Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
As a lawyer with a passion for history and archaeology, I had to wait many years before I could pursue another passion – writing – in earnest. However, my love of books and storytelling started long before that. I remember as a young boy reading biographies and history books with a torch under the bed covers, and then writing stories about archaeologists and explorers the next day, instead of doing homework. While I regularly got into trouble for this, I believe we can only do well in our endeavours if we are passionate about the things we love; for me, writing has become a passion.
The best way to describe by books is to call them mysteries for the thinking reader. I have written four thrillers, namely The Forgotten Painting, The Empress Holds the Key, The Disappearance of Anna Popov and The Hidden Genes of Professor K which is about to be released. All four books are part of the Jack Rogan Mysteries series.
I was born in Budapest, and grew up in post-War Europe. After fleeing Hungary with my parents during the Revolution in 1956, I attended school in Austria before arriving in Australia as a teenager. Through my travels I have become multi-lingual and now feel ‘at home’ in different countries and diverse cultures. I hold degrees in literature and law, speak several languages and take my research and authenticity very seriously. Inquisitive by nature, I have studied Egyptology and learned to read the hieroglyphs. I travel extensively and visit all of the locations mentioned in my books. To create a seamless storyline, I try to weave fact and fiction together, blurring the boundaries between the two, so that the reader is never quite sure where one ends, and the other begins. This is of course quite deliberate as it creates the illusion of authenticity and reality in a work that is pure fiction. A successful work of fiction is a balancing act: reality must rub shoulders with imagination in a way that is both entertaining and plausible!
My home is now in the Blue Mountains in Australia, just outside Sydney, where we are surrounded by a World Heritage National Park. The beauty and solitude of this unique environment give me inspiration and the energy to weave my thoughts and ideas into stories which, I sincerely hope, will in turn entertain and inspire my readers.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My latest book – The Hidden Genes of Professor K, a medical thriller – is book four in the Jack Rogan Mysteries series. It was inspired by the extraordinary research being carried out by scientists at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney where I am a director. Medical research is another serious interest of mine.
Writing The Hidden Genes of Professor K was an ambitious project. For a layman like me, exploring subjects touching on cutting-edge medical research and complex science is never easy, and would not have been possible without the guiding hand and generous help of leading experts. The learning curve was steep but very rewarding. It took me two years to write the book.
There has probably never been a more exciting time to be a research scientist than right now. Progress is breathtaking, the possibilities endless, breakthroughs come almost daily, and the speed of progress is head-spinning. Advances in technology are making the unthinkable possible, and what would once have taken two scientists several years of painstaking work, can now be done by a machine overnight!
I firmly believe that we are about to open a treasure-trove of knowledge buried in our genome right here, inside us all, that will transform the future of medicine and the journey of man.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I do have quite specific writing habits, but I don’t know if they are all that unusual. Serious writing is a solitary endeavour and requires a lot of discipline and routine. I do most of my writing late at night. I begin at about 10 p.m. and go through to about 3 a.m. In the morning I review what I have written the night before. During the day, I think about the next section I will write in the evening. I go through the plot, the dialogue the settings and so on. At that stage, it’s all in my head. When the time comes to write it all down in the evening, the material has taken shape and is ready to go. I have several computer screens and usually do most of my research as I write. I always have music playing in the background.
I am definitely NOT an ‘outliner’. I have a clear concept in mind at all time as to where I want to go with the storyline and the plot, but the detail remains fluid. I believe this is essential as the flow has to appear natural and spontaneous at all times. My characters are the drivers here. I LIVE with my characters and always carefully imagine how they would react in certain situations, what they would say, and how they would say it etc. Dialogue is critical here, and I read the dialogue out aloud. To outline this in detail in advance would be like wearing shackles! My chapters are short which gives me great flexibility in dealing with my characters and the plot, build tension, and keep my readers focused. In my view, short chapters are the key to an exciting, page-turning plot.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
Not surprisingly, I love reading thrillers. However, I have a degree in literature, and also like reading the classics, especially Russian, German and French classics by authors like Dostoevsky, Tolstoy and Pushkin, Goethe, Schiller, Thomas Mann and Günter Grass. French writers like Dumas, Flaubert and Balzac are favourites. Without doubt, they have all had a profound influence on my writing. As for who inspires me, well, somehow all of them do. I draw on literature generally for inspiration, and try to hone my craft by studying the work of many authors.
What are you working on now?
My next book: The Stolen Recipes of Suleiman the Magnificent which will be book 5 in the Jack Rogan Mysteries series. The book is set in Florence, Venice and Istanbul. I have visited all of these places again last year and have completed most of the research for the book. I travel for approximately two months every year and visit all of the places mention in the book I am working on at the time. I hope to release the book at the end of next year.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
Promoting my books is both time consuming and complex. I am a strong believer in social media and actively use Facebook and Twitter. I am also a diligent blogger and carefully build relationships with my readers through social media and my website. I also give talks in libraries, address book clubs and participate in writers festivals. All of this not only promotes my books, but helps build my author profile, credibility and reputation.
I am a self-published author with my own publishing entity – Bear & King Publishing – which I own and operate to publish my books. To assist other authors, I have written a personal guide to self-publishing entitled: Going It Alone: Why writing your book is not enough. The book is available on Amazon and all other major platforms. More information about the book can be found on my website.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Yes, I have. The best way to answer this question meaningfully would be to refer interested authors to my personal guide to self-publishing mentioned above. It contains all the advice I can offer based on several years of experience.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Never give up!
What are you reading now?
Ghost Empire by Richard Fidler which is “ A brilliant reconstruction of the saga of power, glory, invasion and decay that is the one-thousand year story of Constantinople.”
What’s next for you as a writer?
Keep doing what I love most: writing!
What is your favorite book of all time?
Not surprisingly, I love reading thrillers. However, I have a degree in literature, and also like reading the classics, especially Russian, German and French classics by authors like Dostoevsky, Tolstoy and Pushkin, Goethe, Schiller, Thomas Mann and Günter Grass. French writers like Dumas, Flaubert and Balzac are favourites.
As for who inspires me in my writings, well, somehow all of them do. I draw on literature generally for inspiration and try to hone my craft by studying the work of many authors.