Sunday, 23 October 2016

The Hippo Hands Over to . . . . Adrian Hyde

Today I'm handing over to Adrian Hyde, author of Kingmaker, a Second World War thriller which was published in September. I first saw Adrian's book when he posted about it in a Facebook group called Book Connectors and so I decided to invite him to my blog to tell you all a little bit about himself and his debut novel.

Adrian has lots to share with you so let's get started shall we?

Photo courtesy of Adrian Hyde

Adrian Hyde is a thriller writer who loves history. He was born in Derby, the son of a former soldier, and grew up on the doorstep of the beautiful Derbyshire Peak District. As a child he taught himself to touch-type on a typewriter at the dining room table, and wrote short stories to amuse himself. Educated locally in Derby and Heanor, he then gained a Politics degree from the University of Reading despite originally aiming to study history. Adrian then had a successful career in marketing and product management, mainly in heavy engineering and construction equipment companies, where he travelled extensively throughout the world and hated every minute of it.

All this was to change in 2012 when his wife was diagnosed with dementia, and Adrian became a full-time single parent and carer, however the experience spurred him on to return to writing full-time. now lives in Leicestershire with his two children and Ben the Labrador. 

On a normal day I get up at six and start my household chores before the children get up and go to school. Then I take Ben out for a walk, using the time to clear my head and get ready for writing. I try to sit down to write by 9.30 as I find this first hour is my most productive. I’ll break for lunch (and lots of tea breaks) but I keep working until I have to walk Ben again before the children come home. I put in another hour before dinner, then another hour until 11, although I sometimes work much later if I am in the “zone.”

I’m quite an organised person, but I can get distracted and often have several projects on the go at the same time. I use endless lists and project plans to try to keep track of what I am doing because without my life is just too busy at the moment. My mind is always busy, and some days I am constantly flooded with ideas for stories or poems (poetry helps me focus on emotions and the efficient use of vocabulary). I always write everything down and file it for use later, and I never get writer’s block. I hate unnecessary noise so I normally write in complete silence, away from distractions. I love observing people, and if I am watching the news I often imagine “what would happen if….,” and come up with new ideas. 

I’ve got several books on the go at the moment including the sequel to Kingmaker, as well as a contemporary thriller and I am also editing my father’s photo-memoirs of his army service. I write very quickly but then agonise over the editing until I am happy enough with the story to send it to my editor.

The key drive for my writing has been since my wife, Anna, became ill with dementia at the young age of 37. She was diagnosed with Fronto-Temporal Dementia or FTD (commonly called Pick’s Disease) – a rare condition that damages the parts of the brain controlling emotion, behaviour and speech. It’s been a tough few years, but all the way through the pain I clung on to my dream of getting my book printed as she always supported my plan. As a single-parent I now find balancing my work with my home responsibilities a challenge at times, particularly when I want to write, but my family always comes first. Sadly Anna is no longer able to live at home so I have dedicated the book to her. I think she would have been proud to finally see me in print. 

So now that you've been introduced I'm sure you want to know more about his book, Kingmaker.

Kingmaker is a WW2 thriller set in Norway during April 1940 against the true background of the German invasion. The story is about a reluctant British officer - Harry King - who is haunted by his troubled past and has slid into alcoholism as an escape. When he gets into trouble again he is sent on a seemingly easy errand and stumbles into a conspiracy that could change the course of the war. In a race across the frozen landscape he must survive against the odds and try to uncover the traitor at the heart of his world and a ghost from his shattered past.

                                         What inspired you to write your book?

I have always had an interest in military history, mainly gained from my father who served in army in the 1950’s. A few years ago there wasn’t the same interest, but the recent anniversaries have really brought it back into public interest again and I knew that there were still lots of new stories that deserved to be told. I had been toying with story ideas for a while whilst I was working, and I was briefly interested in doing a series of historical novels around the main events of World War 2, a bit like Bernard Cornwell’s superb Sharpe series.
As I read more and more about the Norway campaign I soon realised that history had overlooked it (because it was an Allied failure) but this was a fantastic story just waiting to be told. King Haakon’s escape from the German’s is one of the great stories of the war. The more I read the more I understood how certain elements could be pulled together and turned into a thriller.


                          How did you research your book before writing it?

Research is always important when writing any story, but with Kingmaker I had to do a huge amount of reading. I’ve always been interested in military history so I started by learning about the timeline, equipment, weapons and vehicles that I wanted to use. I think I must now be an expert! There are several excellent books about the invasion and the British response, and all of them left a gap for me to insert my own storyline. Obviously the internet was useful, although I had to be very careful as it can be inaccurate. I studied every map, photograph and article that I could find, and I used Google Street Map, Flickr, old weather records and even charts of the phases of the moon to help make sure that my scenes were as accurate as possible. I love the detail of the era and I tried to use that to help the story come to life. I’m a bit of a Luddite when it comes to technology but even I have to admit that modern technology and the internet means that you can have the world at the touch of your fingertips - it is almost like being there.

                                      What 10 things have you learned?

Never be afraid to follow your dream. My wife’s illness proved to me that life is too short to waste. My mantra is Carpe Diem or “Seize the day.”

The best preparation for writing is life itself. Use your experiences and understanding of people to inform your work. How can you write about human emotions if you haven’t experienced them? Everything that happens in life is for a reason, and if you write then one reason is simply to make you a better writer.

Plan everything and always a set a deadline that you MUST stick to.

Social media is a great help to me, and it is always great to meet new and interesting people. I’ve found it very useful.

A good story can be picked up and dropped into any genre or historical time period – I was even tempted at one point to rewrite Kingmaker as a science fiction story, just for fun! The key is having a believable story, and that starts with the characters.

Every story ultimately comes down to people. The more time you spend with people who are different to you the more you understand who they are and why they make decisions. I think meeting new people also makes us better writers as we need to see the good (and bad) in everyone. 

Even the most evil and repulsive antagonist in a story can have redeeming qualities. There is no point simply painting a clichéd caricature of a character as the reader will not find them believable. All characters must have something we want to find out about them.

The flip side of this, of course, is that every character must have a flaw. It’s a key part of being human. I always try to give each character a flaw and then give them the opportunity to redeem themselves. Characters must be fallible to believable. Redemption and rebirth is a key theme in all of my writing because I am an eternal optimist for the future of mankind.

Self-publishing is still changing and there are some amazing indie authors out there. Good stories are no longer under the sole control of big publishing companies. 

Writing is the most wonderful and natural occupation imaginable to me. Despite everything that has happened recently, I think I am fortunate that it has given me the opportunity to do something as wonderful as writing for a living.

                    What can you tell us about your publishing journey?

Five years ago I was at work I started to write during my lunch hour and email ideas and chapters home to work on later. When I tried to piece it all together I felt that the story just didn’t gel, so I took a few months off, read a lot of Lee Child, Dan Brown and Robert Harris books and came back to the book afresh. I completely rewrote the book from scratch, throwing most of it away. Even my hero Harry King was originally called Harry Greene! I also undertook a writing course to help hone my skills and get some feedback on my style. It really helped and I would recommend this path to anyone who wants to write. Since then my children had been teasing me because every Christmas I said I was going to have finished the book by then but I never did, so I finally decided that I had to get serious. Finishing it was such a relief! Kingmaker is just the start for me, and I want to kick-on now and write as many books as possible. If there’s one thing that I have learned over the last few years, it is that you only get one go at life so you just have to make the most of it while you can.

If you'd like to know more about Adrian and his novel Kingmaker you can use the links below:


I'd like to thank Adrian for taking the time out of his extremely busy schedule to write this and to wish him every success with Kingmaker. It's been a pleasure 😉


  1. You're very welcome Adrian and thank you for wwriting such an interesting post.