I’ve been currently reading a few books given to me by my housemate Katrin. She’s finally landed her dream job as a publishing assistant and she’s drowning me in new literature, one of them being Black Violet.
Black Violet is an interesting thriller written by Alex Hyland. It centres around Michael Violet, who on the surface is a legitimate San Francisco car dealer. But appearances can be deceiving. In reality, he s a talented pickpocket lifting the keys to the city s most luxurious cars. He’s kept his criminal life secret from his journalist brother, Jon, who s made a career out of exposing corruption. But when Jon is killed, Michael uses his talents to track down his brother’s killer. Driven by guilt and revenge, Michael finds himself being forced into the role of the hero, whether he likes it or not. But turning from thief to hero isn’t going to be as easy as he’d hoped…
I’ve read the first two chapters and I’m already hooked. The author paints a vivid portrait of what is happening in this fictional world and I was excited to find out more about the author himself. I asked him one or two questions and here are his replies;
Rogues Portal (RP): With such vivid imagery throughout your writing, have you ever thought of turning Black Violet into a graphic novel?
Alex Hyland (AH): I used to draw comic strips when I was younger – Simon Bisley was my hero. I remember pouring over Slaine: The Horned God, trying to figure out how he achieved his stunning textures. I don’t know how long it would take him to paint a single page, but it would take me weeks to finish one, and the results were rarely as good as I wanted. Over time, my artwork fell by the wayside as I concentrated on writing, however, my love for illustration never waned. I’d love to see it as graphic novel, but I think I’d have to leave it to someone who actually knew what they were doing.
RP: What was the inspiration behind this book?
AH: I wanted to create a Bond-style anti-hero, but one who was more ‘boy next door.’ I love James Bond, but for me, he’s too good at everything. I wanted to write a character who was talented – but at just one thing. Michael is a great pickpocket – the entire world is an open door to him. However, even though he can get behind the most secretive doors, he’s not much better-equipped than you or me to deal with whatever is waiting there.
RP: Do you identify strongly with any of the characters?
AH: Michael uses humour to deal with the darkness in his life, which is very much how I am. Beyond that though, we’re quite different. I’m a neurotic who’s scared of planes, elevators, dirty cups, and almost anything with more than two legs. It was an interesting experience for me writing about a guy who rises above his own weaknesses to become a hero. Michael is the guy I could probably be if I managed to stop being such a be complete dick about everything.
RP: Is there any genre you haven’t written in yet but would love to try?
AH: My daughter has always been keen to read my work, but she’s seven years old, and I write violent thrillers. To get round this, I wrote her a comedic poem not so long ago. A couple of friends of mine have since turned it into an animated app. The whole business was hugely enjoyable. I’d never really considered writing for children before, but I’d love to do more of it.
RP: Was there ever a point where you wanted to give up on your dreams? How did you overcome it?
AH: I’ve been a writer for nearly twenty years, in television mostly. During that time, I’ve had plenty of setbacks and disappointments. There’s a million reasons why someone might not like what you’re writing, so it’s best not to worry about it. The times I’ve had the greatest success were always with ideas that I wrote purely for myself. When you feel like giving up, remember who you’re writing for. You.
RP: Do you have any words of wisdom for those of us who are struggling writers?
AH: Embrace the pain. Rejection and self-doubt are going to be your new companions. Both make for depressing company, but they do leave eventually. To quote Winston Churchill, ‘Sure am I of this, that you have only to endure to conquer.’
RP: Can you recommend any writers we need to look out for in 2018?
AH: I tend to read non fiction while I’m writing – science books mostly, as I find them less distracting. However, the most recent new fiction author I’ve read is by Maury Shenk. He writes thrillers based on his experiences with corporate China, has just got himself a publishing deal, and is well worth looking out for.