What is your favourite quote, by whom, and why?
The quote below is from the Book Earth, by Frank Townshend, George Allen & Unwin, 1929.
The reason it is my favourite quote is that it reinforces my perception that there is dignity in difference and that we need differences to inform and enrich life. The tendency for people to think that “if you’re not like me then there’s something wrong with you”; or that “if I can’t aspire to be the same as you if I choose then there’s something wrong with the system” is pure foolishness. Gender, race, religion, why does everything have to be the same? Why do some black people aspire to be black white people? Why do some women aspire to be female men? Why do some Muslim extremists believe that they have a duty to Islamise the entire planet? It may be politically incorrect for me to say this, but it seems to me to be just plain foolishness. Personally, I place a high value on individuality and differentiation.
I would have difficulty in feeling the same degree of tenderness and love towards my wife of 42 years if she was possessed of the killer instinct that she would need to have in order to succeed in a dog-eat-dog world. Could she succeed? Of course she could! It’s not a function of her ability. If anything, she is more capable than I am. But if both spouses in a marriage have a killer instinct, then what’s the probability of their nuclear family surviving for long enough to impart the same values to their children that Denise’s and my parents passed down to us?
Well, maybe the answer is for the woman to be the breadwinner and the man to be the house-husband. But then we might have to produce babies in test tubes – which would sort of spit in the face of Nature, would it not? Should there be a law against any of these foolish aspirations? Of course not! Provided it doesn’t cause tangible harm to others. We certainly can’t allow people to go around blowing themselves up along with innocent bystanders. But what is likely to be the result of unfettered “human rights” is that there will be less than optimal happiness. There is balance in Nature. If you want to buck Nature then be prepared to pay the cost. You want to see the cost of screwing with Nature? Just read and/or watch and/or listen to your daily media. What proportion of the daily news is “good” news? Isn’t it time we faced reality?
“Of the three main currents of life, I observed
Energy, from the West;
Wisdom from the East;
Rhythm, from the South.
And all of these shall run together to inform life.
For energy without wisdom is blind;
Nor can they act effectively together,
Out of rhythm with the earth.”
What makes you happiest?
Hearing my grandchildren laugh with delight or watching a pod of dolphins cavorting in the waves.
What are you most proud of in your personal life?
I have an ability to sublimate my ego when a disagreement is not objectively important.
What do you hope your obituary will say about you?
Rest in Peace. I’ll be dead. Who cares?
Is your family supportive? Do your friends support you?
I think my family is happy to see me occupied – the devil makes work for idle hands. It’s more that they tolerate what I do than that they support what I do, and they say nice supportive things on cue. My friends are polite but don’t really identify with my writing. They listen politely to what I say about my writing and then the conversation moves on to more superficial matters, such as answering questions in the Sunday paper quiz; or discussing a forthcoming holiday. My golfing buddies have no interest in my writing. Telling old jokes amongst the guys at the golf club builds camaraderie, which is a different way of nurturing my soul. Support comes in different forms.
What other jobs have you had in your life?
My initial training was in South Africa on the stock market as an analyst and portfolio manager. (2 years) Then I became a strategic planning officer for a large furniture conglomerate. (2 years) Then I bought an insolvent decorative castings factory which I turned around and ran for twelve years, finally diversifying into furniture manufacture. Along the way, I started writing a newspaper column and was then invited by a leading firm of stockbrokers to write a twice monthly analysis of interest rate movements for their clients. In 1987, my family and I migrated to Australia, where I joined Citicorp in its Venture Capital division. I worked there for nearly five years and then took on agencies to represent Australian health and environment management technology manufacturers in Latin America. After 5 years of that I decided that neither the travelling nor dealing with corruption were worth the effort and I became a strategic adviser to Australian based high growth businesses; mainly in the IT industry. For the seven years immediately preceding my retirement I offered the same strategic advisory service, but specialising in the retail fast food franchising area.
If you could study any subject at University, what would you pick?
I’ve always admired the ability of engineers to calculate the capacity of human designs to do what they were designed to do. I suppose that would cover subjects like architecture, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, hydraulics, robotics and others. But maybe I could find one subject that would enable me to learn some principles that could be generally applied. Of course, this assumes that I have the necessary ability, which I probably don’t.
Where do you get your support from? Do you have friends in the industry?
When it comes to the publishing industry, I have had no meaningful support and I learned quickly that the industry as a whole is largely dysfunctional. I spent many months trying to find a literary agent before I realised that those guys are so inundated with opportunity that there’s no way they can cope. For example, I came across one literary agency whose website had been operating for only a couple of weeks. During that period they had over 50,000 visits. The staff of that organisation was maybe 8 people. If (say) 5 of them were 100% dedicated to examining opportunities, they would each have 10,000 applications to process over, say, 30 days. That’s something like 170 author enquiries they would have to process every hour. Eventually I came to understand that the book industry is all about networking. The way I finally cracked it was I went to a mate of mine who is an accountant and asked him if he had any publisher clients. It turned out he had one and he got me through the door. The owner of that business charged me for her time to mentor me in creative writing and to edit Beyond Neanderthal, my first book. I paid for everything and the total cost all up – including printing – was well over $20,000.
Fortunately, because I had a wide following of readers of my blogs, I managed to recoup more than that from book sales. But the exercise taught me that the industry as a whole is out of control. It’s a matter of pure luck if you can find an agent who, in turn, will represent you to publishers. From another perspective, I happen to have a friend who is well connected in Hollywood. The same situation applies there: They are drowning in opportunities. The magic words my friend would have had to have used would have been: “This book has sold a gazillion copies. Maybe you should look at it.” That’s the only way they will focus if you’re not in their daily orbit.
So, the bottom line is that most writers will need to draw on their own internal emotional reserves and strength of character for support. They will have to face the prospect of self publication and self promotion, and most will eventually come to understand that the internet is the way to go if you don’t have a personal network. I found a bunch of names of book reviewers and book publicists on Twitter and I contacted a few, and that’s how I got going. Even that only happened by accident because I didn’t know where to look or even what questions to ask.
Even though I nominally had publishers, my books had been on Amazon for some time without any reviews at all. Eventually, Amazon emailed me to ask why I had no reviews. I told them I didn’t know how. They said: “We offer that as a service (for which we charge). Leave it to us”. When the reviews came in it seemed to me that the books would be well received so I got off my backside. No professional in the industry up to that time had explained to me the relevance of reviews or how to get them – not even the publishers who were supposed to be publishing the books. Now I am beginning to understand that if I want my books to sell I have to put in the energy myself. I can’t rely on support from anyone. But with the “rave” reviews I have received so far – from total strangers who have never heard of me – I’m encouraged to give it my best shot.
How do write – laptop, pen, paper, in bed, at desk?
When I start a book, I use a novel writing software program to dump ideas in various locations and to build character identities. I do this sitting at my PC on my desk and it’s usually between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm. As things progress and the story begins to take shape, I become less formal. I jettison the program and begin to write whenever the ideas are flowing – but always at my desk. I can’t work anywhere but at a desk. The main reason is that I work in bursts. After about an hour, in order to rest my mind, I switch to the internet or I check my emails. Then, after another passage of time, I’ll get back to writing. It could be anything from a few minutes to a couple of hours. I’ll ping-pong like that until I’m satisfied that I’ve justified my writing obligations for the day; which I normally measure in chapter chunks ¼ , ½ etc. It doesn’t matter the time. It could take 2 hours or 12 hours. I’ll chuck it in when I’m satisfied that I made progress on that day. Sometimes I’ll work late into the night, but Denise is underwhelmed when that happens, so it doesn’t happen often.
It is vital to get exposure and target the right readers for your writing, tell us about your marketing campaign?
This is an extraordinarily important question. I happen to be very well known in the “gold” and “economics” related blogosphere. There are probably a couple of hundred thousand people out there who have heard of me. When I launched The Last Finesse I set it up so that my blogs on other people’s websites would drive people interested in my books to my website and I set up the website to capture statistics like visitors, views per page, subject matter interest. (As an aside I discovered that most visitors wanted to find out “What caused the Global Financial Crisis”, because I have a specific high profile blog on that subject, which appears only on my website). For months I was having spectacular success because over 50,000 “qualified” people – people who were interested in the books to start with – came to the site. But I became concerned when the visitors stopped short of actually buying. Then I came to understand that I had not defined my target market tightly enough.
My books are targeted at thinking readers of novels who are concerned about where humanity may be headed and who would like to see a change in the way society organises itself. I eventually discovered that the visitors to my website – because they were being driven by my analytical blogs – were coming to the website to access my research. They are typically not interested in reading novels. They want non-fiction. Also, because the visitors to the site are typically high net worth individuals, they are typically in an age bracket that is not comfortable with smart phones and tablets. They prefer to read paper books. That’s when I switched my strategy to emphasise my target as being people who are predisposed to read novels. My blog content will need to change to accommodate a different mindset.
My strategy will be to use Twitter, 3rd party book and/or social commentary oriented blogs and direct mail via emailing lists. My publisher has been trying to convince me to go the route of media releases but I understand the difference between “brand awareness” and “call to action” advertising. I have no interest focussing a large proportion of my mind space on creating an awareness of my books. To me, an e-book is an impulse sale item. It seems highly unlikely that anyone – at this stage – will want to specifically come looking for my books. On the other hand, if/when they do become interested I want them to be able to buy the book there and then. If that creates a head of steam in sales, then I will switch my attention to creating brand awareness. When people in my target market start to talk about my books, that’s when I’ll change gears in my thinking. At that point I’ll probably go to Print – On - Demand (POD) and start dishing out copies to book reviewers in the mainstream media; and I’ll keep emphasising my target market. Until then, I will rely mainly on the internet and on the concept of viral marketing. At the end of the day, readers in my target market in general will either think my books are exceptional or they won’t. So far, most who have reviewed the books think they are exceptional. I think they’re exceptional. None of that counts. What counts is what does “the market” think? To get an answer to that I have to be in the market’s face. I need dozens of reviews and I need to reach maybe half a million potentially interested readers who can be broadly described as “thinking” people. In short, this is the marketing message:
“If you’re a thinking person who has only a vague understanding of scientific and economic matters, and/or of the “other” Abrahamic religions – and you are concerned about the future of society – then read Beyond Neanderthal and The Last Finesse. You will be educated whilst you are being entertained and having fun. As you progress through the storylines, you will come to understand whatever you need to understand about nuclear energy, climate change, over-unity electromagnetic energy, Islamic fundamentalism, central banking and the banksters, the origins of the Clash of Civilisations and the similarities between all the world’s great religions. You will also come to understand that there are solutions to all these problems and that the missing element is “ethics”. And what might we do about that? Well, read Beyond Neanderthal and The Last Finesse and it will start you thinking more positively about the future.”
In my view, this message will resonate with people in the target market.
How much sleep do you need to be your best?
At least seven hours a night, preferably eight.
How do you think people perceive writers?
The question is too general. Some people who have no idea of what’s involved just assume that if you’re a published author then you must be a genius. Others, who have some understanding, generally perceive writers to be impractical dreamers – unless you are patently successful, in which case they tend to be loudly proud to count you amongst their close friends. Others who are mildly interested, will assume that you’re either a failure or a pedestrian success because your book hasn’t hit the best seller list, and they will stop asking how you’re doing so as not to embarrass you.
Is there anyone you’d like to acknowledge and thank you their support?
12 years ago, I was introduced to Steve Kurtz by a mutual friend. Steve has a deep interest in philosophical matters and was once an associate member of the Club of Rome, a global think tank. He reads voraciously and copies me with articles that he thinks might be of interest. We have a mutual interest in population overshoot, resource depletion, energy, ethics and various other matters that will likely impact on the future of civilisation. There’s a lot we don’t agree on but that is an advantage from my perspective because Steve forces me to be absolutely clear in my thinking. 5 years ago, arising from one of my blogs that I had been writing since 2002, I was contacted by a reader, Anselmo Pedroni with whom I formed a friendly relationship based on an exchange of views in our various fields of expertise. Within his field of expertise Anselmo was a world renowned physicist, Geo- and Cosmo-chemist but he had to retire for health reasons. He has been mentoring me on the science that underlies climate change and energy and various other physics based subjects in my novels. I would like to thank both Steve and Anselmo, and also my wife Denise, who has been extremely supportive of me as an individual, and who has educated me in matters spiritual for over 40 years.
There is an energy force in the world—known to the Ancients—that has largely escaped the interest of the modern day world. Why? There are allusions to this energy in the Chinese I-Ching, in the Hebrew Torah, in the Christian Bible, in the Hindu Sanskrit Ramayana and in the Muslim Holy Qur'an. Its force is strongest within the Earth's magnetic triangles.
Near one of these--the Bermuda Triangle--circumstances bring together four very different people. Patrick Gallagher is a mining engineer searching for a viable alternative to fossil fuels; Tara Geoffrey, an airline pilot on holidays in the Caribbean; Yehuda Rosenberg, a physicist preoccupied with ancient history; and Mehmet Kuhl, a minerals broker, a Sufi Muslim with an unusual past. Can they unravel the secrets of the Ancients that may also hold the answer to the future of civilization?
About the Author:
In 1987, Brian and his young family migrated from South Africa to Australia where he was employed in Citicorp’s Venture Capital division. He was expecting that Natural Gas would become the world’s next energy paradigm but, surprisingly, it was slow in coming. He then became conscious of the raw power of self-serving vested interests to trump what – from an ethical perspective – should have been society’s greater interests.
Eventually, in 2005, with encouragement from his long suffering wife, Denise, he decided to do something about what he was witnessing: Beyond Neanderthal was the result; The Last Finesse is the prequel.
The Last Finesse is Brian’s second factional novel. Both were written for the simultaneous entertainment and invigoration of the thinking element of society. It is a prequel to Beyond Neanderthal, which takes a visionary view of humanity’s future, provided we can sublimate our Neanderthal drive to entrench pecking orders in society. The Last Finesse is more “now” oriented. Together, these two books reflect a holistic, right brain/left brain view of the challenges faced by humanity; and how we might meet them. All our problems – including the mountain of debt that casts its shadow over the world’s wallowing economy – are soluble.
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Genre – Thriller
Rating – MA (15+)
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