Sunday, March 22, 2015
1. 1. Tell us a little about yourself. Just who the hell are you, anyway?
I am an Australian writer and teacher. I have also been a solicitor and professional actor. I am now semi-retired, writing in the mornings, tutoring in the evenings and looking after my invalid mother and a three-legged cat the rest of the time.
No. Of course, the process of writing is in itself strange.
3. 3. What book do you wish you could have written?
Anything by Roger Zelazny. He is my favourite all-time author. I even met him at a con once and did an interview with him. Brian Aldiss was also there but declined the interview.
4. Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you to write?
The big four are Roger Zelazny, Mervyn Peake, William Hope Hodgson and Douglas Adams. To that list you could add Herman Melville, Emily Brontë and Lewis Carroll. All for different reasons and each in their own way.
5. If you could cast your characters in the Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play your characters?
I’ve never really thought about that. I suppose I’d like Miranda Otto to play Maddy Hawthorn in ‘Days of Iron’. As an actor, however, I prefer to support new talent rather than established actors. Whoever would play my characters is still out there, as yet undiscovered.
6. How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?
My lead characters have all had their names chosen for them without my input. With my horror series ‘The Jabberwocky Book’, the two main characters are Alice Liddell (from ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’) and Dorothy Gale (from ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’). I didn’t have much choice there. Emily from ‘Plato’s Cave’ took her name from the Brontë sisters and Maddy Hawthorn from ‘Days of Iron’ was named after Maddy Prior from the folk rock band Steeleye Span and the lead character in ‘Naturally Sadie’, a children’s show.
7. What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
Climbing Mt Kilimanjaro in 2006.
8. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Doing what I’m doing now: writing, teaching, learning new things.
9. Were you already a writer, and have you always liked to write?
I’ve always liked to write. I have a filing cabinet drawer full of stuff I am now ashamed of, but all writers have that I guess.
10. What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?
Establish a routine and stick to it. Also, don’t listen to advice. Including mine.
11. If you didn't like writing books, what would you do for a living?
I do it already: I teach and tutor school kids. It is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. I hate ignorance, and relieving people of its deadly grip is a worthwhile enterprise.
12. Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?
I read them. I never respond to them. My advice is don’t respond. As an actor, if someone said they liked my show, I’d just say “Thanks” and move on. If they didn’t like it, I moved on without saying anything. Someone, somewhere, is going to dislike what you do. That’s fine. No one’s perfect.
13. What is your best marketing tip?
I don’t have any marketing tips. Marketing is a strange world a bit like the stock exchange – no one quite knows what they are doing or what will work.
14. What is your least favorite part of the publishing / writing process?
I’m obsessive about getting details right, which means I do a lot of research. If it’s important for the story about what phase the moon was in on a particular historical date, I make sure I find out what it was. Then I have to cross-check the rest of the book (or the series) to make sure everything is consistent.
15. Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?
I don’t do romance. None of my characters have any romantic leanings whatsoever.
16. Is there a certain type of scene that's harder for you to write than others?
17. Is this your first book? How many books have you written prior (if any?)
‘The Red King’ is the first in the series ‘The Jabberwocky Book’. I already have ‘Plato’s Cave’ out there and a collection of three short stories called ‘Holding Darkness’.
18. What are you working on now? What is your next project?
I am finishing up ‘The Jabberwocky Book’ series. After that I’ll be working on the sequel to ‘Days of Iron’ and the start of a new time-travel series.
19. Do you write naked?
20. What is your biggest failure?
My lack of self-confidence.
21. What is the biggest lie you've ever told?
If I told you, I’d be lying.
22. Have you ever gotten into a bar fight?
23. Characters often find themselves in situations they aren't sure they can get themselves out of. When was the last time you found yourself in a situation that was hard to get out of and what did you do?
When I was climbing Mt Kilimanjaro, I was about to give up on the last leg. I was 5500 metres up the side of a volcano in Africa, it was three o’ clock in the morning, and I could not physically go on. I had a photograph of my mother and father in my pocket. My father was at that time suffering from Alzheimer’s. The picture of him and Mum gave me the strength to keep going as I wanted to climb the mountain for them. I left the picture at the top. When I returned to Australia Dad’s illness meant he no longer knew who I was and did not understand what I’d done in his name. He died shortly afterwards.
24. Do you drink? Smoke? And if so, what’s your favorite libation?
I drink socially. I don‘t smoke and never have. As far as alcohol is concerned, my favorite libation is wine. My father gave me the best advice about wine I’ve ever had – never drink anything that costs more than $15 a bottle. Beyond that, it all tastes the same.
25. What is your biggest fear?
Heights. I get a nosebleed standing on a chair.
26. What do you want your tombstone to say?
I don’t want a tombstone. I wish to lie beside my parents in a niche in the same columbarium where their ashes are contained.
27. If you had a superpower, what would it be?
I don’t want superpowers. A person should rely on innate ability to change the world.
28. If you were a super hero, what would your name be? What costume would you wear?
If I was a superhero, I would wear the costume my niece Emma wears. She is a rural fire fighter. She risks her life fighting bushfires. I would wear the protective gear she puts on as she is a real superhero.
29. What literary character is most like you?
No idea. Which character is a quiet, reserved grumpy old man?
30. What secret talents do you have?
None. My talents of acting and writing are known. I can’t sing, dance or play a musical instrument.
31. Where is one place you want to visit that you haven't been before?
I’d like to go hiking in Canada. Or Iceland.
32. What is something you want to accomplish before you die?
Finish writing what I want to.
33. If you could have any accents from anywhere in the world, what would you choose?
As an actor I can pretty much do whatever accent is needed, so I can do them anytime I want. I had voice training for many years.
34. Do you have any scars? What are they from?
I have a scar on my left ankle from osteomyelitis when I was nine years old. If you haven’t had osteomyelitis, you have no idea of the trauma that creates. It is sensitive to this day, and I’m 57 years old.
35. What were you like as a child?
Frequently ill. Shy.
36. Do you dream? Do you have any recurring dreams/nightmares?
My most recurring dream is being in a house with hidden rooms. The rooms are filled with miscellaneous objects, or are bedrooms I never realized I had. I don’t see dreams as having any meaning, though. They are just dreams.
37. You’re being attacked by a hoard of brain eating zombies at this very moment, and all you have is a butter knife, a week-old lemon and a cheese grater. How would you extract yourself from the situation?
Run like hell.
38. Do you have any regrets? (Besides volunteering for this interview)
No. Regrets achieve nothing. If I do have any, I try to forget them.
39. And last, but certainly not least, do you have any books you’d like to recommend/ shout-outs?
Any Permuted Press titles. They are a bunch of great people doing a great job and they don’t get nearly the attention they deserve.