This week I would like to welcome Matthew Hirtes, author of Going Local in Gran Canaria to The Writing World. Thank you so much for joining us. Read on to learn more about this great author:
I’m a sports writer largely turned travel scribe following my move from the UK to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria eight years ago. As well as running an English-language academy with my Canarian wife Cristina, I pen articles about the Canaries for the likes of Condé Nast Traveller and The Independent. I’m also the author of the recently-released Going Local in Gran Canaria - How to Turn a Holiday Destination into a Home.
2. What types of books do you write?
Going Local in Gran Canaria - How to Turn a Holiday Destination is my first solo effort. I previously co-authored JPM Guides This Way Gran Canaria. The two, as you can make out from the respective titles, are not dissimilar in subject matter.
3. Who's your main audience?
Discerning tourists who want to explore beyond the confines of the resort, new expats looking for a bible, and lovers of double-entendre.
4. When it comes to writing- what are your strong points? What are your weaknesses?
I research, research, and then research some more. My weaknesses are that I’m probably a bit light. I like to keep things simple whereas sometimes I could go more in depth to make the story resonate.
5. What do you think of this term- Writer's Block? How do you overcome it?
I don’t suffer from lack of inspiration or ennui. The problem with me is that I’m easily distracted. But I’m not alone. Let’s just put it this way: if Tolstoy had brought out War and Peace in the age of the Internet, it would be half as long.
6. How many books have you written?
Just the one.
7. How many are published?
8. Are you self published or traditionally published?
I’m traditionally published, although Summertime Publishing is a small press specializing in bringing out the works of expat authors. As a result, I’ve had to generate most of the publicity about Going Local myself. From securing an extract published in The Huffington Post to giving interviews on BBC radio, I’ve tried to keep the buzz going.
9. What's the hardest part of the writing process for you?
Finding the time. As well as running an academy, I’m the father to three boys. Whilst I’d like to use the occasional weekend to devote completely to writing, I’m not going to do so if it stops me taking them to the beach, football game, or park.
10. What type of books do you enjoy reading?
Literature. I’ve tried my hand at fiction. It’s as hard as it looks. Especially when you’re trying to imitate Bukowski and failing miserably.
11. Who's your favorite Author?
Some days it´s Paul Auster. Others Jose Saramago.
12. What's your all time favorite book?
Gabriel Garcia Marquez´s Chronicle of a Death Foretold. It’s a masterclass in taut storytelling. He never wastes a single word, let alone sentence.
13. How long does it take you to write a book?
Going Local in Gran Canaria took two years.
14. Out of all of your characters, which is your favorite? Why?
My son Alex. He pops up in the book at the very beginning. For he contracted leukaemia aged just eight months old and spent half a year in Great Ormond Street Hospital. That was the main reason we relocated to the Canaries.
15. What is one of the most surprising things you've learned as a writer?
That I usually find myself having to trim work rather than beef it up in terms of word count.
16. What does your family think of your writing?
My parents are very proud. My uncle declared my book “a friendly read”. A gastropub I used to frequent in the UK had a barman who always asked if you ordered a glass of wine, “Would that be a friendly glass of wine, Sir?” I’m not sure that’s what my uncle meant but as soon as he said “friendly”, I couldn’t help but think of my old friend, the barman.
17. What does your writing schedule look like?
The mornings I have free to write and catch up with general admin, afternoons I’m teaching and the evenings I can’t wait to start tapping away on my laptop after we’ve managed to get the kids down.
18. Do you manage to write every day?
Yes. Even if it resembles an unintentional homage to William Burrough’s cut-up technique.
19. What's the latest news you'd like to share?
Going Local in Gran Canaria has just been voted Book of the Week by Tripatini, “the world´s smartest travel/food social network” no less.
20. Do you have any advice for new writers?
You can lose yourself in the mist of writing. Return from the shadows by reading out what you’ve written aloud. Then you can experience what it’s like for somebody else to read your work other than yourself.
Matthew Hirtes, author of Going Local in Gran Canaria - How to Turn a Holiday Destination into a Home. Follow his continuing adventures on the island at www.matthewhirtes.com.