Creative Corner – Jack Hayes
He’s a thrill-a-minute thriller writer. With a secret identity vivid imagination and a great sense of humor, conversations with this guy are always great fun. Today, Creative Corner is please to chat with Jack Hayes!
Meet: Jack Hayes
- Welcome, Jack. Thanks for joining me here on Creative Corner. What should my readers know about you?
I’m a journalist by day for one of the world’s biggest news companies. I’ve lived in Zambia, Australia, Britain, Dubai and San Francisco. I’ve reported from Egypt’s Tahrir Square with demonstrators setting off flares and goading government troops all around me, I’ve stood on both sides of the picket lines in Bahrain during the anniversary of their Arab Spring revolution, and I’ve been on the ground in Tunisia at the refugee camps as people streamed across the border from Libya during the 2011 civil war. I’ve travelled extensively through Israel and the West Bank, talking to people on all sides (Christians, Kibbutzniks, Palestinians, members of Likud, Jews of all political and economic stripes).I’ve been barred entry from some countries, and thrown out of others. I’ve been picked up by security services. And I’ve been threatened – all for doing my job. A lot of the content of my books is based on things I’ve seen or done or heard while in the course of my work.
- What are the 3 words that best describe you?
Journalist. Dad. Author. Not necessarily in that order.
- Tell us about your work.
I write airport thrillers – the kind of book you might pick up in an airport to read while you’re relaxing on a sun lounger during your holiday. They’re fast paced, not for the po faced and generally have been well received by readers. You’ll even find one or two for free on Amazon. The most read of my books has been downloaded around 200,000 times (so far) around the world.
- Which piece of work are you most proud of?
I once asked that question of Margaret Atwood during an interview. With hushed tones she told me that, just like a parent, an author should never have favourites. All their novels should feel equally loved. That’s absolutely true. I could easily say it’s Candleburn. I have a very deep-seated, visceral connection to that one. But then again, Overtime was the first novel I wrote to completion and I have a strong fondness for it, too. Blood Red Sea and When Eagles Burn are hands down my two best sellers. But No Easy Mission is a lot of fun. It’s full of sassy one liners. I like to think that the one I’ll be most proud of is always my next. I think that’s a healthy attitude for an author to have. Interestingly, Ms Atwood actually helped write the opening scene for one of my books – Blood Red Sea. I was struggling with the start. I had 90% of the plot done but I knew I wasn’t getting into the action soon enough and needed something different to ‘give it some welly’ at the beginning. I outlined the story for her, which she really enjoyed, and then she made her suggestion for the opening scene. She was spot on.
- What other creative endeavors do you enjoy?
Being a reporter is pretty creative. While in the Middle East, I was a one man band – what’s termed “self-shooting, self-editing” in the industry. The disadvantage is that it’s very intense work. But the advantages are huge. It’s much easier to slip into difficult places with a small camera and radio kit and record things yourself, than it is to pitch up with a team of people. Selecting camera shots, choosing appropriate sounds, editing reports together is as much an art as it is science. And the same goes for written news stories – choosing what to say and how requires a lot of creativity if it’s to be done right. And that’s in addition to picking which items to cover in the first place.
- Are you a publicity-lover, or publicity shy?
Very few people know my real name. And every photo of me is obscured. That should give you some idea of the answer to this question.
- I love music, and I’m always interested in the musical tastes of my friends. Tell me your 3 favorite songs.
Bottles & Bones by Califone. Anemone by Brian Jonestown Massacre. Grounds For Divorce by Elbow.
- What song best describes your life?
You Gotta Be – Des’ree
The Glamorous, Dangerous Romance Section:
- You are offered, free for one year, the use of either a customized, fully staffed jet (say a Bombardier Learjet 40XR), or a fully-staffed luxury yacht (perhaps a 150-foot vessel built by Palmer Johnson). Which do you choose?
That’s a tough question. I, er, I can’t say I’d have much use for either. Can I take the money value? That, I could do something useful with…
- Fabulous! Where are we going?
Oh. I really had to pick one? Okay. That’s a tough choice.
The jet. Yeah. Let’s take the jet.
Where should we go? There’re so many places. How about we start off with a nice trip to Florence to get us in the mood? Take in a dash of art and culture, followed by some fine Italian food? Then, it’s back on the jet, for a whirlwind tour of interesting cities you might not otherwise visit. How about hit the stunning opera house in Muscat? It’s a beautiful town, nestled tightly in a narrow strip between the mountains and deep-blue Indian Ocean. Then, Axum – seat of one of the forgotten great ancient civilizations of the world (and maybe home to the Ark of the Covenant…).Next? Maputo. Where vibrant green foliage is offset by orange-clay southern African soils and stunning beaches run for miles. Time for Kandy; where rainforests and tea plantations ring a Buddhist monastery with (allegedly) the sole surviving piece of Buddha’s body. It’s also got some of the best sapphire and ruby mines in the world…We’ll play it by ear after that… but I’m thinking Cape Town, Singapore, Hong Kong, Beijing, Bangkok, Montreal, Seattle and Supai, Arizona – I’ve always wanted to go there. Everywhere has its charm, if you know where to look.
- Who are we bringing with us?
My son. He loves the beach. And I love him.
- I love to shop! And guess what? An eccentric billionaire has offered us his charge card for a day of shopping; with one caveat…we can only go to one store. Where are we going?
TK Maxx in Ealing. I could live in that store. If it sold food. And beds. We’d probably need a bed too. Not exciting, I know, but I’m usually shopping on a journalist’s budget and it’d be silly to have a few items out of whack with the rest of my wardrobe.
- What do we buy there?
EVERYTHING. The billionaire will wear it. He’s cool.
- Which of the following soap operas most resembles your life: All My Children, Grey’s Anatomy, Dynasty or The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills?
Lord. None of those. I don’t think a soap opera has ever been written that resembles my life. I think the audience of such a show would watch the twists and turns and go: “Oh come on! That’s not believable! That could never happen in real life!” It always amuses me when I write a scene based on something that actually happened into a novel and in the reviews someone says it could never occur.
- Which celebrity would you most like to star with in a romantic movie?
Oh, this could get dangerously lecherous very quickly. I’ll stick with Charlize Theron.
- The setting for this movie is a private island. Where is it located?
The Caribbean. It’s always the Caribbean for a romantic film.
- What do we find there?
A missing Van Gogh.
- Now comes the danger…This lover’s paradise has an unforeseen danger. What is it?
She runs out of chocolate. Charlize gets cranky when she runs out of chocolate.
- Naturally, this danger imperils the love of your life. How do you save him/her?
I always carry an emergency box of Milk Tray when visiting Caribbean islands with Hollywood A-Listers who’re way out of my league. You’ve got to be prepared.
Interviewee’s Choice: (please answer 3 of the following questions)
- You’re throwing a party in a magical world where anyone, living or dead, real or fictional, will show up if invited. Who are the first 10 people you invite?
Ten people would be tricky – not because I can’t think of ten people but simply because any one of them I could talk to all day and probably still have more time for. I’d feel guilty only having 15 minutes or so with each at a single dinner party, when I’d want to monopolize them for hours. –
Douglas Adams. The author of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy knew how to turn a phrase. –
Michael Crichton. Despite being one of the all-time best-selling authors, he never seems to have got the intellectual credit he deserves. His ideas are still being talked about today, even the ones he got wrong. His memoirs, simply called “Travels” would be the main topic of conversation. –
Ditto for my next choice: HG Wells. There are so many clever observations in his books; you’ve got to wonder why his work isn’t taken more seriously from a literary perspective. The War of the Worlds is magnificent. –
The next two are a pair: Isaac Newton and Robert Hooke. This is a bit naughty of me. Isaac Newton is (without argument) the greatest scientist of all time. He has six of the top discoveries ever made to his name (calculus, gravity, the composition of light…), any one of which would place him on your list of preeminent scientists. All six make him a scientist without equal. Except there is one man who, arguably, could match Newton achievement for achievement: Robert Hooke. A little known (in common circles) scientist who fell afoul of Newton to such a degree that upon Hooke’s death, Newton is alleged to have ordered all of Hooke’s portraits destroyed. Just a single undisputed likeness (that we know of) survived. A stained glass window in a London church. It was blown out by the IRA.
So why is Hooke so important? He was simultaneously the curator of experiments of the Royal Society and a member of its council, providing insights into optics, microscopy, gravity, horology, elasticity, palaeontology, astronomy… He was also an important architect (he’s responsible for London’s The Monument – a building that isn’t really a monument to the Great Fire of London at all, but actually a secret telescope and scientific laboratory. It was built to calculate the parallax of the star Gamma Draconis).
Two men. One famed and lauded, the other – equally a genius and yet a man history has almost conspired to obliterate from memory. – Alexander Von Humboldt. You can’t have Hooke and Newton without Alex. Alex is the man. –
If we’re going down that route, now we have to bring in Wolfgang Pauli (Crichton and he would get on like a house on fire… they’d love discussing the Pauli Effect… which would really annoy the rest of the scientists…), Einstein, Heisenberg and Bohr (who are now quaffing sherries with Douglas Adams and HG Wells… this party’s going swimmingly).
– So now we need Amartya Sen to inject some philosophy and economics, just to keep these scientists on the ground.
– Damn. I’m going to need to expand the invites list. Sen is on his own in there, trying to hold down a conversation on science funding getting cut. Bring in Kissinger, Nixon, Kennedy (both JF and RF)…
– Hell… now we need Truman, both Roosevelts and LBJ just to break them up.
– Uh oh… the Kennedys are getting into ‘grassy knoll’ conspiracies with LBJ… uh… we need some balance. Quick! Grab Thatcher and Regan.
– Nope. Douglas Adams has started a row with Thatcher about her economic policies… somebody call Anthony Wedgewood Benn and Aneurin Bevan? No – Bevan, not Bevin! Okay – Ernest Bevin too. Sure – Clement Attlee. Why not? That’ll work.
– Thatcher’s swatting Crichton with her handbag. Claiming his ‘jibber-jabber’ about meditation is hippie moonshine… one of the Kennedys is hitting on Sharon Stone (did she gate crash? Who let her in?)
– Whoa. Churchill is a dog. He’s got Carrie Lowell and Barbara Bach into a deep conversation about religious tolerance. Still, at least Lowell is helping Crichton hold his own on the mediation thing. She’s a Buddhist.
– What? The doorbell’s ringing? Oh. Karl Marx is here. And he’s brought Philip K Dick, Sheryl Crow, Enrico Fermi, Penelope Cruz, Harrison Ford, Linda Evangelista, Mark Oliver Everett, Hugh Everett III, George Lucas… good grief. We’re going to need more hors d’oeuvres…
What can I say? My tastes are eclectic. And there are far too many interesting people out there to limit such a party to just ten people, once you get above two or three.
(Ed. Note: I definitely plan on crashing this party. Coat-tailing in behind Sharon Stone shouldn’t prove too difficult.)
- If you could go back in time and tell your younger self one thing; and one thing only, what would it be?
Avoid the blondes. You idiot. (Sorry Charlize).
- If someone were to base a reality show on your life, what would it be called?
The Personal Touch:
- As a journalist, you’ve traveled extensively. How does this shape your writing?
The novels are mostly set in exotic locations and hopefully carry the flavour of some of what I took from those places with me. You’ll get a taste of the complexity of the local politics, the inherent conflicts within the culture (all cultures contain inherent conflicts) and maybe walk away from it all thinking: “I didn’t know that. Today, I learned something.”
- How would you compare writing as a journalist to writing novels? Which do you find easier?
For all the obvious similarities, they’re different skills – as different as glass blowing and being able to clean windows. One’s not better than the other; they’re just different.
The same goes for their ease versus their difficulty.
- Which do you find easier to write, contemporary novels, or historical?
Contemporary novels are much easier. Historical novels require a good deal more research and often (I hesitate to say always) a reviewer who’s not done the research will say “that’s not accurate – they didn’t have/ know/ do X in that period”. You have to be very careful to get things right – which guns were in use, what clothes were worn. I get mine rigorously checked by a set of experts on the proof readings.
- Which of your protagonists would you like to trade places with?
Who says I need to trade places with them?
- How do you think you’d fare in one of your books? Would you still be alive at the end?
Given the same training the characters are listed as having, I’d like to think so. I’d be wrong – but a man can dream.
- Charles Walker made an appearance in your latest book, When Eagles Burn. Aside from the obvious gender difference, how much of the character did you model after me?
I was purely after names.
When you’re writing a novel with 100 characters in it, it is easy to run out of names or accidentally repeat a name from a previous book.
I have a pretty good system for avoiding that. Most of my novels are thematic – and contain subtext. So, Dead Man Rising, for instance, is based around chess. There are heavy handed references – the lead character’s codename is Rook. But there are subtler ones. Everybody in the novel (bar one character, who is a hangover from other tomes) is named after either a chess grand master or a chess piece or a chess move.
For When Eagles Burn, I was trying something that worked well with a previous novel called Saving Hitler. When Eagles is a prequel that makes it the new first book in a, so far, quadrology called the “Maddox Series”; Saving Hitler is (now) the third book in the series.
What I did was to ask fans and regular readers of my Twitter feed if they would like the dubious honour of having a character named after them in the book, who would die a horrid, grisly death.
You’d be amazed how many people put their hands in the air, jumped up and down and shouted “Me! Me!”
They even got to suggest how they might die.
One wanted to be shot, tumbling to his doom, while handling a pigeon, having stroked a cat.
But the characters weren’t based on the people. It was purely a names thing, as stated when I put out the request.
- Any chance his sister Clara will make an appearance in a future book?
We’ll see… how does she feel about having a freak accident with a band saw while ballooning?
(Ed. Note: Clara Grace Walker having a freak accident with a band saw is not too difficult to imagine…as Clara Grace Walker has never actually handled any power tools. LOL!)
- If I were to make Jack Hayes a character in a future book, would he be the hero or the villain?
It’s hard to say. The only thing I can promise is a nasty, sticky end. And advise him strongly to avoid unpowered aerostats while operating heavy machinery.
Reach Out & Touch Someone:
- Where can my readers get more information on you?
(Ed. Note: I did. I Googled Jack Hayes. He was an Oscar-nominated composer and orchestrator who worked on over 200 Hollywood films. Anxiously awaiting your next musical score, Jack…or whoever you are… ).
- What social media sites do you use? How can my readers follow you?
I have around 40,000 followers on Twitter and something like 3,500 friends on Facebook. I don’t tend to use Facebook so much. Twitter is generally the best place to drop me a line.
- Where can my readers purchase your work?
You can order the physical books in any bookshop in North America or the UK. Amazon is the best place online, though you’ll find When Eagles Burn available on most book Web sites because it’s free.
- Please provide any other links my readers might find useful.
I often find this one useful. But maybe that’s just me…
(Ed. Note: I’ll keep this on hand for future reference).
Thank you so much for joining me, Jack! Best Wishes on all your future endeavors!!