I had the great pleasure of interviewing Richard Hains. His new book, and his first book, is Chameleon. This is a close look at the seedier side of high finance. It is an interesting view of the highs and lows of the financial world.
Chameleon is proof that you are a great writer, where did you learn these skills?
I certainly appreciate your enthusiasm toward Chameleon. My writing is simply a combination of experience mixed with a degree of enthusiasm. The skills were not actually learnt, but I took a great deal of care and time in getting the style and structure of the novel as right as I could.
During the '70s I lived in the Earls Court area of London, it was a haven for young Australians. It seemed that every one of them owned an older VW Camper and a need to see the world. Is that how you arrived in London?
You are so right, at that time Earl's Court, you will recall, was called Kangaroo Valley. I arrived in London having just completed an economics degree at Melbourne University with little more that youthful enthusiasm and a taste for some form of adventure. I intended to return to Melbourne after six months and that was 21 years ago.
My research shows that when not writing great novels you are a very successful figure in the financial world. How did you find time to write Chameleon?
My writing began as an interest, became a distraction and developed into an obsession. I think to do anything really well you need to have almost an obsessive interest in it. I found the time, but it was not without other sacrifices.
How long did the project take?
I wrote the screenplay first. This took four years and once completed, I realized that the only way to get the screenplay made into a film was to turn it into a best-selling novel. The final draft of the novel took another four years and I am currently in the process of trying to achieve that illustrious best-seller status. As your readers will appreciate, this was a difficult ambition, although I have great confidence and enthusiasm toward the novel and reviews such as yours, give me great heart.
There is obviously a little of Richard Hains in the main character Jon (only the good traits of course!) Are any of the other characters based on real people? I really like Delboy; somehow he just has to be real!
Your understanding of the novel and its characters are unusually good. Delboy is indeed a real character. A close friend and one of the great characters of the London Options Exchange of the late 1980s. The Andy character is also real. All others are very much a part of my imagination, although there are those quite close to me that see a great deal of me in the main character.
Where did you get the idea for the plot from?
The idea of monopolizing the U.S. government bond market was actually attempted in the 1980s by a senior Salomon Bros. employee and it almost bought down the bank. Warren Buffett was in fact bought in to sort the mess out. It was wildly ambitious and illustrated bravado of unique proportions in the financial markets.
I have interviewed many authors, and it is my theory that writing books is more addictive than crack cocaine, so what can you tell us about your next project (I know you have one!)?
I have considerable commercial experience in the former Soviet Union and this is the inspiration for the next project.
You have come up with a truly unique approach to marketing Chameleon – there is a web site, a YouTube segment, and of course the competition. I understand that the winner is in for an interesting prize. Can you tell us a little more?
In a market that publishes 500 books each day, it appears that to have a well-reviewed book is simply not enough. We have developed a series of unique promotional tools, hoping to draw attention both to the novel and, to some extent, its author. These tools are apart of this overall promotional program, but above everything else, I am hoping the quality of the book will sell it, these tools do little more than attract attention to it.
Clearly the internet is an important marketing tool to you. Do you see it as an adjunct, or a replacement for the more traditional book marketing tools?
I am merely an author and have little understanding of this and the more traditional areas of marketing. That said, I strongly believe that the internet will continue to be the way forward with regard to sales and marketing and certainly cannot be ignored.
Could your scenario in the book actually happen? The manipulating of the stock market?
Certainly. It could and has happened as I mention above.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with the readers? Are you really one of the most eligible bachelors in England?
I have recently enjoyed some fairly high profile publicity along those lines. I regard it as amusing and can't take it too seriously although it is quite flattering.
The next time I am in London I am going to phone Richard and go for a beer or two. This author is a must-read!