J; Thank you so much Lewis for being a guest on my blog.
LH; My pleasure!
J; I’d like to start by asking, have you always wanted to be a writer? And where did the idea for The Seventh Wave Trilogy come from?
LH; I fell in love with writing in the 1970s, when my English teacher, the brilliantly named Theodora Bruton told me I had a gift forstorytelling. My parents felt that this meant I daydreamed or told lies! Needless to say, Theo Bruton was right. I so wish she was alive now to read my work. (Of possible interest my old school approached me and asked me to be a writing ambassador for the current generation – I was thrilled!)
The Seventh Wave Trilogy was a real-life event. I was the duty officer at an international airport when a mysterious Bulgarian female asked to see an Interpol officer. I was the nearest we had. Over six hours she told me her story. That story formed the Seventh Wave (Terribly, as she was telling me, I couldn’t help but see a movie series…) I tracked her for a week then lost all trace of her somewhere in Thailand as contrary to what we knew she’d managed to get hold of a false passport and slipped off the radar. I have no idea where she is now but I hope she’s OK…she was the woman behind Niko Petrova.
J; How much research did you need to do before writing The Chemist?
LH; Very little. Again, the characters are all very real or based upon real people I have either worked with, followed, or taken into custody. A lot of the chemistry/toxin work was self-researched, but the more complex stuff is down to two men; Mr Brian Price, a fellow Hobeck author who has far more knowledge in the forensic space and a dear friend, Jeremy Batchelor, one of the most gifted organic chemists I’ve ever met. What he doesn’t know about making things explode isn’t worth knowing!
J; Constantin Nicolescu is probably THE most fucked up criminal in any book I’ve read, where did the original ideas for his murders come from?
LH; Thank you. I think…I’m smiling nonetheless. Constantin was mentioned by Nikolina, (she’s the mysterious Bulgarian woman), as being the cruellest man that she’d ever met. From there I just let my mind inhabit his and considered what I’d most like to do to the few enemies I have in the world. The centrepiece in the old music hall (again a very real place, you can find it on Google maps if you know where to look!) was purely my imagination.
J; Who would you like to see playing the parts of Nicolescu, Jason Roberts, Jack Cade and Carrie O’Shea ( or any other of your great characters) if The Chemist was made into a movie (I hope it is!)
LH; Ah the eternal question. Here goes, and this may surprise you. I would LOVE someone to make them into films, I am told repeatedly that the books are cinematographic which is humbling – to be told that they drew a colourful picture in the mind of a reader who has aphantasia (Google it..) was possibly my greatest achievement.
Jack. he’s the difficult one. Possibly an unknown like Daniel Craig was relatively speaking when he became Bond. Someone like a Rupert Penry-Jones with a rougher edge.
Nicolescu the same. An unknown, or someone who can really get into a character. Who knows perhaps Michael Sheen – he’s yet to put a foot wrong!
Jason Roberts – I’m smiling but you need to know the real Jason. I’d possibly go a little off-piste and choose Eddie Izzard.
Carrie. Easy. Vicky McClure (sultry, sexy, but with attitude.) I’ve thought about this. I just need Adrian from Hobeck to bribe Jed Mercurio…
Bridie would be someone like Jessica Raine.
Colin Firth would make a good JD.
J; As a child growing up, were you an avid reader or was television your thing? Do you have a favourite childhood book or television programme?
LH; Famous Five, Secret Seven that sort of thing. Adventures, for the young mind! TV was very much BBC oriented, so Blue Peter rather than Magpie and Swap Shop instead of TISWAS…
J; What is your favourite book you read in 2021?
LH; The Body – Bill Bryson. I love his style and research – humour meets science head-on. 10/10.
J; Do you have a favourite Author? Or a favourite book of all time?
LH; I love Peter James’ books – he was my early inspiration and we stay in touch now. He wrote back to me whilst in Jamaica doing some research (him, not me…) and even offered to have Seventh my first novel read by the real Roy Grace. It meant a lot. (‘Roy’ loved it..)
That said, my favourite books of all time are probably Papillon (Henri Charriere) and Birdsong (Sebastian Faulks).
J; If you could go back in time, to one historical event, to witness it, what would it be and why?
LH; Christmas Eve 1914. To witness the truce. To stand and watch my dear grandfather as a young man and to listen to him tell the tales of the Great War. I was never allowed to ask later in life when as a boy I was fascinated by his bravery. It was never mentioned again. He was one of the most highly decorated members of the Royal Tank Corps as a 26-year-old Corporal on the Western Front.
“The night wore on to dawn – a night made easier by songs from the German trenches, the pipings of piccolos and from our broad lines laughter and Christmas carols. Not a shot was fired.”
J; If you could invite four people to dinner, living or dead, who would you invite and why?
LH; My grandfather to finally listen to those tales. My Dad. I flew 10,000 miles to read my autobiography to him in a hospice in Kent (this may sound familiar if you have read The Angel of Whitehall) just so I could tell him I’d made it as an author! Something still so powerful that even typing that sentence brings a tear to my eye. For selfish reasons, Kate Beckinsale and for cinematic reasons Vicky McClure to discuss her role as Carrie. And I’d pay for my family to sit on the next table as they’ve all endured my endless book conversations…
J; If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go?
LH; I’ve been lucky to have travelled very well with work and privately. Cape Cod appeals. I flew over it after enduring a hurricane off the coast of Newfoundland once, and we nearly had to divert there. Looking down it really appealed. Or Bora Bora with Kate Beckinsale.
J; What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
LH; Never go back!
J; Do you have a hidden talent?
LH; Many. I can’t play the guitar in any key. And I’m a mimic, having turned down a fair amount of voice-over work.
J; Are you currently writing another book?
LH; I am, yes. It’s the sixth in the Jack Cade series and features three places with the same name. I have a seventh in development already which may be a standalone and will introduce a new character which I think will be a first in literature.
Then I have another which is like nothing else I’ve ever written. A love story like no other set initially in sixties London among the publishing world and the British Army. Hobeck might not find a place for it, but like all my books, it will have a twist.
In closing, I’d like to thank you for what you do for people like me Jude, for supporting me and above all reading my books. They are subjective, like people, that you enjoyed them means more than you could ever imagine.
Lewis Hastings is a pseudonym. His real name is far more, real.
Born as a product of the long, harsh and miserable winter of the early nineteen sixties in southern England he soon shot to fame for his child acting, embellishment and love of justice and propensity for injury. His catalogue of injuries and their research has actually proven to be of use, particularly when describing some of the medical events within the book. The sensation of pain, often clinically described, is based upon real-world events and countless hours in Accident and Emergency Wards. His relationships with the many nurses, doctors and specialists is acknowledged.
Above all Lewis is a passionate and caring soul who always puts the needs of others before his own, a career in law enforcement was, therefore, a logical path, having drifted helplessly on a sinking rudderless ship that saw him involved in many diverse occupations, including but not limited to selling, border security, exotic dancing, prostitution and people trafficking*.
He joined the British Police in April 1990 and was posted to an upmarket suburb of Nottingham where he learned the art of policing; investigation, intelligence and communication. Along the way, he dabbled in many varied branches of policing and worked for seven years in one of the toughest inner-city areas in Britain. Some of the key events and people are brought back to life in the early segments of the story that are set in Nottingham, again, to protect those still serving their names have been changed.
Having spent his formative years both living and working in the United Kingdom he was offered what for many would be the chance of a lifetime. Clutching his worldly goods, his family and his reputation he took the leap of faith and now lives on the other side of the world in a house, with the same wife and a lake-loving Labrador.
Having headed across the world, his law enforcement career – not unlike Jack Cade’s – would take an unexpected turn and soon he found himself building a capable and worthy team at an international border. The thirteen years that followed saw him carve out a reputation as a subject matter expert in port security, document fraud and international border intelligence, particularly the influence of travelling European criminals.
He now acts as a government liaison officer – connecting law enforcement units throughout the Five Eyes community. He hopes for the chance to meet another “Theodora” – tired, afraid but agenda-driven and with her own unique story to tell to someone prepared to listen.
He has two amazing children, one adorable granddaughter, an equally adorable grandson and a long-suffering, incredibly patient wife who meets all of the cliched aspects of a redhead.