Fresh from events in Yemen and Cyprus, vigilante justice-seeker Claymore Straker returns to South Africa, seeking absolution for the sins of his past. Over four days, he testifies to Desmond Tutu’s newly established Truth and Reconciliation Commission, recounting the shattering events that led to his dishonorable discharge and exile, fifteen years earlier. It was 1980. The height of the Cold War. Clay is a young paratrooper in the South African Army, fighting in Angola against the Communist insurgency that threatens to topple the White Apartheid regime. On a patrol deep inside Angola, Clay, and his best friend, Eben Barstow, find themselves enmeshed in a tangled conspiracy that threatens everything they have been taught to believe about war and the sacrifices that they, and their brothers in arms, are expected to make. Witness and unwitting accomplice to an act of shocking brutality, Clay changes allegiance and finds himself labelled a deserter and accused of high treason, setting him on a journey into the dark, twisted heart of institutionalised hatred, from which no one will emerge unscathed. Exploring true events from one of the most hateful chapters in South African history, Reconciliation for the Dead is a shocking, explosive and gripping thriller from one oh the finest writers in contemporary crime fiction.
My Q&A with Paul Hardisty
Describe yourself using three words?
Intense. Honourable. Flawed.
What inspired you to write your first novel?
I have wanted to be a writer ever since I can remember. For a long time, however, fiction writing eluded me. I wanted to, but found that I hadn’t lived enough to be able to process the depth that I believe fiction requires. So I wrote non-fiction, specifically scientific papers, newspaper articles, and textbooks, all the while secretly keeping my fiction journals. My first novel was born from experiences I had while working in Yemen as the 1994 civil war broke out, which left me disillusioned and angry. Ten years later, they started coming together as a novel.
What time of day do you like to write?
I can only write fiction in the morning. I life to get up reasonably early and write until I run out of grunt, usually around one in the afternoon. By then, it’s just gone. I have worked full time until very recently, so it’s been great to be able to get up and do that most mornings, rather than just once in a while on a weekend or holiday.
What is your favourite book and why?
I think A Farewell to Arms is about the best book I’ve ever read. That and Seven Pillars of Wisdom. I like the clean, hard prose, and the desperate glory of the tales.
How did you pick the title of your book?
My new novel is called Reconciliation for the Dead. It’s the third in the Claymore Straker Series. In the book, Clay returns to South Africa to testify to Desmond Tutu’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He is seeking amnesty and absolution for his actions of fifteen years earlier, when he was as a young paratrooper in the apartheid – era South African Army, fighting the communist insurgency in Angola.
Are the characters in your book based on real people?
Only one is – one of the villains.
Do you plan your story beforehand or go with the flow?
I am an engineer by training. So I plan out the overall arc of the story from beginning to end before I start. I need to know where I am going to end up. Then I break down the story into components, which I then plan out. Then, when I am writing, I allow myself some latitude to develop the story in directions that feel natural and right, as I go.
Who is your favourite Author?
Balzac. French is my first language.
In English – Cormac McCarthy.
You are attending a dinner party with four fictitious book characters who would they be and why?
Lady Brett, from The Sun Also Rises – because I have always fantasised about meeting her.
John Grady Cole from All the Pretty Horses – my kind of guy. Brett would probably fall for him, though.
Raskolnikov – to ask him why he really did it.
Jacques Bernis from Courier Sud by Antoine de Saint Exupery – to hear what it was like to run those airmail routes from Europe down to Africa and South America during the 1920’s.
What book are you reading at the moment?
I just finished A History of Seven Killings by Marlon James.
Where in the world is your happy place?
Wherever my family is.
If you could give any literary villain a happy ending who would you chose?
Tough one. You just can’t fight destiny.
Are you working on a new project?
I just finished a collection of short stories which knits together as a novel, and am now working on the fourth book in the Claymore Straker series, called The Debased and the Faithful.
Do you have any upcoming events our members can attend?
I will be at Newcastle Noir in the UK at the end of April, and Crimefest in Bristol in May.
I will also be at Bouchercon in Toronto this October.
Purchase your copy here: Amazon UK
Huge thanks to Paul Hardisty, Karen ~ Orenda Books and Anne Cater for the honour of being on the tour!
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