Short, Sharp Interview: H J Hampson

PDB: Can you pitch The Vanity Game in 25 words or less?
Beaumont Alexander, a vain Premiership footballer, has everything, but an incident at a celeb party leads to his life spiraling horribly out of control.
PDB: Which books, films or television shows have floated your boat recently?
I read Megan Abbott’s The End of Everything while I was on holiday and really enjoyed that – I love her style of writing.
In terms of TV – Homeland. I thought it was an excellent series, really well paced, great plot. You just don’t get TV like that in the UK.
The last film I saw at the cinema was This Must Be The Place. I can’t say it was particularly good (which was a shame because the director, Paolo Sorrentino’s earlier film, The Consequences of Love, is absolutely brilliant), but I have a soft spot for old rockers so I loved Sean Penn’s character, and it does have Francis McDormand in which is always a plus.
The last really good film I watched was Cristian Mungui’s Four Months, Three Weeks and Two Days.It’s about a Romanian woman having an illegal abortion, so not exactly lightweight, but dark, intelligent, shocking, occasionally humorous, occasionally uncomfortable – just brilliant.
PDB: Is it possible for a writer to be an objective reader?
I think if you are reading a really good novel, then yes it is, as you can still get lost in the story  – if the characters really come alive, I don’t analyse the writing at all, I just let them get on with it. 
However, personally, I do feel that it’s hard to be objective about badly written fiction. Maybe it’s the sense of injustice – when you see stuff like Stieg Larsson doing well, even though his writing is as clunky as a stuttering freight train, when there are so many brilliant writers who are struggling to be heard. 
Not that I am jealous of whoever is making all that money from his posthumous zillion-sales success or anything.
PDB: Do you have any interest in writing for films, theatre or television?
Yes! I am currently doing an MA in screenwriting.  I don’t really write for TV though. I find I can’t think in terms of episodes, but think more in terms of the big story, so I only really write film… though I am aware that writing spec scripts is probably as futile a pursuit as promoting communism amongst bankers.
PDB: How much research goes into each book?
Well, The Vanity Gamewas fairly easy to research because it’s about a footballer and his girlfriend. My old housemate used to buy quite a lot of those trashy celebrity magazines – they were excellent for research purposes! Other than that, I used luxury goods websites, fashion websites, sports car websites – it was quite a fun book to research!
The novel I have just finished is very different – it is set in the late 1990s so that required much more research. It’s so important to create a believable world for your characters, so research is important, especially if you are setting things historically.
PDB: How useful or important is social media for you as a writer?
Invaluable! As The VanityGame is only coming out as an e-book all the promotion is online.  Blasted Heath have got me blogging ( and tweeting (@monty9alexander) as the protagonist, Beaumont Alexander… I’m finding it worryingly easy to tweet as a footballer.
There is also a really supportive community of crime readers and writers online who are a great help too.
PDB: What’s on the cards in 2012?
I have just sent my second novel to my agent, so fingers crossed on that! I’m contemplating writing a ‘quasi-sequel’ to The Vanity Game, but at the moment I am concentrating on my MA dissertation – a comedy road movie script. 

Published by PaulDBrazill

A writerand teacher, from England and living in Poland.

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