- GUEST AUTHOR -
Today, I interview an enthusiastic author from Australia.
Welcome, Ron ...
1. TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR WRITING JOURNEY.
I’m a lunatic who was prepared to give up a perfectly good job as Managing Director of a successful computer/graphic arts company that I’d held for 2 decades because of an insistent itch to write.
2. WHEN AND HOW DID YOU BECOME A WRITER?
When I began to write my first book, I was gainfully employed and travelling a lot. My book was about an Australian scientist who had been involved with Ronald Reagan’s Star Wars Project. The nasty Russians spirited him away to the USSR in a nuclear submarine. I found working and writing didn’t coexist too well. The project died when the Berlin Wall came down. I learned that good writing needs unwavering commitment. Maybe I’ll get the urge to finish it someday.
3. WHAT TYPE OF PREPARATION DO YOU DO FOR A MANUSCRIPT? DO YOU PLAN EVERYTHING FIRST OR JUST SHOOT FROM THE HIP?
Interaction with other writers suggests I have a weird way of writing. Simple logic would indicate the best place to begin is Chapter 1 page 1, but I don’t necessarily start there. Instead, I start with whatever’s clear in my mind while my subconscious roams around my story and brings other bits into focus. When I begin to run dry on whatever fragment I’m writing I choose the next bit on the same basis. Then I glue it all together with words. Works for me and I almost never find myself with writer’s block. I love it when my subconscious unblocks a blockage with little apparent input from me!
4. WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
I love words. Big words, little words, all sorts, cleverly used. I love it when a member of my audience feels the same way about my words as I do.
5. WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
I’ve experienced a variety of publishing scenarios and not all of them are great fun. Publishers are the reason writers need to network.
6. WHAT WERE YOU IN A PAST LIFE, BEFORE YOU BECAME A WRITER?
I studied electrical engineering, but took stock in my mid-twenties and decided I wasn’t cut out the be an engineer. Fortunately, I fell into a job I loved and stayed with for the rest of my working life because it was exciting. For many years a good part of my job was to initiate and foster new relationships with business partners across the world. In those days of snail mail, words-written words were very important and that’s where I learned my craft. The many places I visited triggered a love of history that continues and reflects in my writing. It’s why I concentrate on historic real-world settings for my stories.
7. WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST WRITING ACHIEVEMENT?
It hasn’t happened yet. Perhaps it’s my next book!
8. WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?
The story I’m writing at the moment is a real writer’s adventure. It’s called ‘Somewhere South of Capricorn’. It’s based on a real man’s story of survival, as related to me by his 80-year-old daughter. He arrived, broke in Sydney the day the New York Stock Exchange collapsed. The surprise is that the entire book except for the final chapter is in the form of a deathbed confession. It’s tale of tenacity, flexibility, hope and love. Challenging, but I’m loving it.
9. WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
People. People who overcome. People with a positive attitude, who refuse to accept setbacks. People who get back up when they get smacked down.
10. WHAT GENRE DO YOU WRITE?
All my book have a heavy historic content. The great stories of history each spawn thousands or even millions of little stories of those impacted. I like to dig out these interesting tales and build stories around them that are true to their times.
11. DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR NEW WRITERS?
Write for yourself, be true to yourself
Ignore the riders in the stands
Tap into the power of your subconscious by trying Ron’s weird writing method
12. DO YOU SUFFER FROM WRITER’S BLOCK?
Of course. But this is how I handle it. I’m an absolute believer in the power of the subconscious, so I go and write a different chapter for a while and when I come back, the block’s disintegrated.
13. DO YOU HAVE A PREFERRED WRITING SCHEDULE?
Any time the urge comes on me. Even after midnight.
14. DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE WRITING PLACE?
15. WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST JOY IN WRITING?
My new book Souvenirs, which has been a joy to write was catastrophically delayed when my previous publisher passed away suddenly at 50 years of age, just before it was to go to print. Fats forward to today, and the proof copy was despatched from my new publisher in Queensland a week ago and it hasn’t arrived. I’m waiting. When I finally see it, that moment will be hard to beat!
16. WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE AUTHOR AND WHY?
My favourite author, and one who inspires all my writing is Neville Shute. Of all the authors I’ve read, he’s inspired my scribblings most. Neville Shute’s characters come complete with all sorts of human failings. They have depth, make mistakes, laugh, cry and their feelings become the reader’s feelings. My aim is to create characters in the Shute mould. One of my writing rules is NO SUPERHEROES.
17. WHAT’S THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT YOU EVER RECEIVED FROM A READER?
Every writer would like a larger audience and I’m no exception. I’m lucky to have a highly engaged group of readers, so I get some nice compliments but perhaps the unanticipated comment the recording engineer, Simon O’Connor made when we finished 23 hours of recording my audiobook of Souvenirs. ‘Souvenirs is more than a book,’ he said. ‘I had tears in my eyes more than once. It’s a work of art!’
18. WHAT WAS THE WORST COMMENT FROM A READER?
I’ve had the odd uncomplimentary remark. I only remember them for five minutes. That’s how long it takes to decide whether there’s an element of truth in the comment- anything to take on board. I’m therefore unable to answer the question!
19. WRITERS ARE SOMETIMES INFLUENCED BY THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN THEIR OWN LIVES. ARE YOU?
Oh yes! My fascination with stories began at the knees of masters. My grandfather, Jack Westheider was a racing pigeon fancier. Every Saturday in the racing season, a bunch of ‘Jackie’s’ old mates would gather in his backyard, by his cabbage patch to await the arrival of his pigeons from exotically named places like Bundaberg and Gympie. With time on their hands, the yarns would start flowing, often with an impressionable young boy sitting cross-legged among the cabbages sucking in every word. Those old blokes knew how to tell a story all right! Their tall tales and true were undoubtedly the beginning of a lifelong love for stories well told and ultimately of my career as a scribbler. It’s no surprise that the leading character in my first book, Solly’s Way, was a story-telling swagman.
OTHER THAN WRITING, WHAT ELSE DO YOU LOVE?
I cook for my family and assorted friends of family members every Thursday. It’s the most important part of my week. I try never to cook the same thing twice. Sometimes my cooking works out better than others, but they are served with lacings of love and those times around the family table are simply the best!
20. DID YOU HAVE YOUR BOOK / BOOKS PROFESSIONALLY EDITED BEFORE PUBLICATION?
Yes indeed. I learned early in the game that you can’t have too much editing and the author is the worst editor. All my books are edited first by me, then by family, then friends. After that they are ready for professional editing. Time consuming and expensive but a writer’s peace of mind’s important: that makes it worth the money!
21. DESCRIBE YOUR PERFECT DAY.
When I’m not writing, I’m playing golf, tennis or riding my bike. I love cycling hard and won 5 medals, 4 of them gold at the Master’s Games. But the perfect day? A nice warm day and a swim at Narrawallee Inlet on the beautiful south coast of NSW where we have the family holiday home would do me. See the pic on onthomasauthor.com and you’ll see why.
22. IF YOU WERE STUCK ON A DESERT ISLAND WITH ONE PERSON, WHO WOULD IT BE? WHY?
You’re asking a man who’s been married 63 years. If my Margaret was with me, I wouldn’t need anyone else.
23. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IF YOU HAD THE CHANCE TO SPEAK TO WORLD LEADERS?
I’d say ‘listen to the quiet folks. Listen to the people who aren’t pushing extreme views down your throat or pushing their own barrow.
24. WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
I haven’t finished writing yet. I’ll keep at it.
25. WHAT ARE YOUR VIEWS ON BOOK TRAILERS? DO THEY SELL BOOKS?
I’m about to find out. I don’t have a view at the moment.
26. DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN ANY OF YOUR CHARACTERS?
I’ve been accused of basing Solly, the swagman in the Solly Trilogy on myself. He tells tales too. I suppose I’ve put a bit of myself in there.
27. DOES THE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY FRUSTRATE YOU?
Yes. I suspect publishing in the traditional manner is slowly strangling itself. The process of submitting a manuscript and getting covered in cobwebs while you wait for someone who has too many manuscripts to choose from and too little time to choose will lose out to the new disruptors. That’s why I’ve chosen Assisted Independent Publishing and I ain’t sorry.
28. DID YOU EVER THINK OF QUITTING?
Not so far.
29. WHAT WAS YOUR FAVOURITE MANUSCRIPT TO WRITE? WHY?
My current manuscript is my favourite. But my current manuscript is ALWAYS my favourite. You have to love your current manuscript!
30. HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE ‘SUCCESS’ AS A WRITER?
This is a great question! Before I left my real job, I understood the likelihood that I could make more money doing what I was already doing. I began writing because I wanted to share the stuff that was in my head. Success is having an engaged audience and the more the merrier!
31. WHAT SHOULD READERS WALK AWAY FROM YOUR BOOKS KNOWING? HOW SHOULD THEY FEEL?
Being based on history, and often on particular little-known events, I hope readers will learn something about some obscure happenings. I’ve begun blogging some of these snippets on my website. I only write books with the aim of leaving my readers uplifted. If they don’t feel good as they close that last page, I’ve failed. That doesn’t mean they end is as the reader anticipated!
32. WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE YOUR BOOKS MADE INTO MOVIES? EVER WRITTEN A SCREENPLAY?
I’ve had some interest in turning the Solly Trilogy into a movie and a TV series. I’m glad I’m not hanging by my thumbs while I wait, though. If it happens, it happens.
33. HOW MUCH THOUGHT GOES INTO DESIGNING A BOOK COVER?
Lots. Fortunately, my daughter is a talented, highly professional graphic artist, so with her help, I’ve been able to have a considerable influence on my covers.
34. WHAT’S YOUR ULTIMATE DREAM?
I’m living it!
35. WRITING IS ONE THING. WHAT ABOUT MARKETING YOU, YOUR BOOKS AND YOUR BRAND? ANY THOUGHTS?
For the first time, I now have 5 books being published in the one year, so branding comes to front of mind. I’ve chosen a little, coloured tower at the base of each spine, common to all books, to give a similar look and feel. I’m learning as I go!
36. ARE YOUR BOOKS SELF-PUBLISHED?
The first iteration of Solly’s Way was co-published. That means the author shares the cost but not the say. It was then republished traditionally, followed by Solly’s Legacy and Dark Angels. Souvenirs was in production when the publisher passed away suddenly at the age of 50. Now, all ten of my books are queued for publication on an assisted independent publishing basis. It’s quite a ride! Writers who might consider this course are free to contact me. I’m emailing friends about every step of my assisted publishing journey, If you check in on ronthomasauthor.com, you can see how it all works out. . I haven’t self-published to date, so I can’t help with that.
37. DESCRIBE YOURSELF IN FIVE WORDS.
An ordinary bloke who tries.
38. WHAT PISSES YOU OFF MOST?
I like to think I’m hard to piss off, but here goes. It’s the critics in the stand, who find fault in everyone else while achieving little themselves.
39. WHAT IS THE TITLE OF THE LAST BOOK YOU READ? GOOD ONE?
I just finished Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada. Four stars. Lots of good stories are sited in Berlin!
40. WHAT WOULD BE THE VERY LAST SENTENCE YOU’D WRITE?
‘Good lord!’ he said with a broadening smile. ‘I can see the pearly gates!’ then he lay back and closed his eyes, but the smile remained.
41. WHAT WOULD MAKE YOU HAPPIER THAN YOU ARE NOW? CARE TO SHARE?
Not a lot. A sub-par round of golf would. A growing readership tends to do it every time.
42. ANYTHING YOU’D LIKE TO ADD?
Just this. Take a look at www.ronthomasauthor.com and make me happy!
Clancy's comment: Well done, Ron. Hope your gamble to write pays off. Hang in there.