Hogarth Brown studied on the Foundation course and BA Graphic Design at Camberwell College of Arts, graduating in 2005. Despite working as an Event Duty Manger at Kings Place, Hogarth’s true passion is as a writer of high stakes historical fiction. We wanted to know how he balances the two.
What made you choose Camberwell to study?
What really attracted me was the foundation course and its breadth; I was able to explore Fine Art, Fashion, Pottery, Graphic Design and one of my favourites was the movable typesetting studio: I loved it. Looking back I guess the urge to see my words printed was already expressing itself.
You graduated in Graphic Design; how did you get into writing?
An independent publisher spotted an interview I had done with Quentin Blake for the Guardian, and commissioned me to illustrate a series of children’s books, which I produced plot outlines and synopses for. But the crash of 2008 claimed a lot of its victims in 2010 and my independent publisher went on to lose A LOT of money. I picked myself up. I chose to write a children’s book using my first outline. As I wrote on I realised that my book was not for children, but for grown-ups, with time travel, adventure, and high stakes all broadly set in Italy in the year 1611. I saved money where I could for several research visits to Italy, and 5 years and two books later I have my Hermeporta Series.
How do you balance a full-time job alongside writing?
With great difficulty! I recently have gone back to part-time work to support myself. It takes near laser-like focus to manage a full-time job and creative work on the side. Writing, by a country mile, is by far the most demanding of the creative efforts I’ve ever undertaken. On a practical level, in terms of getting my writing done, I’d finish at work, have a small bite to eat, and go to bed immediately. I’d then wake at 2am to write until 7am. I’d nap for half an hour and then go back to work. I’d also write at the weekend. I did variations on this strategy for years. But if you really want to write you find a way. Book three is nagging me to be written already.
What has been your greatest achievement?
By some distance, it’s my books, so far. Becoming a writer was the biggest challenge I’ve set myself. I spent two years just researching writers and how to write in general before I even began. The more I heard writers talking about their writing, and their thoughts and methods I realised that I was a writer too and it gave me confidence. My plan was to start small, I did not realise that I would start with full novels to begin my career. But I suppose after all my years at Camberwell, and life in general, had helped plant many seeds in my subconscious: when I started the books they knew they were ready to be born before I did.
What is next for you?
My third novel in the Hermeporta Series called: What Happened to Iona? It follows the story of the ex-girlfriend of my main character Professor Winston Sloane. She’s left to make a new life for herself, but we don’t know what has happened to her. Paths are leading me to Ithaca (New York) and Cornell University. I want to dive into the culture; see the Finger Lakes, the gorges, Niagara Falls, the vineyards and whatever else I can dig up. I want to do, taste and see it all!
And a friend of mine wants to turn some of the characters of my books into sculptures for special effects. He has connections to Hollywood – so who knows where that could lead?!
Download Hogarth’s first novel Beyond the Gates of Hermes for FREE here.
Find out more about Hogarth’s novels here.