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Today we welcome Stewart Giles to Meet the Author. We’re headed to Vaal Dam in South Africa to talk about what an armadillo, skydiving, and playing a guitar mean for author Stewart Giles! Let’s go!
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a 46-year-old writer, guitar collector, sailor and skydiver, in that order. I’ve been living on the Vaal Dam in South Africa for 16 years now, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
In which genre do you write?
How many published books do you have?
Fifteen. Thirteen of which are self-published and two have been published through Joffe Books.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?
I always wrote when I was a kid, but one night my wife dropped a rather large speaker on my head, and when the feeling came back in my legs and the concussion subsided, I came up with the idea for my detective Smith books. Whether she dropped it on purpose still remains a mystery.
What is an interesting writing quirk you have, that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?
Initially, I write my books free-hand in block capitals. With whatever writing implement I can find.
What would you choose as your mascot, spirit animal, or avatar and why?
An armadillo. My favourite animal – they’re tough as nails on the outside, and soft inside.
What does your ideal writing space look like?
My writing space is full of books, guitars and good old-fashioned CD’s.
What are you currently reading?
I’m doing the Jo Nesbo marathon for the tenth time. Harry Hole is one of the reasons I picked up a pen again and I haven’t put it down since. Very inspiring.
What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?
I’m lucky to stay a stone’s throw away from a huge expanse of water, so I race sailing boats at least once a month. I’m also lucky to have one of the best dropzones on my doorstep and I love to jump out of perfectly good planes. It really is quite addictive. When I’m on terra firma, I play one of my 45 guitars.
If you could have a fantasy tea or coffee date with an author or famous person from the past or present, who would it be and what would you ask them?
It would have to be Jo Nesbo. We’d have a jam (he plays the guitar too.) And we’d drink beer.
What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through writing?
I’ve always considered myself to be very good at keeping my feelings hidden, yet I bare my heart and soul to all and sundry through writing.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve done or experienced to help create a scene or plot?
For research on my latest book, my amazing friend at the skydiving club asked me if I wanted to co-pilot as they had a light load. Going up to thirteen-thousand feet and watching the guys jump was much worse than jumping myself, and the rapid descent in the empty single turbo-prop plane meant I couldn’t hear much for a while. All in the name of research.
Do you journal write or keep a personal diary? Has this helped with your published writings? If so, how?
I don’t keep a diary, no.
What is the most amusing, crazy or inspiring thing that has ever happened to you?
I’ve been struck by lightning, bitten by a snake and been bitten by a recluse spider. The latter resulting in a lovely weekend in hospital.
But the most inspiring, with regards to my latest book was when I did my first static-line sky dive. My instructor was on hand to guide me down, and his wife was in radio contact via a VHF in my helmet. It started off well, then my instructor experienced a one in a 1000 malfunction. His main failed and I watched as he spiraled down to earth.
His wife also spotted this, and her priorities suddenly changed from guiding a bloke safely down to the drop zone to praying her husband wasn’t going to hit the ground at 120 miles an hour. I landed in a field some distance from the drop zone, had to be rescued, and I couldn’t walk properly for a while. The instructor had activated the reserve parachute and later told me it was the most fun he’d had in ages.
You are about to speak publicly to a group and read from your latest book. What song do you listen to before speaking? Or, what do you do to prepare yourself?
I’d listen to ‘Shine on you Crazy Diamond’ by Pink Floyd. Very inspiring.
What do you miss about being a kid?
Nothing. I don’t think I’ve actually grown up yet.
If you were trapped in a cartoon world from your childhood, which one would you choose and why?
I used to love Mr. Benn – he could be a different person every day then return to his normal life. I think that’s why all of us write, isn’t it?
If you could turn into one of your characters for a day, which one would it be and why, what would you do?
It would definitely be DS Jason Smith, and I doubt my wife would even notice the difference.
What’s the last movie you watched and why did you choose to watch it?
Mama Mia. Because my wife and 14 year-old daughter can be quite insistent. I read a book all the way through.
A penguin knocks on your door and is wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he there?
“Hey, Gringo. You wanna hear a joke?”
Do you believe things happen for a reason? Do you have an example from your own life to share why you believe this?
Everything happens for a reason. I owned a boat shop here in South Africa – in the quiet times I wrote, and the down turn in the economy meant there were plenty of quiet times.
I begged and pleaded agents and publishers and collected rejection letters by the bus-load. Then Jasper from Joffe Books contacted me. They wanted to publish my DS Smith series. I was over the moon, but of course it turned into another rejection. They told me the books had already had too much exposure, but would love to see something new.
I’d been in talks with an agent who told me something similar, so I wrote The Beekeeper. I sent it to Joffe Books, they published it and it hit the number 1 bestseller spot in Australia twice. Everything definitely happens for a reason.
If you could ask your pet three questions, what would they be?
Why do you dislike cats so much? Why do you turn into a hooligan when we leave the house? Can you actually see in colour?
Which of your personality traits has been most useful and why?
Stubbornness. I never give up. It helps to have a thick skin in this industry.
What’s your favorite place to visit in your country and why?
The South Coast. 100 miles south of Durban. In the winter, it get’s rather chilly here on the Highveld, and the south coast is warm, the Indian Ocean air is invigorating and it’s just serene to hear the waves crashing at night.
Describe the perfect solo date you’d take yourself on … where, time of day, weather, place, etc.
A Blues festival. Outside during the Vaal dam spring. Great music, great beer and amazing people.
Tell us about your most recent book and where we can find it.
“Dropzone” will be released 3 June 2019. It’ll be on Amazon.
“Miranda“, my first standalone Thriller has been out since March 2019.
This was fun interview to host! I laughed more than once and genuinely loved learning more about Stewart’s world. And now I’m left wondering what type of pet he has! Thank you Stewart for stopping by! –Camilla
Where to purchase “Miranda“, with “Dropzone” to be available beginning June 3 2019:
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