Interview with Author Humphrey Hawksley

Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I am an author and foreign correspondent and my work for the BBC over the past thirty years has taken me to crises all over the world.  I wrote my first book, when the great military publisher William Armstrong from Macmillan asked me to write about a conflict between China and the United Stated. Dragon Strike: The Millennium War was published in 1997 and became a best seller. I now write thrillers. The latest is the second in the Rake Ozenna series, Man on Edge set on the Norway-Russian border described by Charles Cumming as ‘a page-turning spy thriller with the atmosphere of a Cold War classic’ and San Francisco Review of Books as being ‘gripping, addictive and successful at every level. Man on Edge was also a New York Post Best Books choice.

What inspired you to write your book?

I see huge potential in the character of Rake Ozenna. He comes from the exceptionally remote island of Little Diomede on the US-Russian border and is torn between his own tight-knit community and culture the wider more complex world. The great Nelson de Mille described Rake as ‘smart and tough, and we’re glad to have him on our side. Library Journal’s review spoke of a ‘hard-as-nails hero’ and Shots Crime the Thriller said ‘Rake Ozenna is proving to be one of the more believable characters in a crowded field.’  Rake has a kick-ass on and off girlfriend with trauma surgeon Carrie Walker and two other key characters from the corridors of power becoming loved by readers.

What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I would love them to see Man on Edge as an international adventure story from which they get an insight into the modern world of espionage. 

What drew you into this particular genre?

As a foreign correspondent, I switched between reporting from the highest levels of government to the poorest and most vulnerable. I try to bring these contrasts into my story-telling and the thriller is the natural home genre.

If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

I would sit down with Ruslan Yumatov the antagonist and ask him why he thinks his high profile acts of catastrophic destruction will make the world a better place. Is he right or is he deluded?

What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

I haven’t yet identified a clear front runner. Face Book may have the most impact.  Others swear by Instagram.  And Goodreads is meant to work well. On pure sales’ platforms, Amazon is streaks ahead. It’s important to be out there, like Woody Allen says ninety-per cent of success is just turning up.

What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Read the competition in your genre. Don’t show drafts to friends or family. Get a professional to work on it first.  Work out your publicity and marketing. 

What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I deliver the third Rake Ozenna thriller Man on Fire in May and in June an expanded and revised version of my latest non-fiction Asian Waters: The Struggle over the Indo-Pacific the Challenge to American Power. I am also looking at doing a non-fiction on the future of Europe. 


About the Author

Humphrey Hawksley’s brand-new international thriller series begins in paperback in October 2019 with MAN ON ICE a knuckle-whitening drama set on the remote and wild US-Russian border. In early, 2020 comes the nail-biting MAN ON EDGE set on the Norway-Russian border followed in 2021 by MAN ON FIRE whose location is yet to disclosed. Rake Ozenna, a native of Little Diomede island in Alaska is the series hero. Each thriller includes trauma surgeon, Dr Carrie Walker, American intelligence contractor, Harry Lucas, and his ex-wife, British businesswoman and diplomat, Stephanie Lucas.

Humphrey’s thrillers have been widely praised. Steve Berry describes ‘authentic settings, non-stop action’ from MAN ON ICE. Lee Child speaks of SECURITY BREACH as ‘high stakes, high octane’ and Alan Furst as a ‘hard-driving, a good taut thriller’ — right back to the first future history thriller DRAGON STRIKE: THE MILLENNIUM WAR which Steve Coonts hailed as ‘ominous and insightful.’

His recent non-fiction ASIAN WATERS: THE STRUGGLE OVER THE SOUTH CHINA SEA AND THE STRATEGY OF CHINESE EXPANSION has been acclaimed on every continent by those at the heart of global decision-making, such as Indian cabinet minister, Hardeep Puri; the last governor of Hong Kong Baron Lord Patten of Barnes; and Dr Wu Shicun, President of China’s National Institute for South China Sea Studies. China’s rise is a fast developing story, and Humphrey is currently working on an updated edition which is due out in June 2020.

Humphrey’s work as a BBC foreign correspondent has taken him all over the world with postings in Beijing, Hong Kong, Manila, Delhi and Colombo. He has contributed to ABC, National Public Radio and other networks in the United States and global publication of his work includes the Financial Times, New York Times, Yale Global, Nikkei Asian Review and others.


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