Great to welcome Paul Hardisty to the blog today. I recently read his new novel, Reconciliation for the Dead, and absolutely loved it despite the harrowing nature of the story and the troubled time in history it focuses on. It is the third in the Claymore Straker series and I am yet to read the first two but I don’t think this in any way detracted from reading this novel. The writing is beautiful, the story compelling and the insights into human nature, both good and bad, moving and mature.
You can get a copy of Reconciliation for the Dead through numerous retailers detailed on the Orenda Books website and I really can’t say strongly enough that you should go get one right now! This is an outstanding book and definitely one of the best I’ve read this year so far.
Paul, the layers of complexity in your main character, Claymore, are deftly handled with his vulnerability, the conflicts in his mind between duty and his moral code, his confusion and questioning of himself and those around him, making him jump off the page. Can you give an insight as to how you got to know him so well.
I have been thinking about this character for over 15 years. I started The Abrupt Physics of Dying, where Claymore Straker first appears, ten years before it was published. So I had a pretty complete view of his past and what drove him. In many ways, it is a past that I may have had. When I was a young man I came very close to going to South Africa to join up to fight the communists. It is only a twist of fate that I didn’t. So in many ways it is an imagined parallel life, and one I am very glad I didn’t chose.
The questions the book raises around ethnicity, racism, culture, and sexism, were for me answered by a message of ultimate togetherness, that we are all the same. Your book is set quite a way in the past yet it seems that these issues are still very much at the forefront today is that something you set out to highlight when writing it?
I want to write entertaining books. Stories that will keep the reader guessing and engaged right to the end. But, more importantly, I want to explore issues that are important to me. And the most important, is that we understand that we all have a hell of a lot more in common than not, and that we need to focus not on the small things that separate us, but on the big things we all agree on. Hopefully, that message on those themes are not obtrusive, but come to you through the reading, as an after-effect of reading what I hope is a great story.
Is learning from the past, or not, a theme that runs throughout the Claymore Striker series? What inspires you to explore this theme?
I have always loved history. And while the Claymore Straker books take place in the very near past (The Abrupt Physics of Dying during the 1994 civil war in Yemen; The Evolution of Fear in Cyprus and Istanbul in 1995/1996; and Reconciliation for the Dead in 1980-82 South Africa, Mozambique, and Angola), they are relevant now. Time goes on, but human nature has changed little since Hadrian built his wall. Never have the lessons of the past been more relevant than now, on a planet teeming with over 7 billion people (and more on the way), armed with nuclear weapons, moving a breakneck technological speed, with a fraying environment, but seemingly without much progress in the way of wisdom.
Will there be another in the series? And if so, can you tell us anything about it yet?
I am writing the fourth book in the Claymore Straker series now, and just spent 3 weeks in the Middle East doing additional research for the book (including a week long martial arts training camp in Israel with ex IDF special forces instructors). It is set in Zanzibar, Somalia, and Egypt, and follows the events of the first two books. The working title is The Debased and the Faithful, and we hope to have it ready for readers next year.
About the author: Paul E Hardisty has worked all over the world as an engineer and environmental scientist. His first book, The Abrupt Physics of Dying, set in Yemen during the 1994 civil war, was a London Telegraph thriller of the year, and was short-listed for the CWA Creasy Dagger Award. Reconciliation for the Dead, his third novel, has just been released by Orenda Books, and one critic has already called it “one of the most important books of 2017”. Paul is a martial artist, triathlete, pilot, conservation volunteer and university professor. He lives in Western Australia with his family.
Many thanks for coming, Paul, and sharing your thoughts on writing and the human journey. I shall be reading the first two in the series while I wait for the next.