Residing in California USA, Gordon Snider is an experienced novelist, writing both fiction and nonfiction. A world traveler, his current book release, The Hypnotist, is a riveting thriller that takes place in the 1900’s.
Your book cover is creepy and enticing at the same time! A great cover!
Every time I do a book signing, people are drawn to that cover. They often pick it up first.
Who is the Hypnotist?
A very evil man who preys on young women from the rat plagued streets of the tenements. He hypnotizes them and delivers them to the tongs, vicious gangs who run the brothels and opium dens in Chinatown. The young women are forced into servitude in the brothels.
What drew you to San Francisco, 1906?
I have always been drawn to San Francisco. In fact, I lived in the Bay Area for 20 years. I thought it would be the perfect setting for my novel, but I had a problem. I had just finished a novel, The Separatist, that took place in the city during the modern era, and I did not want repeat the same setting. Then I thought about 1906. It was such a colorful period in San Francisco's history, with the newly minted millionaires, the desperately poor who lived in the tenements south of Market Street, the murky warren of endless alleyways in Chinatown, and, of course, the great earthquake and fire. When I started writing the novel, I found it to be the perfect setting.
Did you do a lot of research about the earthquake and fire?
Our local library had many books filled with first-hand accounts of great the earthquake and fire. I spent hours pouring over them and found the descriptions mesmerizing. They made the events seem more real in a way ordinary descriptions could not, and they brought my story to life.
Who is your favorite character?
That has to be my protagonist, Marta. She is a feisty young woman who faces many challenges and hurdles and confronts them with a courage and determination not found in many women of that era. In my previous two novels, my heroines are not nearly so sure of themselves but developed inner resolve and confidence as the novels proceeded. In the Hypnotist, Marta shows her spirit from page one to the end of the story.
Please share an excerpt from The Hypnotist…
“There it was again. The sound of feet clambering over shattered wood. The sound came closer. Boards were pushed aside. The light above her head grew brighter. Before she could call again, hands appeared and ripped at the mass of splintered wood that held her captive. The smoke was visible now, thick gray smoke that nearly choked her when she breathed. There was little time. The hands were working rapidly. She felt a shift in the weight on top of her. Suddenly, it was gone! Her arms and legs were free, and someone's arms were reaching around her and pulling her from her tomb.
She gasped with relief as the arms pulled her to her feet. A wall of flame less than a block away nearly blinded her with its fierce orange-yellow glow, and for a moment she couldn't see her rescuer. The heat from the flames pushed the cold air aside and quickly produced a film of sweat on her face and arms. They couldn't stay there much longer, but the rope chafing her skin prevented her from moving. He swiftly untied the knots that bound her. How deftly his fingers worked. How familiar they seemed. Once her hands and feet were free, she spun around to face her rescuer. He had moved so she could see him clearly. She found herself staring into the deep-set eyes of the hypnotist! She rubbed her painful wrists and looked at him in amazement. He was alive and had just rescued her from a horrible fate. For a heartbeat, gratefulness overcame anger; relief overwhelmed rage. She stared at his face with a mixture of happiness to be alive and fury for the terrible things he had done.
She saw by the way that he tried to focus his eyes on hers that he wanted to hypnotize her, but he couldn't hold his gaze. His eyes darted across her face with the capriciousness of a restless bird. They would settle on hers, then fly off, return and then flit away again. Flashes of pleasure streaked through her body each time he succeeded in arresting his wayward gaze, but the desire to be with him quickly dissipated when he glanced away. He had been undone by the earthquake, and for a while, at least, rendered powerless. Marta's relief at being rescued subsided as anger gained the upper hand. He hadn't come for her because he was concerned about her life. He wanted to enslave her and have her do his will. The realization made her more determined to escape.
The flames were moving rapidly towards them as they stood facing each other. The hypnotist finally managed to bring his rebellious eyes under control, but their potency remained weak. Marta refused to be deterred by his gaze. She stared into those fearful eyes defiantly, until they blinked and scurried away. Precious sends remained for them to flee the impending fire storm, yet neither moved. The hypnotist was still trying to bend her to his will, and she refused to let him do so. It was a standoff that would consume them both if they didn't end their silent confrontation. A small clocked ticked in the back of Marta's head. It told her she was out of time. Her arms were already singed and her clothes heated to the point of combustion. She had to flee now or perish, yet her feet refused to move.”
Is your story line based upon your own life experiences?
No, my stories are based in settings I know well, either from first-hand experience or research. I often include scenes, character traits or subplots based on incidents from my life, but not on life experiences.
Describe your writing/editing style and routine...
I write a novel at least five times. The initial draft is very rough, sort of a skeleton of the story to come. Each succeeding daft builds on the previous one as I flesh out characters, add new ones or eliminate ones that do not add enough to the story. Generally, I start with a pretty good idea of the underlying plot, but not much more than an outline. As I proceed, characters grow and change. They often surprise me as they evolve. And the plot takes on new twists in turns for which I did not plan. Serious editing begins about the fourth writing, although I have already done considerable editing in the precious drafts. When I am working on a novel, I usually write several hours a day, not because I have a forced routine. Rather, it is because I can hardly wait to get back on my computer and see what my characters are going to do next!
When did you realize you wanted to become a writer?
In my early twenties. However, I limited those earlier years to magazine articles and a couple of business books. I did not have the time or patience to write novels. All that changed when I made two trips into Tibet and decided to write a novel about a woman who undertook great hardships in order to help the Tibetans overcome the crushing weight of China's rule. Dianne [Helm] loved the novel (Sigouney's Quest) and so did book clubs. More to the point, I discovered a love for novel writing and that is mostly what I have done for the past dozen years.
Who is your favorite author?
Joyce Carol Oates and Gore Vidal. Both have tackled their subject manner with biting writing styles and approached their subjects from different angles than most other writers.
What are you currently writing?
I am not writing anything at the moment, but I have begun to outline some ideas.
What are you currently reading?
I am currently reading Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. It is a non-fiction account of a serial killer operating during the building and running of the world's fair in Chicago.
Get your ideas down on paper (or computer), no matter how rough they might be. Don't try to create a work of art in you first draft. There will be plenty of time to develop the characters and plot and to be a wordsmith as you proceed. But do not undertake the challenge of a full novel unless you are prepared to rewrite, edit and rewrite and edit, etc. Sometimes it is better to hone your initial skills on short stories. They are easier to get published and they can help you learn about dialogue, character development, underlying plots and sub-plots, etc.
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