The books on my shelves are all fighting for space with each other. The military strategies like Jack Campbell's "Dauntless" series are vying for position with McMaster Bujolds "Vorkosigan" space opera. The Georgette Heyer mysteries and romances (some of which I have borrowed from my grandma) are defending their turf against the True Blood series. The biographies of Henry the VIII's wives are going shoulder to shoulder with Jane Eyre and Pride & Prejudice, and I have a whole shelf of math and science books. I read a lot of mysteries, and have a few series which have dragged on for so long that you suspect the main charachter must be a lightening rod of bad luck, or be a secret serial killer.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
They always say you should write what you know. I have lived in Wollongong my whole life, and it's a great place to live. The worst thing about writing mysteries is that I now tend to walk around considering how I can incorporate a site or a business into a future story. Part of my story is about the interconnectedness of the people in Wollongong and the greater Illawarra region. The tag line " where everyone knows somebody who knows you " is true. There are 300,000 people. Its the 3rd largest city in NSW and the 9th largest in Australia, yet when a friend moved back to Wollongong after 20 years away, she suddenly realised she knew eight of the 12 neighbours in her cul-de-sac.
When did you first start writing?
Apart from back in high school (see story below) I only started fiction writing in the last five years. I have always written for business, and that evolved into writing articles for education and trade magazines. But the fiction writing started 5 years ago. I'd had a great idea for a book while camping in the Warrumbungles (if you have read my book this will make sense) and I mulled it over for a few years and then started putting fingertips to keyboard and got obsessed over it. I started blogging as a way to force myself to practice editing.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
My first book was for a year 10 English assignment where we had to create an actual book, front cover and everything. I think everyone else was doing their version of the babysitters club or doing as little as possible, but I created a dynastic battle between two brothers, one with mafia backing. I imported and then lost 10 tonne of heroin ( I wanted a number that sounded big), that set into play the assassination of 10 people - described in detail. I drove a man mad and ended with my rather nasty female blackmailer enjoying her stolen millions on a yacht, thinking she has gotton away with multiple murders, not realising she is about to be blown up. It is rather painful to read now, with descriptions from the Mills and Boon school of writing. But Mr Roe gave me 49 out of 50, and it's still on my bookshelf.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Being new to this business I did my research. It seemed that fair bit of luck is required to get your manuscript pulled out of the slush pile. As my friends tell me, JK Rowling was rejected 17 times, but I thought the main reason to self-publish was that it gave an endpoint, where you have to stop editing and making minor changes. The advantage is you get to keep most of the money yourself. The disadvantage is you haven’t the ability to market it as well as a major publishing house.
How do you approach cover design?
The cover art is inspired by Roy Lichtenstein. I thought the pop art style really suited the quirky characters, and the tumbling teapots makes a lot of sense when you read the novel. My cover artist is my friend Di Buttenshaw, who did a great interpretation of my vision.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Jack Campbell's Dauntless is great. I love the way it deals with space battles, very few sci fi have comments like "We will meet the enemy - in about 18 hrs, so go have a kip." The explanations about the relativistic effects of space time are brilliant. The Curse of Chalion, by Lois McMaster Bujold. I love all her Vorkosigan sagas but I reread this novel every year or so. The Iron Druid series by Kevin Hearne is a recent favourite. I love how all the gods, in their various representations all exist together, even the cartoon versions. Jane Eyre. I love her intensity. Lord Darcy (omnibus) by Randall Garrett. The investigator with his court approved forensic magician, where magic is a scientific certainty, set in a 'now' when the Plantagenet’s still rule half the planet. I can see this as a TV series.
What's the book you love to hate?
I have a love/hate relationship with Agatha Christie. I hate the fact that most of the time there are no clues and you only find out afterwards the butler is a long lost relative. My favourite is "the man in the brown suit." It's best if you read it, then watch the 1989 movie with Tony Randall. In the book there is no clue till right at the end that one character is masquerading as all these other people. In the movie, it's hysterical as everyone else is blithely oblivious to Tony Randall dressed as a maid, a secretary and priest. In the same vein, I love the Miss Marple BBC series with Geraldine McEwan, but find the books annoying.
What are you working on next?
I have plot outlines for another two books featuring the book club girls, all set in Wollongong. I have a short story — a mystery with paranormal overtones — that I have been told I should expand to a full length novel. Once this one is bedded down, I’ll get back to the second book.
Describe your desk
My desk is in my study where I can look out a window and behind me are all my books. So I tend to get distracted and end up sitting on the sofa with my laptop.
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