Sorry for the lack of updates lately. Things have been a little tough at work recently and, what with the release of my new novel in a couple of weeks, I've been keeping myself busy.
Nevertheless, I intend to make up for that today, as I once again have the pleasure of my favourite author back with me. He took time out from his busy schedule to answer a few questions about his work and a little about his upcoming novel (which he briefly talked about on my blog a few weeks back). He was willing to impart his knowledge about writing to me and also a little about his forthcoming novel.
Whaddya say? Let's get down to it!
1. Thank you for taking the time to appear on my blog. Can you tell my readers a little about yourself?
Thanks for having me, Dan. In a nutshell? I'm an Australian (born and reared in Melbourne) who's lived in Tokyo these past 13 years. I'm a journalist and I do electronic music under aliases like Little Nobody and Funk Gadget, but since 2011 have focused on writing fiction — with no particular genre holding precedence, though everyone knows I love my noir.
2. Wow! Sounds like you keep a busy lifestyle! So what first inspired you to get into writing?
I've been pushing a pen since I could hold one — and before I could spell, apparently, if you look at some of the old stories my mum kept from primary school. I love doing the thing. It's a form of escapism and adventure in which I have no idea of what direction we'll take. Later reading people like Graham Greene, Raymond Chandler and Philip K. Dick inspired me to bird-dog the passion into novels.
3. Thumbs up for the Philip K. Dick mention! Who are your favourite authors?
Definitely still Chandler, and I still pick up Greene and Dick occasionally. Dashiell Hammett, Nicholas Christopher and Angela Carter. More recent people like Michael Chabon and China Miéville.
4. Do you have any other hobbies other than writing or is that your whole world?
No, no, I have way too many of the things. I really enjoy making music, as I mentioned, along with catching up with experimental electronic sounds. I love movies and anime — I was a film reviewer for several years — and I'm a comic book buff. That's where I'm right into other writers like Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction. I'm right into trying new, obscure foods. And I also make comics too.
5. Is there no end to your talents? Ok, that's not my real question. Haha. Do you have a favourite genre to write in?
Anything goes — seriously. I've brushed up against fantasy, surreal, slipstream, magical realism, farce, sci-fi, dystopia, coming-of-age. They're all fun. But hardboiled noir often undercuts the lot.
6. Without giving away too many spoilers, can you tell the nice people (us) a little bit about your new book?
Yep, that's a toughie — a few reviewers have already commented that it's hard to talk about this story without giving away essential parts of the yarn. Basically, it's the story of a teenage high school girl growing up in Nede, pronounced 'Needy', which is a surrogate city for Melbourne in the 1980s. She comes from an abusive family, discovers herself through music and subculture, and then stumbles across a possible murder-mystery — or is it just plain madness?
7. Ah, sounds interesting. I'm gonna add that to my to be read pile! Where did you get the inspirations for this?
Some of it is based on my own childhood with an abusive older brother, as well as the tales of friends who went through a similar experience, particularly in the goth/post-punk scene in the 1980s and '90s. The rest is pure fiction, directions that I didn't plan and came out of nowhere.
8. Do you have any favourite characters in the story?
Um... definitely Mina. Without giving away much, I've worked with her before and will do so again. I love the hidden strength of her character. She reminds me of a female Sam Spade — if he were a teenage girl with a passion for post-punk tunes and bubbly. So I guess Spade mixed a little with another Hammett creation, Nora Charles from The Thin Man. I also loved working with Animeid, and felt regret for Mina's friend Sarah.
9. If your book was turned into a film/TV series, who would you get to play the characters? Do you have a favourite director you would choose for this? Also, can I have a bit part in it?
XD Ha Ha Ha — yep, of course you can! We can work together as the toilet cleaners at Flinders Street Station during the crowded mardi gras scene! This one's always a tough, and constantly changes depending on what I'm exposed to at the time, cinematically speaking, and their age. Obviously I think Chloë Grace Moretz would be awesome, and she's the right age (17) — but she's American. I'd prefer an Australian, British or New Zealand actor to play Mina. Mia Wasikowska? Perfect if she were 7 years younger. I'm not really up on current Aussie actresses having lived in Japan all these years. But ideally? Brigitte Bardot when she was a brunette in the early '50s, or Michelle Pfeiffer circa 1980. Don't get me started on the other characters — you'll stop paying attention before I'm half-way finished. Director? Five years ago I would've said Peter Jackson. Now I won't — The Hobbit scarred me a bit. He's still great, but needs to go back to his roots. I love what Christopher Nolan does, and I'm a Terry Gillian fan from way back — in fact he'd excel with the middle part of the book. I'm tempted to say Spike Jonze. But if John Schlesinger were still alive, I'd opt for him — Billy Liar, The Falcon and the Snowman and Cold Comfort Farm are still brilliant films.
10. Some good choices for directors there. And I did used to work as a cleaner as one of my old jobs. XD Which, in your opinion is more important – story or characters?
Can I say both? For me, definitely both, with characters (and their dialogue) only slightly edging the plot.
11. Of course you can say both. It's your interview after all. ;) What do you look for in a good story?
Something that keeps my attention from wandering. A good yarn that builds to something special, with characters I dig even if they're not the most likeable of people.
12. So I understand that one of your other books, Tobacco Stained Mountain Goat is being turned into a graphic novel. Do you have plans to turn any of your other works into graphic novels?
Yep, I just wrapped up that graphic novel in May, and it's being published in August. I did the artwork as well, and it was a mind-blowing experience. I realized partway into it that it was impossible to do the entire novel, and concentrated instead on the first 100 pages, plus added some new plot-twists that have occurred to me over the ensuing three years since TSMG was published. I'm also currently developing my novel from last year, Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa?, as a continuing comic book series — which is appropriate since it's heavily influenced by golden and silver age comics. But another graphic novel? I haven't thought that far ahead... yet.
13. What’s the best advice you can give to authors?
Perseverence is the thing to hang onto. Don't give up just because you get knocked back a few times. And you need to have faith in what you do. I know that's hard. But if you don't believe in your work — who will?
14. I agree with you wholeheartedly on that one. And indeed that's something that I myself have come to blows with sometimes. Ok, now for the REAL question of the interview – and this is real life or death here! The fate of the world rests on this question and could cause a time collapse that will wipe out all life in the Universe. So think carefully before you answer. What DOES the Fox say?
Yikes — this question. Was praying you wouldn't ask. So I'm going to dip back into my favourite Dr Suess tome, since this is the wisest fox in the world: “When beetles fight these battles in a bottle with their paddles and the bottle's on a poodle and the poodle's eating noodles... they call this a muddle puddle tweetle poodle beetle noodle bottle paddle battle.” Exactly.
Thank to Andrez for an amazing interview! Be sure to check out his novels here:
Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend!