VERY happy to welcome Chris Hauty today answering my 20 Questions to kick off the Deep State Blog Tour. A link to purchase and to my original review of this brilliant book at the end of the post.
Tell us about the moment you were inspired to write Deep State.
I was having lunch with a friend, another screenwriter. He told me he was writing a novel, having take bits and pieces from unsold spec screenplays he’d written as the foundation of a book. I thought, why not? Within six months, I had a submission-ready manuscript completed.
Talking of Deep- Deep pan pizza or thin and crispy?
Crispy. Sorry, Chicago, but Rome has this one.
You used to write movies…what did you find were the main differences between creating the two.
There is soooooooo much more freedom writing novels. Screenplays are about accommodating other people’s visions into the script, whether producer, star, studio exec or director. The form is extremely standardized and the rules ironclad. From the first day of work on my first novel, I realized I was embarking on a much more liberating creative journey. Fantastic!
Who would you pick to play Hayley Chill in a movie version of Deep State if it was entirely up to you.
I’m asked that question in almost every interview and I’ve learned to demur from answering. The last thing I want to do is impose a specific vision of who Hayley Chill is and exactly what she looks like. I’d rather the reader’s imagination come into play. Remember? Liberation!
If all the fuses blew in your house would you know what to do or would have to sit in the Dark waiting for rescue (like me)
Living in Los Angeles, with frequent wind and fire storms, as well as the occasional earthquake and civil disturbance, you learn where the fuse panel is located. After researching cyber warfare for the follow-up to DEEP STATE, I bought a portable generator and thirty-day supply of freeze-dried meals.
What was the last book you read that you really loved.
November Road, by Lou Berney.
In general terms without spoilers do you think the events in Deep State could actually happen?
After the last three years in US (and UK?) politics, I’m not putting anything in the “impossible” basket. That said, I wrote with the intention of giving reality a run for its money…and so far I’ve succeeded!
Coffee, Tea or other.
Sorry, I’m a Yank. My only tea is iced, with a splash of lemonade. But I do ride a Triumph!
One author you recommend to everyone (sorry it can’t be you. I’ll take care of that)
Holy smokes! Do any authors actually recommend themselves? Okay, how about the bard of Los Angeles, Charles Bukowski? Whether his poetry, short fiction or novels, give that madman a whirl.
One thing that genuinely scares you.
If you could change just one single thing about the world what would it be and why.
Slow and stop man-made climate change. Because I have kids, and most everyone else does, too.
Back to Deep State- you change things up a few times as the novel closes – did you have the whole ending in mind when you started or did it evolve.
I’m a furious outliner. I brood on a narrative for weeks, tweaking and folding more ideas into the plot as I work. Characters take shape. In this process, there is an almost symbiotic push and pull between character and plot, each driving the other to deeper and deeper understanding and development. With DEEP STATE, I had pretty much the entire story set down in outline form before I started writing the manuscript. However, with the follow-up, I did come up with a massive twist (or curveball!) for the ending well after the time that the first draft was completed.
I loved the fact that it threw me an unexpected curveball (not going to call it a twist as that’s not really what it is) but within the context of twists in novels do you think they ever REALLY work if the book blurb screams “A TWIST YOU’LL NEVER SEE COMING” (one of my own particular bugbears)
Well, from the get-go, my book has been presented as “twisty.” Everyone who considers having a look now knows there is a whooper at the story’s conclusion. So far, after thousands of readers, I haven’t heard of a single instance in which someone has guessed what was about to hit them. So, mission accomplished?
Last thing that made you laugh out loud.
A good amount of the movie PARASITE was thrillingly fun. I laughed loud and long pretty often.
One person you always rely on to be honest with you.
My film agent of thirty-five years. Absolute trust and friendship between us.
An embarrassing situation you’ve found yourself in.
For my first book event, I researched which pen is best to use for signing books. (Faber-Castile PITT artist pen) Over 300 attendees were to be given advance review copies of DEEP STATE, only the books weren’t handed out until everyone was leaving the venue. I didn’t sign a single book.
Do you have a writing routine.
I have an office at home, where you’ll find me between 8:30 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. most weekdays. As I mentioned earlier, my years as a screenwriter instilled a habit of careful outlining before starting an actual first draft. Writing that first draft is my absolute favorite part of the process. If I have a general idea of what happens next, I can relax and explore the unknown interiors of scenes and sequences, making cool discoveries along the way. Currently, I’m finishing final edits of the follow-up to DEEP STATE. The next book picks up about a year after the first novel leaves off. Story threads from the first book are followed and new ones are created. I love how this new book is turning out!
One piece of advice from experience you’d give to new writers.
1) Read what moves you.
2) Write what moves you as much or more.
3) Keeping going, i.e., try not to dwell too long on any stalled or resistant project.
4) Reach up, not down. (That’s four. So sue me.)
Rebel! Chips of choice (we of course call them crisps which honestly makes MUCH MORE SENSE right?!?)
The UK has it over the US in a big way when it comes to crisps. Why is that? Cheese & Onion Walkers, thank you very much.
Traditional final question for this feature- How much do you hate me right now?
Are you joking? This has been scads of fun!
About The Book:
Set in present day Washington, D.C., with all of that city’s current political drama, polarization, ferocious turf battles and paranoia-inducing intrigue, Deep State introduces 25-year-old West Wing intern and ex-Army veteran, Hayley Chill.
Hayley discovers the body of the White House chief of staff on his kitchen floor and a single clue suggests her boss has died from something other than natural causes. With a resolute pursuit of the truth and at ever-increasing personal peril, Hayley begins to uncover shocking evidence of a wide-ranging conspiracy. Code-named Operation Shady Side, the plot is orchestrated by a half dozen long-established government figures, members of the eponymous ‘Deep State’, united in their effort to undermine a newly elected and highly controversial president who threatens their accumulation of power.
Without a single ally whom she can unequivocally trust, Hayley is compelled to rely on her own resources to solve a deepening mystery while at the same time evading detection.