Burnaby Hawkes is a novelist and former analyst for the NATO Council of Canada. His stories have appeared in Heater, The Raven Chronicles, and many other magazines. He read English and philosophy at the University of Toronto and holds a master’s degree in global affairs and international security. He lives in Canada.
Speed and prolificity, especially in a commercial genre like espionage, have traditionally been considered the rules of the game. I remember a few years ago—while plodding through The Haze and wondering whether this yarn would ever grow into the comely piece of fictional fabric I’d dreamed of—I read an interview with John le Carré: who proudly related how, for him, penning a chapter a day wasn’t at all surprising. A more striking anecdote, perhaps, is what is known about Frederick Forsyth’s completion of The Day of The Jackal in just 35 days.
I am no le Carré or Forsyth. The Haze took me six years to write—which mightn’t be the cleverest thing to say at the start line. But here I am, and here we go. Fingers crossed.
From the inception of The Haze’s idea on a chance trip to Singapore in 2013, to the project’s completion in 2019, six full years of writing, revision, research, and high flights of fantasy—had passed.
I had to study Chinese literature, dive into the rich history of the Malay Archipelago, vet my own memories of the Arab Spring; and not only keep various day jobs, finish two university degrees, migrate from one country to another then to a third; but also stay sane.
And finish this book.
Which I didn't manage to do until I'd settled in a quiet and peaceful town in Southern Ontario. Something about the cool breeze in midsummer, the way squirrels consistently targeted my car, a volunteer experience at a homeless shelter--something about all this somehow helped me finish this crazy espionage novel about a CIA agent struggling to know his wife better during a shady operation in Southeast Asia.
And finally it was here. The Haze. It tumbled out into our world exactly as I’d envisioned it six years ago: a child of adventure, mystique, copious research, and simplicity.
I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did writing it.