Interview: Hinemura Ellison and Ted D. Hughes
BD: Kia ora Ted, congratulations on releasing Scorpions In Stilettos your third and final story in your Trinity Trilogy series. Well done.
T: Why thank you kind sir. It’s been a ride.
BD: I hear you and Mu are ‘hunkered up’ already composing the next series. But first things first. Couple of questions.
T: Sure, fire away
BD: So, naturally I have read the first two books Sharks With Lipstick and Snakes In Suits. Such great titles, how on earth did you come up with the names?
T: Well, you know how it is when you are in the zone as a writer you get all these characters shouting at you just wanting to be heard. And when you listen closely, you hear what a few of them have to say…
BD: I see, do go on…
T: Well Sharks With Lipstick actually is quite an apt name for all the folk, both female and male that we have met in our lives when working in the ‘corporate’ world. They are usually people who feel they have a lot of power, normally in managerial positions and they are so keen to get to the top, that they will trample on anyone who gets in their way. They are on a one-way mission and that is to reach the dizzying heights of the top rung of the corporate ladder and nothing and no-one will stop them.
BD: Hmm they sound like nasty ‘pieces of work’ if you excuse the pun.
T: Just this once! But seriously, believe me when I say, that while working in corporate or government whether I was on the high or low rung on the ladder, I always observed various ‘Sharks’. I’ve seen and heard from other colleagues and friends, that there seems to be an increasing number of ‘Sharks’ with ‘lipstick.’ But I don’t want to sound sexist so I will pass you over to Hinemura if you don’t mind.
BD: Mu, kia ora, thanks for joining us. How are you bearing up at this time of Covid-19? It’s a biggie isn’t it? Are you tucked away in your bubble?
H: Tēnā koe, we’re all good in our little bubble. I am loving the isolation actually it’s like being on an extended writers’ retreat at home! It’s given me plenty of time to get stuck into my blog.
BD: Congratulations on hitting the big ‘100 posts’ – a great milestone. So tell me what’s with this Sharks with Lipstick? Who are they? Do they really exist?
H: Oh yes they certainly do! Humans are multifaceted individuals and we females do get a bad wrap for being seen as complex and at times flighty and feisty. But wouldn’t the world be boring if we were one-dimensional all the time.
BD: Boring indeed!
H: We are much more exciting than that, being a bit of this and a bit of that. I believe we are all a product of our past. Some of the wounds are well hidden and some we have exposed and are now healing well. But the Shark With Lipstick in particular we refer to has not done herself any favours. She has gone out and humiliated just about everyone she has ever met. She is on a mission to destroy and ‘slice and dice’ as many people as she can in the work force, in the hope of impressing someone higher up the ladder.
BD: Hmm remind me to keep away from this sort! So the second title Snakes in Suits, how did that come about?
T: Well again another prominent profession out there is the property developer or the real estate agent. Now don’t get me wrong like in any profession you have the good guys, the bad guys and the in between guys. So I am not saying ALL property developers are shysters but the ones in this book are.
BD: They certainly sound like a bunch of crooks. Do they resemble anyone in real life? Sounds like you may have had a run in with one or two?
T: No, I haven’t personally but like you I read a lot of the long form journalism and talk to our journalist friends, as well as attending meetings and being of Maori descent I have been to a lot of tribal meetings and hui where land has been discussed. And at times it ain’t that pretty when certain characters and properties and agendas along with dodgy MO’s get exposed. So to answer your question although based on true stories, only similar threads are in our book.
H: I would like to add a bit here, it really is more about our imagination, although sometimes the characters talk to us and we can’t ignore them. It’s like someone or something out there wants their story to be told and if we are in the fortunate position of being the portal, that can write what they say, then that’s what we do.
T: And if we can have a laugh or two, along with a murder mystery interwoven here and there with true friendship that stands the test of the time… well then everyone is a winner.
BD: Don’t we all need real support, friendship and a sense of community right now and Freya in Snakes In Suits certainly portrays that. I love it and in a little sleepy seaside suburb near the big smoke of Wellington. I loved how a real sense of family and friendship and community came through in her story.
H: I think now with this Covid-19 that even the most unlikely people and strangers are being a lot more compassionate and kinder than ever. The vibes out there are really rising.
BD: So the title Scorpions In Stilettos, who wants to spill on that? Mu are you a Scorpion in Stilettos?
H: Hell no, and I never was ‘back in the day’. I do remember when I first lived in Wellington, stilettos were in fashion and I used to put them on when I left my flat and wobble all the way down the hill to the Newtown Zoo bus stop, hobble onto the bus and off again and by the time I got to my day job my feet were over it. No I don’t do stilettos and I am certainly not a Scorpion.
T: Ha, ha! Scorpions In Stilettos we just came up with that name over a drink or two one night, we had done Sharks, then Snakes and were trying to think of another word beginning with S, and came up with Scorpions. Then saw someone hobbling down the street like Mu used to and it hit us.
BD: And dare I ask where would I find a Scorpion In Stilettos? Do they really exist? Or just in your imagination?
H: They certainly do exist. They are usually a ‘Power House’ on wheels, they storm the corridors and meeting rooms of their offices. Can be passive aggressive, smiling sweetly to the powers that be and some are just plain 24/7 aggressive.
T: We humans all have flaws so sometimes what you see is not what you get, underneath. The third story is all about the third best friend Clara aka Flat White, and she appears to be a very strong determined career girl who ‘plays hard’ and ‘works hard’ and is perfect at everything she does. But you will find out that the façade is there for good reason and really underneath… something else entirely is going on. But I am not going to let the cat out of the bag.
BD: So speaking of ‘Cat’ the HR Director in Sharks With Lipstick. What does happen to her? I am intrigued. I thought the case had been solved in book one, but then it comes up again.
H: Well that would be telling, wouldn’t it? I guess you will just have to read the third and final book and all will be revealed. The love interests, the murder mystery…
BD: I find it ironic that you talk about a ‘natural disaster’ and how everyone rallies around together as a result in your trilogy. Exactly what is happening right now. Maybe everyone will start listening to Sven now and her words of wisdom about slowing down, really looking hard at how ‘busy’ you are, chill and be mindful. We all need a bit of that right now.
Well hearing how the three title names came about was really interesting. My partner read the first book and loved the humour so much she chose it for her forthcoming Book Club meeting.
H: That’s great feedback, I have put Book Club questions up on my blog https://hinemuramusings.wordpress.com/
so people can log in and use the questions for their own book club meetings. I have just done a post on it saying our book club is going ahead we are just doing them virtually at the moment. You see Sven was also ahead of her time pushing the ‘work from home’ policy as everyone is doing that now.
T: Yes bring it on, working from home… love it, in fact it is giving us time to conjure up the next series, the characters are already talking to us, in fact some of them are in Scorpions In Stilettos…
BD: Now you have got me going! Well time is up, but it’s been great to speak with you two again and glad you are creating something positive out of this uncertain time here in ‘Lockdown’ Aotearoa.
Ka kite anō