Interview with Hilton Hamann

When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I am a keen adventure motorcyclist and also enjoy shooting with blackpowder, muzzleloading rifles. As a former war correspondent and war photographer, I am never far from cameras - mostly analogue film cameras. Some would accuse me of being stuck in the past but I enjoy things that are well made and tactile.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Mostly on the recommendations of people I trust. I also browse for books and if something catches my interest, I'll download a sample and, based on that, decide whether to purchase or not.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes I do. I was probably about eight years-old. It was about a British soldier attempting to escape from behind German lines in World War 2. I was most probably influenced by my father who was a WW2 veteran.
What is your writing process?
I have a rough idea of the start of the story and not much else. I unleash the characters onto the pages and hope they'll make it up as they go. Sometimes it works and other times not. I know it would be better to have a complete, plotted outline but that would ruin the fun and make it too mechanical. I like to be surprised by the directions taken by the characters.

Recently I returned to my roots and started writing first drafts on a manual typewriter. It has made me slower and more deliberate and gives me a greater sense of creation. It also has introduced an additional editing stage that can only but make the final product better.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
"War and Peace" - and yes, I truly have read it. It is a favorite because of the wonderful way it is character rather than plot driven.
"The Sheltering Desert" by Henno Martin. A true story about two Germans hiding in the desert in South West Africa during WW2 to escape internment by the British. It's a remarkable story of survival and courage.
All of the books in the "Noble House" series by James Clavell
"Mosquito Coast" - Paul Theroux
"A Prayer for Owen Meany" - John Irving
What do you read for pleasure?
Literary fiction
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and a basic Amazon Kindle
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I am not convinced book marketing on social media etc is effective - it certainly has not been the case for me. My focus now is to write more and hope to be discovered by readers who find and like one of my books and, as a result, decide to buy the others. I believe "word of mouth" remains the best method of marketing and the only way for that to happen is to produce lots of good books.
Describe your desk
Cluttered!
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Rhodesia and South Africa and participated in South Africa's wars in Namibia and Angola. In addition, I spent 30 years working as a journalist, mostly covering war and political unrest. Much of that is reflected in my writing.
When did you first start writing?
I remember writing my first story aged about eight and have continued to do so ever since. I am almost 60, if you're wondering!
Published 2014-11-20.
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