What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Treat writing with the passion it deserves. Try to think about what message you are trying to say as you put it out in the world, and have fun with it. There are also going to be days where you don’t feel it. Sometimes you just have to let the words spill out onto the page before you really feel like you’re in the zone.
Read books that inspire you and help you develop your craft. For instance, Stephen King might not be everybody’s cup of tea genre wise, but his non-fiction text On Writing is an absolute must-read for any aspiring author.
What are some day jobs you have held?
I have had a long and illustrious list of day jobs. In addition to writing, I am currently teaching English and have done so for 12 years. Prior to that, I have been a kitchen designer, youth activities worker on a Disney cruise ship, journalist, tv and film reviewer, bartender, childcare worker, delivery driver, draftsman, barista to name but a few…but writing has always been a passion.
Can you share with readers a little bit about your latest book?
My second novel, The Guardians of Celesk – part 1, is the first in a 3-book fantasy series. It’s a world of magic and civil war, as a sinister exile of the Guardians destroys the Sanctuary and sends the world of Celesk into chaos. The remaining Guardians desperately escape and look for their reincarnated leader who has taken the form of a small, but powerful, baby girl. It’s a story of good and evil, of hope even in the darkest of times, and one about how parenting can come in many shapes and sizes.
What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
The most difficult part is keeping up the intensity of the action scenes and trying to avoid common cliches or worn stereotypes of each character. I was hoping that my strong female protagonists were avoiding the Mary Sue trope. They suffer along the way of the Hero’s Journey and despite growing in power, narrowly avoid death and face many trials and tribulations that allow them to grow.
What made you decide to sit down and actually start writing this book?
The idea first came to me on the way home from university a couple of decades ago, and it went along the lines of what would happen if a society could reincarnate and what if many of them knew about this way of life? Would it change their values and the way they lived? What if this order was reversed and those who were evil were promoted and those who lived a life of good were reduced to a single cell or worse? Would it completely subvert the entire world?
Tell us more about your main character. What inspired you to develop this character?
There are a few main characters but my favorite is Chenari, the daughter of Artreide and Bohina. I was inspired by my daughter Harper, who was two years old during the second lockdown in Australia. I really enjoyed spending that extra time getting to know her and watching her develop in all areas, especially in her words and being able to teach her a few things about gardening and starting to read to her. I think this father-daughter relationship stands out a lot in the book.
Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential in your work?
I would have to mention JRR Tolkien for the LOTR, Stephen King for the dark tower series, Frank Herbert for Dune though the ones who have really inspired my work fall largely in the dystopian and speculative fiction realm with Margaret Atwood, George Orwell, Aldous Huxley and Ray Bradbury. I would like to think my work has a few of these flavors infused in it. They’re the authors who first inspired me to look at our world with a fresh perspective, if not a critical one.
What is one great lesson you have learned as a writer?
Writing for the public has taught me that finishing the novel is only half the job. The next step is marketing it: and that is something I can safely say I do not excel at, and am still way behind in the learning curve. It’s like a film: Once it’s shot, you need to go into post-production and that can take months. With a novel, marketing can take years and I’ve learned quite a few missteps along the way. Try to avoid all temptation to be a silent recluse and just wistfully hope someone will read it and maybe take the odd opportunity for shameless self-promotion. I find that tough, but a necessary step in writing.
If there was one thing you could do to change the world, what would it be?
I would love to change the way we communicate with one another, how to really listen to what the wants and needs of the collective good of all humanity are and put them above our own. This is something I think we all struggle to do, even at an individual level, so the challenge is quite large. But if we solve that problem, others problems will tumble as well.