It's time for another interview, and today's guest is South African thriller novelist Dave Harvey.
PB: Hi Dave! Welcome to pjbermanbooks.com. Tell us a bit about your background.
DH: I was born in Johannesburg and lived there until I turned 8 or 9 and my parents emigrated to what was then Northern Rhodesia. My next ten years were spent growing up on a farm, literally carved out of the bush. It was a world of adventure, long walks in the forest with our two dogs and making sure to avoid the large, poisonous snakes that were a significant hazard of the area.
When Northern Rhodesia became Zambia, we moved to what was then Southern Rhodesia and I finished high school, spent three years at Rhodes University in Grahamstown and finished that, just in time to begin my entry as a National Serviceman, into the complexities of the bush war raging, at the stage, on the borders.
My initial 9 months eventually dragged out to 5 years and as Rhodesia became Zimbabwe, I emigrated back to South Africa and I have lived in various parts of the country ever since.
PB: What made you decide to become an author?
DH: In 2005, a life-changing event occurred in my life which turned my entire world upside down. Ten years later, still battling with the mental scars, I thought about a book that chronicled the events as they unfolded and what might have led to the decisions that were made, as a means of catharsis. It took me about two weeks to realise that no-one would be interested.
I used to (still do) take long walks with our dogs around the mountains of Cape Town, where I live, seeking literary inspiration, whenever I had the opportunity. It was on one of these soul-searching walks that the idea of writing a novel instead, surfaced. I would become one of the characters and let my story gradually unfold like that. Which is exactly what transpired.
PB: I certainly agree that dog walks in the countryside can be fantastic for inspiration. When did you first start writing?
DH: My background research took approximately two years. My very first saved draft chapter was 14 June 2014.
PB: What was the first story that you can remember writing?
DH: The first book of my first trilogy, the When the Sun Blinked series.
PB: When you begin writing a new story, do you always know the ending?
DH: Never. Somehow, the story evolves with the flow of the book. The only one that I did plan, was the ending for Retribution Book 6 as it was the final of the series.
PB: If you could meet any of your characters, who would you meet, and what would you say to them?
DH: Funnily enough, one of my main characters in the When the Sun Blinked series is named Andrew O’Brien. The character himself is someone, only with a different name, that I met during our first three months of training during the Rhodesian war. So I had already met him. I think if I met him as I do in the book, I would say to him … ‘So that’s what happened to you after our war.’
PB: That's an awesome story! Tell us about the series.
DH: Cape Town, South Africa, for all its natural beauty is tragically, amongst the most dangerous cities in the world crime-wise, for many reasons, some of which go back a long way. We as a country, in the last twelve years, have additionally gone through some terrible times, particularly in terms of blatant corruption, fraud and theft which decimated the South African economy.
Several well-connected families played a major role in this, relying on their corrupted networks into law-enforcement as well as prominent political figures.
Using that reality as my starting point, I created a fictional drug cartel who operate from Camps Bay, a suburb of Cape Town and use the same methodologies and connections to protect them but distribute cocaine instead.
They come into conflict with a ‘family’ of three who have opened their business in Hout Bay, a small fishing village, a short distance from Camps Bay, which is the renovation of specific vehicle types. These three, have spent their lives living between South Africa and America. The two males, between them, have eighteen years of military experience spent in Iraq and Afghanistan.
As early believers in the future of Bitcoin, they amassed a fortune and use some of their wealth to build their business and lifestyles. Unfortunately, the drug cartel somehow concludes that they are also drug dealers and therefore a threat, based on the belief that anyone with that kind of money can only be drug dealers.
First, the cartel takes aim at them through extortion. Then they begin the harassment and then it becomes personal.
Which turns out to be a serious error of judgement. Because that’s was when Retribution followed.
PB: Where did the idea come from?
DH: From a random 'What if?' thought.
In the mountains overlooking Simon’s Town on the Atlantic Seaboard, approximately thirty kilometres from Cape Town. I would drive across to Simon’s Town as often as I could, to hike around the mountains overlooking False Bay and the town itself, which grew around the Naval Base.
It was on one of those walks, staring at False Bay from the top of a mountain overlooking Simon’s Town, that a seed was planted in my mind. Over the next eighteen months, the seed become a tree, watered and mulched and cared for weekly. Copious notes were jotted down on post-it notes and my phone.
Gradually the idea blossomed, the tree grew fruit and one day, the penny dropped. Also sprinkled in my later thought processes were the seeds of the Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 which disappeared on 08 March 2014. My thoughts turned to 'What if?'.
What if an aircraft coming in to land at Cape Town International Airport disappeared from both radar and visual confirmation and was never seen again? What if it was searched for and nothing was ever found? What if it wasn’t the only aircraft to disappear at the same time?
All of the above provided rich inspiration for the first book, When the Sun Blinked Book 1 – Search for the Truth. The backdrop of Simons Town, its numerous different beaches and coves were my research. Walking through the mountains, as some of my characters in the book do, I could see and get a feel for what they would experience. Albeit, just in a different time zone though.
PB: Of all your achievements, which are you most proud of?
DH: My two sons. They went through a massive upheaval in their lives and emerged stronger. They are amazing boys. Well, men now.
PB: I hope I can say something similar when my daughter grows up. What is your favourite book series to read and why?
DH: The Lucas Davenport Series by John Sandford. He, John Sandford has a way of bringing such amazing life into his characters. You live the books through them.
PB: What are your long term ambitions with regards to writing?
DH: To slowly (well hopefully build more momentum as fast as I can!) get my books out in front of more readers and make each new book better than the previous one.
I have made so many mistakes along this journey, but each new book, I like to believe, is a better product than the one before.
PB: If you weren’t an author, what career would you be in?
DH: A web designer. Love the creativity and attempting to make magic happen.
PB: What’s the next target for you?
DH: To keep on writing but move into different genres. I am slowly putting together the opening touches and paragraphs for a new series, involving dragons and heroes but that is still in its infancy. I don’t want to be a single trick pony with only fiction and suspense. I aim to attempt something in the 10 to13-year-old reading market.
PB: Tell us a random fact about yourself.
DH: I have two very large dogs which have to get a walk in the mountain every day. They are still young, approximately two and a half years old each. They are thugs!!
But I love them with a passion, even though they have aged me around three hundred years in thirty months!!
From one dog owner to another, those dog walks in the mountains sound wonderful. Thank you so much to Dave Harvey for taking the time to speak to us. If that has wetted you appetite to sample Dave's work, you can purchase his books via the links below:
Until next time, happy reading!