Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Darwin, Northern Territory in Australia with my six siblings and my parents since 1971. There wasn't a lot on TV in Darwin so I became an avid Sherlock Holmes and Miss Marple fan. I became engrossed in reading Sci-Fi Fantasy when my sister, Charmaine forced me to read Terry Brook's "The Sword of Shannara" in the mid-80's (possibly just to get rid of me so she could read volume 2). I became hooked and started buying up other Fantasy novelists. But it didn't quite capture ALL of my interests and sometimes I just wasn't happy with the way their stories ended. Besides, there isn't a lot of entertainment that crossed over EVERYTHING that I like: Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Crime Thrillers, Paranormal, Comedy, Action, Horror and Spiritual. I can honestly say that writing the Houkura series was based on a lot of my own personal discontent about the plots of other books (why didn't they do this? etc..), my bizarre sense of humour and the odd nightmare or two.
When did you first start writing?
I started writing the Houkura series in 1996. I had already worked through the main plot and characters when my sister, Charmaine asked me to take her to the hospital. While waiting in the ER, I explained my plot and penned it out on a small notepad she had. (I still have the notepad). I think after her encouragement, I finally put fingers to keyboard and actually started writing.
What's the story behind your latest book?
The second in the Houkura series is called "The Tcholla" and continues the story of Finn, Robb and Danika after they have found themselves on Houkura. The teenager Tarheen has been captured by a dark mage not realising that his parents, Krysta and Zoltan, are trying to find him. Without giving too much away, this installment in the series is darker and action-packed. The trio have a lot more at stake than just trying to find a way back to Earth, including getting a handle on their magical abilities.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Finally getting the story down on paper / screen and not just rattling around in my head. It can be quite annoying when your dreams revolve around an unwritten story. The hardest part is trying to stop adding to the already-written story.
What are you working on next?
The second novel in the Houkura series is currently being edited. I am also starting to record my thoughts on a non-fictional reference book about how iBase databases should rule the world.
Who are your favorite authors?
Wow! Terry Pratchett, David Eddings and Terry Brooks have to be my three all-time favourites, followed closely by Raymond E Feist, R A Salvatore and L E Modesitt Jr. Did I mention Agatha Christie??
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I am an intelligence analyst. I'm currently working part-time as an Investigations Analyst and running my own analytical consultancy business (Q3i2). I love singing and have a pretty loud voice. This can be unfortunate at times, as I also love singing in harmonies and the church choir and the congregation have trouble singing louder than me if it's hymn I really love.
What is your writing process?
I mull out the plot, draw a timeline of what key elements have to take place and in which order. I keep track of each character's inventory, so that I don't suddenly create a tardis-like backpack that has everything they need for that scene.
How do you approach cover design?
I found an illustrator online (Michael Lindsey) who is based in Memphis who is AWESOME! I included illustrations within the chapters as well as the front cover and as there were so many, I sketched out a rough outline of the scene and included a description of the scene so that he knew what had to be included. Some times he would ask further questions, like what type of clothing, shoes or bags the characters had and I would go and download google images and send him the pictures. Within a day he would change my stick-figures into a work of art that made my jaw drop. He is that good. Of course, this isn't always the case. When we were doing the illustrations for book 2, we didn't seem to gel as well, so I flew over to Memphis and his wife and I modelled the scenes (if only I had thought to use my phone to take a photo of our awkward modelling positions!). He made his own sketches of the scene and finalised the illustrations afterwards. The designs are based on specific scenes in the books, often so complex to describe I use the illustration (either in the chapters or on the cover) to speak a thousand words (and who wants to read through five pages of descriptions). It's much more effective and prettier.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
I can't limit my favourites to a single book, but rather an entire series: 1) Terry Pratchett's discworld series - any book! 2) David Eddings - Belgariad series 3) Terry Brooks - Shannara Series (Sword, Elfstones, Wishsong) 4) Agatha Christie - any of the Miss Marple series (she's much better than Poirot) 5) R A Salvatorre - all of the Drizzt Do'Urden books, however The Crystal Shard had the best quote: "Prayne de crabug ahm keike rinedere be-yogt iglo kes gron!" (May the fleas of a thousand reindeer nest in your genitals!) I couldn't stop laughing for half an hour.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I think the first story I ever read as a child was about five famous dogs who saved people. The realisation that animals could be motivated to help others, despite inordinate amounts of danger, was inspiring. It was also illustrated. That and the Nancy Drew books would probably be the reason why I include illustrations within some of the chapters.
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