Exclusive Interview with
When did you start writing?
I started writing when I was in elementary/primary school, writing to enter competitions and for creative events of the curriculum.
What makes writing your passion?
I am also an artist. Writing provides me with an alternative pallet, where I can create in colour and form without the use of paints, on a canvas of words. I like to weave thoughts and emotions into a multi-layered narrative that leaves much to the imagination of the reader - quite different to paint on a canvas where the aim and effect are quite the opposite.
How long have you been writing?
I've been writing since I was in elementary/primary school when I wrote creatively for competitions and as part of the school curriculum.
What was the feeling when you published your first book?
Holding the physical book in my hands was the culmination of a long road to publication of a story I had to write. The fictional narrative was the product of many hours of research and interviews with members of my family, now deceased, and ancient records from the first world war. So, publication of my first book was a mixture of relief and elation. I, at last, could see that the serious messages, implicit in the story, would now see the light of day and maybe provide benefit to those willing to listen.
What’s the story behind your choice of characters?
The characters in my books are based on real people, or sometimes mixtures of real people, the mixture of characteristics designed for dramatic effect, but nevertheless real people I have met form the basis. My choice of the actual characters is dictated by expedience, the need to push and pull the story in certain direction. However, in my experience, the characters usually take charge of the narrative at some point, and so, I leave them to their foibles, mistakes, failures and triumphs. They are ultimately in charge of their own fate.
What annoys you the most in pursuing a writing career?
Writing, creation of a story, fashioning the words, the sentences, chapters, the narrative arch etc is the easy part. Getting traction with potential publishers, breaking through the publication barriers is the hard part, as is the promotion/marketing of your saleable product. There are many talented writers who never gain recognition for their works, simply because traditional publishers are obsessed with commerciality, often ignoring innovation and real talent.
How do you get over the “writer’s block”?
I personally don't get "writers block", that is prolonged inability to let my imagination flow to words, paragraphs, chapter and stories. What I regularly need is downtime, where I allow space for the characters in my books to determine where they are headed and what to do next. This downtime from writing can take the form of a good night's sleep or several days of thinking or research into the story's background. Inevitably, I return to the narrative with renewed vigour.
We all know the writer’s path is never easy, what makes you keep going? What advice would you give to new authors?
The writer's path is multi-faceted. Most time, the process of actually writing is the easy bit, relatively easy, because you have the ideas, the story can readily be mapped out and the path can be followed. Editing the draft can be brief, before turning it over to an experienced editor. But finding a home for your story can be, is likely to be, a long drawn-out process. My best advice to any aspiring author with the product of their imagination and talent ready for publication is: Persistence. Have belief in your product, stick at the task of finding a home for it, and when inevitably it does find a home, be fully committed to its publication and marketing, devoting yourself to its success.
If you could go back in time and talk to your younger self, what would you say?
The lesson to my younger self is: be confident, belief in yourself, be committed to success and relentless in pursuit of well defined goals.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with the bad ones?
Yes. I enjoy reading reviews of my books. But, the written word is like art and music: Their appreciation is very much dictated by personal taste. One persons treasure is another's trash. So, a bad/negative review can be used as a guide to the potential weaknesses of my narrative. I must admit though, it pleases me when readers see through to the underlying basis of my stories, to the core of their meaning. Luckily, as yet, I haven't had any negative reviews.
What is the feeling when you get a good review?
For me, a good review penetrates to the core meaning of the story, to the message I want to present; and that is is very pleasing.
Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?
Characters, situations, locations are all derived from my personal experience, and, in the case of my first two novels, from actual events during the military campaign in palestine during the first world war, modified of course to fit the narrative, but always "invented" from my life, people I've known, places I've lived and worked and historical records. It's a delight to bring them to life from the recesses of my memory.
Which of your characters you can compare yourself with? Did you base that character on you?
Yes, elements of the character, Harry, in my novels, The Veiled Thread and The Severed Cord, are based on myself, though I hesitate to admit to as much dysfunction as shown by Harry or as much drama in life. The hold of the past however, the influence of the trauma in past generation is very much a part of my life as is in Harry's.
What do you think, the book cover is as important as the story?
No, the book cover is merely a window on what the book has to say, a clue about the contents, a device to get people to pick it up, examine the theme and hopefully buy it and read it. The aim is: to be noticed, to intrigue the potential reader, to stimulate the desire to delve into the contents.
Do you connect with your readers? Do you mind having a chat with them or you prefer to express yourself through your writing?
My writing is really only the start of the conversation. I like to provoke thought, self-examination and a desire in the reader to delve deeper into the meaning of the words, as they relate to themselves and people at large, past and present. And frequently, that involves lengthy conversations with readers, conversations that ranger and wide from the relatively confined subject matter of my books.
How do you feel when people appreciate your work or recognize you in public?
I don't look for public recognition, like carrying a placard around with me advertising who I am and what I've written, but, it pleases me to talk to readers, impromptu, to discuss the basis of my books and the broader messages I'm trying to convey.
Who is your favorite author? Why?
I appreciate many authors at different levels, for different reasons: Peter Temple for his brevity and ability to capture mood, John Le Carre for the quality of his prose and complexity of his plots, Albert Camus for the mood he gives and the passion. I admire so many authors for their ability to paint on the canvas of words.
What’s the dream? Whom would you like to be as big as?
"Big" probably the wrong description of where I want to be as an author. I want to be respected for the depth of my prose and the relevance of my narratives. "Big" implies mega-sales, with exposure in every airport world-wide, irrespective of the quality of my writing and the meaningfulness of my message. I would like readers to be saying to fellow readers about my books: "Read this, it really made me think about my life and my relationship to my family, my forebears and what I'm passing on to my children and my children's children." Not just a great story, but a story with lasting meaning. So, a writer with a mixture of imagination and serious message: Margaret Atwood, Peter Temple
Would you rewrite any of your books? Why?
No. It's like saying: "Would you re-paint a canvas." No. Maybe I would write a different story, using different characters to either extend the theme, change the location and/or appeal to a different audience, but I would never rewrite any of my books. They are complete in themselves and my aim is to move forward, not back.
If you could switch places with any author – who would that be?
No. My set of life experiences are uniquely mine, they bind together to develop my perspective on the world. I wouldn't trade my life, the good and the bad, with anyone.
What would you say to the “trolls” on the internet? We all know them – people who like to write awful reviews to books they’ve never read or didn’t like that much, just to annoy the author.
I'd say: "Go for it. A negative life is a life wasted."
What would you say to your readers?
Enjoy the story, the drama and the adventure, but look deeper for the parallels with your own life and the lives of those about you and don't miss the opportunity to engage with your forebears to open a window on your own life and motivations.
Share a bit about yourself – where do you live, are you married, do you have kids?
I was raised in Eastern Australia, at school during the 1960's and early 70's, a mixture of urban and rural living, attended, as an undergrad the University of Sydney, majoring in Biology and Geology and later Melbourne University, completing a Master of Environmental Management. My worklife was dominated by time as a field geologist, well site geologist and geological/business manager, working throughout Australia as well as in Southeast Asia, South Asia, North Africa, the USA and Europe. I have been based in Western Australia for over 25 years, with periods based in South Asia and the UK. I was married for 32 years until the loss of my wife, Janice, in 2014, to breast cancer. I had one child with Janice, and now live in Dunsborough, Western Australia, with my new wife Susie, a dog Boodja and an indoor cat TC.
What is your day job if you have one?
My day job is: writing novels and creating art.
What are your hobbies? What do you do in your free time?
Free time, when presented, is absorbed by surfing and swimming in the Indian Ocean.
Did you have a happy childhood?
My childhood was a mixture of rural and urban living, an itinerant existence because my father's job as a civil engineer meant the family was forced to move roughly every 3 years, usually to another rural town in New South Wales. So, my childhood was dominated by fantasy and adventure, getting to know new homes, adjusting to new locations.
Is there a particular experience that made you start writing?
Although I have been writing creatively all my life, the current series of books: The Veiled Thread, The Severed Cord and a third novel yet to be published arose from a time when my mother, then 94, came to Dunsborough to live with me. I spent time, for the first time in many years, with my mother, talking about her life, about her forebears, their lives and experiences, and made the connection with myself, despite never having known them. The connection was an epigenetic one, many of my character traits, it seemed, a result of their experiences, their past traumas. I had to capture this effect, and chose the fictional genre to define the influence of the past on present generations.
Do you have unpublished books? What are they about?
My last book in the current series: The Veiled Thread Series, carries forward the theme and characters of the first two books, with the aim of concluding the journey of self-discovery by the key protagonists.
What do you think should be improved in the education of our children? What do we lack?
One major flaw in modern society is our separation from past generations, where "old-folk" are sequestered in old-folks homes, separated from their families, their children, grandchildren, thereby blocking the chance for understanding, that is understanding of those links to the past that live in us all, those inherited, epigenetic links, links that mean the past lives in us whether we know it or not, like it or not.
If you were allowed 3 wishes – what would they be?
This sounds like: Bedazzled. One, I wish for a fair chance at publication and success for all talented authors, artists and musicians. True creativity, in general, is not adequately rewarded. It's not what you know, rather who you know; Two, all eyes open, the world recognises the gross discrimination against first nation people, the destruction wrought by invasion and undeclared war, and redresses the mistakes of the past; Three, I'm given unlimited funds, unlimited time and unlimited influence to make one and two happen.
What is your favorite music?
Rock: Pink Floyd, Cream, Wishbone Ash
Classical: Debussy, Beethoven
New Age: Dead Can Dance, Vollenweider
Jazz: Miles Davis
Share a secret with us 🙂
My secret is: I want to be famous, for the right things, not infamous.