Monday, 25 April 2016

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Thomas Olde Heuvelt Interview - The HEX Blog Tour - Day One - Hodder & Stoughton

It has been said that HEX is a book that answers the question "Where does evil come from?" If you love a good horror novel and a clever narrative then this is surely the book for you. Please find below the questions that Thomas has answered about the release of his novel as part of his first UK blog stop. Hex is published by Hodder & Stoughton on the 28th April 2016.

How would you describe your book HEX, to potential future readers?
HEX is a creepy book about a modern day town, haunted day and night by a 17th century witch whose eyes are sewn shut. The town is quarantined by its elders to prevent her curse from exploding. Frustrated with being kept in lock down, the town's teenagers decide to break their strict regulations and go viral with the haunting, but in doing so, send the town spiraling into... well, into very dark times, to frame it nicely. Also, I'd say that with HEX, I set off to write the scariest book I could imagine. I took elements from classical horror and tried to turn them around in a modern, twisted way. The witch's haunting is very rock 'n roll. She's always there. She walks the streets day and night. She enters your home. She stands next to your bed for nights in a row. The town is bugged with cameras and there's this control centre that tries to hide her from sight all the time. But besides the supernatural power, it's a book mostly about human evil.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? 
First and foremost, I'd like to make them shudder. Or shiver. Or make them sleep with the lights on because they were too scared Katherine would pop up next to there beds. When the book came out in Holland and Belgium, I literally got hundreds of messages from readers who had to leave the lights on, or still had nightmares. Imagine the silly grin on my face as I was reading them. I am so looking forward to seeing if it has the same effect abroad... So yeah, my first goal with this book is to entertain you. Of course there's probably a lot in the book that will make you think, or reconsider your view on what's good and evil and where you stand yourself on that spectrum, and it's okay if you pick up on that. But after the nightmares. 

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk? 
I guess that my short fiction always turns out weird and humorous, and my novels are always very dark. I don't know why that is. I've tried to write short horror fiction, but it usually turns into a novel. Whereas I love the magical-realism that I use in my short fiction. Stories like The Boy Who Cast No Shadow and The Ink Readers of Doi Saket are very close to my heart. You can find them all online for free. And somehow, it got me a Hugo Award, for a story called The Day the World Turned Upside Down. That was kind of ironic, as I hardly ever read science fiction.

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your book? 
Warner Bros. is currently developing a TV series based on the book, and I really don't care all that much who they will cast (of course, that will probably change once they made it public; I'd be like 'hey, he or she doesn't look like that character!') I never have famous actors in mind as I write about my characters, and I'd surely never say they look like a particular actor, as some writers do. Don't you just hate 
that? From then on, you'll always see that actor instead of what you imagined yourself, including all your opinions about that actor. It's even worse when the writer start screwing around with it: "She looked like a fat version of Victoria Beckam." Or: "She was an African-American Julia Roberts." I mean... really? Get back to writing school! 

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you? 
I used to be like Stephen King and let the story take me wherever it would go. But after about three novels I found that it was not me. I like to take more control. I discovered that you can put a lot more meaning to a story or a book if you sit down to think about it. Or in my case, not sit down, as that's the worst stimulation for my creativity (especially when there's a cumputer and Wifi at hand). So I go out and take a hike in the woods, or go for a swim, or joke about my story ideas with a few creative friends - joking usually gives the best ideas. 

What made you decide to sit down and actually start something? 
When I'm extremely thrilled about the idea. In other words, when we've joked enough about it that I went through the stages of not taking it serious anymore, and then taking it even more serious because it got so good. You kind of feel at that stage that you're ready to start the actual writing. 

Can you pass on any tips regarding the writing process to other budding writers? 
Go online. You'll find zillions of tips by zillions of writers and they'll all tell you something else. So what do you do? Just go out and write the best book you can that you would want to read. 

Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process? 
Obviously. There are many books displayed at the bookstore that make you go, yuck, and then you don't pick it up and it's such a shame, because maybe there was some real beauty inside. But good publishers know how to make good covers. I am totally, head-over-heels in love with the HEX cover Hodder & Stoughton put on the book, made by Leo Nickolls. I think it's spectacular. Also, I love green.

 As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up? 
At age three, I wanted to become Mommy. At ages four to six, I wanted to become a pirate. At seven, an interior designer. At eight, an airline pilot. I had a scrapbook full of newspaper clippings about plane crashes. At nine, Jeremy Jackson. At ten, an airline pilot again. At sixteen, a rock guitarist. At seventeen, pirate again. At eighteen, I more or less accidentally became a writer when my debut novel came out.

Is there anything else that you would like to tell us?
Definitely, now you provide me with the opportunity. Did you ever try a Banana Fower Salad? If not, go and try it. It's the best possible food on this planet. It's magical. It's from Thailand. Here's a video of me making one: It's in Dutch, though, so probably not a good idea to follow the recipe if you want to get it right. At least it will give you a chance to hear me speak in my silly language.

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