The John Hayes Thrillers As he releases his third novel, author Mark David Abbott talks with Nicole Cooley about the transition from real estate to writing something I listen to otherwise, but I find that style of music really helps me immerse myself in a flow state. I write in 25 minute bursts, then take a five minute break. I aim for a minimum of 1,500 words a day. My record is 6,500 words in a day but it’s surprisingly draining and I was wiped out the next day. Many writers like to work from coffee shops but I find that too distracting. I did write a chapter in the Plaza in Discovery Bay once but it soon got too hot and I retreated indoors.
How much is based on your own experiences? The John Hayes Thrillers (3 books)
So what are the stories about? The John Hayes Thrillers follow an ordinary man who gets thrown into extraordinary situations. From a happy life as an expat posted to Bangalore in India, his life gets torn apart by a tragic event and the books follow him as he strives to put his life back together, to find justice and to try to regain the happiness he lost. The second book A Million Reasons is set entirely in Hong Kong and features many locations that readers will be familiar with.
Where did the inspiration come from? Thrillers are my preferred reading genre and in most thrillers the hero invariably has an ex-military or espionage background, or is a detective. When reading I always pictured what I would do in a similar situation. A person with no specialist training or skills, no contacts to call on for phone taps or drone strikes, just an ordinary person. So I thought I would write a series based on a person like that, and John Hayes was born. It’s a lot of fun because I can live vicariously through him.
Tell us a bit about yourself? I’m a gypsy. I was born in Cyprus to a New Zealand mother and an Indian born English father. I grew up in New Zealand and consider myself a Kiwi, although I have now spent more time living outside New Zealand than in it. I first came to Hong Kong back in 1996 to work for a New Zealand real estate company. I spent almost seven years here that time and then 16 expat-parent.com
returned to Hong Kong in 2016 to work for an Australian property company.
How did you get into writing? I dabbled in writing a little over the years, trying my hand at a travel blog whose only reader was my Mum. I also wrote a few articles for a New Zealand trail running magazine, and even had a travel article published in the South China Morning Post. It was last year when I finally decided to leave the corporate world behind and write seriously. It took me six months to write the first book Vengeance which I published in July 2018.
What’s been your favourite part about writing books? I love the freedom to create, to give free rein to my fertile imagination. Every day is different. When I was working in an office, the monotony of emails and phone calls sucked the life out of me. Now I get to sit down and create characters and worlds in my own time and if I get stuck I go for a run, or meet friends for a coffee, while my subconscious works on the story in the background. Then when I get the finished book in my hand, a paperback with my name on it, and I can look at it and think, I created this - that is immensely satisfying.
I draw on my own experiences for some things, like places I’ve been or things I have seen, but the stories are all from my imagination. I feel as a writer, one should always be observing, whether it’s surroundings or people’s reactions. It all gets filed away in the subconscious to be downloaded later onto the page whenever needed.
You’re on a roll - three books in a year! Are there more stories to follow? I’m currently working on the fourth book in the series, to be released towards the end of July. The seeds of book five are already beginning to germinate in the back of my brain. One or two of the characters in the earlier books really grew on me and I would like to expand them into stories of their own.
The John Hayes Thrillers are available through all major online retailers, Amazon or The Book Depository. markdavidabbott.com
Where do you write? I write at home when I’m in Hong Kong. I sit at the dining table where I have a view across the harbour towards Hong Kong and Kowloon. I listen to deep house when writing, not
Mark David Abbott, the author