An interview with Ernest Hamilton, photographs of the real life people behind the stories, and links to purchase his book.
Key West, Florida
At least two of your novels are set in the Florida Everglades. What made you want to write about that particular place?
I lived the first seven years of my life in the Everglades before it became a National Park. My folks lived there since 1872. I’ve visited the old homesteads on several occasions I wrote a short story about my father not returning from a hunting trip before I was born. My daughter asked me “What if.” What if he hadn’t been killed? Why hadn’t he returned?
Your knowledge of Florida history and early culture is spot on in your novels. Did you rely solely on memory or did you also do research?
My memory results from my early years in western Florida and growing up in Key West, but a whole lot of data results from research.
You were an accountant for the majority of your life and are now retired. Does your former career influence your writing now?
Not much. As a Revenue Agent I had the knowledge to concoct Asleep at the Wheel.
When and why did you begin writing? Did you jump right into writing novels, or did you write short stories first?
I first wrote songs that sometimes came with a moment of inspiration. Then I tried essays, then short stories, and finally, novels.
Which novel did you write first? What inspired you to write it?
The Impostor. Not sure what inspired it.
Do you work with an outline, or just write? What is your writing routine like?
With an idea, I start with a beginning and a possible ending – that gives a journey to complete. Even though the start and finish may change over time, that process allows me to concoct an outline.
If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel that you would change?
I think maybe Shark Point and Free at Last may be a little drawn out and may get boring for the reader.
In all of your novels, what was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
Usually the beginning and end.
Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
Some are based on real life experiences, but certainly imagination takes hold and I’m often left to wonder where the ideas came from.
How did you come up with the titles for your books?
I tried to tie them to the plots or some saying in the story.
Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?
I have thought about a sequel to Asleep at the Wheel.
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author?
A reader for an agent jumped on me for dropping the g’s such as DROPPIN’. Other than that, readers are too nice.
What has been the best compliment?
They loved the characters and descriptions in Shark Point.
Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Have a dream and go for it and . . . never-ever give up. Either take professional instructions or do a lot of self-study – research. Hemingway said, “Write about what you know.” I say, “Also write about what you’d like to know – research.”
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I think maybe, the ultimate goodness in ordinary people.
What book are you reading now?
Roots and Hawaii
Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Can’t name an entity, but the person I laud the most for helping me through life was Tom Daly.
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I’d probably choose, James Michener. I like historical novels.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Making it all come together to adequately tell the story and hold the reader’s attention and interest.
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned a lot, but probably the best lesson is the action of the human mind (brain). If the mind is untethered, it can come up with unimaginable ideas and solutions.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
In concocting a story, assume you’re sitting at your desk. On the left end is where the story begins and on the right is where it ends – in between is the journey – be sure it fits.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Learn, enjoy and, for me, tell me what’s wrong with it.
If you gave one of your characters an opportunity to speak for themselves, what would they say?
Probably, “Be good to your fellow man and never take unfair advantage.”
Is there an author that you would really like to meet?
Maybe Dan Brown. Not sure why except his extreme imagination and learned knowledge of concocting fast moving stories.
Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?
In my den between 9 to 11 am.
Tell us one of your favorite quotes.
“Have a dream, never give up and if you ain’t making mistakes, you ain’t doin’ Nothin’.”
What project are you working on now?
Trying to get finished stories published and unfinished stories finished.
View photos of the real life people behind the characters of Shark Point and Free at Last.
For a list of all of Ernie’s novels, visit his author’s page here.
View the trailer for Shark Point here