How does a typical book get written in your world – what do you start with?
Sometimes I start with an idea, but often I start with nothing but a blank page, write a bit of dialog that’s rattling around in my brain or a paragraph describing a scenario and see where that takes me. It might only be a single line. Sometimes those few words might get some juices flowing and the makings of a story, scene or chapter might materialise, but often I end up filing it away to be reconsidered later. If a scene comes to mind, I write it, and it doesn’t matter if it fits where I’m up to. Eventually I have enough scenes to lay out some kind of a plot. Once I have at least an idea, there’s something amazing about watching your story and characters develop without a real plan, especially as how they finish up might bear no semblance to how they began.
How would you compare the two protagonists of Minions and The Traveller? Who’s Garrett more like?
They are very different characters and I hope I’m not like either of them, but ’The Traveller’ is often considered a thinly veiled personal account so people assume there must be a lot of me in ’The Traveller’. It’s a bit of worry then that people see me as the narcissistic, angry, philandering, vengeful bastard from ’The Traveller’… which might explain why my wife was reluctant to read it for a long time.
How would you typically choose the names of your characters?
I like to watch movie credits for names that I notice more than others; that’s where most of the names from ‘Minions’ came from. That said, ‘The Traveller’ has only two named characters and their names each have their own reasons for coming into being. I always marvelled at how many Asian people have both a ‘real’ and a ‘Western’ name, and their Western name is never a common name; often a seemingly obscure ‘different’ name. As I pictured a mature, far-Eastern, pseudo-paternal business man character for ’The Traveller’, ‘Emile’ seemed to work just fine. The air hostess, ‘Faye’ (Fanny to her friends) came from one of the myriad of nameless air hostesses I’d met on flights over the years. I thought long and hard about giving my main characters names, but I decided against it for (what seemed) good reason. I felt that giving ’The Traveller’ character a name undermined the intimacy of the story being written in the first person. As for the evil boss, if my ‘traveller’ only ever referred to her as ‘the bitch’ or ‘Stalin’, I figured she didn’t need a name. I know some people hate that my two main characters don’t have names, but there was method in my madness.
How would you deal with reviews?
I smile with the good ones and share them widely … and take the bad ones on the chin. Just as good (or great) reviews put me in a great mood, less good ones have me thinking, but I’ve only had a few bad reviews. If I’m putting my books out there to the world, I have to assume that not everyone will like them. Many of my potential readers are the brave ones looking to take a chance on a largely unknown Indie author, and my hope is that they’ll enjoy it and write a review (and tell everyone about it). There’s a lot of Indie authors looking for readers and I sincerely hope that all Indies find some readership. That said, I write different stories not copycat fiction, I don’t feel bound to any particular genre, and I’m happy to write my stories my way, so I have to accept that my stories won’t appeal to everyone, particularly someone wanting a story like xxx [insert your favourite author/character/genre]. To be honest, I don’t mind the less good reviews provided that they finish the book; I figure that way they’ll be able to recognise the book’s merits regardless of whether they love it or don’t.
What’s your favourite writing location?
I write anywhere and everywhere and I don’t have a favourite location. I certainly don’t have a dedicated writing room … though I do fantasise about being successful enough to have an authors studio overlooking the beach. I’ve been known to scribble a page or two in lots of different places and that does have an effect on my writing. Case in point, ’The Traveller’ started out as a rant written on a plane while travelling for work. That book might not have materialised in the same way, or even at all, had I not used that flight as an opportunity to write. That said, most of my editing is done in the car listening to my work (thanks to some text to speech software).
What awesome books and projects are you working in at the moment?
Revenge. I love revenge and my next/current book is looking like being an angry revenge story. Of course, that’s how it’s shaping up at the moment and that might not be how it ends up, but it’s unlikely to evolve into a romance that’s for sure.