Hiya folks! I have with my Tony Haeley, which the little I could gather from the mysterious writer partakes in the series Planet Novel, which sounds like my cup of tea, err, book rather.
But to end this horrible introduction I’m here to speak with him as a reader instead of writer. So here’s Tony! Talking about what he loves and hates about reading so we can slowly burn the gap between readers and writers so writers can get inside readers head and readers can get inside writers head:
1. How often would you say you read, per week? Per month?
I try my best to read at least 1 book a month. I’d like to read more than that, like I used to, but I’m afraid that work commitments and having children has sort of put a dampener on that.
2. Have you always been reading or did you just get into it?
I’ve always read. The first books I remember reading around the age of ten or eleven were On The Beach by Nevil Shute, The Spellsinger Series by Alan Dean Foster, the Space Oddyssey books by Arthur C Clarke, and the Narnia chronicles. Watership Down followed them I think. Before then it was all childish books I think. These books sort of shaped the interests that I have today in fiction: SF, Fantasy, and thriller-type books. I remember getting into a lot of Tom Clancy in my teens as well, like The Hunt for Red October and Without Remorse (which is an amazing if underrated book btw)
3. What is it that you love most about books? Why do you read?
To escape. To switch off. I don’t engage with books; they engage with me. That’s when I zone out and become very difficult to get anything out of, as my wife knows. Like a zombie.
4. Do you stick to one kind of genre, like paranormal, murder or fantasy? Or do you like to mix it up?
A real mix now. As I got into my late teens I started trying the more literary types of fiction like Faulkner, Dickens, Melville (I never have been able to finish Moby Dick – the book about the white whale has always been my own personal white whale) etc. I hit into books like The Cider House Rules and A Prayer for Owen Meany. by John Irving. I have read a lot of King, too. I think that when he’s good, he’s very good. When he’s bad, he’s mediocre. The Stand, IT, Misery, Different Seasons, Hearts in Atlantis, From a Buick 8, The Dead Zone, ‘Salem’s Lot, Bag of Bones, Cell, and obviously The Dark Tower series are my favourites. Of course there’s On Writing, which is just amazing.
5. What is your ultimate favorite genre?
SF. I think the stuff by Master’s like Arthur C Clarke are inventive thought at it’s very best. Some of the stuff he wrote about has always stuck with me. Reading him sort of defined my expectations of the whole genre in a way. Foster is very close for me, in that he likes to weave in a bit of tongue-in-cheek humour in his work, like Clarke did. I think that SF is at its best when it deals with the biggest ideas and concepts.
6. Is there any genre you refuse to read? Why so?
Autobiography. I have read a biography of Clint Eastwood and one of John Wayne, but they’re the only exceptions.
7. Anything you hate about reading?
Is that there’s never enough time or quiet for it.
8. Do you skim? If so, what kind of scenes do you find yourself skimming?
King sometimes does this thing where he breaks away from what’s going on to give you a run down of the whole town and all the inhabitants and I’ve always found that sort of thing distracting. Big chunks of text where nothing much is going on – why are they there?
9. What was the last book you recommended to a friend? Why did you love it so much?
Wild Seed by Octavia E Butler. It was fascinated and I read it in about a week because I just couldn’t put it down. The way that Butler told the story, the way it spanned hundreds of years, the way in which it was a kind of epic love story, and a story about race just blew my mind. She wrapped a SF story around the issue of race and identity, and you don’t even realize that fact until afterward. I also tell everyone about two others. The first is The Historian for the way it takes the legend of Vlad Tepes (Dracula) and totally blows it wide open. The story is so beautifully written, and meticulously planned out. At times its bloody frightening too. The other is The Time Travellers Wife, for the way it built to the heartbreak at the end. I sat down on the sofa and just wept when I finished it. My wife had to give me a hug!
10. Do you ever tell your friends if a book sucked?
I try not to. And to be honest, if I’m reading something and really don’t like it, I don’t continue.
11. If you think a book tanks, do you read it in hopes it gets better or do you stop reading it?
12. Whose your favorite author, and what would you ask them if you could meet them?
Again, Arthur C Clarke. I wish I could have met him. It would have been a dream come true.
13. What is your number one pet-peeve that writers do that you wish they didn’t?
Like I said, big chunks of text with not much going on. Yaaaaaawn. If you’re reading a book about a ship, then yeah you expect to read all about it, down to its nuts and bolts. But really. Sometimes you see the author indulging him/herself.
14. What is your favorite thing that an author can do to enhance a story or character?
Be unexpected. Be ruthless. Take Roland Deschain in the beginning of The Drawing of the Three. Stephen King starts the book with Roland losing the fingers of his shooting hand, totally shaking things up for the rest of the series. Brilliant.
15. When you read, are you watching TV or doing something else too, or are you 100% focused on the book?
I like to be 100% focused but it’s not always the case. In an ideal world…
16. Does your mind wander on other things while reading, or does it wonder to the story you’re reading?
I get absorbed, if I like what I’m reading.
17. Where do you prefer to read, library, home, coffee house or outside? And do you read via an e-book or old school hard copy?
At home. I do still have paperbacks, but I’m more about the Kindle now. What I like, as well, is that it has the text-to-speech feature. I like getting in the bath, putting the kindle face-down on the floor and have it read to me while I bath. Or whilst I’m cutting up vegetables for dinner, I’ll have it reading out-loud. The only improvement I’d like to see them make is some kind of mild backlight, so that you can read at night without having to use a cover light, and to have the device a little louder than its currently capable of.
18. Do you write also? Have you considered writing?
I’ve written a few things for snakeoilcure.com, I write posts for my site www.fringescientist.com, I’ve written a short story called ‘Frank’ which I entered into a competiton (it got to the longlist) and which is being printed in issue 6 of the SF Freedom (@SFFEZINE) mag at the end of the year. I’ve written a kind of prequel to it called ‘Redd’ which is appearing in the Kindle All Stars Present: Resistance Front anthology being put together by Bernard Schaffer (@apiarysociety) alongside stories by the likes of Alan Dean Foster. At the moment I’m working on a short novel. It won’t be standard length, and might even be as short as a novella. I don’t know yet. At the moment it’s called ‘The Man With The Broken Heart’.
19. Do you drink coffee or tea while reading? If so what’s your favorite kind?
Regular tea, or a fruit tea if I fancy it.
Thanks so much again Tony! Fantastic answers 🙂 Stephen King is a popular to talk about. I feel bad for never reading any of his works lol. I agree, SF is my favorite too ^^