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#AuthorInterview: Stanley Moss, Author of The Hacker series

Hi Friends,

Today I have with me for virtual coffee, a man of many talents and the author of The Hacker, Stanley Moss.

Stanley Moss
Stanley Moss (b. 1948), is the author of The Hacker and The Book of Deals. A brand guru, philosopher, writer, and artist, he divides his time between Europe, India and Southern California. He’s also CEO of The Medinge Group, the Stockholm-based think-tank on international branding. He was a fine artist, sponsored by Absolut and Johnnie Walker Black Label, and exhibited landscapes in the US State Department Art in Embassies program.  His “New Wave Cookbook” is in the permanent collection of the MoMANY. He is a faculty member at Academia di Belle Arti Cignaroli of Verona, Italy; Travel Editor for Lucire, a New Zealand fashion magazine; and served on the Board of the Rocket Mavericks Foundation.

Wow, totally mind boggling. :)

Welcome to Njkinny's Blog Stanley!

I am so excited to have you here.
Lets start the interview. :)

Q1. Tell me something about yourself.

I’m a native Californian, born on the East side of Los Angeles in 1948.
I was educated in public schools (in the USA this means government-funded) and graduated from the University of California at Santa Barbara with a degree in Literature in 1972. I worked in a bookshop as a boy, and I will always love the smell of real books and real bookshops. I lived in New York City for 25 years, then in Portland Oregon. For the last 10 years I have been traveling the world, and I have been based in London, Paris, New Delhi and now Northern Italy. I get back to the USA several times a year, but I consider the world my home. These days I do a lot of writing for my work, which is international brand advising. I run a think-tank about branding, headquartered in Stockholm. I tend to move around a lot. Since I’m travel editor of Lucire, a fashion magazine out of New Zealand, I also write a lot of travel articles.

The Hacker
Q2. In one sentence, what is your book The Hacker about?

The Hacker is an exciting novel about youth culture, the collision of the old and new and the meeting of East and West in today’s digital India.

Q3. How did you decide on writing about a story based in India and what research did you do?

A friend of mine in Delhi, who was at the time an executive at an Indian technology company, called me up one day and said, “You ought to write a novel about a company like ours.” Fortunately I was given access to a young firm he knew, who allowed me to visit their offices, interview their people –from top to bottom- and spend a lot of time on-site, learning how their business was done. I made 7 trips to India, including visiting Infosys in Bangalore, and got a sense of the people who are building the India of tomorrow.

Q4. What was the hardest part of writing The Hacker?

Writing the words “The End”. I loved every minute of it and wished it wasn't over!

Q5. Please share with us your one happy memory since publishing The Hacker?

Holding a real printed, bound book with my name on the cover, a book which had been issued by a quality young publisher in India. My greatest hope had been to reach the market under the best possible conditions, and these were them.

Q6. What are your views on the current IT industry in India?

Impressive, as the record shows. I think the obstacles to growth are more from the government side than in entrepreneurial culture. There seem to be real regulatory and bureaucratic roadblocks like I write about in my book, which impede progress. But the people and their skills are already world-class and India has nothing to be ashamed about in terms of the quality of work presented in the global arena.

Q7. How do you approach your writing? Is there a set pattern to your writing?

I write whenever time permits, and I work hard at it. I like the process and I revise rather heavily. My schedule isn't all that regular, since I am in contact with multiple time zones, so very few patterns can occur. The only pattern may be that I need a good block of hours to concentrate while I write. I do outline and I spend a lot of time simply thinking about the story, telling it to myself over and over again.

Q8. What steps did you take to get your work published?

Remember that I have been writing for 40 years, and that the publishing model has changed completely in that time. I tried in the old days to develop a relationship with agents. I had a couple, but they didn't help me to get much- perhaps because the work was so hard for people to understand. I got a lot of rejection letters. I labored anonymously for years, but never stopped writing. I am a much better writer today than I was 40 years ago, so I think my output must be of better quality. These days I have gone both routes, self-publishing, and being published by commercial entities. It’s great to be validated by other people, but when you self-publish you have total control and the royalties are optimal.

Q9. What are your views on the current publishing industry?

It’s quite a transformation, isn't it? The old models don’t hold, traditional relationships don’t work, and everyone is scrambling, trying to figure out what a book is. I think we are migrating to a mostly electronic world for the simple economics and expediencies of it- traditional paper books are going to be a luxury item. That’s not to say old style printed books are bad. But they are fast becoming a rarity because they are precious. They also represent a slower, more deliberate and meditative process, which is against the prevailing trend of fast media and instant gratification.

Q10. How do you publicize your work? Which medium suited you best?

I rely on my publishers to use their networks at first. Then I support their work through my own blogs, social media, and public appearances. I think meeting real people in real settings works best for me. I enjoy the human contact, and while I’d like the work to stand on its own, it is also very clear that when people like someone’s work, they want to meet the author. I enjoy public speaking very much for that reason.

Q11. What are the four most important things you take care of while writing a book?

1. an entertaining premise
2. sparkling prose
3. no cliches, and
4. a good villain

Q12. Is writing a career for you or just a hobby?

Definitely a career, but it only took me 40 years to get here and I had to hold other jobs along the way!

Stanley Moss in Venice, 2014
Q13. What are your other interests?

Cooking, travel, visiting Neolithic ruins, watching movies, water coloring, talking with friends.

Q14. What is your advice to new or aspiring authors?

Read a lot, and don’t try and make every piece a masterpiece. It takes a long time to get good at writing, thus much of what we do resembles sketches made on which we base later work. Not everything you write is going to be “War And Peace.” And don’t delude yourself into thinking everyone is interested in you. They’re interested in your sharp observations on life which they can apply to their own lives. In both fiction and nonfiction, rich details and smart depictions count more than cute or clever phrasing. And kill the cliches. Try and say it originally!

Q15.  What are the ten things about you that no one knows?

  1. I’m from Mars.
  2. I actually like “Tree Pose”.
  3. I will never refuse marzipan or Hollandaise sauce.
  4. I wish I lived closer to my daughter.
  5. I think I look cool in a kurta.
  6. I am waiting for my hair to turn all white.
  7. I understand far more than I let on.
  8. I am overly attached to the memory of my maternal grandparents.
  9. I find it very hard to say goodbye to my friends.
  10. I would drink ten cups of coffee a day if I could, but I can’t.

Q16. What is next for you, writing wise?

Captain Blackpool Trilogy, Book #1
I've just been to Venice for a month, working to complete a new novel, “Fate and the Pearls”, the second book in the Captain Blackpool Trilogy. I wasn't able to hit my word count goal, so there’s still a bit left to complete. I’m going to take a break from Captain Blackpool after this is done and write another novel set in India, and I would also like to attack “The Hacker 2.0”, which is outlined.

Stanley Moss in Venice, 2014

Q17. How can the readers connect with you?

Probably best to message me on social media like FB or Goodreads, or email via info@diganzi.com.

Q18. Before you go, how about an excerpt from The Hacker to intrigue and tantalize us?

One challenge an author faces is how to tell the back story of a character in an interesting and different way. To do this, quite often you need to break from the action of the story and zoom backwards in time. This explains a character’s motivations, and also fills in the world they occupy, what’s important to them, reveals quirks of personality. In this excerpt, one of Talsera’s executives is on the trail of The Hacker- but what motivates him? Where did he learn his unique skills? And how has it shaped him in his pursuit? Since this particular character in my book was shaped by his service in the Indian Army, and during the Kargil incident, my idea was to write this chapter beginning in the style of Ernest Hemingway. I went back and read a number of Hemongway’s war stories. This technique and style allowed me to make the book more authentic by describing an actual historic event, and then weave it into my fictional account. Jaitendra’s character is based on a real person I met during my research.
From Chapter 14 of The Hacker:

That May of 1999, they rode up the valley called Joli La into an early thaw—where mud turned into stones the higher they climbed—and then marched through loose, punishing rocks as they pushed toward the sangars that stood along the ridge line. They never told you about the brilliant blue sky or the wild passage of clouds up there, or how the peaks stood out so clearly from so far away. In the night, the Mirage 2000s came and pounded the enemy supply lines. You could hear the firepower from the passes below at sixteen thousand feet, bad guys getting hammered. Afterwards, you looked out onto the jagged peaks that bled crimson haze around their edges, framed by billowing grey cloud dispersed in the high atmosphere, then all went dark and black, quiet and starry again. Raw country, where the winds blew harsh and the cold dry air made your skin go leathery and your eyes burn. Headquarters said the enemy positions were full of army regulars, mujahideen, mercenaries and SSG operatives.
They had not told him how beautiful it would be in this primitive place. It was a brutal terrain, but he found a rugged quality to it that a man could love; it was breathtaking and at the same time unforgiving. Some days he would watch a MiG-27 turn its wide balletic radius overhead, and he admired the delicate way they placed their bombs along the ridge. If you did not bomb the intruders into submission, then the infantry had to evict them. That was his job. But he loved the other beauty in the emptiness of the nights between skirmishes, when you had the time to follow the arcs of satellites overhead as they transited lazily among the constellations, girdled in stars, on a canvas vast like the universe. When he slept, Jaitendra dreamt Boolean equations. He had learned them when he was quite young, in a Ramanujam club, and he used them in relation to nearly every decision he made in life. In the Army he chose his career options carefully, and as he took his promotions, he saw and did things he could not tell people back home—secret missions, midnight raids, interrogations of the really bad guys in dark rooms. He vowed that if he got through this incident in Kargil, he would quit and do the thing he truly loved, which was to fool around with computers. Preposterous, he knew, a Major prepared to trade in twelve years of exemplary service for the life of a tinkerer. He had only to stay long enough and one day he might be a General. He could have a fine white car with curtained windows and little flags on the front, and a Jonga full of uniformed soldiers, armed with sten guns, following him. Experience had taught him that fighting a war could be broken down into little algorithms and heuristics, a network of binary decisions applied in split seconds. They had sent him to Kargil to retake the LoC. Often he sat silently, his INSAS rifle draped across his lap, and looked at the stars above and planned how he and his men would finish clearing the Tololing complex. “First bomb them into oblivion, break their will to fight, then overrun their positions.” The way the headquarters put it to them, it sounded all too easy.
He would not speak of the dead he had seen as they moved up the nullahs, or of the lives he had ended. Let others do that. He had lost many good friends in the operations. Slowly they had retaken the ridges, under the barrage of artillery fire that crackled and boomed in the thin air. And when the last defenders had been pushed back, he wandered around the smoking, stinking ruins of their sangars. Among the rocks, he had seen corpses of people he knew, faces he had studied with in Germany years before, when they went as cadets to be trained by the Americans at a strange secret base in a forest called Hesse-Darmstadt. Dark violent skills, survival, hand-to-hand combat, weapons, psy-ops. Back then it was Indian guys versus Yankee guys, and they all hung together. He remembered Yousef, who played a phenomenal game of squash, unbeatable, now sprawled lifeless next to a crater. Mahmood, who knew by heart the works of Ghalib and Faiz, and given enough beer would declaim their verse in his eloquent voice from the head of the table, lay dead with a pistol in his hand, his legs blown away. There was bloody Sharif, who could have been a professional bowler if only he had quit the commandos and not stayed to defend this remote and devastated place, lying hollow-eyed next to an abandoned heavy machine gun. Among the last line of defenders, he found the remains of crudely dressed men he did not know, who carried antique rifles and wore the coarse cloth of mountain villages; fine snipers, men who would never go home, men whose corpses would decay unclaimed on these savage slopes.
He only wanted to be remembered as the man who brought all his boys home, but that was not to be true. Instead, they gave him a medal because he led one mad charge up a hill. And when he got home, time passed invisibly. He shook hands with the President, posed for endless photographs, endured backslapping and drinks sent to his table, called the grieving families of his lost men, went out on dates with naive girls who flashed their dark eyes at him and who seemed to fear him for what he had seen. Now that he was off active duty, he enrolled himself in an MBA course. But he never spoke about Kargil, and what he had seen there. Let others talk about it.

Thanks for taking time out from your busy schedule to talk to us, Stanley. It was great having you here. :)
Njkinny's Blog wishes you the very best in all your future endeavours and I hope to read from you in the future. :)

#AuthorInterview: Stanley Moss, Author of The Hacker series

Read my review of "The Hacker: Client, Coder, Chaos":

Also checkout Hack is Back (The Hacker #2) 

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a very entertaining book. The excerpt is fabulous. All the best with your writing, Stanley!


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