Derek Haines Teacher, Writer, Blogger

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Every now and again you come across a book that really affects you. Louis is one of them that really got to me. Here’s what I said back in 2012 in my review:

on March 2, 2012

Take a child of mixed race born in the early twentieth century and give him over to a woman, not his birth mother, to bring up. Then when he is twelve, send him away from his home country to a boarding school in England, then on to Oxford University. What do you get from this far from unsatisfactory beginning – Derek Haines’ hero Louis, an intelligence officer in the employ of the British government?

Half Egyptian, half English, fluent in many languages and adept at his job, we follow Louis through his many guises and name changes, a requirement for his own protection in the nineteen twenties and thirties, and more particularly so, through the second world war.

In short, Derek has written a beauty here. If you love history as I do, especially if you love twentieth century history, then with the shadowy world of espionage thrown into the mix for good measure, you will enjoy following Louis’ journey through his life as I did.

Should I wax lyrical about the story at this point, I would be giving away a truly brilliant read. Suffice to say, if you don’t feel you have read a great tale told well when you reach the last page, then quite frankly you seriously need help.

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Needless to say it had its fair share of snarky reviews by total idiots who think they know how to write. One individual declared that the book was too difficult for them read. You should not be surprised by that admission. Reading anything more complex than say Dr Seuss’ Cat In the Hat, is a phenomena all too common these days among those with a limited education and therefore a lack of appreciation for the richness of the English language, let alone its nuances…

Why do we bother to write?

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It’s a damned good question – why indeed?

Writing is a thankless task. To begin with it helps if you have masochistic tendencies. Without a doubt it has to be one of the most disheartening things to engage yourself in these days. Right from the start everything is stacked against you. From the assortment of literary critics, conventional publishing’s gatekeepers and literary agents, not forgetting the trolls, all of them only too happy to trash the product of all your hard work – which is why so many of us prefer to self-publish. But even going down that route has its drawbacks. Then there is the fact that unfortunately we’re living in an era when the majority of the population these days struggle to read anything longer than a tweet. Before you start screaming at me, yes I can hear your hackles rising from here over that last sentence. But whether you like it or not its a fact! How many of you will actually bother to read the rest of this post – maybe a half dozen?

These days authors whose books are read in large numbers (over two hundred thousand) are few and far between – fact!!

Until someone actually dares to tell us to stop writing, not that we’ll take any notice, because we’re masochistic remember; we will persist because we love the written word and what we do. The fact that the product of all our hard work will be lucky if maybe half a dozen copies are bought, no matter how aggressive the marketing, before it rapidly disappears from the public view into the slush pile, particularly on Amazon, is something else to consider.

These days the only way to shift numbers of your latest work is to endlessly give them away. Does that guarantee sales? No! Does it mean that the free copies will be read, let alone reviewed? No!

Even going to the trouble to give the public the chance to sample your book(s), by giving them the opportunity to read the first few chapters using Free Book Preview on Kindle, does not mean that they will bother. I offer this service from time to time on my Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and Facebook pages. But like I said earlier, anything longer that a tweet won’t necessarily be read.

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I stated the following on my Facebook page the other day – “Now that ‘Race Against Time’ is out there, I’m back reading through both ‘Fingerprints of the Gods’ and ‘Magicians of the Gods’ by Graham Hancock, looking for the subject for my next novel, having abandoned the idea of writing about my favourite sixteenth century artist, and all round bad boy, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio.”

So I have a hell of a lot of reading to do over the next few months while the rest of you are texting each other, taking selfies, or playing games on your Smart Phones, anything but actually reading a book!!!

😉