My author in the Spotlight today is Jon Hartless whose novel, Full Throttle, is available in paperback and as an ebook. You can order a copy here. My thanks to Kelly at Love Books Tours for inviting me to take part in the tour.
First of all, would you tell my blog readers a little about yourself?
I was born in the 1970s, so I’m getting on a bit now, and I’ve lived most of my life in the Black Country, a part of the West Midlands that gets its name from the huge amounts of industry in the area during the Industrial Revolution; the massive amounts of coal being burned in factories and furnaces turned the sky black by day and red by night. Nowadays it’s an economically depressed suburb with very little of anything, abandoned by those in power.
What inspired you to start writing?
It’s honestly one of the very few things I’ve ever shown any talent for, so I’m simply sticking with what I can do. And if I can entertain people, and maybe provoke the odd thought from them, then I’m doing well.
Tell me about your journey to publication
“Tortuous” would sum it up quite well. I’ve been writing for about 20 years, submitting everywhere and mostly getting rejected. Then I got a few short stories accepted in online magazines and realised the Net had a much more open publishing model to chase after.
I eventually had my first few novels accepted at Double Dragon Ebooks, plus a novella or twelve at Extasy Books and their sister site, Devine Destinies, (under pen names, though, so you won’t see my real name there), and things slowly grew from that.
Back in those days I was trying to be Douglas Adams crossed with Terry Pratchett, at which I failed spectacularly, but I was at least writing and developing and at about that time I stumbled into Steampunk, a Victorian Sci-Fi aesthetic in which you can go almost anywhere, exploring any avenue or thought or theme. And after several erotica/adventure/pirate/fantasy, (not all in the same book, I should add), I began turning to more social concerns…
I then had the idea for the Poppy Orpington series, (see below), which I knew would be too long for Devine Destinies which focusses on novellas, so I started the submission process again and, after about 100 rejections, finally got accepted with a traditional publisher, Accent Press.
In a nutshell, what is your latest book about?
The gulf between the rich and the poor, and the injustice of the social system, all hidden under a Steampunk motor racing adventure.
How did you come up with the title for your book?
The first of the above series is called Full Throttle, which was pinched from the title of Sir Henry “Tim” Birkin’s autobiography published back in the early 1930s. Birkin was a racing driver of the day, most famous for being part of the “Bentley Boys” team, a group of playboy racers adored by the class-conscious media which – then as now – was owned by the rich and existed to serve the rich. The press coverage of the Bentley Boys has the effect of telling the readers to admire the class system, to be mindlessly patriotic, and to never, ever agitate for reform.
How did you celebrate publication day?
I didn’t. I just went to work. I’m a miserable old bugger, in some ways. Most ways.
Do you have a work in progress just now?
Book 3 of the series has just gone off to the publisher, to see if they want it; Accent Press was taken over by the Hachette group so technically I am now with Headline.
What are you reading just now?
Hitler’s British Traitors, by Tim Tate, which looks at the many, many British-born Hitler-supporting fascists who wanted to see Britain taken over by the Nazis in the late 1930s and early war years. Their actions ranged from the pathetic, (throwing pro-Nazi stickers at soldiers), to actively planning to overthrow the government by means of a violent coup. In almost every case, the working class fascists were sentenced to prison. The upper class fascists were let off without even having to go to trial.
If you were on Desert Island Discs, what one book would you take with you?
The Complete Facsimile Sherlock Holmes. It’s heavy enough to use as a weapon against wild animals, it’s got plenty of pages for creating spills to light the fire, and of course you can read what’s left of it afterward.
How can people follow you or connect with you on social media?
Either on my Facebook or Twitter pages
From the back of the book
In an autocratic society that refuses to let her move forward, can Poppy stay ahead of the pack? As expensive steam-powered automobiles speed across the land, Poppy Orpington is trapped and going nowhere – until her father reveals his secret project, a petrol-fuelled car ready for the race track. But will they even be allowed to compete? Racing is the preserve of the wealthy elite and few will welcome a working class family onto their hallowed ground. Can Poppy overcome social prejudice and conformity, or will her one and only chance of a better life be crushed before it can even begin?Full Throttle; book one of a Steampunk motor racing adventure set in a world of division, intolerance and inequality that modern readers may find disturbingly familiar…
About the author
Jon Hartless was born in the 1970s and has spent much of his life in the Midlands and Worcestershire. His latest novels, a steampunk motor racing adventure examining the gulf between the rich and the poor, the powerful and the dispossessed, started with Full Throttle in August 2017 and continued with Rise of the Petrol Queen in 2019, both published by Accent Press.
Goodreads: Full Throttle