John Twelve Hawks — The Traveler (Fourth Realm Trilogy) — Who is John Twelve Hawks? — Videos

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Is this John Twelve Hawks?
john twelve Hawks

Michael Cunningham?michael cunninghamtravel novel

trilogy traveller

The Golden City


Who is John Twelve Hawks?


The traveler By John Twelve Hawks

SPARK by John Twelve Hawks (REVIEW)

Excerpt from audiobook version, narrated by Scott Brick. This book has been optioned for film by Dreamworks. “Spark” refers to the inner self or identity of a man who lost his sense of being alive after a motorcycle accident, in a future in which robots are taking over jobs and corporations spy on everyone and act as the mafia. Jacob is hired as a hit man for a company wanting to eliminate problems using him as an emotionless zombie-like tool. (He refers to his body as a “shell.”) An excellent dystopian first-person struggle toward regaining humanity in an age we are fast approaching. Scott Brick read  three books of the Fourth Realm Trilogy. I loved his
work then and asked that he read the SPARK audiobook.
John Hawks told me this about narrator Scott Brick: “This was a fairly difficult assignment because it’s a first person novel narrated by a professional killer who thinks that he’s dead. But Scott did a brilliant job…using his voice to convey Underwood’s personality and the unique way that he looks at the world. He conveys the strangeness of Underwood, but also makes it accessible for the listener. I think he’s wonderful!”

An interview with John Twelve Hawks

A Conversation with John Twelve Hawks, author of The Traveler

The Traveler evokes a variety of films and books–everything from George Orwell to the Matrix. Where did you take your inspiration from?
George Orwell is a favorite writer of mine and I liked the first Matrix, but the creation of the novel goes much deeper than that. When I sat down to write The Traveler I didn’t think about being published. I simply wanted to understand the world around me. Sometimes the best way to find the truth is to create a fiction.

Can you describe the differences between the three main character types in the book: Travelers, Harlequins, Tabula?
Travelers are a small group of people who have the ability to send their spirit to other worlds. The Harlequins are an ancient order of warriors who defend The Travelers. The Tabula is an organization that believes that mankind is a tabula rasa — a blank slate that can be scrawled with their ideas. They are determined to destroy The Travelers. These three groups are fictional but their struggle takes place within a very realistic environment.

Is John Twelve Hawks your real name?
I wasn’t given the name John Twelve Hawks at birth. It’s an adopted name — just like the names the Harlequins chose at a certain time of their lives. This name has great personal significance for me, but it’s not relevant to understanding the book.

One of your characters, Gabriel, lives “off the Grid,” avoiding detection by what you call the “Vast Machine.” Can you explain what you mean by this and why you yourself have chosen to live this way as well?
For me, living off the Grid means existing in a way that can’t be tracked by the government or large corporations. The Vast Machine is the very powerful — and very real — computerized information system that monitors all aspects of our lives.

I live off the Grid by choice, but my decision includes one factor that is relevant to the publication of The Traveler. I want people to focus on the book itself and not on its author. The typical “personal slant” of most media arts coverage trivializes the power of ideas — and there are a great many provocative ideas in this novel. Everyone who reads The Traveler is going to be entertained by an exciting story. A smaller group is going to be inspired to see our computerized world in a new way.

How do you correspond with your publisher and how do you plan to correspond with readers?
I have never met my editor or any of the staff at Doubleday. I talk to them using a satellite phone or we communicate through the internet. I haven’t really thought about how I’m going to answer reader questions but it will probably be through a non-traceable website.

Your message in the book about the end of privacy in our society is frightening. How much of what you portray is true and how much is pure invention?
It’s all true — based on years of research. Email messages are scanned by a program called Carnivore and programs linked to surveillance cameras use algorithms to identify you instantly. Some of the facts in The Traveler — such as the description of the new “computational immunology” program developed by the Royal Mail in Britain — have never been described in any book.

What, if any, suggestions do you have for people who are concerned about identity theft, the Patriot Act, phone and internet surveillance and other invasions of everyday privacy? Some of your characters agitate against the Vast Machine. Would you advise this?
This first step is to be aware of what is going on. Most of us have given up our privacy without even knowing it. At some point, we need to express our opinions to our elected officials. The growing power of the Vast Machine is actually not an issue that is tied to a particular political party. A traditional conservative like former Georgia Congressman Robert Barr is on the same side of the privacy issue as the ACLU. The most important thing is that we not succumb to the baseless fear that is used to justify our loss of personal liberty. People objected when the government proposed something called the Total Information Awareness system: a computerized program that would track virtually all of our electronic transactions. When the name of the program was changed to the Terrorist Information Awareness system — just one new word — all the criticism vanished.

The settings in the book are captured in vivid detail–the Charles Bridge in Prague, the California desert, the back alleys of East London. Was travel a big part of your research?
My agent once asked me how long it took me to write The Traveler and I answered: “All my life.” I didn’t do any particular research for the locations in the novel. I simply drew on the memories of different places where I’ve visited, lived or worked. Virtually all the locations in the book are real. For example, there is a system of abandoned missile silos in Arizona and Jeremy Bentham’s dead body is on public display at University College London.

The scenes of violence in the book also seem very real — not Hollywood fantasies.
I studied martial arts for several years and have fought both in tournaments and on the street. Maya and the other Harlequins have been trained since childhood to fight, but they’re not super human; they can be hurt or killed. Readers have told me that they’ve found the scenes of violence in The Traveler to be incredibly exciting because they’re not sure what’s going to happen. This duplicates my own experience creating the book. Every time I began to write a scene that involved fighting I had no idea if my characters were going to survive.

Family seems to be both a blessing and a curse in the novel. As Maya says: “Damned by the flesh. Saved by the blood.” Care to elaborate?
It was only after I finished the first draft of The Traveler that I realized how many of the characters are haunted by their fathers. Maya loved her father, Thorn, but he also destroyed her childhood. Gabriel and Michael Corrigan thought that their father was killed by the Tabula, but now there are signs that his ghost is alive. A crucial secondary character named Lawrence Takawa changes his entire life in honor of a father he has never met.

At one point in the novel, your protagonist Maya explains that there is a secret history of the world, a history of “warriors defending pilgrims or other spiritual seekers.” Do you believe this? What do you think is the role of faith in modern society?

There has been a continual battle throughout history between institutions that try to control our lives and those visionaries who emphasize the value of the human spirit. Right now, there’s a determined attempt to reduce all human behavior to biochemistry. If Joan of Arc was alive today she’d be put on Prozac. Faith can give us a larger perspective on our own lives as well as the world that surrounds us.

You seem to combine Eastern religion, mysticism and new age spirituality in your discussion of Gabriel’s education. The novel also suggests that Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, even an obscure Rabbi from Poland may have all been Travelers–which begs the question: What (if any) is your religious affiliation?

When I was in my twenties, I was an atheist and proud of it. Now I believe in God and pray every day but I’m not a member of any organized religion. Travelers are guided by teachers called Pathfinders and I’ve dedicated the trilogy to my own personal Pathfinders. I’ve had several and they’ve included a Catholic priest, a Presbyterian minister, a scholar who was an orthodox Jew, and a Buddhist monk. I’m not going to minimize the differences between religions but they all have one thing in common: they teach the power of compassion and encourage that quality in our own hearts.

This is the first book in a trilogy. Any hints for readers about what they can expect from Books Two and Three?
In Book Two, a tough Irish Harlequin named Mother Blessing will enter the story; she’s already forcing her way into my dreams. Expect some surprises involving Maya, Gabriel, and the Tabula mercenary, Nathan Boone. I’m not manipulating these characters to fit a plot. They seem to have their own ideas about what they want to do.

Unless otherwise stated, this interview was conducted at the time the book was first published, and is reproduced with permission of the publisher. This interview may not be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the copyright holder.


The Traveler (novel)

The Traveler
Cover of the Doubleday paperback edition

AuthorJohn Twelve HawksCountryUnited StatesLanguageEnglishSeriesThe Fourth RealmGenreScience fiction novelPublisherDoubleday

Publication date

2005Media typePrint (Hardback &Paperback)Pages449 ppISBNISBN 0-593-05430-XOCLC58828401Followed byThe Dark River

The Traveler (The Traveller in the UK) is a 2005 New York Times bestselling novel[1] by John Twelve Hawks. The Dark River, book two of The Fourth Realm Trilogy, was published in July 2007. The final part in the trilogy, The Golden City, was released September 8, 2009. The trilogy has been translated into 25 languages and has sold more than 1.5 million books.[2]


The book is set in the near future and lays out a world where the real power lies not with people or governments, but in the hands of a secret organisation who call themselves “the Brethren” but who their enemies refer to as “the Tabula”. The Tabula are a centuries old secret society who believe in the importance of control and stability, making them in essence advocates of a kind of extreme Utilitarianism. Influenced by the ideas of the philosopher Jeremy Bentham the Tabula wish to enforce a Virtual Panopticon: a society where all individuals become so accustomed to being watched and monitored that they act at all times as if they were being observed and are as such completely controllable.

This Virtual Panopticon is made possible through the use of surveillance cameras, centralized databases, RFID-like tags for each citizen, and assorted spy gear (heat sensors, infrared cameras, X-rays, etc…). The Tabula are a relatively small group, operate largely in secret, but they have great power across the planet, in part by manipulating politicians and other powerful individuals/organisation, and in part because of their great wealth and advanced technology, which is in some cases far beyond the technology available to other groups and even governments.

The underlying premise for the realms in which this book is set greatly resembles the cosmology of Tibetan Buddhism (and other eastern cosmologies). Most notably, the second realm is explicitly labelled the realm of the Hungry Ghosts, but each realm in the enumerated hierarchy is associated with a given human shortcoming, much like in Hinduism and Buddhism. The world we inhabit is the fourth realm, and different Travellers can visit one or more of the other realms.

Although the basic plot is not new, the author provides a setting for discussion of larger issues, such as free will, the rapid increase in public surveillance and information gathering, the culture of fear, etc. While the motivations of the Tabula are explored in the book, this is kept at a rather superficial and crude level. Individual members are generally portrayed as either power hungry, psychopathic or deeply prejudiced, and the Tabula are set up as villains set to enslave humanity rather than misguided humanitarians.

The author has written a post-script at the end of the book in which he talks about his reasons for writing the novel and discusses, among other things, the development in western countries regarding surveillance (such as CCTV), data-mining, RFID and GPS, the Information Awareness Office, etc. He claims that all of the technology referred to in the book is either already being used or in the advanced stage of development.

Travelers, Pathfinders and Harlequins

The Travelers are individuals with a special gift, often but not always inherited, which allows them to detach from their bodies and journey through elemental barriers (water, fire etc.) to other realms. They do this by detaching their “light” (internal energy seemingly analogous to the soul but found by the Tabula to be empirically measurable) from their body. Travelers’ experiences and gifts (they can view the world around them with greater speed and clarity than normal people) can lend them great charisma, wisdom and vision. Many Travelers become religious prophets, or opponents of the Tabula, and the random element they add to societies makes them enemies of the Tabula who have hunted them almost to extinction.

The idea that all people possess the “light” within and can travel through other states of consciousness or “realms” is also a basic tenet of Gnosticism.

The Pathfinders are individuals capable of teaching potential Travelers how to break the light free from their body. Pathfinders can be priests and holy men, agnostics or atheists – different Pathfinders will use different teaching methods and have different beliefs, but all can help Travelers to realize their gifts. Pathfinders are also hunted by the Tabula.

The Author

Main article: John Twelve Hawks

The only information one can get on John Twelve Hawks is that he is living “off the grid“. This means that he is invisible to the network of surveillance and authority. He has no fixed home, no bank account or internet connection, and John Twelve Hawks is not his real name.

Plot summary

In the shadows of modern society an epic battle is fought. One woman is standing between those who try to control mankind and those who will risk their lives for the freedom of us all. On one side the Brethren, using high-end surveillance technology for control, supported by officials and politicians. On the other side the Travelers, the gifted ones, who are able to leave our realm and cross over into other realities. Because of their knowledge they are a great threat to the Brethren. The Travelers are supported by the Harlequins, a group only trained to defend the Travelers and to save them from the Brethren. Harlequins are trained since birth by their parents and other Harlequins. They are able to use all kinds of weapons, but their favored arm is a unique Harlequin sword they carry with them all the time.

Maya, a pretty young woman, is trying to live the life of a normal citizen. Her background, on the other hand, is anything but normal. She is the daughter of a famous German Harlequin named Thorn, who had been badly injured in an ambush by the Brethren. On a mission she killed two men of the Yakuza, the Japanese mafia. As a consequence Maya had tried to hide and leave her Harlequin past behind until one day her handicapped father calls for her. When visiting him in Prague, she finds him slaughtered by his enemies.

Fulfilling her father’s last wish, Maya takes a flight to the States supporting Shepherd, the last American Harlequin. She is determined to help him defend the last two Travelers alive. However, Shepherd has become a member of the Brethren. Working for the other side now, he tries to kill Maya. With the help of a young woman named Vikki she is lucky to get away. Vikki is a member of the I. T. Jones Church, a church of followers of the Traveler Isaac T. Jones, who was killed by the Brethren in 1889 with Lion of the temple (known as Zachary Goldman) a harlequin. Together they are able to find an ally, Hollis, a Capoeira trainer from Los Angeles and a former member of the Isaac T. Jones Community. The three of them are able to find the last living Travelers, Michael and Gabriel Corrigan. Before they are able to give them protection, Michael is captured by the Brethren. Instead of killing him immediately they try to convince him to help them. The Brethren recently started a new Program. They were in contact with a technologically advanced civilization dwelling in another realm. Aiming to travel through the realities, they need the help of a guide, someone who is able to travel without technology – like a Traveler.

For achieving help, they offer the Brethren high technology, weapons and plans for a quantum computer. The Brethren want to use a real Traveler that can find this other civilization and guide it to the Earth. By offering Michael power, money and everything else he wants, the Brethren convince him to work for them. With a new drug called 3B3, Michael is able to leave his realm without any usual way a Pathfinder would offer. A Pathfinder is a person that helps a Traveler to cross over. He or she is a teacher, but never a Traveler himself.

While Michael gains his first experiences with other realms, Maya tries to find a Pathfinder for Gabriel. She herself knows little of other realms and the process of crossing over. At all time they must be careful and live “off the grid”, because the Brethren use all their power to get hold of them.

Hollis stays in Los Angeles to place a false track. Within little time the Brethren show up at his house and try to kill him with a new weapon called “Splicer,” some kind of genetically engineered animal designed to search and destroy. But, Hollis defeats them.

In the meantime Maya and Gabriel find a Pathfinder in the desert in Arizona: an old woman researching king snakes in an abandoned missile silo. While teaching Gabriel how to cross over, she tells him everything she knows about the Travelers and the six realms. There is the first realm of a town like hell, the second realm of a city full of “hungry ghosts”, the third is inhabited by animals ignorant of all others, the fourth realm is our own reality, where the sin is desire, the fifth realm is the reality of the “half gods”, where the sin is jealousy, and the sixth realm of the “gods” themselves, where the sin is pride. The “gods” and “half-gods” of the fifth and sixth realm are not meant like God as the creator of all life, but like the Tibetans describe them: human beings from parallel worlds.

The realms are separated each by four barriers: one barrier of fire, one of water, one of earth and one of air. A Traveler that is capable of passing these four barriers is then able to enter one of the five other realms. If his body on earth dies, his soul, called the light, is condemned to stay forever in the realm it visits at that time. Crossing over into other realities, a Traveler can only carry special objects, called talismans, with him. Such an object is the sword Gabriel’s father gave him. Equipped with this sword, he meets his brother in the realm of the hungry ghosts.

His brother tries to convince him to join the Brethren. Gabriel resists the temptation, but he tells his brother where he left his body. As a consequence Gabriel is imprisoned by the Brethren within hours and brought to the research centre where Michael is kept.

Maya realizes that an immediate counterstrike is necessary. After an exciting battle in the Brethren’s research facility, they free Gabriel but have to realize that they can not convince Michael to leave the Brethren. Maya and her allies are able to find refuge in a house on a beach in Cape Cod – but only to recover. At this point the first book of the fourth realm has a cliffhanger ending.

Literary significance and reception

David Pitt in his review for Booklist said that John Twelve Hawks is “a gifted storyteller, makes this surreal and vaguely supernatural good-versus-evil story entirely believable.” About the novel he says that the “pace is fast, the characters intriguing and memorable, the evil dark and palpable, and the genre-bending between fantasy and thriller seamless”.[3] The New York Times reviewer Janet Maslin began her review with the statement: “It takes outlandish nerve and whopping messianic double talk to inaugurate a new science fiction project on the scale of The Traveler.” She then concluded “Amazingly, this novel sustains a new voice even when its roots show. And the list of obvious influences is long indeed. There are traces of Star Wars, The Matrix, Kill Bill and Minority Report. There are echoes of Stephen King, Michael Crichton, Joseph Campbell, Jeremy Bentham, various samurai stories and (could it not have been thus?) The Da Vinci Code.”[4]

Published: June 27, 2005

Film adaptation

On March 23, 2012, Deadline Hollywood announced that Warner Bros. acquired film rights to the Fourth Realm Trilogy.[5]

The Traveler Music Album

In October 2014, British DJ and Bedrock Records producer, John Digweed and his partner Nick Muir released an album inspired by The Traveler.

John Twelve Hawks made the initial contact, sending Digweed his novel with a note saying it had been written while listening to Digweed’s Transitions radio show. After reading The Traveler Digweed immediately emailed Hawks to say how much he’d loved the novel. Eighteen months later Digweed found an email from Hawks in his junk folder and they finally arranged to collaborate. Initial attempts to record Hawks’ narration via Skype failed, forcing Hawks to make a rare personal appearance in the studio. Digweed and Muir met with John Twelve Hawks in the UK and recorded his voice as he read passages from the novel. JTH’s voice was changed electronically and weaved into the 13 tracks.[6]

Reaction to the album was positive. Music critic, Rich Curtis called it “a very engaging and superbly crafted meeting of artistic minds.” [7]


  1. Jump up^ “New York Times Bestseller Hardback Fiction List”. July 17, 2005.
  2. Jump up^ “Warner Bros. Acquires ‘Fourth Realm’ Trilogy”. March 23, 2012.
  3. Jump up^ “The Traveler (Book)”. Booklist 101 (17): 1540. 2005-05-01. ISSN 0006-7385.
  4. Jump up^ “It Takes a Superhuman Effort to Escape Human Control”. June 6, 2005.
  5. Jump up^ “Warner Bros. Acquires ‘Fourth Realm’ Trilogy”. March 23, 2012.
  6. Jump up^ “DJ John Digweed Collaborates With Paranoid Author John Twelve Hawks”. October 1, 2014.

External links

John Twelve Hawks

John Twelve Hawks (pseudonym) is the author of the 2005 dystopian novel The Traveler and its sequels, The Dark River and The Golden City, collectively comprising the Fourth Realm Trilogy. The trilogy has been translated into 25 languages and has sold more than 1.5 million books.[1] The trilogy was followed five years later by a fourth book, Spark (novel by John Twelve Hawks), and a non-fiction eBook, Against Authority. “John Twelve Hawks” is a pseudonym and his real identity is unknown.[2]

Reason and origin of his name

In “Against Authority” Twelve Hawks describes writing The Traveler. His decision to use a different name was triggered by a combination of personal and political reasons:

“For the first drafts of the book, I kept my birth name off the title page. The old me wasn’t writing this book. Something was different. Something had changed. I had always admired George Orwell, and had read his collected essays and letters countless times. When Eric Blair became Orwell, he was set free, liberated from his Eton education and colonial policeman past. And there was another factor about the title page that troubled me. I was telling my readers that this new system of information technology was going to destroy our privacy, and that they should resist this change. It seemed hypocritical to go on a book tour or appear on a talk show blabbing about my life when our private lives were under attack.” [3]

During an online conversation he had with his fans on the We Speak for Freedom website he explained the origin of his name:[4]

The real story is this …I was walking through a forest and encountered a hawk nesting area. Twelve hawks circled around my head for about ten minutes …so close that the tip of their wings brushed the side of my head. That was why I picked the name. REAL hawks. Not symbolic ones.


In the sources listed and in his interviews, he has stated that he was born in the United States. He is a Buddhist who had meditated for most of his life. In the Spiegelinterview he states he is not a Native American.

In the Spiegel interview he talks about visiting East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall. In the USA Today article, his response to a question about religion began with, “When I was in my twenties…” and when an editor asked him whether the “realm of hell” could be compared to current conditions in Iraq, Hawks replied “it’s more like Beirut in the ’70s“. In the Spiegel interview and in the Daily Telegraph article, Hawks states that he drives a 15-year-old car and that he does not own a television.[5]

The SFF World interview indicates that Twelve Hawks once lived in a commune and learned about literature by stealing books from a restricted university library and then returning the books the next day. In the same interview, he states he wrote The Traveler after passing through some sort of personal crisis. In the interview in SFF World Twelve Hawks claims that he has “no plans to go public” regarding his identity.[6]

According to Twelve Hawks’ agent, “He lives in New York, Los Angeles and London”, and The Traveler sets its story in all three of these locations.[7] In a 2008 interview on Joseph Mallozzi‘s weblog, he answered a series of questions about this life:[8]

QUESTION: Is there a reason for the pen name? One you’d be willing to share, I suppose. As in, is it because you’re actually a secret CIA agent and/or Russian spy, or merely because you don’t ever want your mother knowing what you’ve written?

JTH: My mother and the rest of my family don’t know that I have written the novels. Those people I know who aren’t close friends see me as a failure by the American standards of success. Being a “failure” in such a way has been a continual lesson. It’s helped me realize that we make quick judgments of others based on little real information. We assume so much – but don’t know the secrets held within the heart.

Against Authority

On August 20, 2014, John Twelve Hawks released a free non-fiction book called Against Authority: Freedom and the Rise of the Surveillance States.[9] The book is dedicated to the novelist, Thomas Pynchon. An excerpt from Against Authority was published on Salon.[10]

Against Authority begins with a personal description of the neurological experiments performed on Hawks when he was a child and states that all of us have the ability to reject the “right” of those in power to control our lives. JTH describes how the reaction of governments to the September 11 attacks led to the Patriot Act in the United States and the proliferation of Closed-circuit television cameras in London. He references his 2006 essay How We Live Now [11] that was his first published reaction to these systematic attacks on privacy.

The book explains how the Total Information Awareness program developed by John Poindexter at the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) led to the expansion of the National Security Agency and the revelations of Edward Snowden. Hawks criticizes the assumption of “mass surveillance” strategies against terrorism and shows how “trickle down surveillance” has spread to small towns and developing countries.

JTH believes that surveillance technology has given those in power a crucial tool for social control. He describes how the culture of surveillance is used to track citizens for commercial reasons and gives examples of how people are now routinely watched at work. In the conclusion, He advocates a strategy of “parallel lives” that allows people to exist in the digital world while protecting their private actions and thoughts.


Spark was published in October 2014 in the United States and Great Britain.[12]

The book is narrated by Jacob Underwood, a man who suffers from Cotard delusion, a real-life neurological condition in which the afflicted person thinks that he or she is dead. Underwood is hired by a New York investment bank to work as an assassin, eliminating threats to the bank’s clients. “Underwood’s strength as a hired killer is the emotionless, robotic nature that allows him to operate with logical, ruthless precision.” [13] But, when the bank asks him to track down Emily Buchanan, a minor employee who has absconded with financial secrets, Underwood gradually becomes more human and feels moments of empathy. Hawks describes adystopia where people are beginning to be replaced by robots. Underwood’s journey is an exploration into what human values will survive in a world of machines.

Reviews of Spark were generally positive. The Publishers Weekly review mentioned JTH’s writing style: “Twelve Hawks’s prose, cold and clinical at times, yet punctuated with moments of great sensitivity, matches the tone and mood of his setting perfectly.” In a starred review in Booklist, reviewer David Pitt wrote: “It’s been several years since the Fourth Realm trilogy ended, and some readers might have wondered if the author had only one story to tell. But guess what? As good as the Fourth Realm books were, this one may be even more appealing: less fantastic, more grounded in a contemporary real world, with a narrator who is deeply scarred and endlessly fascinating.” [14]

In October, 2013 Deadline Hollywood reported that the film rights to Spark were sold to Dreamworks.[15]


  1. The Traveler (2005)
  2. The Dark River (2007)
  3. The Golden City (2009)
  4. Spark (2014)
  5. Against Authority (2014)


  1. Jump up^ “Warner Bros Acquires ‘Fourth Realm’ Trilogy”. March 23, 2012.
  2. Jump up^ “Those remaining literary recluses in full”. The Guardian (London). 1 February 2010.
  3. Jump up^ John Twelve Hawks (2014-08-20). “Against Authority”. Retrieved 2014-08-20.
  4. Jump up^ John Twelve Hawks (2009-05-24). “Live chat with John Twelve Hawks”. Retrieved 2009-05-25.
  5. Jump up^ David Thomas (2007-04-01). “Like Dan Brown, but better”. The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 2007-04-01.
  6. Jump up^ Rob Bedford (2005-12-04). “Interview With John Twelve Hawks”. SFFWORLD.COM. Retrieved 2006-08-12.
  7. Jump up^ Carol Memmot (2005-06-27). “Cryptic ‘Traveler’ has book world buzzing”. USA Today. Retrieved 2006-08-12.
  8. Jump up^ Joseph Mallozzi (2008-10-30). “Interview With John Twelve Hawks”. Retrieved 2008-10-30.
  9. Jump up^ John Twelve Hawks (2014-08-20). “Against Authority”. Retrieved 2014-08-20.
  10. Jump up^ John Twelve Hawks (2014-09-14). “New Surveillance States Have Placed Us In An Invisible prison”. Retrieved 2014-09-14.
  11. Jump up^ John Twelve Hawks (2006-02-01). “How We Live Now”. California State University, Northridge University.
  12. Jump up^ “‘Spark,’ the Latest Dystopian Novel From John Twelve Hawks”. 2014-10-06. Retrieved 2014-10-06.
  13. Jump up^ “Spark”. 2014-08-04. Retrieved 2014-08-04.
  14. Jump up^ David Pitt (2014-09-01). “Review of SPARK”. Retrieved 2014-09-01.
  15. Jump up^ Mike Fleming Jr. (2013-10-14). “DreamWorks Buys John Twelve Hawks Sci-Fi Thriller ‘Spark’”. Retrieved 2013-10-14.

External links


Who is John Twelve Hawks?

Back in August I wrote a piece about John Twelve Hawks’s so-called thriller The Traveller (aka The Traveler in the US). I thought the book was a dud, but noted, as one would have to, that it was being given a tremendous amount of hype by the publishers, in both the UK and the USA.

I think it was always fairly obvious that John Twelve Hawks was a pseudonym, and I made a brief reference to the kind of person, or persons, who might be involved. But I can’t say that I gave very much serious thought to who the author might really be, largely because I felt that the book was so feeble. And, of course, I was irritated by the fact that, yet again, a publisher was putting enormous weight behind something that really didn’t deserve it.

However, it turns out that that there are in this world a number of people who are giving some fairly detailed consideration to the identity of The Traveller‘s author. And one of them, Janet Rice, has come up with the suggestion that the real author is Michael Cunningham. Yes, that very same Michael Cunningham who won the Pulitzer Prize with The Hours and has recently published Specimen Days, another book which I felt wasn’t worth anyone’s trouble.

Janet Rice first posted her piece of deduction as a comment on my review of The Traveller, and I certainly recommend that you take a look at her detailed reasoning.

I have to say that this linking of Cunningham with the Twelve Hawks identity question is the smartest piece of lateral thinking that I have come across in a long time. Janet has clearly read both The Traveller andSpecimen Days with far greater care than I have, and has come up with several features which the books have in common.

Having written her piece as a comment on my blog, Janet has posted her further thoughts on this issue on the discussion page of Night Shade Books, where you will find several other speculations about the mystery man’s identity.

Janet, please note, is not insisting that she is right; she is simply putting forward the Twelve Hawks = Cunningham idea as a hypothesis, and inviting others to test it out. For my own part, I have to say that I find the idea tolerably convincing.

First of all, both books are, in my opinion, of much the same standard: i.e. just about publishable but no great shakes. Secondly, the existence of a previously ‘successful’ author behind the pseudonym would certainly explain why the publisher was willing to invest so heavily in the book; although, having said that, one also has to say that publishers seem quite ready to invest substantial sums in unknown quantities on every other day of the week.

Perhaps somewhere out there is a computer whizzkid who could do some textual analysis and see how the prose style of Cunningham and Twelve Hawks actually compares. Always bearing in mind, of course, that such analysis was not wonderfully successful in identifying the real author of the Belle de Jour blog/book. And also bearing in mind that an author can deliberately adopt different styles and tones of voice for different books.

Janet also adds some speculation as to why Cunningham — if he is the one — should bother to write a commercial thriller; her own hope is that he was trying to find a way to get his ideas through to a wider audience than he could achieve via his literary work.

Well — ahem — forgive my cynicism, but one should never underestimate the power of the dollar. In publishing, the money is never as much as the hype suggests, whether you’re Cunningham, Twelve Hawks, or anyone else. And in my view it might well be the case that some erstwhile literary chap has got tired of scuffling for a living and has tried to cash in.

I have absolutely no objection, in principle, to a writer going flat out for the money, but perhaps whoever is responsible for The Traveller now understands that writing a successful commercial novel is rather harder to do in practice than the literary elite of this world think it is.

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