1. What books have influenced your life most?
Terry Brooks wrote 5 post-apocalyptic urban fantasy books set before his epic fantasy series… and after his urban fantasy one, thus connecting the two together. THIS is where I got “post-apocalyptic urban fantasy” from. If it weren’t for Armageddon’s Children, I might not have come up with Children of Fire (which is approaching completion, I swear!)
2. What does your writing process look like?
Not a good one. One thing I loved about the library at Uni, apart from the slicker, less-concrete-tomb-like aesthetic, was that the fourth and fifth levels gave me a view out the window from which to write on my laptop. If I could get a seat, that is. I enjoyed that. I would love an apartment with a view, it really helps, but alas I am broke and in no condition to buy one. (When I’m rolling in dough, sure…) So at the moment I’m writing on my main computer, with my foot up on the desk, listening to music. I’ve found that music doesn’t help me write very much. Sometimes, yes, but for the most part I shouldn’t have it on.
Listening to string quartet versions of video game and anime music I’ve found to be a great help for editing my work, though.
A cup or can of Coke Zero is usually nearby or not too far off – that shit’s to me what coffee is to serious writers. I sometimes write drunk, too. I think it was Hemmingway who said to write drunk and edit sober. Being the alcoholic that I am, I’m totally on board with the first half of that. The second half… not so much. But I see the point. I think it was a metaphorical drunkenness, a drunk you should be able to achieve alcohol-free from the act of writing. That’s what I figure he was on about.
3. What book are you reading now?
The latest Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. I seriously love how good it’s gotten. I have read a few here and there through the years, but not really been in love with them. Until Ghost Story. Then I went back to Changes, then to Cold Days, and now I’m on Skin Game, and it’s just gotten good. I will have to go back and read them all in order some time.
4. Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Jay Posey, I guess. He’s just released what I’m led to believe is his second book, Morningside Fall, and I’ve got to say, Three – his first – was actually quite good. It had rough patches, but most debuts do. The magic doesn’t often work with first books. Three was good, not perfect, but its real magic is that its stuck in my mind and I kinda wish I’d written it.
Paul Tobin, hands down. Holy crap can this guy do superheroes! The bit in Prepare to Die with the teenagers getting drunk and high and talking to sheep was beyond hilarious. I just lost it.
Shane Kuhn, author of Kill Your Boss (a sort of memoir of an assassin) I managed to finish in 24 hours. That NEVER happens to me. So hats off to him.
5. What are your current projects?
Children of Fire fourth draft. This one has a whole B-plot involving goblins, culminating in a confrontation that ties into the A-plot. I’m secretly proud of this.
I’m working on its sequels in bits and bobs. There’ll be four of them, though two might be novellas and packaged together as a duology. COF has some sequel hooks, and I’ve got ideas for book 2, if I don’t use them.
I’m also in the planning stages of…
Silver Shard, an epic fantasy with ‘heroes’ who don’t fit in with their cliché racial expectations. So elves who don’t want to be wizards or druids, dwarves that don’t want to be fighters or clerics, that sort of thing. D&D stuff, but against the clichés.
Ghost Titan, a mecha-vs-kaiju series.
And thinking of doing a sentai series.
Do you see writing as a career?
Writing for yourself won’t pay the bills. Writing for a market means you can. It’s your choice, really. But I think of writing seriously, and getting monetary recompense for my work, is something I’d really, really like. In fact, I kinda Need It. I don’t think it’s in a desperate sense, but there’s something to be said for benefiting of the fruits of your labours.
Plus I’m in love with the rockstar writer image. Only one way to get that way, though: by treating writing as a business, in some respects. But I don’t think you should sacrifice the artistic merits either.
7. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I have Asperger’s Syndrome. As such, when my mother was trying to get me into regular school, she fought tooth and nail to get me in. The principal of the state school that I went to (my best Uni friend and fellow writer either went there too, or at least lived in the suburb, as a kid) let me in, four years before it became mandatory. Otherwise I would have gone to special needs school somewhere, which is just a babysitting place. For twelve years. I would never have gotten into University, and I would have had to teach myself writing. My mum got me into proper school (or at least public school) and then tutored me in reading and writing when she learnt that I was having difficulty. And I liked it. And when a kid with Asperger’s Syndrome likes something, they become pretty obsessed with it. I’m obsessed with writing, thanks to my mum.
I’m still Mathlexic though. Nothing will ever cure that for me.
8. Who is your favourite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Patrick Rothfuss, hands down. Partly because the ladies love his work. Mostly just the quality of the writing though. (Even if the Felurian bit in book 2 went on waaaaaaaay too long). That blurb and that prologue deserve an award. And the storytelling within is so good.
9. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Motivation, discipline, you know, normal stumbling blocks for most writers. Except those lucky, wonderful, magical creatures who can pump out a million words a day. I hate those people with a jealousy bordering on madness.
10. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learnt that it takes several drafts over several years to get a first book done. I’m not finished, but it’s creeping closer to NaNoWriMo and I’m confident that this year will be the one. Perseverance will get you through, although it’s a struggle.
Desperately scrabbling to the finish line of the first draft while writing after midnight under the effects of sleeping pills but not actually being able to sleep and trying in vain to make it work out the way you planned it but not being able is a deeply unsettling place to be in, mentally. Having a deadline for a submission helped. But I wasn’t able to leave the project alone, and withdrew it to rework it. I’m glad I did, though. It needed a whole lot more work than the editor interested in it was saying. We were both young and full of wonderment, I guess.
11. Do you have any advice for other writers?
Remember that you won’t just pump out magnum opus after magnum opus the first time, or really ever. But you will get better. And don’t settle for crap.
12. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I’m glad you all think post-apocalyptic urban fantasy sounds like a “pretty bitchin”. Thanks. I can’t wait to get it to you.
13. What book do you wish you had written?
As I stated earlier, Three by Jay Posey. But also The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. I’d get approximately all the ladies.
14. Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Plotter, for the most part, but if inspiration hits, I go with it. I don’t think it happens in a vacuum, either. It’s your subconscious going over what you’ve got and coming up with creative solutions to things that you just know aren’t going right. You’re mowing the grass and realise that dragons will solve everything. Or destroy it in hellfire. Maybe that’s what you want though.
15. If you could cast your characters in the film, theatre or video game adaptation of your book, who would play your characters?
There’s this girl in Falling Skies (her character died) who’d make the perfect Sarah. I don’t know the actress’ name. I’d definitely look at that show for some actors. Not really sure who might play whom, male or female, but if I could get Jennifer Lawrence or Emma Watson on board, I’d make approximately all the money, and that would be nice for me.
The guys, I have no idea. But if I ever need a midget, Peter Dinklage will be the first person I call.
I go for the actors in geeky shows first, because they’ll be more enthusiastic about the role and I can get away with paying them less than A-listers. Probably less problematic to deal with, too. But everyone’s different, and I’d certainly allow nobodies to audition. Maybe there’s a legendary Jarred out there who’ll reach the appropriate age just in time.
What I don’t want is 20-somethings playing the teenagers in Ghost Titan. Although, Power Rangers did that, and look at Power Rangers’ lasting cultural impact…
16. What is your least favourite part of the publishing / writing process?
Having to work through the pain and the hell and the not-being-motivated bits. I hate those times – way more than I’m happy with – with a fiery passion, but I can’t seem to pull myself away from Facebook. People with AS are easily seduced by computer screens. There’s needing a break, then there’s wasting all day online.
The waiting is another kind of hell. We all share that experience, so I won’t elaborate on that.
17. What literary character is most like you?
Obviously I’m Harry Dresden, the wise-cracking, badass gentlemanly wizard PI.
18. What do you like drinking the most?
Coke. I’m a junkie. But I’ve switched from regular to Zero, at least. Lost a couple kilos too. The beer ain’t helping my waistline much, though.
I don’t drink coffee. *the record screeches to a halt*
19. How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way they sound, or the meaning? And do you have any name choosing resources you’d recommend?
Pretty important. I need there to be at least some pronounce-ability to fantasy names. COF has the benefit of having regular names, though all the characters are straight white Australians with traditional-ish names like David, Adam, Sarah, Rachel, Jessica and Nick, Jarred was probably the most exotic for a while, until Modok. Man, Modok changed everything!
Fantasy names you can make them up (there’s even some decent generators out there that make pronounceable ones, like http://fantasynamegenerators.com/ which is exceptional) and their meanings can be whatever you like. You’re free to do what you wish, but don’t make them twee or stupid or lame.
20. Finally, what is something you want to accomplish before you die?
Get Children of Fire published, obviously. I started it in 2008. It’s about time I finished.