Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Interview With Author, Hilton Hamann

Scarberryfields: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

HH: My name is Hilton Hamann. I am 54 years old. I was born in the then Rhodesia and moved to South Africa in my early school-going years. My mother was a schoolteacher, which is no doubt, where my love of writing and reading originated. After going through the normal, policeman, fireman, train-driver ambitions, at about age eight, I decided I wanted to be a journalist. I wrote my first newspaper article for a local newspaper (about school rugby matches) when I was 14 and in grade 9 – in South Africa school ends in grade 12. Through a series of fortuitous coincidences, within a couple of months I worked on weekends as one of the newspaper's sports reporters, covering all sport (not just school sport.)

I finished school in 1974 and, like all white, South African males at the time, was conscripted into the army and a couple of months later was part of the South African force that invaded Angola to counter Cuban forces in that country.

When my compulsory military service was over, I re-joined the Springs Advertiser newspaper and was quickly thrown into the thick of things (because the editor believed my military experience somehow made me most qualified) when, on 16 June 1976, South Africa effectively became embroiled in a low-level civil war that raged for the next fifteen years.

From the Springs Advertiser I moved the Johannesburg Sunday Times, the country's largest weekly where I worked the crime beat for a while then was transferred to Pretoria as Bureau Chief and Military Correspondent.

In 1986 in the midst of a declared State of Emergency and with weekly bombings, shootings, military attacks into Angola, Namibia and other surrounding states, I resigned and went freelance. I supplied copy and images, mainly covering the border wars and the township violence to a variety of news agencies around the world and to publications in 55 countries. These publications included, London Sunday Times, News of the World, Soldier of Fortune, Jane's Defence Weekly, International Defence review etc.

In 1990, I wrote a book about firearms and self-defence and, as a result of that, I spent a number of years lecturing to the staff of companies on how to protect themselves, their families and their homes. I also wrote speeches for the CEOs of many of the country's largest corporations.

In 2001 I wrote a non-fiction book called “Days of the Generals – the story of South Africa's Apartheid-era military generals” (published by Struik/Random House) that got to number five on the local best-seller list and caused enormous controversy. The book has gone on to be reprinted eight times.

This year I completed a novel titled “I can hear them singing now,” that is loosely based on some of the terrible events I covered during the 1980s.

I have been married to the same woman for 33 years, live on a small farm and have two adult sons, one of whom is currently teaching English in Korea.

Scarberryfields: Are you working on a new book at the moment?

HH: I have a completed novel that I am slowly editing but it is largely a “back-burner” project as I am concentrating on writing for and building readership of my social media blog “The Twitluddite” (www.twitluddite.com)

Scarberryfields: Where can people go to read your work?

HH: It is available on Amazon and, as soon as the Kindle Select program has run its course, will be on Smashwords as well.

Scarberryfields: Which writers inspire you?

HH: Favourite writer is Paul Theroux. Also, enjoy the work of Ken Kesey and Bill Bryson. I am now making an effort to finally finish War and Peace.

Scarberryfields: Good reviews, mixed reviews, bad reviews – what are your thoughts on each of those?

HH: Naturally, I enjoy good reviews more than bad reviews but I understand people have different outlooks and points of view. I accept bad or indifferent views are part of the game. Sometimes pissing people off means, you are doing your job.

Scarberryfields: If you review other indie writers’ books, what is your approach to reviewing those?

HH: I understand what it takes to write a book, so unless the work is absolutely terrible (in which case I prefer to say nothing) I always try to be kind and fair, yet honest, as I don't want to mislead the readers of the review. I understand that something I hate may be loved by millions of others and vice versa.

Scarberryfields: If you work for a living, how do you find time to write?

HH: I write for a living although I do a bit of consulting and pro photography as well.

Scarberryfields: Do you feel that promoting your books on Twitter is beneficial?

HH: If I am absolutely honest, my experience (other people's may be different) is, it is not particularly beneficial and does not produce sales. In many ways, it is a case of “singing to the choir” – a lot of indie authors urging other authors to buy their books something I believe few, if any do. I think authors may enjoy more success using Twitter to direct followers to their websites, or better still, blogs and to use those as vehicle to build email lists, newsletters, reader discussion forums, loyal readers etc., to market their books. Hey! What do I know?

Scarberryfields: Thank you so much, Hilton for answering my questions. You have lived a very interesting life and I have enjoyed learning more about you. You’re a pleasure to tweet with and I’m very happy for your success.


  1. Another Great Interview. Best wishes to you both, Hilton and Rebecca ƸӜƷ

  2. Thank you, MG. Yes, Hilton is a very interesting author. So happy I did this interview.

  3. Interesting books, Hilton -- I'll have to head on over to your blog and also check out your books. I've just been waiting for one of my novels to finish up with Kindle Select. Did you realize they go from that program to unpublished? I didn't, so Snocross went a few days not for sale at all. I've found Smashwords a very good service and steady sales.