Hugo Vaes: An Author Interview

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Hello Hugo and thank you for taking the time to speak with me today.
I have to ask, what made you decide to write a book?

I love reading books and when I was in Sydney Australia I got involved in some weird adventures that I thought I should write about it as soon as I am back in Europe.

How long have you been writing for exactly?

With my first book I worked for a couple years with some breaks in between.
It was only last year I made some more time and rewrote my story in one go. My first version was longer and contained more info than my present book. I decided to spread it over three books

How long did it take you to finish this book?

It took me in total a couple of years. I started writing the story five years after I got back from Australia and bought my first computer. I wrote one long rough version and posted it on Lulu.com but it contained too many mistakes so I decided to rewrite it. That took me a few years and I went travelling again for a long time where I found plenty of time to write my books.

What do you use to write your books?

The very first version was written on paper. I always carry a couple of pens and little notebooks and I scribble a lot so wherever I am I write. I have a laptop computer and use that for writing my work. It’s a MacBook Air and I use Microsoft Office 365 but I use also Pages and Open Office.

Did you encounter any problems while writing?

There are days I write a lot and there are days I can’t find my words. I play a few simple games on my computer to get myself back into writing and I listen to music. I write most of the time in a Starbucks under the pleasure of a latte. When I cannot write at all I know there will be other days that I can find my inspiration and never force myself to write.

How do you think you’ve evolved as a writer since you’ve started?

English is not my first language but my second. I get more and more confident in my English when I write. I speak the language almost every day to everyone and I sound quite British. I’ve lived in London for 7 years where I worked hard to speak proper English and read a lot of English books. Books inspire me and I am a big fan of travel writing!

Is there anything you wish someone would have told you before you started writing?

Maybe I should have started much earlier with writing but then I didn’t have a good story. Perhaps I should have started straight away in Australia with writing my amazing story but I had no idea how it would end. My trilogy is based on a true story with an open end. The second book is based on my period before Australia.

Do you structure your plots or let the words just flow?

Maybe in the future I will structure my plots but I like to go with the flow. I let my imagination go wild in my sleep and hope to remember as much as possible on the days I write. Back in London I didn’t always have time to write so I had to remember a lot and there were plenty of days I couldn’t write at all. That’s why I went away for a long trip to Asia to find inspiration and to write this book trilogy.

Do you work on a set amount of words per day or does it change?

There are days I write a lot and there are days I write nothing. No, I don’t have a set amount of words. I don’t work in the way Hemingway or Ian Fleming used to write. There are days I have the story in my mind but there are plenty of days I sit in front of my laptop and nothing comes out.

Do you do a lot of research when writing a book?

I use the internet a lot. My story is based in the period December 1999 and 2000. I still have fond memories of this period but there are things that I forgot about it. I used for my first script a travel guide of Sydney and I use maps for street names and places.

How would you describe your writing process?

I first create in my head a story and let it simmer for a while before I start writing. I always carry a pen and paper so I make a rough plan of how my story will read and then I go with the flow writing it.

Is there a time of day you find is best for writing?

When I work I always write on my days off. I can’t write during my work time. My mind is too much focused on my normal work and can’t write and do other things. I don’t have any kids and I’m currently single so I write most of the time in the afternoon around 4 pm till 6/7 pm. While I travel there are days I write late in the evening when it’s quiet so I have more time to think and to write.

Where does your inspiration come from?

In Kuala Lumpur Malaysia I saw this book “Backpack” from Emily Barr. Then there was the film “The Beach” that I saw in the cinema while I was in Sydney and these two books gave me lots of inspiration. Then there is of course “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac and many of the works of Michael Palin who inspired me to write travel stories.

What drew you to this genre?

I love travel stories but I also love crime stories. Over the years I read lots of books of Agatha Christie and Paul Theroux and Michael Palin. I watched many of his series and that inspired me to travel for a long time to many countries I have never been before.
Then there are the works of Ernest Hemingway. I like literature although I haven’t read them all yet!

I’m not like them but I try to write in their memory, knowing people like to dream and to travel. These books always do well.

Have you ever tried your hand at other genres?

Not yet, but I have lots of plans. In my mind I am creating more stories but I will need lots of time to write it all down. I can’t travel forever and need to go back to Europe to work again but I want to try to write more stories in all kinds of stories.

Films, music and people do inspire me and what I have done over the years. It’s time to look back and to reflect my life in words. That’s why I write.

Which author/book would compare yours too?

With my first book I would say “backpack” from Emily Barr. Although it is a chick-lit story I love the book and read it many times and still enjoy it.

Can you relate personally to any of your own stories?

My trilogy is based on my own travel experience when I went to Australia and how I found myself and what made the trip possible and what happened after. It is in a way autobiography but it is not written in the first but in the third person form.
My main character Julia Meier is actually me.

How many books have you written in total?

For the moment there are two books. There’s a rough version still on Lulu.com and then my book in its printed form and eBook form online. I published this book with two internet publishers Epubli.co.uk ( A German internet publisher in Berlin, Germany) and Amazon.com – CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing.

I am working on my two follow-up stories of my trilogy and hope to have them all finished by the end of the year.

Have you ever written in collaboration with another author?

No, as I mentioned before the story is in a way quite personal and haven’t found anyone who could help me with my work. So far I work alone but who knows in the future.

Who designed your front cover?

I love art so I created my own front cover with some acrylics paint and a thick notepad.

Who were the first people you showed your novel too?

My first copies were sent to my employer and my colleagues. These people mean a lot to me and I hope to receive a positive review from them soon.

Have you ever dedicated a book to someone?

My first book is dedicated to my mother who died while I was 15 years old. She was an important person in my life. She inspired me to be creative. If she were still alive she would be very proud of me.

What method do you use to market your books?

I use mainly Facebook and Twitter and I created a website so I hope I can sell my work through social media. In the near future I want to use book stores I know and hope they can help me with selling and promoting my work.

How did you deal with your first bad review?

I haven’t received it yet but I have to accept it like it or not. I have to accept all kinds of critics.

Do you use an agent?

I guess my agent would be the first publisher I used; epubli.co.uk from Germany.
I found them online but I do all the work.

How much time do you devote to marketing your books?

I check regularly on the status of my work online and resend my links to the social media groups that I am part of.

I also started a website and will use that to promote my work.

Do you ever run free book promotions? Have these worked for you?

I just started with a free book promotion. I use Amazon Kindle and use their Kindle Unlimited to promote my eBook through social media.

Do you do all your own proof reading and editing?

I did and for that reason I rewrote my last version as I found some little errors that got undetected. I hope in the future to use a few others who can edit my work and do some serious proof reading.

How and where are you publishing this book?

I published my book first with epubli GmbH (epubli.co.uk) and CreateSpace and on Kindle Direct Publishing. I use Amazon as they are the largest online bookstore. My book is available on every Amazon version there is!

What have you found are the main benefits of being an independent author?

I own all the rights of my work and I can work wherever I am I can do what I want with my book. I can sell a lot or almost nothing and I like how it’s all up to me!

What are you reading at the moment?

I’m reading a book by Lee Child, The Edge of Dick Francis on my Kindle and I am about to start reading Ullysses by James Joyce. I love to read the classics and I want to burn my fingers on this complicated book!

What was the first book you ever read?

Can’t really remember but I was then a big Star Wars fan so I read a lot of George Lucas’s work. I started late with reading but then I got hooked and from that moment I can’t go without my books! I always carry a book with me.

Who is your favourite author

I like the work of Tom Clancy, Frederick Forsyth, Ernest Hemingway, Lee Child and Emily Barr. I would say Backpack and The Beach were very important for me to write about travelling, as was On the Road.

What is your favourite book to film adaptation?

Although lots of people would say the book was better than the film I say On the Road.
The Beach was OK only the main character was changed from an Englishman to an American. Not that I have a bad word to say about Leonardo DiCaprio!

Where are your favourite places to read?

On a comfortable coach or chair and some nibbles and a drink and I can read for a very long time. On a sunny day I like to read on a bench in a park.

When you read do you prefer a book or a Kindle?

It all depends. Some of my books are on my Kindle but I love a printed version and I can read them nearly everywhere.

Thank you Hugo, do you have any tips for other people who wish to try and write a book themselves?

Just write.
Don’t always listen to people who say you can’t write. I guess the people who tell you off are the ones who have difficulties with reading / writing themselves!

When can we expect next from you?

My next book is the second book of my trilogy and I am currently working too on the third. When these two books are finished I might write about different subjects that are all based on my own experiences. It’s cool to look at my own life what I have done and to write about it.

Where can we find more about you!?

You can find my book here!
People in the UK can find it here!

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01BK7302Q

Website: http://authorhugovaes.weebly.com/

Twitter: @MrVaes69

Facebook: www.facebook.com/authorhugovaes

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