Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I have always loved reading and movies – actually, that doesn't quite describe it – I've always been addicted to reading and movies, most likely I think because of the alternate reality they offer: the chance to live in Mad Max's dystopian wasteland for 2 hours or 10th century Britain with Bernard Cornwell's Uhtred Ragnarsson for weeks at a time. I love working with text – it's been my job within education for the last 20+ years – and I have long felt the pull to write.
The Fall Book 1 Conversion is the result – my debut novel.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
The Fall – book 1 Conversion, a post-apocalyptic story set in 2052 Melbourne Australia. In terms of inspiration or influences, I have long been into post-apocalyptic fiction as a genre both in books and perhaps more so in movies. Three huge influences on me growing up in 70s Australia were firstly Planet of the Apes; I was absolutely fascinated by the notion of a future, post-apocalyptic ape-run world with Charlton Heston’s lead character a ‘last (sentient) man alive’ figure, which in many ways parallels his other great role (for me) in The Omega Man, my second great influence. Though it dates now, this movie was compelling with Neville the seeming last man standing character in a world gone to pot. My third and perhaps most seminal influence was the Australian Miller-Kennedy classic Mad Max 2 – The Road Warrior, for me almost the perfect movie. I love the simple plot, the hero-out-of-the-wasteland Max, the Lord Humungus and his terrifying crew, the badass vehicles, the outback setting, the desperate surrounded compound; it’s perfect – and the last 30 minutes are just compelling. I take one movie to a desert island – this is it.
I’m perhaps fascinated by themes of isolation within threatening environments and abandonment and it is these themes I try to highlight in this book.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Not especially, but I like to diagram key parts of the plot, visualise things, create relationship maps between character sets – is that unusual?
What authors, or books have influenced you?
In terms of post-apocalyptic writing specifically, influences are Justin Cronin’s Passage trilogy, Pillip Reeves' Mortal Engines series are brilliant, Richard Matheson’s I am Legend, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, Steven King’s The Stand and The Wayward Pines trilogy by Blake Crouch, among many others.
What are you working on now?
Book 2 of The Fall
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Get a good editor, listen, take note and act. A good editor won’t tell you what you want to hear (‘This is great! You’re awesome!’) they will tell you what works and what doesn’t, and hopefully why. Good editing is about the product – the text – it’s not about you, so try not to take it personally. Consider it professional development.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Related to the above – it’s not personal, it’s about the text. Not from any one specific person, but I learned early on dealing with text production and editing (from both the authoring and editing sides) that good editing is about text improvement; don’t get upset, don’t take it personally, look at how to improve.
One other thing – you CAN do it. You’ve got to have good product (you can’t market a crap book) but it is doable. Early on in the writing piece, I seemed to get the constant message from so-called experts that it was all very hard and almost impossible to publish. It isn’t – work hard and listen to good people.
What are you reading now?
BZRK by Michael Grant, great concept, love nanotech (which also features in The Fall) so it got me in early
What’s next for you as a writer?
Writing the sequel to The Fall.
What is your favorite book of all time?
Sooooo hard to pick one, but The Passage by Justin Cronin, the first book in that trilogy is a tour de force of post-apocalyptic writing, it’s a wonderful visual, scary, engaging book – brilliant