I’m very lucky to be interviewing Peri Hoskins author of the novella Millennium.
Hi Peri, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Thanks Mike. You are most welcome. I was born in Wellington. I have some Maori (Ngapuhi) ancestry on my father’s side. Otherwise my ancestry is anglo-celtic. I’m a fairly standard Kiwi mix. My family moved to Northland when I was four years old. I grew up in Whangarei and after High School left Whangarei for Auckland University where I completed a BA, majoring in English and a law degree with honours. I was mainly living in Australia between 1985 and 2005 and I completed both my degrees at the University of Sydney. I’m still single, for my sins …
Millennium is a beautiful read, quite lyrical, colourful and descriptive. Did you have to work on style or did the language seem to come naturally?
The manuscript went through numerous re-writes. That said, the short sentences and short words were there at the beginning and they were still there at the end. The language came naturally, but it needed honing and editing, so quite a lot of work went into it.
Millennium is a novella. What does that mean and why have you chosen to use this form?
It is actually a novella-length piece of creative nonfiction, although I’m always flattered when someone calls it a novel or novella. It is such hard work getting real life to read like a novel or novella. Real life is often boring and anti-climactic. The hard work I refer to is making a slice of real life funny, engaging, poignant, and interesting enough to keep the reader turning the pages. The length of the book chose itself in that the slice of life I write about was short, only a few weeks, hence there was only enough material to write a novella-length piece.
What is meant by the term creative non-fiction and how does it apply to Millennium?
Creative nonfiction means material that is factual, based in real life, that the author has enhanced with among other things, his/her observations, descriptions, humour, digressions and insights into what is going on. It is the author’s enhancements that make the piece read like a novel.
The narrator, Vince, seems quick to judge people from their expressions. Is this the barrister in the author?
Yes, quite possibly. In addition, the characters encountered in Millennium are mostly all met in a fleeting, holiday context, and not seen again. First impressions have to count in such brief, fleeting encounters.
Discuss the origins and use of the inset quotes you have chosen. They seem to have a portent larger than the story.
The quotes come from ancient Hindu scriptures originally written in Sanscrit about 3,000 years ago. All these quotes pre-date Jesus Christ and the Christian bible. The underlying theme of Millennium is the quality of time. This theme does not really feature in Western philosophy or theology, it is however central to Hinduism. I therefore put a great deal of time into researching Hindu scripture to find quotes that in some way reflect the slice of life travelogue story being told … Yes they have a portent larger than the story because all human beings are ruled by time. In this way a private story is made universal … we can all see something in it that pertains to us all …
In School, were you good at English?
Yes, I won the school prizes for English, History and Geography in my final year of High School. I therefore decided to do a BA and the law degree was an after thought, a way to make money.
What are you working on at the minute?
What’s it about?
Im working on a full length autobiographical novel ‘East’ based on the five months I spent travelling around Australia in 1994. It is a prequel to Millennium and written in a similar style. Vince is again the narrator. East, is however lighter than Millennium and it has a different tempo, a different beat. I’ve released small parts of it to give people a taste and people really like it. It is in some ways an Australian ‘On the Road’ set in 1994. In a full length novel I have the opportunity to develop characters and round them out so readers looking for a bigger, meatier version of Millennium should be happy.
Why do you write?
I feel compelled to write. Writing gives meaning to my life.
Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
I have to fit writing in around my barrister’s practice. When I have a trial on not much creative writing gets done. I generally write in the evenings and at weekends. It is difficult to write to a rigid structure because if I’m flat out doing legal work the structure goes out the window. That said, I’ve structured my legal practice with a view to allowing time to write, and that is working reasonably well.
Where do the your ideas come from?
My own life experience. I see plenty in real life worth writing about without resorting to fiction.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
My work is slice of life so there is a natural chronology to follow. Sometimes however there is a need to restructure or conflate events to make the story flow.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
Simply by living my life and being born with certain sensitivities and a certain empathy for human beings and a desire to better know the human condition.
What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
The hardest thing is actually getting the writing and editing done if I am tired or distracted and have competing priorities for my time. Being single is however an advantage.
Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?
Just write anything at all, complete rubbish if necessary, then edit the rubbish and keep editing it and suddenly the material is less rubbishy and before you know it you are through the block and writing again.
Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors.
I like Truman Capote, Jack Kerouac, Charles Bukowski, Michael Ondaatje and Jeffrey Eugenides among others. I like honesty, authors who tell it like it is. I see beauty in sparse, uncluttered writing. ‘Less is more’ definitely applies to writing.
For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books?
What book/s are you reading at present?
Nothing at present, too busy with legal work and creative writing.
Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you?
I have editors and proof readers do that for me.
Who edited your book and how did you select him/her?
My current editor is based in Tasmania and was referred to me by a friend I met on Twitter. I wanted an Australian editor because ‘East’ is all about Australia.
For Millennium, I had two editors, both women. The first editor, Leslie Rubinkowski, from the Creative Nonfiction School in Pittsburg, USA, carried out two structural edits. Leslie was allocated to me as a result of me signing on for the Creative Nonfiction mentoring program. The other editor was Jenny Argante from Tauranga. I met Jenny via the writers’ collective Oceanbooks.
Tell us about the cover/s and how it/they came about.
Martin Taylor, an Auckland – based digital publications consultant assisted with the cover of Millennium. I told him the concept and his daughter Anita Taylor came up with the design. I was happy with that and it wasn’t particularly expensive. I am yet to prepare the cover for East.
Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?
Yes, but readers need to know about the book first, that it exists and has been well reviewed by a credible objective reviewer. The biggest problem Indie authors face is getting noticed in the first place.
How are you publishing this book and why?
(*e.g. Indie, traditional or both)
Millennium was self-published. I’ve not yet committed ‘East’ to any publisher. It will probably also be self-published.
What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?
As a self-published author you retain the rights and make more money off each book sold. The downside is you have to do all the marketing yourself and arrange the production of the book and that is time-consuming. I see advantages in having a traditional publisher provided that publisher really gets behind the author both locally and internationally. That is apparently hard to find, many publishers appear to offer it and yet many authors are disappointed with outcomes.
How do you market your books?
I market via Amazon, Goodreads, the Book Depository and to Australasian bookstores via distributor Woodslane. I also market via Facebook and Twitter.
Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books?
First work hard on putting out a quality book. If the book is good, word of mouth will assist with sales. Other experienced authors say get a second book out and that will help as readers will then often buy both the first and second books.
What do you do to get book reviews?
Submit the book to professional reviewers, ask friends to read and review the book and seek reviews via a Facebook group I have joined.
Any tips on what to do and what not to do?
I have learned that not everyone out there in the world will like my work. It is better to first qualify that the person reading the book with a view to reviewing it is interested in the subject matter of the book. Millennium for example tends to appeal to those who are interested in the mind, body and spirit genre. Those people are likely to enjoy reading the book and give it a positive review.
Did you do a press release, Goodreads book launch or anything else to promote your work and did it work?
Yes, the press release for Millennium did help get radio and magazine interviews. Getting on national radio and TV is difficult, and there is no guarantee your publicist will obtain such interviews. I did not do a Goodreads book launch and the Goodreads promotion I did do had mixed results. With future Goodreads promotions I will better qualify the readers to ensure they are in fact interested in the subject matter.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Follow your heart and your dreams. Make them a priority early in life.
Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?
No, I think that covers it – All good questions thanks.
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
In terms of social media I’m most active on Facebook. Readers may friend and message me there. Millennium may be downloaded as an ebook from the Amazon link below.
Amazon Author Page:
Amazon Millennium print book:
Amazon Millennium kindle:
The Book Depository print book:
Book Links: (* American, UK, etc.)
Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.