© 2013 Clive Eaton
I was born in Loxton, in South Australia's Riverland, later moving to the state's southeast to complete my schooling. I always wanted to be a writer or an artist, but have only recently begun devoting more time to these pursuits. I am a trained teacher, but have worked as a pastoral care worker, home schooling mother, have had stints working in mental health and the aged care sector, and am currently a Case Manager in a Parenting After Separation program. I now live in the southeast again, in the Limestone Coast, where I spend any spare time either reading, writing or doing calligraphy.
Book title: Mine to Avenge
When Alcandor is blamed for the death of his friend’s sister in Greece in 1940, little does he know of the repercussions this will have for him and his family for the next seventy years. Unable to forgive himself, Alcandor leaves Greece in 1948, and takes his family to settle in Australia. Although Greece and his past are far behind him, Alcandor remains a fearful man. Eighteen years later, however, his past catches up with him, but circumstances tragically intervene before he can warn his family of the impending danger. Years later, in 2010, Alcandor’s great-granddaughter, Alethea, discovers the truth, but the threat against her family is much closer than she realises, and very far from over.
What do you do to relax when you are not writing?
I like to read or sketch or do calligraphy.
What, or who, inspired you to become a writer?
I don’t know what inspired me to want to be a writer, or if any person ever had anything to do with it. From the very beginning it was what I always wanted to do, and I don’t remember the origins of the desire. I’ve loved words and reading for as long as I can remember, and making up my own stories came naturally to me. However, although I don’t remember its origins, I do remember giving it up for many years based on my well-meaning father’s advice. Dad always said that I would never be able to make a living that way. I took his words seriously and my life went in a vastly different direction, but it wasn’t until my early 40’s that my writing ambitions came to the fore again.
What or who inspired you to write your current novel?
While watching the events of September 11 unfolding on the television, I had a sudden ‘What if?’ thought. I entertained this thought on and off for sometime over the ensuing months and years, and somewhere along the way, the ‘What if?’ thought germinated into an idea that was the genesis of Mine to Avenge. However, I can’t share the details of that ‘What if?’ thought, as it is a significant plot spoiler.
Tell us three interesting facts about your book which are not covered in the synopsis
Some people might not consider numbers 1 and 2 below to be very interesting and it might even put some people off considering the novel, but I will risk it, and declare them anyway. They are probably more unique than interesting:-
1) There is no swearing or what is normally considered coarse language in the book.
2) There are no sex scenes in the book.
3) There is a combination sequel/parallel volume currently underway.
What research did you need to do for this book?
There was extensive research involved for Mine to Avenge. As I haven’t yet been to the US, I needed to extensively research the Manhattan area as the area was prior to September 11. I have a wonderful US based friend who supported me to get these chapters right, supplying me with the detail I needed. I also had to research the events of September 11 closely. I also read a lot about the background to the involvement of Greece in the Second World War and the ensuing Civil War, plus the background to the tidal wave of post war Greek emigration to countries around the world. I also had to research key Adelaide streets of the 1960s.
Are any elements/characters of your book based on real life experiences or people you’ve met/known?
Yes, definitely, though not in the sense that an entire character is based on someone I’ve known. My characters are composites of people - throwing different traits together to build a uniquely different character. Regarding real life experiences, there is an event in the story where one of the characters (a child) jumps from the top of a water tank onto a trampoline below. This was based on something one of my sisters did when we were children, but she did it without a trampoline - and survived to tell the tale.
Tell us a little about your current work-in-progress
As already mentioned in an earlier question, I have a work in progress, which is part companion volume and part sequel to Mine to Avenge. The companion volume part of the story has been easy to write. It relates the separate account of two women who are mentioned in Mine to Avenge, but they never come into the story. Their lives run alongside of parts of Mine to Avenge in terms of time frame. However, the sequel part is proving the hardest to write. One of the main characters from Mine to Avenge, Linus, is the grandson and nephew of these two women, and the sequel part deals with his quest to find them. This part of the WIP is still quite nebulous.
What process did you adopt from inception through to the finished book?
Once I had my ‘What if?’ idea, I became quite disciplined around spending as much time as I could writing. Because life gets busy, I had to plan and schedule specific weekends around writing and also week-long retreats whenever I had leave from work. I think I could learn from myself for my current WIP. Promoting Mine to Avenge takes up a lot of time, and it’s hard to find the time I need for writing at the moment. Each time I manage to sit down, I talk myself into doing something to promote or market the current one.
What do you need (or not need) around you whilst writing?
Probably the most important thing for me is silence. I cannot write with background noise. Yet, I am an old movie buff, keen on Gary Grant, Gregory Peck, etc, and I will often have one of these old movies on while I write, with the volume switched off, and I will glance up at it now and again. Yet it isn’t something I need as part of the process. I manage well enough without it.
What prompted you to self-publish your current book?
I self-published after trying the traditional way at least three times. The third rejection was very helpful in that the publisher told me that they were very intrigued by what they read of my submission, and that it was a good one with promise, but they also said that they reject about 99% of what comes across their desks. Submissions far outweigh what publishers actually take on. Such a percentage also suggested to me that there are probably many potentially good manuscripts that are missed this way. If they thought mine had promise, I knew there must be many other wonderful stories out there that never see the light of day, just because publishers don’t have the money to pick them all up. I decided on the strength of that to take things into my own hands and chose self-publishing.
What were the three biggest challenges you faced when writing your book?
1) Correct sequencing of chapters and backstory, given the generational span of Mine to Avenge.
2) Keeping track of the chronology, given that the novel deals with a generational saga between 2 families over a period of 70 years. I had to keep a running document of ages, birthdays, marriages, deaths and key events.
3) Coming up with a satisfying ending.
Every author seems to suffer with writer’s block at some point. How do you overcome it?
Probably not very well. Since Nanowrimo ended, I have written only about 4 pages of my WIP. As mentioned above, I knew where I was going with the first part - the second part is still not clear. I try to keep it in mind, and mull over it a lot. I often watch movies seeking the inspiration I need to lead me on in the right direction. With Mine to Avenge, I had some periods of a month or two before the inspiration would suddenly come, and it looks like it will be much the same this time around.
What single piece of advice would you give to any aspiring writer?
Have your work professionally edited. I would hold off on rushing to publish just to see your work in print. I have seen so much poorly prepared self-published work, which only serves to make it harder for self-published authors to have their work taken seriously. So many reviewers won’t touch self-pubs because of the generally poor quality of the work. Surely, if you want to be taken seriously as a writer it’s worth the effort and expense to take your writing seriously. I edited Mine to Avenge at least 10 times first, then paid for two professional edits, and even after that I went through the proofs seven more times before I gave the publishers the go-ahead to print. I was totally sick of reading it, but it was necessary. It meant it took about 9-10 months from the end of writing to the printed product but I believe it was a worthwhile investment.
What genre does your book fall into?
How did you get interested in this specific genre?
I don’t think I became interested in writing in this particular genre at all. The story suggested itself to me and that is where it happened to fall. However, in terms of watching movies and reading stories, this is my preferred genre, so maybe it has more to do with it underneath that I realise.
You as a reader
Which three authors have inspired you the most, and why?
1) Victor Hugo - brilliancy in the sheer art of story telling
2) Charles Dickens - I love his ability to comment sharply on society’s ills through his story telling.
3) CS Lewis - manages to make the most profound statements in a completely down to earth, understandable manner.
What was your favourite book as a child?
I had lots of favorites, but the one that leapt to mind first as I read the question was Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag.
What is the best book you’ve read in the last 12 months?
Carve Her Name with Pride - the story of Violette Szabo by RJ Minney. I have read this story many times and it comes up trumps each time, even over books I haven’t read before. I just find that Violette Szabo was such an inspirational woman.
What was the last book you recommended to a friend, and why did you think it was worthy of recommendation?
The Prisoner of Zenda - I recommended it to a friend who was after some good, old-fashioned swash-buckling action with plenty of swords.
Kindle (or other e-reader) or paperback, and why?
I am a fan of both and think that each has their place. I love a paperback when I’m sitting at home, and usually choose that over the e-reader, but you can’t beat an e-reader when travelling on a plane or a bus and it’s great for taking a lot of books with you when going on holiday without worrying about the weight and space factor.
Hollywood is calling
You’ve had the call from Hollywood and they want your opinion on who should play the leading roles in the film based upon your book. Who would you choose, and why?
This is very difficult to answer because Mine to Avenge deals spans several generations so several actors are needed to play the same characters at different times. In terms of the main antagonist, Spyridon Pagonis, I think Billy Zane has the right looks for a certain age, and maybe even Michael Constantine as an older Spyridon. In terms of the two main younger characters, Linus and Alethea, I would like to cast unknowns, given they are both in their early 20s in the story. I must admit little knowledge of the current younger Hollywood set.
The film of your book is now going to need a soundtrack. Which musician(s) would you want to write and play it?
I love just about everything John Williams does, so he’d be on the list, but I think my favourite soundtrack of all time has to be the soundtrack by Jerry Goldsmith for the Star Trek movie, First Contact, so he’d be top of my list.
Drink – my son’s home made authentic spiced chai. He learned the secrets by observing the chai vendors in India.
Meal – smoked salmon (often doesn’t make it to a plate - straight from the pack) followed by Yogurt Shop cappuccino flavoured yogurt.
Holiday destination – Booleroo View - a wonderful cabin on a farm in the north of South Australia. It’s very remote and makes a wonderful writer’s retreat. I wrote much of Mine to Avenge while there.
TV programme – F-Troop
Film – Ben Hur
Method of travel – train
Sport – Aussie Rules football (to watch, of course)
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Where can readers find your book?
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