone by his own mistakes. A lightly written thriller firmly set in 1965 and with a frenetic pace.
Dare Call It Treason
Series: Jonas Forbes Saga, BOOK 2. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 71,360. Language: English. Published: October 25, 2010. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Historical
Britain 1956. Soviet leaders, Bulganin and Khrushchev, are targets for conspirators plotting to restore Stalinism in the USSR. However, their chief accomplice becomes as much a murderous threat to themselves as to their opponents. Against them are Jonas Forbes, two Soviet Intelligence Agencies (GRU & KGB) and the UK Police. A lightly-written thriller concentrating on historical accuracy.
Series: Jonas Forbes Saga, BOOK7. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 68,490. Language: English. Published: October 24, 2010. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Historical
Britain 1960-1. Jonas Forbes is hired by MI5 to investigate a threat by China to detach Britain from NATO Defence Policy. Jonas finds himself embroiled with beautiful Chinese twins (one an agent and one not), confronted by Triad threats and arousing the interest of the Soviet Embassy. What a mixture! Although lightly-written this thriller is meticulously fitted into its historical context.