The Bee Talks With…. Derek Haines

photo permission by Derek Haines

March 2019

In 2014 I started an author interview series for self-publishing author’s which I have retired last year.

But the interviews are still great and the author’s answers often incredibly funny so on and off I am re-posting them. Here is one from November 2014 by an incredibly versatile author who does a lot for self-publishing authors. Just check out his blog at the end of the post.

November 2014

Today I am proud to present Derek Haines, who calls himself “Writer, Teacher, Blogger”. Aussie living in Switzerland and writing what he enjoys.

I have met Derek a few years ago online and he has been so kind as to take part in my “Proust Questionaire” series on my old blog. On and off I follow his brilliant blog “The Vandal” and if you are a self-publisher you should follow it too: It is a well of great information and advice to guide you through the labyrinth of publishing yourself.

Several of his books have entertained me brilliantly, most of all his sci-fi series “The Gothic Tales” which still make me laugh long after I have finished the books (well, I still have to read book three πŸ™‚ my reading list is just toooooooo long… ).

And last but not least his book lovers page “Whizbuzz” which brings together readers and writers in new ways and has brought them much reading and writing joy.

But enough of the introduction. Here are his answers to my “infamous” (;-) ) questions:

“How would you describe yourself in one paragraph?

In one word, a nonconformist. No matter how hard I have tried during my life, swimming with the fish has never been one of my strong points, as I have the annoying habit of continually questioning the orthodox, accepted and norm. With this attitude, I discovered very early in life that I was destined to be a difficult employee, so I saved potential employers any possible future torment by becoming self-employed – and on occasions of course, self-unemployed. In either state however, I have always managed to do what I love best. Create.

What made you write in the first place?

My high school English teacher, who was just so drop-dead gorgeous and had the habit of wearing very short mini-skirts, gave me the ideal motivation to write. She smiled at me every time I handed in my essays, and during class writing sessions, she would lean over my shoulder to offer advice, with her long dark hair brushing my cheek. A totally macho-sexist explanation, but she must be credited with giving a wild and rebellious early seventies teenager a reason to appreciate the beauty of the written word and the English language. She was a Jimi Hendrix fan too, which made her even cooler. Thirty years later, and thanks to her perhaps, I began my studies to become an English language teacher.

Which author has influenced you and why?

I have always been influenced by the last good book I read, so the list is very long. However, if I go right back to when I was a kid, it started with Enid Blyton, by introducing me to the pleasure of reading, and then as a teenager it was Erik von Daniken, because of his totally off the planet views and beliefs. Later came Douglas Adams for cleverness and James Clavell for epic continuity. More recently, Jasper Fforde became a favourite of mine because of his insanely unique stories based on Mother Goose characters in his Nursery Crimes Squad books.

Your writing ritual (if you have one)?

When I write a new book, I write like crazy and skip meals, forget to do the shopping, ignore humans and generally pop off the planet for quite a while. Luckily though, there are very long periods of normality between these episodes, during which time I lead a boringly normal and routine existence, with my feet firmly planted on the planet, and I return to communicating with the humans in my life once again. I write almost every day; be it an article or a blog post, which I suppose makes me a writer, but one who suffers from episodic bouts of being an author.

Do you suffer from writer’s block and if, what do you do against it?

Never. My only writing affliction as far as books are concerned is abject laziness, which I accept is part of the process and happily categorise it as productive thinking time. So, I wait patiently for the motivation to pop off the planet to arrive once again, and then the words flow easily. For day-to-day writing though, I am quite disciplined and have no trouble finding ideas to work with.

Your advice for apprentice writers?

Become a plumber or a dentist. Those vocations pay much better. But if one must pursue the life of a writer, and worse, an author, learn to eat less, and don’t give up your day job. Becoming a successful writer is a tough road to travel and very, very few manage to make a living from their words. But being a writer is intensely satisfying if you have a passionate reason to write, and the burning desire to express your inner self. By far, the most important factor in learning to be a writer is in developing your own unique writing voice. Without this, writing is merely text on a page. The only other advice I would give is to learn to accept that criticism is as an ongoing and positive process that helps a writer improve. You learn little about your writing from those who love you, but you can learn a hell of a lot from those who don’t, and aren’t afraid to honestly say what they think.”

Thank you Derek, for letting us peek into your writing life and your advice.

Derek’s latest book

You got curious? Look here for Derek Haines and his books:



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