About the Book
Green Eyes is set around the sleazy frontiers of Ex-Yugoslavia during a harsh Winter.
Randolph, a broke, alcoholic gambler from Australia drives a stolen car across the border between Serbia and Bosnia, arriving in a city called Zvornik.
Immediately he becomes involved in the tangled, violent world of Chetniks, Rakija, Turbofolk, Guns, Junkies, Snow, Ice and a strange Green Eyed Girl.
Behaving like a madman, trying to survive off gambling streaks in betting shops, Randolph descends deep into his lunatic alcoholism; and as Coronavirus shuts down the entire world – suddenly everything gets even crazier.
An illustration of a part of the Balkans still haunted by hundreds of years of Holy Wars, it is a hard-boiled Gambler’s Lament, a Sick Love Story and the Ballad of a Loon. It is a book that resonates with the soul of every bohemian.
About the Author
Angus Mark Hile is from Sydney, Australia. He worked a number of weird jobs before becoming a novelist full time including; death certificate clerk, baker, pizza chef, actor, hotel night manager and nightclub photographer. He has lived in France, Australia, Bosnia and Latvia and speaks Bosnian fluently. His first novel “Green Eyes” was released in 2020, alongside a stream-of-consciousness novella “The Loon”. He currently has three more books slated for release in 2020.
Qn 1: Can you tell us more about your book What is it about?
Green Eyes is semi-autobiographical. It is shaped around a very strange part of the world: Bosnia & Hercegovina, where I once lived for a while. It is a country that has never really recovered since the Bosnian War in the 90s, economically. It is broken. A country divided by historical hate between Christians and Muslims. The aftermath of genocide. Everybody is in total poverty, the winters are extremely hard, and even in summer, the only thing to do there is to drink or gamble. The book is a sort of sketch, or a love letter to it actually – it tries to show how sharp the contrast is between beauty and ugliness in this place, the fine lines between happiness and sadness. It follows a westerner, called Randolph, a really crazy, unhinged hustler from Australia, who is sort of beating around the Balkans, he has been for a few years, making money from sports betting. He comes to this town called Zvornik, which is on the northern border of the country with Serbia. This is literally a frontier – almost in the sense of the Old West, it is a place that barely abides by the law, everybody has guns and believes in violence. Businesses have no way of functioning. There is literally no economy. It harbours lots of war criminals and there is really no way to escape it once you are born into these circumstances. Randolph sort of shacks up with this girl called Milica, he immediately falls head over heels in love with her – but he is a madman, insane, all he wants to do is drink rakija all day. That is the meaning of his life. He is lost. I suppose much of the book, is not only just about a place, but also about alcoholism. About how it can really warp a person. Randolph’s life in Zvornik, spins further and further out of control – he has to resort to being a criminal himself, things begin to get out of hand, he keeps becoming more and more obsessed with Milica’s green eyes. It is all like a nightmare, a very real nightmare, about living in a real place on this planet, that you can even go and visit now. Most of this book is entirely accurate, even though it seems exaggerated. Bosnia carries this weird beauty to it, which is completely magical, enchanting. It is a shit hole, but it puts a spell on you and it becomes very hard to leave, at least that’s what I felt when I was living there. It is a haunted, spiritual land, perfect for the sort of story that I wanted to tell – a gambler’s lament, about being in a strange foreign country for no good reason and falling in love.
Qn 2: Who do you think would be interested in this book, is it directed at any particular market?
I think people who would be interested in this book, are those who have travelled a bit – seen some of Eastern Europe at least and understand the desolation, but also the magic that is in the earth there. The book probably would appeal to fans of the Western genre – ironically, as it is set in the East…but I definitely had a lot of imagery in mind, a lot of the violence and desperation definitely can be linked back to that genre. It really is a very fast-paced book, so I think that it is very readable, it is not too dark, it is funny, but in a really bitter, sick sort of way. I would like to hear how people from Bosnia or Ex-Yugoslavia react to the book, I think it would be positive, they would sort of be able to see what I was trying to say. It is a ballad, or a lament, a kind of confession. It is a tribute to their history and their personalities. Those that like more classical literature I think would appreciate the deeper meaning and poetry I tried to work into it, rather than those who prefer modern novels, which tend to be more melodramatic, Green Eyes has an old-world, vicious edge to it, which might put off readers who are kind of innocent at heart. Fundamentally it is a book about extremely poor people. It is a blue-collar story, a book about somebody dealing with baser problems in life, like having food to eat, like having a roof over your head when it snows. People who have lived life on the rougher side will appreciate its bleakness.
Qn 3: Out of all the books in the world, and all the authors, which are your favourite and why?
My favourite authors are people like Nathanael West, Hunter S. Thompson, Cormac McCarthy and Malcolm Lowry. Their books tend to be quite dark, satirical sometimes, about the underbelly of life. I like Thompson for his imagination. I like McCarthy for his language. “Blood Meridian” is the best book of all time I think. But they all wrote with a very nice rhythm, which I think is very important for a book to have, or else you put it down. I also appreciate Samuel Coleridge, William Butler Yeats – poets that use symbolic imagery to communicate an emotion. To sum it up, I don’t read boring authors. The books I read are all extremely entertaining – like they have electricity humming between the words.
Qn 4: What guidance would you offer to someone new, or trying to enhance their writing?
I think that this is a very simple question to answer – writing is for people that have no other choice but to write. Your brain keeps sending you back to writing, again and again, you can’t stop…I think you should only write if you have that calling. You also need to edit everything, not once, or twice, but a million times. Your book has to be perfect if you want it to be good. If a particular word in a sentence doesn’t seem right, you need to change it. You must operate at an extremely high standard if you want to be happy with your work. Also, you need to write about what you really want to write, don’t change it for anybody else, or what you think other people would want to read…it has to be your own book. You have felt comfortable with the idea that nobody will read your work except you, probably. You have to achieve happiness purely from the enjoyment of writing and feeling that you really wrote something pure and true.
Qn 5: Where can our readers find out more about you, do you have a website, or a way to be contacted?
It is hard to find out much about me. I like to keep a low profile at this stage. I don’t have a website, but I think I will get one soon. I have another book out called “The Loon“. Try that in the meantime.