Foto: Mike Bowers
I am really glad you’ve accepted my interview. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions.
Can you tell us a bit more about how you became a writer?
I was a journalist for more than 30 years. About ten years ago I had the opportunity to write a non-fiction book, which is something many journalists do. So I wrote two non-fiction books and found I really loved doing it. The only problem was that they involved a lot of travel and research and I didn’t make any money. So I went back to journalism. But because I liked writing, I thought I’d try writing fiction in my spare time, more-or-less as a hobby. By the time I finished Scrublands, I thought it was good enough to be published, but because of my previous experience, I still didn’t think I’d make any money. I thought I would just have the satisfaction of having my book published. Instead, there was a so-called bidding war between publishers (in Australia, then in the UK and the USA) and suddenly I found myself in the position where I could write full time. It’s a dream come true. And I’m hugely grateful to my agents Grace Heifetz (Australia), Felicity Blunt (UK) and Faye Bender (USA) and translation agent Kate Cooper.
Was it difficult for the first book to find a publisher?
Strangely, no. With my first non-fiction book, The River, the publisher (Louise Adler at Melbourne University Press) was aware of my reputation as a journalist, so she was interested in publishing me even before we agreed on a topic. Once she knew the topic, she was happy to sign a deal even before I started writing.
Scrublands was different. I wrote the book before I looked for a publisher. And I was very lucky: a good friend of mine had recently had his crime fiction book published. So I asked him if he could recommend me to his agent, Grace Heifetz, which he did. She read the draft manuscript, liked it and took me on as a client. She canvassed interest from all the major Australian publishers and about six of them bid for the rights.
Could you describe literature in three words?
Magical imagination transfer.
Is there a book you would never read? Why?
The Art of the Deal. It’s done enough damage.
What’s your favourite book?
Winnie the Pooh.
Favourite quote? “He had decided to live forever or die in the attempt.” – from Catch 22
EBooks or paper print?
Paper, most definitely.
What inspires you?
I’m not sure: I just love writing.
Imagine you were given the opportunity to meet a book character in real life. Who would that be?
It would impress the hell out of my kids.
What’s your worst nightmare?
That we’re killing this wonderful planet of ours.
The best decision of your life was?
Apart from marriage and family, thinking I might try my hand at writing some fiction.
I can’t wait to read your next book. Are you currently working on a project? Is there any release date to reveal?
Scrublands was published in August 2018 in Australia and New Zealand. My next book Silver, will be published on October 1st 2019 here (so in a few weeks time). The UK hardback will come in early 2020. Fischer/Scherz will again be the German-language publisher, but I don’t think a publication date has been decided yet, or what the German title might be.
Silver is a stand-alone follow up to Scrublands, again featuring Martin Scarsden and Mandalay Blonde as they return to Martin’s home town on the north-coast of New South Wales. It’s another crime book with a strong personal story involving Martin and the fate of his family. I think readers who like Scrublands will like Silver.