Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I was born and brought up in Apartheid South Africa, a medieval environment. After graduating from Rhodes University I worked for a short period as a newspaper reporter and high school teacher. In 1966 I settled in London. With “flower power” in full bloom, it was an intoxicating time to be there – so different from my puritanical Calvinist background. Once again I worked as a reporter and a teacher while I co-authored The Dominant Man,a layman’s guide to the human pecking order, which was published in 1972 in five languages.
In 1975 I emigrated to LA with my then girlfriend Suze Randall who had just landed a job as a Playboy photographer. For two years we were on the "gang list" at Hugh Hefner's Playboy Mansion West which meant we could visit as often as we wanted. Sybaritic splendor indeed! Suze and I wrote a frivolous paperback of our experiences there (Suze by Suze Randall, published in 1978) which offended Hefner. We were frog marched out of his mansion. It was like getting the bum’s rush out of paradise!
The Nero Prediction was a long time in coming. With his penchant for music and festivals, Nero seemed to the most 60’s of the Roman emperors and, looking back, I probably wanted to recreate that magical time in a historical setting. However the deeper I looked into the first century the more references I found to astrology. One day the idea hit me like the proverbial lighting bolt. Nero’s birth date and time are known (dawn on December 15, 37 AD) so it must be possible to re-create his horoscope. With this mysterious wheel in hand, anyone familiar with ancient astrological lore should be able to make some very intelligent guesses about what Nero’s astrologer would have been advising him on a regular basis. Since Nero, like everyone else at the time, believed in astrology which, in the words of historian Michael Grant “exceeded every religion in power and influence” this could be an important historical tool in explaining his motives and actions.
So I linked up with an astrologer who specialized in Greek and Roman astrology to cast Nero’s chart and to teach me the rudiments of this intriguing mixture of superstition and astronomy. After several years of studying Roman astrological manuals (two have survived intact) and casting hundreds of horoscopes, the main theme of The Nero Prediction, the self-fulfilling prophecy, came into focus. It still astonishes me that I appear to be alone in this approach because not only was Nero clearly guided by his horoscope but, as soon as it was leaked, his enemies were guided by it as well which led to his death at the age of 30.
I know that Nero would have approved that my wife Suze Randall has gone on to be one of the world’s most successful erotic photographers. In the early 1980’s, under the nom de porn Victor Nye, I directed several of the erotic movies she produced which included the cult classic Too Naughty To Say No. My novel Lies, Love & Porn (2010) was set during that period.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My most recent novel, Napoleon’s Rosebud (2016) was inspired by my great great grandaunt’s affair with the fallen emperor during his exile on the remote island of Saint Helena.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Not really. I write 5 days a week, three hours every morning.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
Historically what inspired me most was Albert Camus' Outsider. Most recently I was captivated by The Orphan Master's Tale.
What are you working on now?
I'm busy promoting the new edition of my 2006 novel The Nero Prediction.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
BookBub is supposedly the best but it's hard to get listed. I found booksbutterfly quite productive.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
A warning. One gets the impression we are getting to the point where there are more writers than readers!
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
The best advise I've NEVER heard is write because you love it, not because you need people to read what you write.
What are you reading now?
Websites on how to find more readers!
What’s next for you as a writer?
Only the Muse knows.
What is your favorite book of all time?
Graham Greene's The Power and the Glory
Humphry Knipe’s Social Media Links