Interview with H Gibson, Author of the Chronicles of Han Storm Books
Transcript of Book Club Meeting, December 2013
M = Member
HG = Author
Leilaka vs Creata
M - Your latest book Leilaka, is our favourite. It reads like a dream. I feel that your writing style has matured, as well as yourself.
M - Leilaka is my favourite too, but I have to disagree about the maturing of the writing style. The Creata Trilogy is well written although Book 1 seems different from the next two. When I re-read it, the first parts of Preserving Creata seem stiff and sometimes choppy compared to the later parts.
M - Ah, but have you noticed that the books mature as Han Storm does. In Part 6 there is a marked difference in pace and writing style. The first few parts are written in innocence and naivety, but without these, the story will not be understood as clearly as we do now.
M - (Question to HG) What do you have to say about this? Did you write the books on purpose in this manner, or did you grow with the books too? I found Book 3, Taming Encha, a particularly hard read. Not in the sense of the flow of the story, but in the actual content.
M - Encha is another good book and at the time of reading it I thought, wow, you left the unbelievable best for last. But I have to agree with the other people. Encha was a tough, emotional book. Loads of surprises though and as one of the readers stated, a "hold-onto-your-pants" adventure. In my opinion, the books were written as they should have been written.
M - (Addressing HG) Do you care to comment?
HG - As I have stated in previous discussions, I wrote the books first and foremost for myself.
People liked what I shared and wanted to read the books, so the books were published. It was never my intention to delve into the story line or ponder upon why the books had been written the way they were.
I wrote Book 1, Preserving Creata, straight from my heart. I had no idea that people would even like the book or a few years down the line use the Chronicles of Han Storm as metaphysical manuals.
What I have noticed is that I have grown up, not just as a person, but as a writer, author and independent publisher as well.
English is not my first language and the books are basically translated, ensuing in communication gaps that the editing process could not merge and some of the story was lost.
As fans, Book Club Members and people in general tend to see more in things than we, the writer, initially does, I went and analysed the books.
This is what I found and it is actually quite interesting.
Written in Parts
The Books are written in Parts, with each part dealing with specific subjects. This was not my original intention, it just happened this way. The first seven parts are about 100 pages each, therefore seven short adventures following one after another.
Part One, Learning Curve, introduces the reader to Han Storm as he awakens to his metaphysical abilities. It revolves around the first person, the 'I' or 'ego'. The wants and needs of the individual and there are a lot of 'I' in this section.
This is where we all start with our lives. I, me and mine.
But at some point this is no longer enough and we have to grow up, realizing that we cannot exist in a physical world with only ourselves, with only the 'I' for the 'I' becomes lonely in life. This is also an unsure time, where one must choose where you wish to go with your life or the choice will be made for you by destiny or other people. This is the time in your life when you need to start using your skills and inherent gifts.
In Part 2, Higher Education, Han receives a crash course in his metaphysical education and an introduction to his set destiny. He also meets a special lady, falls in love, creates a child and suddenly realizes that life is more than just about being himself.
He is faced with the responsibility a partnership in love introduces to us. He can no longer think about himself only. His world has expanded to include loved ones and a family. This section is still innocent, still have the naivety of young love, but also the start of coming to terms with responsibilities and that which cannot be changed.
Part 3, Progress, is where Han starts working with his abilities, confirms his destiny and comes face to face with his previous life on Creata.
Sometimes in life, you are destined for greater things than the normal of growing up, getting a job, marrying, having children, working to put your children through colleague and to have enough to retire some day, before eventually dying.
Sometimes destiny decides for you and you land up in extraordinary circumstances where you can either give up, or excel. As part of Han's history in becoming who he is, Part 3 deals with Han coming to terms with his initial function of assisting people and bonding with his closest colleagues into a close-knit team - of three.
In Part 4, Regeneration, Han continues collecting the tools to open the travel portals, or worm holes, and also has to regenerate himself. This adventure serves to stabilize not only his body but the situation and to lay down a solid platform on which to continue forth into new adventures.
M - Here I have to interrupt. The Groxes were so scary. Was this supposed to be a subconscious hint towards Encha's violence?
HG - (Laughing) Oh, goodness, at that time Encha was just a far-away planet with adventures that needed further scrutiny. Well, it must then be so, for the rest of the story involves the Groxes, does it not?
In Part 5, Final Keys, Han finally finds acceptance and fulfilment in the career where destiny had dropped him into. He collects his team that must assist him in the opening of the portals and discovers more information about his true identity.
With new friends to back him up, Han does not feel as if everything is on his shoulders any more, the workload will be shared and this gives a sense of security and accomplishment. The Creatans also start to work together for the greater good of all involved.
In Transformation, Part 6, Han travels to a distant region to make the final decision to learn to embrace his negative side in order to use all his gifts for the benefit of his destiny and everyone on his home planet.
M - This is where there is also a marked difference in style, as if the book received a new, advanced, more mature writing style.
M - I think the style started changing at the start of Part 4 already. The book became more intense, with an even faster pace.
M - But here it is noticeable immediately.
HG - Let us move on to Part 7, the Culmination of events where Han and Creata's Destiny comes together to a harmonious completion. In this part all the tools, people and circumstances are in place, ready for the first jump to another planet in order to open up the universe.
M - I am just glad that I did not have to wait for Book 2 as Book 1 ends in a cliff-hanger and I had to start reading the follow-up immediately.
HG - My husband told me that Book 2 had to be ready before I officially release Book 1. We could not include Part 8 into a single book as Book one was already 777 pages long, cut to the bone and barely fitting to be bound into a paperback.
Therefore Part 8, Reclaiming of Duback, was made a separate book but it is actually the conclusion of Book 1, Preserving Creata.
M - So Book 1 and 2 is in fact, one book. Understood.
M - And Book 3, Taming Encha, is a good follow-up, but can also be read independently.
M - I would read one and two before three. It is a set.
Hints at more books
M - I would like to have more stories on the Creata range. There are a lot of unanswered questions about Han's life on Creata that are hinted at in Leilaka.
M - I appreciate that you only left relevant hints in Leilaka as to that there are more about the Creata adventure than meets the eye. It can be daunting to read a book independently where authors refer to previous books and the story does not make sense unless you read the other books.
Here it is just hints, little crumbs that wet the appetite for more. It is not fair to have to wait years, but I want the rest of Leilaka too. How many books can we expect?
HG - Two more Leilaka books that are in draft at the moment and at least two more Creata books.
M - Good! I can not wait.
Two different Trilogies
M - The energy between the Creata Trilogy and Leilaka is significantly different. After reading Leilaka, The Creata books seem harsh compared to the softer, but profoundly powerful energy of Leilaka. Am I the only one feeling this?
M - No, I have noticed this as well. Maybe it is that Leilaka just reads better?
M - I do not think so. Although we still deal with the same person, Han Storm, the two worlds differ totally. The Creata trilogy is militaristic, as well as the writing style. You can even say sometimes it is abrupt, sorry, no offence meant.
HG - None taken. I have been told this from several people.
This is true. Creata will differ significantly from Leilaka.
Creata is from another language, another culture. A militaristic, disciplined, no-nonsense race. I do not think that timid people would be able to travel off-world, to other planets and beyond, now would they?
The Creata trilogy is also classified as Science Fiction while Leilaka falls under Fantasy. But we have been through the genre discussion before and know that Han Storm does not fit anywhere specifically but actually everywhere. This makes marketing more difficult as people like different things.
M - And your stories just mash everything up and present it as a beautifully baked pie, ready to experience!
HG - Thanks.
As Han had stated in Leilaka, quite a few times, Leilaka is different from what he was used to. The energy of the planet and universe are different and he had to adjust to Leilaka's vibrations. He could not stay the Han Storm from Creata. In order to survive, one has to adapt to the vibrations and circumstances around you.
Motivation for writing
M - Why do you write the books? We know you said it was for yourself, for physiotherapy for your hands and to heal emotionally, but what made you start?
HG - Since childhood, I have always been telling stories to anyone willing to listen. Then I grew up and life happened. I got married and told Ronald about these stories I had in my head.
The cooking oil explosion in 2004 was a catalyst for me to stop living life in the normal sense and start doing what I really love - writing. It was in 2008 that my husband gave me a laptop and told me to get on with it, get the stories out of my system and onto something real and tangible.
I sat down and it just poured out of me. It has not stopped. I am still writing.
M - Then, if this just 'pours' out as you state, do you not plot the story, outline it formally, or at least mentally?
HG - It is different for me. I just know what to write, how everything fits together, where different sections slot into timelines, where everything else must go, how it should happen. I see the whole completed story, knowing that there are volumes of books that can be produced from what I see.
M - What about the 'Who-is-Who' sections in the books? Surely there must have been some sort of planning to have so many characters and places involved.
HG - There is an amusing story to this section in the books. Those lists came about because readers and fans were not coping with the scope of the books. There were too many people to remember and the pace of the books are not of a nature to remember the lesser individuals, only the main players.
For the next releases, I carefully went through the books, noted everyone and all the places and compiled a 'Who-is-Who' list. The galaxy and universal plates are in Book 3. I display them on the website as well for easy reference.
M - What about Leilaka's map? That must have taken ages to draw up.
HG - Leilaka was exactly as the Creata books. It was only on request from first readers that I drew a map for people to follow easily. The map as well as a Leilaka's 'Who-is-Who' list is now published with all new editions. It is also available on the website.
- Short silence -
M - Why did you start at the Creata stories and not with Leilaka?
HG - In 2008, I sat down in front of the laptop and thought to myself? Where do I start? It was the trigger for everything else.
"Where shall we start?" was the first words written for Chronicles of Han. The rest is, as they say, history.
M - But Leilaka is so much nicer than Creata?
HG - While the first Creata book was in edit, I started on Leilaka, not feeling emotionally ready to connect with Part 8, Reclaiming of Duback.
Ronald wanted to read what I had written so far and was introduced to Leilaka in 2009. Left dangling over the edge of the abyss, expecting to have a pre-read of Part 8, he was upset with me, insisting that I should immediately put Leilaka on hold until the Creata Trilogy was finalised.
It turned out not to be a hurdle at all, as all the books are actually one, very long story and interacts with one another where events in Creata spills over to Leilaka and to books beyond Leilaka.
M - If you only write these books for yourself, what motivates you to continue with writing? Or do you just love writing so much?
HG - Sometimes writing is work, but mostly not. The editing bit is definitely work and re-reading the books hundreds of times before you are satisfied with the end result is not for people who lack endurance.
Sometimes I want to cry from frustration because I know the stories and what needs to be written. Some days I wish for a magical wand that I can swish to put all the words on the computer and you will have a proper book.
Writing takes time. After the response I had received from people who read and enjoyed the Chronicles of Han, I came to realize how close these stories were from never being told or getting out into the world.
I could, and probably should, have died that evening of the accident. But I did not. I survived. It was time to leave something bigger than just a eulogy in a newspaper behind.
It was time to immortalise that which I have known since childhood. The stories that had become The Chronicles of Han Storm.
When I pass on, people would forget H Gibson. I would be just like a bit of foam on the sea, spilled out onto the hot beach to dry to nothing.
But The Chronicles of Han Storm might just give people a reason to live, love and be entertained, hundreds of years from now on.
M - Then you see yourself as a vanity writer?
- Gasps -
HG - Far from it. I write the books for myself. Do I care what anyone else thinks about it? Initially, no, because the real possibility was there that no-one else would read, never mind like the stories.
It turned out that there were other people who appreciate the books and enjoy them as much as I do writing and reading them.
Do I care about what anyone else thinks about the books?
After publishing the books and the great response received, yes, I am seeing from a reader's perspective.
I used to be a perfectionist. I still have the tendency but do not act out that much on perfectionism because I realise that no-one is perfect. Some days my hands work well and some days I drop everything and cannot even type. I had to get over it and learn to do physical things in a different way.
But the trait of perfectionism has stood me in good stead with the books. I give the client or reader the best possible product I can produce within the boundaries set on me.
The proof is in the reading. People like the books and there are readers for it, as well as a waiting list for the next books.
M - Do you see yourself as a successful writer?
HG - What defines success? That I have written books and can state that I am a published author? That I have sold some copies of a book I have written? That most people that had read The Chronicles of Han love the books and ask for more? What defines success for me?
I consider myself successful because I like my books, and so do other people. It is a warm, satisfying feeling when people tell you they have read your book and think it wonderful or amazing.
At this stage I am content that people are willing to pay for the books I have created. I also have to live and the books are the gift I use to contribute to my needs.
The books sell. Not off the charts. They are not on any best selling lists. Neither will you find them on Amazon for I cannot list there as an individual South African person.
So, yes. I think in my limited exposure, I consider myself successful with fans in several countries including South Africa, the USA, Canada, and the UK.
This with no advertising, no exposure, just word of mouth and people like you who are willing to take a chance on an unknown author.
M - Why are your books not available on Kalahari or Lulu or on a similar platform?
M - Yes, why are you not with a traditional publisher?
HG - I have a distributor site where the books are listed and people can buy it from there. Most international sales are ebooks through PayPal.
The books are listed on Goodreads and Wattpad, so it is not as if they are not visible if someone is looking for something specific.
It is a miracle in itself that anyone can find someone with all the millions of books available in any case.
Regarding a publisher.
Initially, after writing the first book and family and friends' positive feedback, I decided to try the normal route in seeking a publisher.
The Chronicles of Han did not stand a chance, not in the traditional publishing environment. Publishers are not interested in scanning through a 700 page science fiction book from a first time LADY author. Six months down the line, the copies of the books were collected, found to be unopened, still sealed as it was handed in.
The verbal reasons we received for no interest was 'This in not what we are looking for', 'We are not interested in this type of material', 'We only publish truly South African related novels', 'This is a niche market book'. The list went on and on and on.
Not perturbed, I executed my original plans, got quotes for printing for the books that were ordered, collected the funds from the readers waiting for hard-copies and went to print.
After all the hard work to get the books to printing stage, I do not think I will allow the books out of my hands in any case. Maybe if someone places a Lord of the Rings or Twilight offer on the table, I might rethink my current decision.
M - Your first ebook, Preserving Creata, was published in February 2010. If you started writing the books end of 2008, how long does it take you to actually write a book, have it edited and then publish?
HG - The average draft writing takes between four to six months actual time spent writing. Editing takes anything from six months until the book is polished enough to go out to first readers. More changes might be required before going for a first print-run. And after that, small changes can still be adjusted on the e-books. That is why I love e-books. If you notice a cosmetic error, it can be rectified immediately.
M - That averages a book every twelve months. Hmm, I can live with that.
M - Your books sometimes get quite technical on the science side of things. I do not always understand all of it so skip over those areas. My husband, on the other hand, is amazed at the accuracy of explanations of things. Who helps you with these things? I mean, it is not as if women are considered to be science orientated? Or am I just being old school?
HG - Do not worry about sounding old school. Half my readers are pensioners in any case. Regarding the science things, I honestly do not have an answer for that. It is just there, when I write the stories. It is just part of the story.
Then my husband, a conscientious science type, is my back-up. I rely on him to help out in confirming or tweaking the complicated, technical things.
We do have our disagreements, though. But I have been fortunate that a lot of things placed in the books have subsequently been proven by science or mathematics.
Any other research that needs to be done is usually looked up in our extensive library at home or on the internet.
Names, Emotions and Immortality
M - How do you know what to call the people in your books?
HG - I just do. As I type I just know what they are called and I go with that. As I said. It just happens for me.
M - The adventures described in the books feel incredibly familiar, yet I know I have never before read a book similar to this one. Some of the life experiences could have been taken straight from my life. Did you base some of it on people around you?
HG - The Chronicles of Han Storm deals with life in all its forms. I feel sure that everyone can relate to at least one person or situation in the books, therefore the familiar feeling. Did I base the people in the Chronicles of Han on people that I know? Yes, I did. Ronald even stated that it could just as well have been our lives.
M - I cry whenever a person dies in your books. I cried for days after the first few pages of Leilaka. I just could not stop. Here we were used to Han being immortal and suddenly his life is placed on hold in criostasis. It felt so real to me and my family could not understand why I was crying. To them it is just a book. To me, this is more than a book. It is like an addictive soap opera and I was initially in shock before I fell in love with Leilaka's world and Han's intrigue at all the new things around him.
But my question is, do you mourn the loss of people in your books, like I am sure some of us do?
HG - Yes. I do. But that is life. People move on to different ways of being and we need to learn to accept that.
M - Are you immortal, like Han in the Creata series?
- LAUGHTER -
HG - No. Although with all the disasters I have survived, one could start to think so, could one not? If it was not for the scarring, eczema and sometimes painful conditions, I might have believed so. But no, I am not. My body is just a body.
Intrigue, fascination and re-reading
HG - I have a question for you.
I find it fascinating that people are drawn to read The Chronicles of Han Storm, not once or twice, but many times. What do you find so intriguing about the books? Why do you re-read it?
M - I was originally introduced to the Han Storm books through a friend. I love Han Storm. He drinks coffee, he uses drugs, he eats what he wants, when he wants. He is an emotional person. The issues he deals with are sometimes every day challenges, set in different milieus, and a lot of times astonishing situations he finds himself in. I simply cannot stop reading. I absolutely have to see what is going to happen next or where there is another twist in the tale.
M - A mutual friend introduced me to Han and I was immediately intrigued, not just with the books but the Author and her personal story as well. Han Storm is addictive. I call it Han-fixes! I get grumpy when I am busy with one of the books and someone needs my attention somewhere else.
M - We first discovered the Healing oils and then investigated the books. When I realised that this was a metaphysical adventure with different dimensions, life on other plants, UFO's, etc, that was the key attraction.
Re-reading it for a second time is like reading it for the first time, again, just differently for there is suddenly information in there that I have not noticed before. I feel that the series of books is written to perfection. When you start, you do not want to put it down, you just want to read and see what Han is up to next.
There is no comparison that I can make to other books. Reading the Chronicles of Han is as if you are experiencing his adventures page by page and makes me feel as if I am part of the adventure. The detail in each book is awesome and you are transported to another universe for a split second and feel at home at the same time. I have never experienced it with any other book and can not wait to read Han's new adventures.
M - I was introduced to the books by a friend and loved them immediately. I am re-reading it because I missed a lot in the initial read. It is amazing, but I have read it three times already and still read things that I just cannot remember having come across the first two times I read the books.
It is as if my brain somehow misses out on pieces of the story and by the time I read it again I know how the story goes, but you still come across these previously not digested areas.
You are somehow reading a new book, yet know you have read the book before. Now it seems different and you read it differently too.
M - My husband and I have a similar experience. The books seem fresh, every time you read them. Even if they feel like old friends, the content still draws you into the story and you stand amazed at what you have actually not taken in the last time around.
M - I have a passion for metaphysical books, reading everything I can find on the subject. Han Storm's books are always exciting, never boring, feels like reality and there is so much information in it that reading it only once is just not enough.
I found the same as you. The first time I read it, I missed so many things because when I read it again, there were a lot of things I had not noticed before.
When reading metaphysical material from other authors, the snippets of information are just enough to make you curious to come back for more. You never get the whole picture. But with Han Storm, you experience it step by step from a practical perspective.
M - I met the author on a mutual blogging platform and was drawn to the books because of their metaphysical undertones. It explained to me the things I am interested in. I found a mentor by the name of Han Storm and soon the Chronicles of Han became my reference books.
I love the books because I can relate to Han Storm's life experiences which are the stories of a hero that can go where other people can not even dream of. These books transport me to planes and universes that have been opened by Han. It makes me think deeper about life and how small we are. To me it is the most educational books about the gifts that people have that they do not know about or do not care to develop.
M - These books read like science fiction novels but feel so real, as if the events truly did happen. I just love the possibility to move to other planets. The technology and the use of crystal power is so fascinating, something that we do not seem to have reached yet here on Earth.
The story is amazing and I can re-read it again and again, each time learning more while remaining fascinated all the time. They are beautifully written and easily understandable.
M - The fact that one of the main characters was a good friend that has since passed over, makes the whole Chronicles of Han an amazing experience for me.
I am in the middle of re-reading Book 1. Now that I know the basic facts, it is fascinating to watch out for the finer details and descriptions as the story unfolds.
It is impossible to regard these books as only made up fantasy. The incredibly detailed accounts of every move Han makes, as well as his own emotions defies fiction. Because of my personal involvement and life-long interest in Theology the contents in these books resonate with me, revealing easily understood insights into areas I have long wished to explore.
The only flaw I can find with the Han Storm books is that now I have lost interest in reading other novels and fictional material. I do not know if other readers struggle with the same issue.
M - It took me quite a while to muster up the courage to start reading novels again. I tend to be disappointed these days. After Han Storm, the other stories seem bland. There are some that peak the interest, but I find myself always wishing for another Han book. Then I start re-reading Han's adventures again.
M - The contents of the books are simply mind-blowing. I have always been fascinated with Science Fiction films based on questioning how they managed to put the films together that it looks so absolutely real. It was mostly the technical aspect that intrigued me.
After reading the Chronicles of Han Storm, I am sure that everything imaginable must come from somewhere. It gave me a new angle of looking at these films, some quite scary and gruesome, exactly what I found in the Han Storm books.
What fascinates me is that I find it totally impossible for an ordinary housewife with an ordinary husband and two ordinary girls to have the time to sit down, plot these books with all the different characters, names, scenarios, events, technical descriptions, names for the most weird creatures and things, find venues for all of this to happen in worlds nearly similar to ours, in different dimensions and universes.
And then you bring all of it together in ordinary understandable English, giving it to us in book form.
Once started with a book I cannot stop reading because I just want to see what comes next and when I get to the end of the book I am so disappointment because the story is finished and there is no more.
But you said I should not panic. There is more to come, so hope springs eternal.
M - It is just the patience that lacks.
M - Agreed.
M - I love the books because there is a story within a story within a story! This is a multi-levelled piece of work where nothing ever remains the same as each level reveals itself.
At surface level we have a jolly good action-packed adventure story full of intrigue, deception, romance, drama. It contains everything that one needs to be entertained.
But what makes it so different is the fact that whilst reading the Chronicles of Han something happens to the reader, whether the reader is aware of it or not, and deep profound truths reveal themselves.
It is then up to the reader to make use of what is being revealed, or not. The choice is always left to the reader. I have not found such depths in other books.
Each time I read the Chronicles of Han, I feel more enriched, expanded, wiser and my outlook upon life has broadened. I seem to understand more about myself, life, and the living of it.
How can one describe a feeling? I cannot find the correct words to describe the feelings generated whilst reading The Chronicles of Han Storm.
For me, it is all beyond words.
- short silence -
HG - Closing question please?
All Book Club Members - Where is the next book!?
- LAUGHTER -
Copyright © H Gibson Chronicles of Han Storm. All rights reserved. 2009-2014 www.chroniclesofhan.com