Author Interview – C.C. Hogan – Dirt Series (Epic Fantasy/Comedy) & Singer/Songwriter/Poet

Hey there everyone.

Welcome to the last Monday of the month (probably a good thing) and to the one hundredth Author Interview on this website 🙂

While I’m busy cracking open the Prosecco, party poppers and nibbles, without further ado, let’s get straight into the interview with our guest who wears many hats.

May I present to you all Singer, Songwriter, Poet and Fantasy Author C.C. Hogan, as we delve into his passions, inspirations and what makes him the creative powerhouse and inspirational writer that he is.

Thanks for reading and have a fantastic time.

(All artwork in this interview drawn by C.C. Hogan)

 

Hi there C.C., thank you for being with us here today to chat about your extraordinary fantasy books and your heartfelt poetry.

Let’s start with your novel series “Dirt”, a huge fantasy saga set over the course of hundreds of years with humans and dragons living together. Can you give us a brief rundown regarding the series, the story, genres and themes that sit behind it all and the challenges your protagonists face across the course of their adventures.

I didn’t set out to write a saga; I was going to write a one-book comedy fantasy. You can still see traces of the comedy in some of the books now. I had this idea of a very tall, stupidly handsome, poor boy on an adventure with a large, fat dragon and a very silly magician. The challenges were simple; rescue his stunningly beautiful, red-headed sister and beat the baddie, whoever he was.

I roughed it out and started writing. Within four chapters I realised I had something completely different. It was the dragons that were the first problem. It struck me that an intelligent creature who could talk would not live in a damp cave. She would be wise, have family, friends, ideas, wishes, just like the rest of us.

And then there was the main hero; Johnson Farthing. He is terribly poor, and as I looked at his life, I realised who the “baddie” had to be. Poverty.

I tore it up and started again.

The saga of Dirt follows the Farthing family. They live in a world that has not advanced much past the kind of civilisation that would be recognised by the Anglo Saxons. Oh, occasionally over the thousands of years it has moved into something medieval perhaps, but then strife and starvation have knocked society back again.

One empire after another has destroyed the world and most people live either an isolated, hard existence or are oppressed by greedy rulers. There are no hero princes and princesses in this tale; this is not Narnia where the hero children having won the day, then rule over a feudal society.

This is Dirt. And the battle that will be fought time and time again will be against oppression and for freedom. Weasel, the oddly named magician says, “Freedom can be the most powerful weapon in the world if enough people hold onto it at the same time.”
So, the first series tell the story of Farthing as he goes from being a humble cart pusher, a dirt digger, to leading an army in alliance with the incredible dragons of Dirt.
His story leads him across the continents on the back of the beautiful Fren-Eirol. He learns to fight, he falls in love, he discovers his true strength as a leader and he and the inspirational Pree try to set the people free.

But he is also young. Farthing is only nineteen when we meet him, and through the story, we watch as he and his young friends grow up and learn the true, terrible cost of victory.
I decided, however, that I would not make this a dark tale. In the fantasy genre we fall into the “Dark is clever” trap too often. Real people have humour. They laugh at silly things, even in the depths of tragedy. Look at the Wipers Times produced in the trenches of the first world war. Full of silly satire and daft jokes written by soldiers. So, my characters joke, even in battle, they have daft banter and fall over their feet. Even the dragons. I mean, in which other book would someone nickname a one-legged dragon Drumstick?
Series two is a different beast. Set five hundred years later, it tells the story of Silvi Farthing, the distant descendant of Johnson Farthing and Mistry.

I had two aims for this tale. It had to have many more dragons in it and I wanted it to be women led.

Silvi is only seventeen, but my inspiration for her was, in part, Joan of Arc. Silvi is not religious and is probably far sillier than people tell of Joan, but she also becomes a great leader and we watch the heavy price she pays.

The main thrust of the story is simple; the dragons, who were driven away by disease in series one want to come home. So, this is their story. We meet many dragon characters, we learn about their lives, about their humour, hear the songs they sing, their wisdom from their hundreds of years of life. We learn about their humour, their love of their friends and their strength. We even learn about their love lives.

You can learn more about them here: On the Dragons of Dirt by C.C. Hogan

Series three… oh. Not yet!

WomenofDirtCCHogan

You also have another stand-alone novel called “The Stink”, which is set in London in the 1970’s. What is the premise behind this particular novel and what ideas/inspiration drove you to write it?

I was born in North London and was sixteen during the long, hot summer of 1976. I even played in a band. So, that was the inspiration.

The Stink is a comedy about five sixteen-year-olds who have just finished their O-Levels and want to spend the summer getting their band off the ground.

It is an adventure. A story about growing up, about making great music and have a great time. Despite a double murder…

Behind it too is London and the UK of the seventies. People sometimes forget how intolerant our society was. The Black and White Minstrel show was still running with white dancers blacking up, racist and homophobic jokes were mainstream stand up and even in our family TV sitcoms. The National Front were on the rise and marching in the streets, and though they were characterised by the skin-head thugs they used, their main following was ordinary people living ordinary lives. These people, our friends and neighbours, stood behind placards saying they wanted Jews and Blacks out of our schools.
The band is five friends. A white, lower-middle-class singer, a southern Irish female drummer, a black keyboard player, a Jewish lead guitarist and a Liverpudlian rhythm guitarist. I had to get one Liverpudlian in there! Oh, and the singer’s brother comes out half way through the book.

Did I mention it is a comedy? There are tears too.

If any of your novels were to be made into movies (or even a TV series), who would you cast in the lead roles?

That is easier than you think. When I write, I speak out loud, and I give my characters voices to help me make them individual; it is very easy for all your goodies to have the same personalities, and likewise with the baddies.

Weasel in Dirt would be played by David Tennant with his native Scottish accent. I like his sarcasm.

Bren-Hevvin, the vast red dragon, would be voiced by Anthony Hopkins.

Smell in The Stink would be played by a young Jude Law, or perhaps a young Michael Cane.

Fren-Eirol, the beautiful sea dragon would be voiced by Lauren Bacall. I am not sure if dragons can whistle.

Silvi would be played by an unknown. Her story might be influenced by Joan of Arc (properly Jeanne D’Arc), but her character is a young, gay friend of mine from my youth who did act for a while. She would play herself perfectly.

JohnsonFarthingCCHogan

You also write and perform poetry, which is fantastic, especially as we get to hear it in your distinct North London British accent, which makes it all the more endearing and fun to listen to. What does it mean to you personally being a poet? How do you feel that this influences how you see, feel and interact with the world around you?

Thanks for finding it endearing. I think some find my voice sometimes scary; a bit too close to Bob Hoskins or Ray Winstone. Vinnie Jones, perhaps?

I have written poetry since a kid, but except for a few songs, I never showed it to anyone. When I decided to become the writer, or at least try, I thought it was time my poems came out of the draw.

I don’t pretend I am a great poet or somehow inspirational, but I find I can be more honest in poetry than in anything else. I can tell someone I love them in a poem, or how I love them, much more openly than with a story or a conversation. I can get angry in poetry too.
But poems don’t really belong on the page. That is how we are taught them at school which explains why so many kids hate poetry. Poems belong in the streets, in the bars. They are meant to be spoken and performed by those who write them. Which is why kids love songs and rap, without realising they are poems too.

How does a poem begin for you? Does it start with an image, a form or a particular theme?

Often it comes from a conversation. My songs do too; and my songs are just my poems set to music. I am a professional composer, so that is an obvious route. Take Little Island Girl, a recent song which has been well received on ReverbNation and is being featured in July.
A young friend is living on the Scilly Isles at the moment, taking a break from an over complicated teenage life. She said I should write a poem about a girl living on an island. So I did. I wrote a song about her.

LittleIslandGirlCCHogan

Link:- Little Island Girl by C.C. Hogan

Or Hunting Dragons. That is about the games and the loneliness of childhood. And how just one special friend can change your world.

Link:- Hunting Dragons by C.C. Hogan

My favourite is, however, The Everything Stew. It tells the true story of when a pile of us went to stay in a cabin for a weekend when we were young. It kind of went wrong as the weather was terrible. I am also a cook and was even back then, so I took all our supplies and made one huge stew to keep us warm before we ran back home.

Link:- The Everything Stew by C.C. Hogan

Has your own opinion or idea of what poetry is changed since you first started writing and performing poetry?

Oh, yes!

I come from a generation where we had Wordsworth, Tennyson and Keats stuffed down our throats at school. I hated it. I know these are great poets, but their lives were not mine; most were from a different era. I couldn’t relate to them and I have no idea why kids are even taught them at school.

More modern poets from Benjamin Zephaniah to even mad idiots like Roger McGough, and the loads of young poets out there, speak of my life and my loves.

And I love the poems written by people on Twitter. Often dreadful with no sense of poetry, they are also honest and open and true.

Social media has allowed people to put their poetry out there in a way that has never happened before. Anyone can pen something and just post it on Twitter or Facebook, and someone will read it and relate to it. I love that and don’t care if it is badly written, it still deserves to be out there.

I just wish more people would take a risk and record their poems so we hear their voices. That is part of the poem too.

What do you find the most difficult thing about writing? And what do you find the easiest?

The easiest is simple. I spew out words by the ton load. Dirt is more than 1.5 million words so far and I have volumes of material laying around that I haven’t put into some sensible form.

And I cant stop thinking of stories and ideas. I have never had writers block or not been able to think of story or poem. They are always in my head waiting for me to turn on the tap.

For me the most difficult thing is the actual words. I am very literate, but I am a little word blind. I don’t think I am Dyslexic, I have a couple of friends who are and I don’t have anywhere near their struggles, but spelling is big problem for me, as is spotting grammar typos. I know how to do it, I just don’t always see the mistakes, despite many re-reads.
The solution is to hire an editor, of course, but the glib prats who parade their sodding degrees around writing anal reviews and sending foul emails, might have the money to pay an editor; I and most of the indie writers out there do not.

I am not a vanity writer and I have to justify every penny I spend. My books are big; it would cost me thousands that I simply do not have.

Who are some of the authors, poets and historical figures that inspire you?

It is an odd bunch. Joan of Arc I have already mentioned, though it is her youth that inspires me, not her story. I think Shakespeare is probably one of the best Fantasy writer’s ever.

Link:- Shakespeare and the Fantasy Writer by C.C. Hogan

I have a soft spot for Mervyn Peake and Gormenghast. Oh, and Winnie the Pooh. There is quite a lot of Winnie in my dragons.

I love the writers who work on things like the original Muppet show. I envy the ability to be inane, to write nonsense. I think it tells far more about the human existence than the inaccurate romanticism of the classic poets.

I like the coolness of some of the sixties actors like Paul Newman and Steve McQueen, and love the idea that they probably were not cool at all.

Painters often inspire me. I love Van Gogh. I was lucky enough to record an interview with Baron Thyssen decades ago about his art collection. We were standing in the RA while they were putting together an exhibition of some of his private art collection, and were recording his thoughts for the Audio Guide. It was just me and him and a mic.

They had just hung a Van Gogh and we stood next to it while Thyssen talked about how he bought it at an auction over the phone. As he talked, he ran his finger over the canvas and told me to do the same. He said that the feel of the brush strokes with Van Gogh was as important as the colours.

I GOT TO TOUCH A VAN GOGH!!!

SeaDragonCCHogan

What sort of research do you do to write your books and your poems?

For my poems, absolutely nothing. They are purely reactive, which is why I love them so much.

But my books? Oh, boy!

When I first tried to write many years ago, I thought planning was a waste of time. That was such a mistake. (Note to those new writers who claim they don’t need to plan and can just write – bollocks!)

Now, not only do I do a huge amount of planning and research, but I love it. With Dirt, I had to read up about how to hitch a wagon, how fast armies move on foot (bloody slowly), how to feed a horse, what a primitive tavern sold, and on and on and on.

My notes for the books are around 150,000 words long now. Some of them are making their way onto the Dirt Website. The Abbey is basically my encyclopaedia of the world of Dirt and gives details of the world, the maps, the people, everything.

To create a world, you have to know how it ticks, how it works on the basic day to day level.

How else can you write about it?

Link:- The Abbey by C.C. Hogan

Why do you write? What inspired you to become a writer?

I am not sure. I wrote poems and silly stories when only a little kid. I just sort of continued. Originally my creative output went into music and working many years as a sound designer. It is only more recently that I have published my written words.

My best friend says he is not surprised I write. He says some people just do. He also says he is glad I do; it makes me easier to switch off!

I wonder about the idea of a “best friend” sometimes.

What keeps you motivated during creative slumps? How do you deal with Writers Block?

I never get it.

The better question is how I cope if I am prevented from writing, for instance if my computer breaks down or someone wants me to put down my pen and go somewhere.

I cope very badly.

You have access to a time machine. What advice would you give to your younger self?

Don’t get distracted. Take writing seriously and discover how much fun writing 160,000 words can be.

I would also tell the fourteen-year-old me to ignore his parent’s and teachers. Tell them to get lost and do the arts at school and not let them force him into maths and science.
We fail our young people by telling them that if they don’t learn how to “code” or be an engineer or accountant then they have no future.

Being artistic and creative is far more important than fulfilling the politicians targets for a country full of boring academics.

SilviFarthingCCHogan

How do you spend your free time when you are not writing?

I had an allotment for several years, but I had to give that up. To be honest, nearly all my time is spent being creative.

If I am not writing, I am learning to draw. If I am not drawing, I am composing music.

And when none of that inspires, then I cook. I am probably a better cook than I am either a writer or musician. Which is why I have a food section on my writing blog and am relaunching my old food site soon.

Tell us more about your upcoming projects. Are you working on anything specific or have plans in the pipeline?

Dirt series three is on the horizon, but I am trying to keep that out of my head for the moment.

Currently I am working on the Audiobook version of Dirt. I am a reasonable voice over and was a sound engineer and voice director for many years, so this is something I can do without cost. Really, I have delayed too long so must now get on with it.

The next new project is a book called Dawn on the Rock. It is a story about a twelve-year-old girl who moves to the moon with her father, goes to school and ends up in an adventure. It will be aimed at the twelve to sixteen age group and should be a lot of fun. I am planning on it being just the first of several Dawn stories.

The big challenge there is whether I can keep it short enough. I do like epics!

Finally, are there any nuggets of wisdom that you can impart to other aspiring writers?

It is very easy to say things like “study hard,” or “proof read lots” or “plan carefully.” All of which put people off writing, to be fair.

So, I would say, ignore everything all the writing pundits tell you; get on your feet and tell your story, whatever it is. Have fun, mess with it, break the rules, whatever it takes.
Telling your story is so much more important than “learning to be a writer.”

And that’s a wrap! Thank you for giving us such a wonderful insight into all of your creative endeavours C.C., we can’t wait to give our eyes and ears a treat as we delve deeper into your epic world, stories and songs 🙂

Bio:-

CCHoganProfilePic

C.C. Hogan has been in the creative world since a brat. Born in North London, he was a singer and bassist before becoming a sound designer working on music, film, TV, radio drama and far too many commercials.

He now works from home as a composer and writer and dreams of opening his own ancient tavern, so he can inflict his cooking on the world.

He hasn’t played bass for years to the relief of many.

You can connect with him on the following Social Media channels:-

Facebook:- C.C. Hogan – Author (FB)
ReverbNation:- Songs of C.C. Hogan (ReverbNation)
Twitter:- @Its_CCHogan (Twitter)
Website:- The Author Blog and Website of C.C. Hogan
YouTube:- Poems, stories and songs read by Author C.C. Hogan (YouTube)

You can buy his books here:-

Buy C.C. Hogan’s books in Canada

Buy C.C. Hogan’s books in the UK/Europe

Buy C.C. Hogan’s books in the US/Rest of the World

If you too would like to be interviewed on my blog at TooFullToWrite and you have a book or a series of books that you would like us to chat about then fill out the Contact Me form here with your details and we can arrange a future interview slot.

Still want more? Well, C.C. Hogan has a very distinct storytelling style in his poems, songs and stories. For more articles on the theme of ‘Vivid’ then check out the links below:-

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214. juantetcts – Daily Post
215. CopyCat Cafe: Pool For Two – Rexine Rawhead
216. Seal Matches – Vivid kaleidoscope of human history: like the Roman asleep in the peat, you are important
217. Day trip: scouting vacation spots ⋆ Obsolete Childhood
218. Lustful jelly-mixing? – CD-W, Author Flawed to Perfection
219. Tanka//VIVID – Suzhalgal
220. museums- vivid daily prompt – variouslemon
221. debooWORKS – Leafy
222. I wrote a book. Now what? – The “What ifs” Of Imagination
223. Remarkably Vivid… – A Place to learn and grow together
224. Through the Looking Glass – As I was saying…
225. The Greek Life – Nomadchasingwaterfalls
226. Write Ally! Write! – Vivid (In a dream)
227. Southern By Design – Existence
228. Rants always help – Oh, border!
229. Childhood Memories – neilsworldofenglish
230. **Vivid** – writinganddrinkingblog
231. Vivid Recollection Of Soul – eddaz
232. nightedbones – Vivid
233. Tabling Color – a moment teller’s
234. Carlos Cunha – Trump Deports Margaret Cho
235. Nostalgia – Fiction & Psychological Exploration
236. Life’s a Beach…Reboot – Success Strategies
237. debooWORKS – The Love for Shoes
238. A Vivid Poem – Scattered Showers in a Clear Sky
239. The Dream – stitches and poems
240. Goblin: a beautiful journey – stitches and poems
241. LifeBlog – OPEN YOUR EYES VIVIDLY: THERE ARE OPPORTUNITIES WHERE YOU ARE
242. Faith Unlocked – Return to the Light
243. debooWORKS – #Colors of Durga Puja
244. Vivid – Daily Prompt
245. B_ live – There is ONE thing …
246. Transparent – Cmoas
247. Heavenly Vision – Pete Gardner Psalms
248. Flower like love. – “Ananya, The Verbal Seduction.”
249. Vivid—”full of life” – Writing the wrongs
250. Shaggy Life – NOOKS&CRANNIES
251. Teorias de Inspira – Nina
252. Sandra Pavloff Conner – Daily Post Prompt: Vivid
253. It starts with me – Memories
254. Pollution – A GORILLA’S EXISTENTIAL CRISIS
255. To Any Reader – S. Thomas Summers
256. MC’s Whispers – That sense of Spring
257. One Line Sunday- Bus schedule – In my world
258. Easy DIY Decorations for Spring – Savvy Geekmom
259. Vivid… – Emotions That Matter.
260. Designer Sophisticate – Bright shining blue.
261. Outdoor adventures offer out-of-this-world fun on Florida’s Space Coast – WeDiscover Geeks
262. Return to Innocence – Jajabor, The Nomad
263. Vivid – apserranoblog
264. Hot White Snow – The Invisible Fall
265. nerdhut – Homemade DIY word clock – Part 1
266. WANT TO KNOW A SECRET? – OKOTO ENIGMA’S BLOG
267. Boring Bug – The missing chapters from the book of life.
268. Lost Property Repository – The Day The Music Lived: All For You

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One thought on “Author Interview – C.C. Hogan – Dirt Series (Epic Fantasy/Comedy) & Singer/Songwriter/Poet

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