Hawley is a writer. His books are
highly eclectic. He has written about 16th-century East Asian history,
19th-century Korean-American relations, Olympic sprinting and land
speed racing and a circus elephant named Topsy who was electrocuted in
1903. He lives in Kingston, Ontario.
THE EVOLUTION OF A BOOK COVER
April 11, 2014
a guest post I wrote for thebookdesigner.com on The Evolution of a Book Cover: Bad Elephant Far Stream, in which I describe and illustrate the creative process I went through to create the final cover for my latest book.
IN L.A. WITH CRAIG BREEDLOVE
March 27, 2014
a shot of me with Craig Breedlove, taken a few days ago in LA. I was
just out there to meet with Craig and some people about my Speed Duel
screenplay, which I wrote based on my book of the same title. Craig is
personally on board with this movie project, and Tim Arfons (Art's son)
has given us his support as well. I've been told that getting a movie
made is pretty tough these days, but hey, we're not talking about any
movie here. This is the Craig Breedlove vs. Art Arfons story, one of
the most exciting chapters in motorsport history. We talking Top Gun--six inches off the ground.
While I was out in LA, Craig, along with his long-time friend and
associate Stan Goldstein and engineer Neil Roberts, gave me the inside
scoop on Craig's new land speed car project, the fourth incarnation
of Spirit of America. The car, designed to go 1,000 mph, looks fantastic, and incorporates some beautifully simple and ingenious elements
that Craig has designed--evidence that flashes of genius can come at
any age. I have to tell you, folks: this project is starting to look
like a "Go." Stay tuned!
BLOG TALK RADIO APPEARANCE ON "THE WRITERS LOUNGE"
March 3, 2014
I had the pleasure this evening of being on the BlogTalkRadio show The Writers Lounge to talk about Bad Elephant Far Stream with hosts Tom Riddell and Lisa Lea. Thanks for having me on, guys!
GENERIC HOLLYWOOD MOVIE 1019
February 9, 2014
a parody movie trailer I just made for the upcoming blockbuster
"Generic Hollywood Movie 1019," from Assembly Line Films, Bean Counter
Pictures and Toe the Line Entertainment.
BLOG TALK RADIO APPEARANCE ON "BACK PORCH WRITER"
January 21, 2014
Today, I was on the BlogTalkRadio show Back Porch Writer with host Kori Miller. Click on the image to listen. (Thanks for having me on, Kori!)
BLOG TALK RADIO APPEARANCE ON "INDIE BOOKS"
January 17, 2014
I was on the show Indie Books this morning with host Will Wilson to talk about Bad Elephant Far Stream. Click on the image to go to the BlogTalkRadio site and listen to the interview.
BLOG TALK RADIO APPEARANCE ON "THE G-ZONE"
January 14, 2014
I just had the pleasure of being on the BlogTalkRadio show The G-Zone with Giovanni Gelati, to discuss Bad Elephant Far Stream.
IMJIN WAR ON DISPLAY AT NATIONAL PALACE MUSEUM
December 8, 2013
I've just learned that my book The Imjin War: Japan's Sixteenth-Century Invasion of Korea and Attempt to Conquer China
is on display in a glass case at the National Palace Museum of Korea,
at Gyeongbok Palace (Gyeongbokgung) in Seoul. I am definitely very
honored. Here's a picture of the display:
BAD ELEPHANT FAR STREAM: WHERE IT CAME FROM
November 20, 2013
I'm going to be appearing on the BlogTalkRadio show The G-Zone on Jan. 14th at 11:00 a.m. (EST). Here's a lead-up guest post I wrote for the show's accompanying Gelati's Scoop website on "Bad Elephant Far Stream--Where It Came From."
Bad Elephant Far Stream: Where It Came From
The idea for what ultimately became my novel Bad Elephant Far Stream
sprang from some research I did on the early history of motion
pictures, trolling for ideas for my next nonfiction book. I stumbled on
a Kinetoscope film entitled “Electrocuting an Elephant,” made by the
Edison Company more than a century ago. The film (which can be easily
found on Youtube) shows the electrocution of a circus elephant named
Topsy on Coney Island on January 4, 1903.
“Electrocuting an Elephant” led me to start researching circus
elephants in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. I was amazed
at the accounts I turned up of elephants being euthanized because they
had killed somebody or gone on a rampage or otherwise done something
that got them labeled “wicked” or “bad.” They were being poisoned and
shot and hanged from steam winches—and in the unusual case of Topsy,
electrocuted with lines running from the Edison Electrical Company’s
Coney Island power station.
I thought that this would make an interesting book, the euthanizing of
all these elephants back then. What was going on with these creatures?
Why were they turning “bad”? What were their lives like? Why were they
being killed? I soon realized, though, that in order to tell a
compelling story, I needed to focus on just one elephant. So I decided
to tell the story of Topsy.
After doing a good deal of research, I set out to write a nonfiction book with the title Bad Elephant: The Odyssey from Birth to Execution of a Circus Pachyderm.
Nonfiction, after all, was all I’d written up to that point. I found,
however, that in struggling to “get inside” Topsy, I was veering deep
into fiction territory. I also wanted to give the story some hope and a
happy ending. The result was the novel Bad Elephant Far Stream.
There was something else too that drove me to write Bad Elephant Far Stream
as a novel in the way that I did. It was the realization that books
about animals rarely are actually about the animal at all, but rather
are about human main characters, with the animal serving as a prop. The
animal is there for the human characters to fight about, to get
emotional over, to learn about themselves from. I didn’t want to do
that. I didn’t want to tell the story of the human who found redemption
or true love or whatever through his relationship with big ol’ cuddly
elephant Topsy. I wanted to make Topsy herself the main character. I
wanted to make her life experience and her quest the focus of the
story—to step outside my human viewpoint and try to image what life was
like for her. The result of my struggle to do this was Bad Elephant Far Stream.
BAD ELEPHANT FAR STREAM: PRINT
EDITION NOW AVAILABLE
October 28, 2013
Bad Elephant Far Stream
is now available for sale on Amazon in both print and eBook editions.
Bookstore sales will follow shortly. Here are the publication details:
Elephant Far Stream
GENRE: historical fiction
AUTHOR: Samuel Hawley
PUBLISHER: Conquistador Press
PUBLICATION DATE: November 2013
LIST PRICE: $15.95 (paperback); $2.99 (eBook)
NUMBER OF PAGES: 263
ISBN NUMBER: 978-0-9920786-0-7
MY FIRST NOVEL: BAD ELEPHANT FAR STREAM
August 6, 2013
My latest book will be out this fall. It's a novel--my first fiction
effort--entitled Bad Elephant Far
Stream. Below is a draft of the cover (front, spine and back),
ISBN number pending. It's being publishing by Conquistador Press and
will be available on amazon.com "and wherever fine books are sold." The
back cover blurb is included below.
Update (August 9, 2013)
The cover for Bad Elephant Far Stream
is now finalized, with the ISBN added. I've updated the image below:
Here's the back cover blurb:
Bad Elephant Far Stream is an elephant’s life story, told from
her own perspective, through her own eyes. Inspired by the life of a
real elephant known as Topsy, it follows Far Stream from her birth and
her capture in the forests of Ceylon in the late 1860s through her
transportation to America and thirty years of travel and adventure with
the circus, which ultimately led to her being labeled as “bad.” It’s an
unusual and uncompromising novel that explores the questions: What is
it like to be an elephant trained for human amusement? What does such a
creature think? What does it feel? What does it yearn for? Bad Elephant Far Stream takes the reader on a voyage of discovery to find out.
THE GREAT DEBATE: AN ANIMATED COMMENTARY ON POLITICAL DISCOURSE
my latest ant film, "The Great Debate." It's a debate between incumbent
governor Wilmont Squander of the Kumbaya Party and challenger John
Staunch of the Common-Sense Coalition. With this one, I've given the
ants hair and use intro music and sound effects. It's 6 minutes, 25
seconds long--my first feature!
THE POOP HEAD
My third "ant" film, "The Poop Head Foundation," taking a humorous look
at the leftist crap that is being taught in our schools. I've gotten a
bit more ambitious with the animation, adding a moving mouth and
blinking eyes to Poop Head Foundation founder and CEO Sparky Zong.
ANT RIGHTS COMMISSION
BANS FUNNY LOOKS
my second "ant" film. It takes a humorous look at the Human Rights
Commission racket here in Canada, in particular Section 13 of the Human
Rights Act, the so-called "Shut Your Mouth" clause. The beleagued
Moon-TV show host Ezra Twitchy is based on...well, you can probably
figure it out.
I'm getting a little better at making these little movies. Note, for
example, that news anchor Ken Glossy is now wearing a bow tie and
sitting behind a desk. I don't know, but he just might get a hairpiece
is a short animated film I've just made, "Ant-Caused Global Warming." I
recorded and manipulated the audio (my own voice) using
Audacity; I animated the ants using Pivot Animator; I made the
backgrounds using Photoshop and FotoSketcher; I did the "outside shots"
and end credits in Photo Story 3; and I edited the video together in
Microsoft Movie Maker. It took about three days altogether, which
included the time it took to figure out the Pivot Animator and Movie
Maker software, which I hadn't used before.
A CURE FOR ACHILLES
February 27, 2013
was forced to give up jogging about five years ago due to Achilles
tendonitis. It got to the point where just a walk to the store got me
limping and my tendons were visibly swollen all the time. The
traditional remedies of rest and ice packs didn’t do any good at all.
Neither did getting fitted for custom orthotics. The firm support of
orthotics—which comes with a $500 price tag—felt promising at first,
but after a couple of weeks it became clear that they were only making
the problem worse. So I ditched them.
It was then that I stumbled on a totally different approach to dealing
with Achilles tendon pain. It’s called “heavy load eccentric calf
training,” aka doing negative one-legged calf raises. Here’s how. Stand
on one leg on a stair, your heel projecting off the edge, and lower
yourself down all the way (keeping your leg straight and using ankle
movement only) so that your Achilles tendon is fully stretched. Use
both feet to raise yourself up again on your toe, then go back on one
leg and lower yourself again. Do this 15 times on your right leg, then
15 times on your left. That makes one set. Do three of these sets,
twice a day, every day for 3 months. As your calves get stronger, start
adding weight. You can do this by holding a dumbbell or putting weights
in a knapsack. If you find it hurts, that okay. It’s supposed to hurt, within reason.
Well, I tried it. My calves were pretty sore at first, but I gradually
worked my way up, adding 10 pounds in weight, then 20, then 30, then
50. And my tendons started getting better. It took a while (tendons
heal very slowly), but after a couple months I was noticing a
It’s been five months now since I began doing these exercises and my
Achilles tendons are in better shape than they’ve been in years. I’ve
scaled back and do the exercises only 3 or so times a week now,
incorporating them into my workout at the gym, using a hack machine.
The result? I can walk without feeling any tendon discomfort. I can jog
on the treadmill at the gym (and presumably outside once the weather
warms up). I can even skip rope again, something I haven’t been able to
do in ages.
If you want to find out more, here are a couple videos on Youtube
demonstrating the exercises and giving additional tips:
tendonitis video 1
tendonitis video 2
CRAIG BREEDLOVE – ART
February 24, 2013
land speed fans, here’s a poster you might like: Craig Breedlove with
his “Spirit of America” jet car and Art Arfons with his “Green Monster”
posing together on the Bonneville Salt Flats circa 1964:
Breedlove and Arfons never actually posed together on the salt like
this with their land speed machines. This image is a composite I
assembled from four different photos (Breedlove and car; Arfons and
car; mountains in background; sky). The poster is available for
purchase on Zazzle, here.
You can also get it on a T-shirt,
along with a Wingfoot
Express Rocket Car T-shirt.
THE DEADLIEST HOTEL
FIRE IN HISTORY
February 20, 2013
Korean director Kim Ji-hoon’s latest film, released on December 25,
2012 to brisk ticket sales, is the disaster epic The Tower.
Set in a 120-story luxury skyscraper in Seoul, it’s about the struggle
of building manager Lee (Kim Sang-kyung) to save the people trapped
inside, among them his love interest Ms. Seo (Son Ye-jin), while
firefighter Kang (Sol Kyung-gu) battles the conflagration. If that
sounds similar to the star-studded 1974 film The Towering Inferno
(Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, Faye Dunaway, etc.)—well, that’s because
it is. Director Kim, however, had another, more local, inspiration for
the movie: the fire at the Daeyeongak Hotel in Seoul’s Chungmuro
district on Christmas Day, 1971. It remains the deadliest hotel fire in
21-story Daeyeongak Hotel was built in 1970 to what were even at the
time extremely poor standards. While the building shell was of
inflammable reinforced concrete, the interior was a tinderbox:
wood-partition walls covered with paper; ceilings of plywood sheets
affixed to wood framing; no sprinkler system; inadequate firefighting
equipment. Such slackness was not unusual in Korea at the time. In the
country’s new-found rush to modernize, corners were cut.
fire originated in the hotel coffee shop on December 25, 1971 at 10:00
in the morning, sparked by an exploding LP gas cylinder behind the
counter. The fire instantly engulfed the coffee shop and quickly spread
to the lobby, trapping the 296 hotel guests and workers inside. The
smoke and flames then spread uncontained from floor to floor and room
to room through the wide-open spaces above the drop ceilings.
rushed to the scene but their ladders could only reach the seventh
floor to get people out. More than 100 people were evacuated this way
and by climbing down from on tied-together bed sheets. A handful of
others were airlifted off the roof by a helicopter. For the rest, there
was no escape. One of the most horrific photos from the fire shows a
person leaping from an upper-floor window clinging to a mattress, a
second person leaning out with another mattress, ready to follow.
Daeyeongak Hotel fire burned until 5:30 that afternoon. The final death
toll was 163 killed: 121 victims consumed by the fire and 38 others who
jumped to their deaths.
THE MILITARY PAST OF SEOUL'S AN-SAN, AKA
February 17, 2013
My childhood home in
Yonhui-dong, Seoul, South Korea was at the base
of a hill we called Saddleback
Its actual name
is An-san but we didn’t call it that. To the foreigners living around Yonsei University
back the 1960s and early ‘70s, it was Saddleback Mountain
on account of the distinct saddle-shape of its summit ridge.
This summit ridge was clearly
visible because Saddleback,
like most mountains around Korean towns and cities back then, was
completely denuded of trees. The country was desperately poor and
firewood. Also visible due to the barrenness of the hillside were
depressions here and there, about halfway up. These were the remains of
I sometimes tagged along with my
older brother Jim and his
friends to poke around in those foxholes. We found all sorts of things
cartridges, the rusted base of a mortar, a belt buckle, buttons, and
(which I recall carting home to the displeasure of my mother). It was
later, when I returned to Korea to work as an instructor at Yonsei,
learned that this area around Saddleback and descending into
been the main line of North Korean defense against US and South Korean
as they pushed inland to recapture Seoul following MacArthur’s Incheon
The remains in those foxholes therefore had likely been North Korean.
Saddleback was once again the
scene of military action—Cold War
action this time, briefly turned hot—in January 1968. In that month
Korean leader Kim Il-sung dispatched a 31-man commando squad across the
with orders to “cut off the head of [South Korean President] Park
The commandos, sticking mainly to the mountains as they worked their
made it to within 800 meters of Park’s presidential palace, Chongwadae
Blue House), before being discovered. In the days that followed, the
of Chongwadae, particularly Inwang-san immediately behind, An-san
the west and Pukan-san further north, were alive with South Korea
police searching for the infiltrators. They hunted down and killed 29
and captured one. Only one remained unaccounted for. He may have gotten
Evidence of Korea’s
violent past in the area around Saddleback is entirely gone now. The
churned up by cannon and mortar fire in the early 1950s and still
with foxholes in the late ‘60s, is now covered with trees, the
the summit ridge entirely hidden. The depressions of foxholes have
away, the war remnants they contained long ago scavenged. On Yonsei University
campus, a smouldering ruin in 1950 littered with the bodies of 150 dead
Koreans, everything looks new now, prosperous and well-tended. If you
however, at the Horace Underwood statue in front of Underwood Hall, you
still see the marks of machine gun fire on the base. Sixty years after
earth-shattering events—less than one lifetime—and this is all that
COLORIZING B & W PHOTOS: LIZ
TAYLOR & "BOOM BOOM" GEOFFRION
February 15, 2013
I've been playing around with Photoshop again. Here's an original B
& W photo of the stunningly beautiful Elizabeth Taylor:
And here it is colorized:
So, I'm thinking about Liz Taylor, and that of
course gets me thinking about the Montreal Canadiens hockey team.
Here's an original B & W photo of Bernie "Boom Boom" Geffrion:
And here it is after I resized it, touched it
up and colorized it in Photoshop CS:
A technique I stumbled on lately is to use two layers of color to
give the finished photo a richer look. I did this with Liz Taylor's
lips (for the lips it was one layer of red and then a second layer of
deeper red over top)
and with Boom Boom's gloves (a tan layer, then a more orangey layer
over top to give them a nice rich leather look).
MY OLD DELL COMPUTER...AND THE "VACUUM TREATMENT"
February 3, 2013
finally took the plunge and bought a new desktop computer to replace my
old Dell Dimension, purchased in Seoul, Korea in early 2007. I wrote
all the books to my name on that old machine, from The
Imjin War to
So I was sorry to relegate it to the spare room downstairs.
Unfortunately, the old girl had gotten fractious in the past few years,
in particular the power unit at the back, which would
periodically start making a loud buzzing/whining noise. When it did
that I'd have to turn the computer off and take the vacuum cleaner to
it, holding the vacuum nozzle to the fan at the rear of the tower and
getting that sucker spinning real fast. I got so I could tell that the
problem was fixed by the pitch of the whine from the fan (it needed to
be nice and high, not a low drone) and the length of time it took the
fan to stop spinning after the vacuum was withdrawn (it needed to keep
spinning for a few seconds on it own). If I pulled the noozle away and
the fan ground to a halt right away, then another treatment was needed.
Not a very high-tech solution, but doggone, it worked. It gave me at
last three additonal years of service--kind of like beating an old
horse back its feet after it has collapsed with exhaustion.
why did I get a new computer? Well, it was all the negative reviews
of Windows 8 that spurred me to action. Windows 8 sounds so user
unfriendly (it doesn't even have the "Start" icon, for pete's sake!)
that I decided I'd better get a new machine with Windows 7 on it while
they were still to be had. Luckily, I was able to get one from Dell. It
cost a bit more, but it was worth it. So now I'm fixed up with a Dell
Inspiron 660 with 6GB of RAM and a 1TB hard drive. Hopefully it'ill
give me years of trouble-free service. But if it doesn't, there's
always the vacuum cleaner...
February 1, 2013
skating conditions on the Litte Cataraqui Creek in Kingston, Ontario,
nice smooth ice covered with only a skiver of snow. My wife and
I were able to skate from the Ambassador Hotel on Princess Street all
the way down to Front Street and back--a total of eight kilometers
easy. Not the Rideau Canal in Ottawa, but pretty sweet just the same!
ART ARFONS AND HIS GREEN MONSTER
December 26, 2012
I've been playing around making videos lately. My most recent effort is
a tribute to three-time land speed recond holder Art Arfons, posted on
YouTube, here. For those of
you interested in the technical stuff, I used the free Windows software
PhotoStory 3 to put together the images and achieve a sense of motion.
This video is about as far as you can push this software, so I guess
I'm going to have to get some real video editing software next. The
music, by the way, is a version of John Lee Hooker's "Boom Boom,"
performed by John A. Langford. Here
is Langford's original Youtube posting. Note: It takes him a minute of
so to sip his drink and loosen up and get ready, but then--BOOM--he starts rockin'. Check him
out. He is really something. His version of "Knockin'
on Heaven's Door" will knock your socks off too. And check out his
original composition "Without
IN MOBILE HOME PARKS
November 10, 2012
I went down to
Columbus, Ohio in September to attend Frank Rolfe's
3-day Mobile Home Park Investing Boot Camp. Below is a group photo of
the attendees. Frank's the one at center in the blue dress shirt. The
MHP market is not too attractive here in Ontario (there are few parks
overall; the ones that
come on the market are overpriced; the vast majority are not on city
water and sewer and so you have well and septic headaches; rent control
makes it hard to raise rents; and onerous water testing regulations add
thousands of dollars to a park's expensives) but it's a different story
south of the border. There are lots of park-investing opportunities in
the States. I think there are something like 40,000 MHPs there in
total. As the US--sadly--embraces socialism and Big Statism, there is
only going to be a growing need for the affordable housing that mobile
home parks provide. Couple that with the fact that new parks are not
being built (it's just too expensive now to start one from scratch) and
you have a pretty good investing opportunity.
JUST RAN" WINS INDEPENDENT PUBLISHER AWARDS SILVER MEDAL
Just Ran: Percy Williams, World's Fastest Human has won
the silver medal in the 2012 Independent Publisher Awards.
THOMAS EDISON ON GOD AND THE OCCUPY MOVEMENT
I've been reading up on Thomas
Edison as part of some
research for a book proposal. Here are a few interesting things that he
When asked if he believed in God:
"Oh yes. I think all scientific men do that. Or, rather, they don't
believe it, they know it. It
is for the masses to believe. The scientist knows." ("Wizard Edison at Home," New York World, Nov. 17, 1889)
On our place in the cosmos:
a wonderfully small idea mankind has of the Almighty. My impression is
that he has made unchangeable laws to govern this and billions of other
worlds and that he has forgotten even the existence of this little mote
of ours ages ago. Why can’t man follow up and practice the teachings of
his own conscience, mind his business, and not obtrude his purposely
created finite mind in affairs that will be attended to without any
volunteered advice." (Thomas Edison diary, July 21, 1885, Thomas A.
Edison Papers, Special Collections Series, doc. number TAEM 90:3)
On the vilification of capitalists:
Sunday Herald, learned of John Roach’s failure. Am sorry. He has been
pursued with great malignity by newspapers and others, from ignorance I
think. Americans ought to be proud of Roach who started in life as a
day laborer and became a giant of industry and the greatest shipbuilder
in the United States, employing thousands of men and feeding
innumerable families. What has he now for this 40 years of incessant
work and worry. People who hound such men as these I would invent a
special Hades. I would stricken them with the chronic sciatic neuralgia
and cause them to wander forever stark naked within the artic circle."
(Thomas Edison diary, July 19, 1885, Thomas A. Edison Papers, Special
Collections Series, doc. number TAEM 90:3)
© Samuel Hawley 2013