Welcome to BookView Interview, a conversation series where BookView talks to authors.
Recently, we interviewed author Michael Hardy about his writing and his recently released, The Last Shadow, an engrossing tale set in a vividly realized fantasy world. (Read the review here.)
Born and raised in Brunei, Author Michael Hardy’s (Likes to be called Hardy) life came to a turn around when his family moved to England at a young age. From 7 to 9-years old, he had developed a love for western culture, which left him out of place when he went back home to Brunei. He felt like an outcast in his home country.
In his pre-teens, a friend introduced him to a movie, “Vampire Hunter D,” and he read the book in college which made him love writing. By university, his roommate inspired and motivated Hardy to become a writer and published a fiction and non-fiction books with his partner and editor, Jay Gillies.
The books in his collection include How to Destroy Writer’s Block, The Last Shadow, And The Monster Be-Gone.
Official Facebook Page: facebook.com/MichaelHardyAuthor/
Official Michael Hardy Instagram Page: instagram.com/mikehardywriter
Official Michael Hardy Twitter Page: twitter.com/mikehardywriter
So, you are an English-Speaking author from Brunei, correct?
Yes, I am. And shockingly, I am half good at speaking the official language here, which was mostly Malay. I always felt like an outcast in my home country, even now. And yet, Horror and Monster stories of South East Asia heavily influenced me. It became my “go-to” writing niche and I wrote stories that are influenced by “South East Asian Ghost and Monster” folklore with a western twist to it.
How often you read?
I read as much as possible. My entire room is a library. For me, the best way to learn how to write is to read a book. It’s the best lesson in the world, and cheaper than taking writing classes. (Laugh). My motto as a writer is that “You read, read, read and you write, write, write, and you do it for years, years, years.” Sorry for repeating it three times, but when I was younger, I never realized how hard writing was. This is the best advice I can give to aspiring writer.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
You should have been a writer while you were young, Little Hardy. (Laugh)
Who and what ultimately inspired you to become a writer?
My favorite book, and the reason I became a writer, is called Vampire Hunter D (Let’s call it VHD for short) By Hideyuki Kikuchi. A close friend/relative named Oliver showed me the 1985 anime, Vampire Hunter D, when I was a kid. It was a dark, scary, violent anime. It shocked me so much, I could hear my heartbeat thumping like crazy. I became a fan of VHD and anime. And in college, I bought the VHD book, Volume 1, and I loved every single word that came out of it. I knew the second I finished that book, it made me want to be a writer. And that’s when my writing journey began.
Is writer’s block real?
Oh, definitely. When I was writing my first failed book, Kris Hellion, I had a long writer’s block doing that book. And it took me four years to finish it. Around 2017, I wrote a book called “How to Destroy Writer’s Block”. I did a ton of research, hoping to find the one good “Anti-Writer’s Block” technique that will keep me writing. And I did. Through my research, I found this technique called “Flip the Premise” which is the best anti-writer’s block technique I have ever found. I don’t want to explain it too much, but if you want to find out about “Flip the Premise”, search for it on YouTube. And if the readers found it and it helped you as a writer, you’re welcome.
Would you rather read a book or watch television?
Read a book, definitely. I read like crazy. Paperbacks, hard books, e-books and audiobooks, almost every day. Television is 90 percent dead to me, not unless there’s an old wonderful movie I enjoyed. But my TV replacement for it is anime on my laptop. I love watching anime or cartoons on YouTube or Other Streaming Sites. Also, I used to be an anime reviewer on YouTube. I was the first and oldest anime reviewer on YouTube. But I had to retire due to job obligations. But regardless, whether you read or watch television, you can get influenced and get ideas from both. Most of my inspiration for my books came from there.
What is your greatest failure? What did you learn from that failure?
My greatest failure for me was my first novel, Kris Hellion. Back then, in my head, I thought I had best-seller guaranteed. But it wasn’t. I blame Hollywood for making people believe that once you publish, you are a millionaire. Boy, they were wrong. What I didn’t realize is that it takes more to create your book, including drafting, professional editing, beta-reading, marketing, etc, which I didn’t do. And the book ended up as a failure and it barely made any money. I tried to sell my books in my home country but it did not do too well. But what hurt the most was my first honest review. The reviewer (I can’t remember their name) crushed my book and said it was awful. And looking back, the reviewer was right. I quit out of anger and sorrow and posted it on Facebook. When a friend of mine named Aammton Alias (Best-selling Author of Real Ghost Stories of Borneo Series, also from Brunei), read this online, he was mad at me. He tried to convince me to return to writing. He then asked me, “If money didn’t exist, would you still be writing?” When he told me that, I knew the answer. I learned I had to put more effort into my books, keep writing and that doesn’t mean the learning stops. To me, your failure just means you have to start over until you pass, and that’s what I am gonna do with my future novels.
Tell us a little about how this story first came to be. Did it start with an image, a voice, a concept, a dilemma or something else?
My book, The Last Shadow, is a mixture of stories and my own characters. Stephen King’s It influenced the book. I haven’t read the book yet but I’ve seen the mini-series and movies. Somewhere on the internet, I read Pennywise, the villain in Stephen King’s It, that he was afraid of a turtle. I thought that was hilarious. And with that, I created a short story called “The Devil’s Jester” from that idea and it starred my original character, Kris Hellion, fighting a clown in an abandoned Circus by the sea. And then, there was another character from a lost screenplay I wrote. Her name was Nadia, a character with no shadow but can summon shadow tentacles from her body. I tried to make her own story, but it didn’t work out. So I thought, “What if I put Nadia in Devil’s Jester?” And with her addition and a few added ideas, my short story became a novel and it became “The Last Shadow.”
What do you hope readers will take away from this story?
I know this is a weird thing to say. But if anyone reads my book, I just want to hear these three words, “I like it”. I mean, I don’t expect my book to be a best-seller. I want people to enjoy my story. And also, since my stories, including “The Last Shadow” is based on Monsters and Ghost of South East Asian folklore, I hope this will make the readers interested and do research on it. That’s enough for me.
What life experiences have shaped your writing most?
I think it was when I met Russell, an American book-seller living in Brunei, who was also my editor. He was interested in helping with my work. When he saw my book draft of “The Last Shadow”, he thought I tried too hard and I needed to simplify my writing. I even showed him this “Writing Bible” that I had. It had words to swap, crutch words, describe breathing, etc. But he told me not to use it. He gave a few easy books to read and learn from it. One of them was “With My Knife” by Andrew Lansdown. Russell taught and told me to “Keep it simple.” And that’s what I did. Ever since I met him, I just wrote from my heart and mind and it just makes my writing even easier. I’m thankful to him for teaching me that.
What makes this book important right now?
What makes “The Last Shadow” important to me is that I get to start over. When my first novel, Kris Hellion, failed, I thought I couldn’t start from scratch again. It would be tiring if I did. But when I wrote “The Last Shadow”, it was a great way to start over, feel fresh and my failure of my earlier book disappeared. This book is my re-start button. It’s the best feeling I had ever had and motivates me to write my next book.
What’s next for you?
Well, I got a few book projects coming up. I can only write a book once a year, sadly. I don’t want to give away anything but my future novels involve monster and ghost of South East Asian Folklore. And I hope the readers will look forward to that.
Categories: BookView Review Interview
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