Welcome to my stop on Joe Hakim’s The Community blog tour with Love Books Tours!
Many thanks to Kelly @ Love Books Tours for arranging the following interview with Joe Hakim…..
For those who don’t know already, could you tell us about yourself and your book(s) please?
Hello. I’m Joe Hakim. I’m a writer and I live and work in Hull. The Community is my first novel, but I’ve been trying to scrape by as a freelance creative-type for a few years now. I’ve worked a lot in spoken/word and performance poetry, and I’ve also dabbled in theatre and short fiction.
The Community is a scifi/horror novel set in my hometown. It’s about a group of estranged friends who find themselves drawn back together by a mysterious sinister force.
Where did/do you get your ideas from?
That’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it? I could rattle on about the interplay between the conscious and subconscious, but no one wants to hear about that do they? They want a solid bit of advice and I don’t blame them.
I think when the germ of idea pops into your head, if you ask it a simple question and it will grow into something more tangible. It’s the ‘what if?’ thing. There are many strands that have gone into The Community – some of which I’m still trying to untangle myself – but the thing that really set the ball rolling was a simple question: ‘What would happen if an alien entity invaded the place where I live?’
Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?
If I answer this question with a ‘yes’, I’m potentially committing career (and relationship) suicide, so I’m going to say ‘no’.
In all seriousness, I think most writers cherry-pick aspects of people they’re familiar with or interact with. A turn-of-phrase, a personality quirk, an anecdote… writers are thieves. It’s part of the process. And of course, some aspect of the writer will usually pop up in the characters as well. That’s why it’s best to avoid getting into relationships with writers.
How do you pick your characters’ names?
Funnily enough, I find picking characters names a bit of a nightmare. I put in place-holder names to begin with, and then I agonise over finding more suitable names: scouring the phonebook, looking at the spines of the books that I own, sticking the telly on, things like that. And then, after a couple of days I come to terms with the fact that I’m massively overthinking it and stick with the initial placeholder names.
Every. Bleeding. Time.
Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?
Not really, no. And I’m not being obstinate or anything like that. Because I work in a lot of different mediums which involve a lot of collaboration, I tend to a bit all over the place. It pains me to admit it, but the only kind of routine I have is a shamefully boring one. When I get up, I set about the business aspect of what I do, which is send emails, chase up invoices, admin work and expenses, stuff like that. I used to avoid doing that stuff as much as possible, because it’s the antithesis of creativity and art, but if you want to function – and more crucially earn money – as a freelance artist or creative of any kind, you have to wrap your head around that aspect of it. And as I’m getting older, I find that if I get up and get that out of the way early in the morning, it leaves me the rest of the day and night to focus on the most important part of what it is I do: the creative bit.
I write every day, but I have no set pattern or system. It shifts according to the needs of the work.
Sorry if I’ve bored everyone’s socks off there.
If you could meet any author, who would it be and what would you ask them?
How’s it going Alan?
Were you a big reader as a child?
Yes. I was very fortunate. Due to various familial vicissitudes which I won’t go into here, I spent a lot of my childhood with my Grandma Topsy. She was big into reading, very insistent actually. She believed that reading and literacy in general was an essential part of life. I became a member of Carnegie Library on Anlaby Road (in Hull) when I was three years old, and for years she would take me every Saturday to get more books and to buy comics.
When did you start to write?
I distinctly remember writing stories and poems from an early age at primary school, but I think that’s a bit of a cop-out answer.
I still find it strangely uncomfortable referring to writing as a ‘career’, but my first published piece of writing appeared on thisisull.com, an arts and culture website based in Hull, sometime around 2005. That was when it all started for me.
If you could re-write the ending to any book what would it be and what would you change?
Is there a book you wish you had written?
I’m going to have to give another cop-out answer here. I’ve honestly never read something and thought: ‘Well, what you should have done is…’
And again, there are many, many books that I love and admire, but I’ve always been aware that the reason I’m reading them is because I could have never written them. If that makes sense.
If you wrote an autobiography, what would your title be?
‘I’ve Got A Thing For Vinegar: The Joe Hakim Story’
If you could invite any fictional character for coffee who would it be and where would you take them?
Kilgore Trout. There’s a place near me that make Scotch Eggs that are the size of a baby’s cranium. I think he’d be well into them.
What are you working on right now?
I have a collection of short stories, ‘Full of Pins’, which is currently being rejected by all good agents and publishers everywhere.
I’m working on an interactive theatre piece called ‘Omni-Science’ with Brick by Brick theatre company. It’s wild, check it out:
I host a weekly arts and culture show on BBC Radio Humberside every Thursday 7-10. Tune in, I need the listeners.
I’m about to embark on a project with photographer Graeme Oxby.
I’m in the very early stages of what I hope will be my next novel. It’s set in a very specific time period, so I’m having to do a lot of research, so I’m consulting with my Wise Owls at the moment.
Tell us about your last release?
‘The Science of Discontent’. It’s an album of spoken word and music, a collaboration with my mate Ashley Reaks:
What do you generally do to celebrate on publication day?
How can readers keep in touch with you?
You can find me on that twitter @JoeHakim_ . Remember the underscore at the end, or you’ll end up harassing some poor guy in America. Oh, and keep it clean people.
Is there anything else you would like us to know?
They will fill the void within you all.
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Joe 🙂
A northern coastal city. A sinister, extra-dimensional intelligence is taking hold…
Joe Hakim draws the reader into the heart of a disenfranchised community impacted by strange forces beyond its control. A group of friends: separated by time, choices, and circumstance are reunited by their shared encounters with an uncanny presence that looms over their lives. The seeds were sewn in their childhoods, now they must try and understand what is happening, before it is too late.
Raw and uncompromising, The Community fuses social commentary with a dose of sci-fi horror, to cast a light on an existence spent in the Void.
happy reading 🙂