- Guest Author -
Welcome to an interview I conducted with a prolific Aussie author who has a crazy sense of humour.
Welcome, Adam ...
1. TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR WRITING JOURNEY.
Well, it all began with my parents, whose names are Jack and Gill!!! What choice did I have but to become a writer … or a pail of water, I guess, but that would have made me all wrinkly. Writing keeps my skin smooth!
2. WHEN AND HOW DID YOU BECOME A WRITER?
As soon as I put those words down. This is a step lots of people never get to. ‘Oh, I could write a book!’ or ‘I have so many ideas for stories.’ Until you put them down, I don’t care … I mean, they’re nice to listen to, but that’s it. But for me, it really clicked when I wrote my first children’s book as an adult, and it felt like home.
3. WHAT TYPE OF PREPARATION DO YOU DO FOR A MANUSCRIPT? DO YOU PLAN EVERYTHING FIRST OR JUST SHOOT FROM THE HIP?
Pretty much shoot from the hip, especially when writing a western. I do like to have my character in mind, and my ending, and sometimes the theme as well, but that’s about it. I do a lot of my planning after the first draft is written, which sounds weird, but I find if I get it all out first, I have something to really work with.
4. WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
The writing! I love it! I also really enjoy doing presentations, and seeing the reaction to my books in person. I love getting messages from parents who say their children hardly read but have read my book three times, and I love seeing children who think they can’t draw being able to create a really cool picture with my help.
5. WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
The computer screen when I head-butt it in frustration … that and having an idea I really, really love, but being unable to find a style or place for it in a story. AAAGGGHHHH! Now I’m thinking about a time that happened! NOOOOOOOOO!
6. WHAT WERE YOU IN A PAST LIFE, BEFORE YOU BECAME A WRITER?
In my first past life, I was King of a small island just south of Brazil. Then I was an engineer, I qualified to become a primary school teacher, and then writing … I won’t bore you with the twenty or so other jobs I’ve had!
7. WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST WRITING ACHIEVEMENT?
Finishing my first story. Throwing out my first story. Writing a better first story!
8. WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?
I am illustrating a book about a vegetarian zombie, I’m writing a YA novel, the first in a trilogy, about a teen assassin, and I have just started rewriting a chapter book that will also lead into other multi-media areas as well. So lots!
9. WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
People who are continually looking at improving themselves, who invest in themselves, who have dreams and who aren’t afraid to go for those dreams, regardless of the naysayers. Oh, and Collingwood.
10. WHAT GENRE DO YOU WRITE?
I write for children, and I guess my genre would be humour. Is that a genre? I don’t know. I have done chapter books and novels and picture books and how to draw books, are they genres? I’m not good with labels, I only just found out what nouns and verbs are!
11. DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR NEW WRITERS?
Write! Write write write write write and then write some more. Read just as much, and ask questions of people whose writing you admire. They were right where you are when they started, and authors are brilliant for sharing advice and thoughts on writing. Also write what you love writing about, in a style you love, not what you think you should write. That’s blah blah! You have to enjoy what you write, otherwise I don’t see the point.
12. DO YOU SUFFER FROM WRITER’S BLOCK?
Sometimes, although never seriously. I think it really helps to have a few projects on the go at once, or at least two. That way, if you get stuck on one thing, you have the other you can get stuck in to. I have never been stuck on more than one project at once, I think they feed each other.
13. DO YOU HAVE A PREFERRED WRITING SCHEDULE?
I like to write in the morning, before the sun rises. That’s because I’m a vampire, and also because it’s when I am ready to go. I also think that if I write in the morning, I know I’ve done something, so when the afternoon rolls around, if I get an urge to write I will, but I don’t have to. If I haven’t written in the morning and the afternoon rolls around, then the pressure builds … and builds … and builds … can you feel it? It’s about to explode!
14. DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE WRITING PLACE?
I write anywhere. I mostly write at my desk, because that’s where my computer is, but my favourite place so far was on the balcony of an apartment in Palm Cove. Mmmmm … Palm Cove.
15. WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST JOY IN WRITING?
Writing something that makes me laugh, or cry. That way I know that I have been real, and being real when writing fiction isn’t an easy thing to do. But I know if I have honestly expressed myself on the page, it will come across and get a reaction out of me. And if it does that to me, there’s a chance it will do it to other people as well, and that’s when I know I’ve done something worthwhile.
16. WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE AUTHOR AND WHY?
My favourite author is Harpo Marx, and he only wrote one book, his autobiography, but that book is my all-time favourite book ever!
17. WHAT’S THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT YOU EVER RECEIVED FROM A READER?
Well, aside from parents saying their kids liked my books, it would be the one who said, ‘You’re way better than Andy Griffiths!’ Ha!!! Take that, Griffiths! In your face!
Note: I’m just kidding, Andy, please don’t be mad at me … it was actually only the greatest compliment because you’re the greatest. Ever. In the entire world.
18. WHAT WAS THE WORST COMMENT FROM A READER?
Well it was actually from a publisher, do they count? They said that one of my characters was totally annoying. That’s fair enough, except the character was based on me!!!
19. WRITERS ARE SOMETIMES INFLUENCED BY THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN THEIR OWN LIVES. ARE YOU?
Totally! I’m influenced by events in my life, by my family, by things people do, by things I see, by songs on the radio, by sounds, by kids in the park being funny, by everything. Ideas are everywhere, we just always need our net out to catch them as they fly by.
20. OTHER THAN WRITING, WHAT ELSE DO YOU LOVE?
I love going to live music and live comedy. I love playing golf. I love taking a siesta with the sun coming through the window onto my back. I love laughing until I cry. I love the feeling you get when you’re busting to go to the toilet and you just make it there on time. Okay, that’s enough now.
21. DID YOU HAVE YOUR BOOK / BOOKS PROFESSIONALLY EDITED BEFORE PUBLICATION?
With my first book, which I self-published, no I didn’t, as I was pretty budgeted. However all my books through publishers have been professionally edited. My self-published ones are edited by a fictional character called Tex. He’s pretty awesome. I like him.
22. DESCRIBE YOUR PERFECT DAY.
Up at 6, meditate, visualise. Have breakfast while reading about Collingwood’s win the day/night before. Write for a couple of hours, aim for a chapter or a number of words. Play a round of golf and shoot under par. Back for an afternoon nap. Be inspired, write some more. Catch up with friends for coffee or dinner. Maybe take in an episode of the IT Crowd, and then fall into bed.
23. IF YOU WERE STUCK ON A DESERT ISLAND WITH ONE PERSON, WHO WOULD IT BE? WHY?
My wife, because she’s funny and she’s a psychologist, so she could talk me down when I start going crazy and try to cook and eat her.
24. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IF YOU HAD THE CHANCE TO SPEAK TO WORLD LEADERS?
‘Nice to meet you.’ They have enough people telling them what they should be doing.
25. WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
To write as many awesome books as I can. To see a TV show I wrote being broadcast around the world. To meet Adam Sandler.
26. WHAT FIVE BOOKS WOULD YOU TAKE TO HEAVEN?
Harpo Speaks. The Tipping Point. Stargirl. The 13 Story Treehouse. Accidentally Awesome (just in case someone there wants a signed copy).
27. DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN ANY OF YOUR CHARACTERS?
28. DOES THE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY FRUSTRATE YOU?
Yes, because my masterpiece was rejected!!! Sigh!!! Seriously though, it does frustrate me a little, but only because it can feel like the authors and illustrators, the creators of the work, can be at the bottom of the pile. It is also quite a slow industry, but at the same time it is a massively rewarding and exciting one. Once you accept that you are going to have to get out there and do some legwork yourself, I think it is easier to accept some of the other things that go on.
29. DID YOU EVER THINK OF QUITTING?
Not really. I had already quit writing after I left high school, and when I restarted I knew that I loved it and that I was going to write in my style and that eventually the rest of the world would jump on the bandwagon.
30. WHAT WAS YOUR FAVOURITE MANUSCRIPT TO WRITE? WHY?
I think it was The Incredible Journey of Pete McGee. I don’t know why, but it felt like a little bit of magic happened when I wrote that, and I could totally see it in my head as a movie. That has only happened twice since (in the two sequels), so it was pretty awesome.
31. HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE ‘SUCCESS’ AS A WRITER.
Being true to yourself when you write. Getting your writing as good as it can possibly be. Loving the time you spend writing.
32. WHAT SHOULD READERS WALK AWAY FROM YOUR BOOKS KNOWING? HOW SHOULD THEY FEEL?
They should walk away knowing which direction their home is, because otherwise they’ll get lost and may end up in a paddock somewhere. They should feel like they’ve been able to escape the real world and that they’ve been part of a new world, and they should have sore sides from laughing.
33. HOW MUCH THOUGHT GOES INTO DESIGNING A BOOK COVER?
It can vary. Some of my books have quite simple covers, because I want to get a message across quickly (ie what pictures you will learn to draw when you read the book). Basically, I like my cover to quickly and easily convey what the book is like. The feel, really. So a funny book? I want a funny cover. Okay, so no, not a lot of thought. Just make it funny!
34. WHAT’S YOUR ULTIMATE DREAM?
I turn up to school without any clothes on and I … oh, you don’t mean that sort of dream, do you? Okay then. To be writing full-time without having to focus so much on the selling, of both my books and myself. And maybe have a house where there is a lake that has a little island in the middle of it.
35. WRITING IS ONE THING. WHAT ABOUT MARKETING YOU, YOUR BOOKS AND YOUR BRAND? ANY THOUGHTS?
You have to do it! No matter if you publish yourself or are published, you have to be out there. People have to know who you are, and who your books are. What your books are? I don’t know. You have to build a brand around yourself and your books. It’s a crowded marketplace. You have to find a way to stand out and be noticed.
36. ARE YOUR BOOKS SELF-PUBLISHED?
Yes and no. I have self-published books and I have traditionally published books. I was going to say something else to add to that, but really that sums it up!
37. DESCRIBE YOURSELF IN FIVE WORDS.
Have a huge big toe. (Dammit, used up all my words on that one!)
38. WHAT PISSES YOU OFF MOST?
When I do something really stupid, usually when trying to impress someone.
39. WHAT IS THE TITLE OF THE LAST BOOK YOU READ? GOOD ONE?
Last book I read, am reading, is called Husband Hunters, by Genevieve Gannon. It is good! She’s the daughter of a friend and it’s her first book, so I’m reading it and it’s good! It’s a romance, but it’s funny too.
40. WHAT WOULD BE THE VERY LAST SENTENCE YOU’D WRITE?
No, I can’t die now, I’m about to write my greatest sentence everrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr (that was me slumping on the keyboard. I wasn’t being a pirate).
41. WHAT WOULD MAKE YOU HAPPIER THAN YOU ARE NOW? CARE TO SHARE?
42. ANYTHING YOU’D LIKE TO ADD?
197 and 234. It equals 431.
Clancy's comment: I told you he had a crazy sense of humour. Well done, Adam. Keep pumping those books out.