Friday, April 22, 2011

13 Questions for Christopher Hoare

Greetings everyone! This week Christopher Hoare is visiting with us. He lives with his wife, Shirley, and two shelter dogs, Coco and Emmie, in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies. After a working life mostly in some segment of the oil business he’s glad to return to Earth and write the kinds of stories that ground him and his readers in the humane rather than the exploitative side of life. The worlds he portrays in fiction are colored with memories of his oil exploration in the Libyan Desert, the Canadian Arctic, and the mountains and forests of Western Canada, but the emphasis is on the hopes and fears of the characters, rather than the success or failure of grand designs. He says that stories map the way our culture evaluates its motivation and direction; come and see Rast’s way.

Ksm: Chris, thank you for joining me today and answering these questions. It’s great to have you here. My readers are excited to learn more about you and your work. Congratulations on your contract with MuseItUp Publishing.

You know I have to ask this question first… when and why did you start writing?

Chris: Very early, the headmistress of my village school used to show off some story I wrote around the age of nine. I wouldn't call that the best of all possible launches, but my wish to write was probably engendered by my mother's love of reading. It was about nineteen years later that I sold my first writing -- some articles about living and working in the Libyan Desert to the owner-editor of a Tripoli English language weekly.

Then there was a bigger jump of thirty years to my first published novel. I suppose a good question would be why did I keep writing? Guess I'm just stubborn.

Ksm: Please tell us a little about your book.

Chris: Rast is high fantasy; a bit of romance; a bit of satire; plenty of trouble and action.

When the magic revolts to destroy the reigning Drogar, unleashing old enemies against Rast, a new danger lands upon the coast, an adventurer who scoffs at the thought of magic, Commander Antar. He comes to pillage Rast for the burning stone that can fuel his nation's iron furnaces, and to conquer the magic kingdom.

Prince Egon must tame his father’s deadly magic before he can withstand these assaults. His sweetheart, Jady, must ride alone to thwart the evil Deepning’s ascendance, released by the weakened Drogar. She also rides to confront the princess who must displace her, torn between duty and fury. Egon's poor spying makes him Antar’s prisoner and the invaders’ guide through the mountains, but it allows him to take their measure. Can the young peoples’ courage and magic repel the materialists from the sea?

Ksm: What inspired you to write this book and why did you choose to write this in the fantasy genre?

Chris: The idea of writing about a young man faced with a perilous future was prompted by Mervyn Peake's Gormanghast novels -- not that I'm a fan of them. I thought I could write a story with more reasons for Prince Egon to bemoan the fate ahead of him than Titus Groan could offer. I'm not a Gothic reader, so the fantasy canvas offered wider choices in plot and scenario.

Ksm: What research did you do for this book?

Chris: Most of Rast; scenery, terrain, and history came from my travels and experience in oil exploration. It was all in my head. I did need to learn about animal locomotion because I wanted the riding mounts of Rast to be six legged and the size of elephants. In fact, most animals in the world of Rast have either six or two legs, and feathers rather than fur or hair. That's the beauty of fantasy, you can create any marvels as long as they fit coherently into the story.

Ksm: They say that books choose their authors. How has writing this particular book affected you?

Chris: I wrote the first half in a very short time one summer, in a style otherwise foreign to me -- but that fit Rast -- and so different than my previous writing that it really did seem that Rast had chosen me. I couldn't get back to the novel until the following summer and then it was quite a challenge to find the same voice.

Ksm: What do you want readers to take from your writing? What do you want them to understand and why?

Chris: Rast turns a few fantasy expectations on their heads. Magic isn't an art to be learned, it is a dangerous force of nature that ultimately kills the sorcerer king who wields it. The materialist invaders are parodies of Western imperialists, while the simple folk of Rast are the 'helpless' savages they expect to conquer.

I hope readers won't be 'keeping score' on these aspects as they read, but by the close of the story will appreciate the contrarian version of our imperial past.

Ksm: Longhand or typing? Do you carry a notebook with you all the time?

Chris: Years ago I had to write longhand -- some 'magic' between the hand and the page, but it didn't take me long to find the word processor invaluable. I often write the first drafts in a once through rush, and the first edits are then to shift the sentences and paragraphs to where they make most sense in the text rather than where my speeding thoughts dropped them.
I rarely take notes. I found many years ago that if an idea in my head wasn't good enough to stay in my memory it probably wasn't good enough to go on the page.

Ksm: Do you consider yourself a full-time writer or do you have a day job? Where do you see yourself in five years?

Chris: I was always a part time writer, but now that I'm retired I work at one or more of the writer's tasks full time. More promotion things than new fiction at the moment, unfortunately. In five years? I hope to have a publicist who does all of this for me.

Ksm: Are you working on any new projects? Can you give us a short preview?

Chris: I'm polishing one more of my Iskander series novels with my local novel writers' group. Masquerade is another young Gisel story about a modern female security officer/spy on a 17th century world.  Here's a short excerpt:

Chapter Two

     When their carriage drew up in front of the Marsden mansion, Gisel peered out at the string of coloured lanterns draped across the portico and the gaily dressed crowd swirling to and fro under their light, greeting friends and entering the masked ball. Everyone – even the liveried footmen – wore masks, which scratched M’Tov’s plan that she would identify possible Imperial agents for him. The women all seemed to be dressed as shepherdesses or courtesans and the men were Greek gods, hoplites in short white fustanella, a kind of kilt, or philosophers in long robes. She fitted her radio earpiece into her right ear and pulled her jewelled ‘bandit’ mask down over her eyes. Wonder what they’re wearing under those kilts?
     M’Tov looked her way and muttered into his throat mic. “Do we have communication?”
     She raised her faux fan and answered into it. “Matah, loud and clear.”
     Hannan, sitting in the far corner of the carriage answered. “I read you, Colonel.”
     The older woman had been quite a surprise in costume. They’d both chosen to be courtesans but Hannan even looked the part. Her black hair, coiled up onto her head shone like a starling’s wing, and her decolletage threatened to reveal her navel if she leaned forward. Her SEALs had stared open-mouthed as she’d left the Hidden Creek crew quarters to enter the carriage. The full face ‘cat mask’ she manipulated in her left hand to offer teasing glimpses of identity added to the effect.
     Gisel felt embarrassed even with the uplift produced by a little padding Hannan had pushed into her bra. She wore her own dark hair unbound, down to her shoulders to hide the thin wire snaking to her earpiece. Her billowing gown was not new – the one she’d worn the year before at her audience with King Heri. Hope no one recognizes it.
     A blue-clad footman stepped to their carriage to open the door. M’Tov gestured for her to step out. “I’ll go last, so both lose yourselves in the crowd before anyone associates you with me.”
    He had a long toga-like costume with a laurel wreath about his balding head and a trident ready for his hand – a fair copy of the god Poseidon. Gisel rose and stepped over his legs to reach the door.
     As the footman handed her out she took a quick look around. The Lady Blanche had told her she would wait for her in the anteroom – which way was that? No time to stand around, she heard Hannan reach the carriage door behind her.
     Another footman approached her, this one dressed in lace edged jacket and breeches, long silk stockings revealing legs that many women might envy. Guess this guy could be a supervisor of sorts. “If you wish to follow me, my Lady. The entrance to the ballroom is this way.”
     She couldn’t stop her right hand pressing against the slit in her gown where her automatic was holstered. She felt the cool metal. Calm down, nothing will happen out here in plain view. She raised her fan to her lips as she followed the stranger toward the building. “Crockley – are you there?”
     “Up on the terrace steps, Ensign. I sees you an’ that feller.”
     Good going, Crockley: he remembered not to call her Missy. “Why is he dressed differently than the others? Do you know who he is?”
     “Nay, lass, but I’ll walk over toward ‘ee.”
     Hannan’s voice chimed in. “I’ll keep you in sight, Girl, but don’t act spooked.”
     Spooked? But her pulse was racing. Maybe this damned gown has given me away after all.
     The terrace doors swept open as two blue-clad footmen bowed them inside. Who the Hell is this man? The music and smells of perfume and food in the masquerade enveloped them as they entered. The orchestra played a chord to signal the next set and couples surged forward onto the multicoloured parquet of the ballroom for a courante.
     Her guide threaded his way through the crowd, his hand lightly resting on her arm. Not a footman after all, but why is he not in fancy dress?
     They arrived at a long table set at the side wall, covered with crystal bowls and platters of sweets and pastries, stacks of cut glass tumblers, and wine glasses with both red and white wine. “A refreshment, Lady?”
     “Yes, if you would. A sweet white if you please,” she answered absently. “If you were to remove your mask . . . would I know you?”
     His lips smiled as he picked up a glass to hand her. “You might, but we hardly spoke six words last year. I am an equerry to His Royal Highness the Crown Prince. I saw you then, both at your audience with the King and at the hunting lodge.”
     She took the proffered glass and studied him over the rim as she took a sip. His appearance began to revive memories. “It’s Sir Lacey, is it not? My apologies for not recognizing you.”
     “A young lady can be forgiven for not remembering one courtier out of a hundred – while she herself imprinted on all the Court.” His eyes scanned her rather familiarly as he raised his own glass for a drink.

Ksm: What is the hardest thing for you as a writer?

Chris: I'm always behind with my networking; last one to join the publisher's chats that Muse is good at offering us for promotion. And, mostly lost in the stream of chatting by the time my answers appear. I've joined Twitter twice but never seem to find anything to tweet about. I guess I'm just tuned for more thoughtfully considered pieces -- not necessarily 90,000 words but snap answers and repartee are not my thing. Although I do like my characters to be good at all these things-- I wish Gisel was around sometimes to help out.

Ksm: Do you have any pearls of wisdom to pass on to aspiring writers?

Chris: Avoid 'hurry disease'. Never become carried-away-enthusiastic over a new piece of writing until you've studied it thoroughly -- if you're a writer you can always improve it. Don't submit it too soon. In fact, editors expect you not to.

Ksm: Can you tell us what your favorite pastime is? Other than writing, of course!

Chris: I've always been interested in history; the history of nations, of technology, of war, and of shipping. That's why my fiction is usually set in the past -- either real or invented. Today, with the internet I follow current events on world newspapers and magazines with an eye to their place in history; commenting on articles and blogs; and saving the most interesting posts for some future research I may do.

Ksm: If you could do anything you’d like, go anywhere in the world without time or money constraints, what would you do and why?

Chris: I'd visit all the real sites I write about, that often I've only seen on Google Earth. I'd do a historical ship tour, visiting all the recovered wrecks on display around the world. I'd like to have a military historian escort me to the scenes of historical conflicts and help me visualize the events. I'd like to visit more of the world sites where humanity rose a little farther above the mire -- I've done many in Europe and N. Africa; Athens, Giza, Stonehenge, Houses of Parliament, etc -- but there are whole continents more out there that wait.

Ksm: Thanks for joining us today. How can your fans find, follow and friend you? For his virtual book tour, Chris is giving away a copy of Rast to two lucky people . You can comment here or another blog and when the tour is over, he’ll choose the names out of all of the comments. Each time you comment is another chance to win!

Chris: I'm on Facebook at

My sig file lists the rest --

My fantasy, Rast, released by MuseItUp Publishing March 2011

Download a free copy of my Iskander series promo, Gisel Matah and the Slave Ship, from my website.

My Iskander series novels from Double Dragon -

Arrival, Deadly Enterprise, The Wildcat's Victory, The Wildcat's Burden

My Website

Iskander Blog

Rast blog

Photo credits: Cheryl Maladrinos


  1. Thanks for hosting Chris today. I hope your readers will check out Rast. Chris is running a contest during the tour. Here are the details:

    CONTEST! Christopher Hoare is giving away two e-Copies of Rast during his virtual book tour. You can find his entire tour schedule at Leave a comment (including your email address) at any of his blog stops during the tour. He will select two winners from all comments received. The more blogs you visit and comment at, the greater your chances of winning a copy of the book.

    Good luck to all who enter.


  2. Thank you for hosting this, Karen. And thanks for the interesting questions that allowed me to pull more varied topics out of the wool in my head.

    Need more readers to comment -- I'm still waiting for a winner of the last copy of Rast.

    Chris H.