This is the first part of a lengthy set of interview questions I completed to be featured on a fellow writer’s blog in January 2019. The original interview is so long I’ve split it into three parts.
As usual with these reproduced interviews, I’ve changed the wording of the questions for copyright reasons, but without changing the questions’ meaning. The answers I haven’t touched except that, where relevant, I’ve added the occasional update in square brackets after my original answer.
Why did you decide to become a writer?
Since learning to read as a four- or five-year-old, I’ve read voraciously. Writing seemed the natural progression. I still marvel at worlds other authors have created, but now I create my own, too.
What are you aiming to release next?
I’m aiming to release a new novel later this year. It will be a standalone fantasy, though a chunky one of around 180,000 words. A collection of dark novellas might come before it—depends which I finish first.
[The collection of dark novellas, Moths, was published later that year, in August, but—due to the time-drain of producing my own audiobooks—I’m only 70,000-words into the fantasy novel. I love the note of cheery, but wildly misplaced, optimism in my January 2019 answer.]
Do you think it’s important that aspiring authors should read widely?
I think it’s vital. No doubt there are exceptions but, generally speaking, I don’t see how anyone can hope to become an accomplished writer without reading a lot of books. It would be like hoping to become a cabinet maker without trying to understand how cabinets are put together.
What was the first book you remember reading?
Other than Dick and Jane, or whatever they were called, in nursery school (‘Run, Dick, run!’), it was probably one of the Enid Blyton books about the wishing chair or the enchanted wood. Her books opened my child’s eyes to the endless possibilities to be discovered on a page.
What are you reading at the moment?
Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson. I’m also picking away at Infinite Jest, but I’m finding it a challenge, to put it mildly, so don’t anticipate finishing it any time soon.
[I thoroughly enjoyed Aurora. I’m still picking away at Infinite Jest.]
Tell us about a series you’ve written and how you came up with the title.
I have two complete series—The Elevator and Earth Haven trilogies. The idea for Earth Haven came from a short story I wrote at the turn of the millennium about a young man who survives a plague that wipes out almost the entire population of the world. The title of the series came from how some of the characters refer to our planet—to them, it represents a haven to which to escape their own dying planet many light years away.
Is there a character you identify with in your books?
I don’t identify with any of the characters in my books, with one possible exception. The only novel I’ve written that doesn’t come under the broad umbrella of speculative fiction is called That Elusive Something. It’s about a professional in his early thirties who yearns for something more. Funnily enough, when I wrote it I was a lawyer in my early thirties yearning for something more.
Is your work based on real life events?
Since most of the stuff I write is horror or science fiction or fantasy, I’d have led a damned peculiar existence if my books came from true-life experiences.
Do you only base your stories in places you’ve visited?
I’ve based parts of books in Sydney and Los Angeles, and Wick in Scotland, places I’ve never visited. That’s when Google Earth is your friend.
There’ll be a couple more parts along shortly. Till then…