Author Spotlight time again and fourth up in the Mystery Thriller Week 2017 author interviews is Heinrich Böhmke, another South African writer. This is one interesting man I can assure you. Welcome Heinrich, the floor is yours –
Heinrich Böhmke grew up in rural South Africa. From a young age he liked nothing more than heading into the rugged mountains of the Eastern Cape with a gun and a dog. He also immersed himself in the tall tales of explorers, missionaries and rogues who traipsed over the same patches of veldt centuries before.
At University he studied law and literature. He fought against apartheid, being imprisoned for his activism. After democracy, he helped set up civil rights movements. Soon enough though, he became disillusioned with the course ‘the struggle’ took and left his socialist twenties behind him.
He is now a director of a company performing forensic investigations and training in litigation strategy. He works all over Africa. Heinrich also prosecutes corruption cases in South Africa’s public service; something that gives him quite a bit of fodder for his writing.
Heinrich’s debut novel, Sarie, is set against the armed skirmishes that have pitted people of the Eastern Cape against each other for two hundred years. His book received praise for bringing to light the forgotten plight of South Africa’s first people, the Khoikhoi, while at the same offering up a rip-roaring thriller plot.
You may find Heinrich on Twitter: @hbohmke and here:
Why do you write?
I want to entertain and move readers with the scenes and story lines that crop up in my imagination.
What are you currently working on?
I’m writing about a man pulled into the surprising seedy underworld of do-gooder NGOs in Africa. The story takes place in the US, Dubai and several countries in Africa. It involves money-laundering, diamond smuggling, dodgy churches and, of course, the murder and mayhem that ensues as the hapless hero grows a spine and threatens to expose it all.
From where did you draw your inspiration to write your latest book?
I train investigative journalists throughout Africa. I hear murmurs about how, among the pious in each country, many secretly act as conduits for foreign dirty money. Although the story is entirely fictional, it deals with how seemingly benign charities participate in truly audacious crimes.
Which writers had the most influence on your decision to write?
I wish it were a celebrated writer like JM Coetzee or Salman Rushdie. But in reality, it was the author of wry, enjoyable airport potboilers, William Lashner. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not belittling his story-telling. He’s good. The point is his writing contains social commentary and a number of fine philosophical passages and yet is not oppressively literary. I thought, I can do that!
What was the last book you read?
John Le Carrè: The Biography by Adam Sisman.
Do you suffer from writers’ block?
No. Or at least I don’t call it writers’ block. I’m either too lazy to work or I tell myself the idea or images are not yet ready to emerge. I must mull some more.
Biggest frustration as a self-published author?
Getting the paperback into one of the big three bookshops that dominate the South African book market. Big publishers completely dominate the shelves.
Reviews for books are vital. Any tips on getting more reviews?
I am exactly the wrong person to ask. I’ve been ridiculously coy about asking for reviews even from people who would probably give them. I was lucky enough to get four newspaper reviews from notable critics in South Africa. And then I waited for reviews by readers on Amazon or Goodreads. I’ve recently stumbled upon the Mystery and Thriller Week group which promises to generate some reviews.
Do you use social media? If so, do you like using it?
I loathe using social media to sell the book. Pure preciousness, I know. However, now that I have taken the plunge, I’m enjoying the community of other writers as a thing in itself. Even if no book sales come from it, I’ve discovered some hearty fellow travellers on Facebook, notably Books & Everything.
Who is your biggest fan?
My dear old mom, who has read the book five times and keeps pestering me with questions about the ending.
Many people have a bucket list. What is #1 on yours?
Number 1 on my bucket list, as an author, is the glorious day a serious producer phones me up to say, “Hey, do you think you could send us a screenplay of your book? Eastwood’s looking for a new project this summer.”
Any special message for your readers?
Let me hear from you. I value every insight and piece of criticism.
Wow! Sincerely, that was one great interview so thank you so much Heinrich! Sarie is now on my TBR list. If novels are your thing I strongly urge you to check out Heinrich’s book.
Sarie can be found here on Amazon:
Amazon Product description:
A Khoikhoi assassin, a blackmailed premier, a suicidal academic and a girl fleeing violence centuries deep. Four lives in crisis. On the same day. In the same hotel.
Sarie’s memories, the doctor tells her, are from 200 years ago. Confused and alone, all she wants is to return to her family. Jacqui plans to blackmail a senior politician. But Khaya stands in her way. He needs the politician to steer a deal his way.
Bitter about the fate of his people, Apollis feels he must shed blood to restore to them their land and dignity. Harry, unable to overcome his past, steps out of his comfort zone on the last day of his life.
When they meet, the place that birthed them all, burns.
Top Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 starsPotent plot mixing ideas and action
By Linda on June 5, 2016
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Heinrich Bohmke’s debut novel is one you finish at 4am. It is twenty years after democracy was won in South Africa and the place seethes with racial resentments as much as it glows with simple kindness. Four people, each marked in some way by a violent society, arrive separately at a seaside hotel. A down and out woman comes to blackmail a provincial governor. The governor’s assistant puts the final touches on a deal that will earn him a handsome kickback. An academic gives a final lecture before his scheduled suicide. And, drawn in compelling psychological and political detail, a man who fancies himself the savior of an indigenous people, the KhoiKhoi, bashes through the hotel’s doors too on a murderous mission as sick as it is historically sensible.
Bringing these characters into contact is an Afrikaner waif, Sarie, floating through the hotel convinced she lived centuries before.
The book earns the high praise it has received for great dialogue. The characters too are finely drawn, funny, poignant, flawed and brave. Sarie may take the form of a political thriller but it is a novel of ideas, capturing the Geist of a rugged, tragic land. This is a sad yet oddly-inspiring, exciting yet sociological first effort. Hope there is more to come.
If you are starting out as a writer then I thoroughly recommend checking out ProWritingAid. It is a spell-checker, ‘grammarist’ and editor all rolled into one bundle.
It saved me a fortune. I used it to self-edit my last book so it was ready to be professionally edited. Indeed, if funds are limited it can cut out the need for a professional editor.
It’s useful too even if you don’t plan to write a book.
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