Jun 05 2012

MEET BARBARA ELLEN BRINK

Published by under Interviews

Please join me this week in welcoming novelist Barbara Ellen Brink.



Great to have you as my guest this week, Barbara. Tell the cool peeps about yourself.

Thanks for the invite, Molly! I’ve lived in Minnesota for the past twenty-some years, but I grew up on the West coast where the deep freeze was actually an appliance and not the backyard. I have one husband, two adult children who don’t answer their cell phones, and two needy dogs who sleep by my desk and beg for almonds whenever they hear the snack drawer open.

I really enjoy a nice glass of wine and a good mystery. Something tells me I would love your Fredrickson winery novels. Can you tell us about them?

I came up with the idea for the winery novels when I was back visiting relatives in Washington State. What I remembered as desert or farmland had been turned into vineyards since the last time I was in that part of the country. Much like California, Washington now has a huge wine industry. I wondered what it would be like to run a place like that. The idea sort of fermented in my brain and I wrote Entangled.

My fictional Fredrickson winery is run by a native Minnesotan who inherited the place from her uncle. The first novel deals with repressed memories from Billie’s childhood and solving a twenty-year-old mystery. Billie Fredrickson is a bit sarcastic, much like her creator, and often uses humor to deal with rough situations. There is a little winemaking, a little romance, some family issues, and a lot of suspense to keep you turning pages.

Crushed continues the Fredrickson family saga with some new faces, an old enemy, and a kidnapping during harvest.

I have a third winery novel planned and hope to get it out by this fall.

You’ve written two Christian suspense novels. Please, tell us more about them.

Running Home and Alias Raven Black are both about women looking for a second chance in life. In Running Home, Ivy’s husband runs off with another woman and she soon finds out he’s been dealing with some very bad guys and is wanted by the FBI. Ivy moves back to her hometown to start over, but danger follows her when her husband leads everyone to believe she is hiding what he stole. It’s about second chances but also about finding the faith she’d lost along the way and learning to trust again.

Alias Raven Black follows bad girl Brenna from the last novel to working undercover for the FBI. Given the choice of prison time or playing nanny to the children of a mobster, she puts on her comfy shoes and settles in for the long haul. But conning a con man may be the death of her.



You wrote a thriller, Split Sense, that just won the 2011 Grace Award for speculative fiction. Wow, congratulations! Details, please!

Split Sense is one of those books that felt like it was almost writing itself. A few years ago I was watching a medical mysteries segment on the early news that talked about people with Synesthesia. People related how they taste words or see musical notes as colors, etc. I took that idea, twisted it around a bit and ran with it.

The Grace Award is partly reader driven, so it was exciting to know that people really connected with the characters and loved the story. Here’s a quote from the judges that will give you a little insight into SS:
“At the risk of sounding cliché, one awesome read! This speculative thriller is full of action, intrigue and a touch of science fiction. The plot twists and turns as we follow the lives of fraternal twins – a brother and sister, each of whom has an unexplainable, seemingly supernatural, ‘gift’. Adopted separately as infants, neither knows of the other’s existence until fate brings them together to combat a complex web of deceit and subterfuge that centers around a pharmaceutical company that has been conducting secret experiments on humans. Ms. Brink draws the reader in almost immediately and the surprises keep coming, right up to the very end.”



How much outlining do you do before you begin writing your books?

I usually have very little outlining done on paper. I have a basic storyline in my head and I write down some plot points right at first. I’m more of a write by the seat of your pants girl.

I meet a lot of crazy characters every day. Some are so freakin’ nutty you’d think a writer had made them up. How do you develop your characters? Do they ever surprise you by doing things you thought were “out of character?”

Sometimes I use bits and pieces of people I’ve known or met along the way. I’ve been asked if my mother is the model for Billie’s crazy mom in Entangled, but although she does say a few things that I’ve heard from my own mom, she isn’t really like her.

In Running Home, Brenna was a secondary character and I didn’t think she was that important to the storyline, but then wham! She decided to take over scene after scene. So I ended up giving her a book of her own.

What parts of writing a novel do you like the best? Which parts do you like least?

I especially like starting a new novel with that burst of inspiration from a bud of an idea. I get about a hundred pages in and suddenly hit a brick wall. This is called the middle. I like the middle least of all. But after struggling through the dead zone, I come out the other end and storm to the finish line.

What advice would you give to aspiring novelists?

Probably the same advice I was given. Write, write, and write some more. Start with short stories and work up from there. Although, I have to warn you that the middle just gets longer and longer.

I hear that you make a point to exercise so that you can eat chocolate while you’re writing! I love chocolate. So, tell me: milk chocolate or dark chocolate? Favorite filling?

In a desperate desire to fulfill my craving, most any chocolate will do. But my favorite is dark chocolate orange crèmes from Abdallah, a local Minnesota company.

I know that you and your husband love to ride motorcycles. Please, tell us about your weekend adventures on your Kawasaki Ninjas.

My husband had our whole family riding motorcycles about ten years ago. We took our teens and went dirtbike riding on the state forest trails. It was a lot of fun but my chiropractor was getting paid way more than I could make to keep up. Now we mostly ride our street bikes and take trips here and there. A couple years ago we rode out to the Black Hills and saw the president heads up close and personal. Last year we rode down through Missouri and saw why they call it the show-me state. Those people are bored silly down there. They’re begging for entertainment. That’s why you always see great videos of tornadoes from that area. They stay outside to watch! We actually saw guys parked along the highway, sitting in lawn chairs watching cars go by! This past weekend we rode about 250 miles just to break our backsides in so we’d be ready for a long trip in the near future. You can’t pack much on a motorcycle so you have to pack smart: clothes, raincoats, toothbrush, and a big bottle of Aspercreme for my husband to massage into my back at the end of a long day. I may be middle-aged but I can still take the corners fast.

The world of publishing is changing so rapidly. It’s hard to keep up. Any thoughts about the ever-evolving landscape? Predictions?

Things are definitely changing. Self-pubbed books are now contending with traditional publishers and some are coming out on top. Either path is a hard road these days. Digital books have made reading cool again and I think a lot of younger people that weren’t reading are getting pulled back in by technology and then held there by great stories. Which is terrific for writers everywhere.

Social media, that ever-evolving beast, has changed the way we do everything. What are your favorite and least-favorite parts of it?

I enjoy talking with people on Facebook and Twitter, etc. but it can definitely cut into my writing time. Apparently, my smart phone isn’t smart enough to write that next novel for me.

I’ve been forever called picky, but I maintain that we’re all picky creatures. What are you picky about?

I’m picky about: my clothes, television programming, the hot dish selection at church potlucks, who can touch my Ninja, the books I read…

Where can people find you in cyberspace?

I can be found all over these days. My books are available in ebook and paperback at most online stores.

Author Website/blog
Facebook
Twitter
Google+
Amazon Author Page

Any parting words for the masses? Any shameless plugs?

Hope everyone has a great summer and time to read lots of books!

For those who want a book that pairs well with a nice bottle of wine, Entangled is Free on Kindle until June 14th.

And please do go and check out Split Sense. Download the sample and get caught up in Zander and Emma’s story. You won’t be disappointed.

Thank you so much for having me today, Molly. I enjoyed our chat. Let me know if you’re ever in Minnesota and I’ll give you a ride on my Ninja!

7 responses so far

« Prev - Next »

May 29 2012

MEET RJ McDONNELL

Published by under Interviews



This week, my special guest is author RJ McDonnell. As you read on, you’ll see that RJ has a special gift for everyone who visits this blog between May 30, 2012 and June 1, 2012 — and an extra special gift if you’re reading this on May 30th!

Hey RJ! It’s great to have you as my guest this week. Please, introduce yourself to the cool peeps!

Thanks, Molly, my name is RJ McDonnell. I have the pleasure of traveling my own personal “road not taken” almost every day. In my early twenties I was certain I would be earning my living playing in a rock band. I moved from Pennsylvania to California to improve my chances of making that happen, but fate threw a speed bump into my path. A few months after I arrived in San Diego, my left wrist was shattered in a “friendly” game of football, and I wasn’t able to play for more than a few minutes at a time for almost 20 years. Fortunately, after a couple of short-term jobs, I was hired as a non-fiction writer, and eventually transitioned into fiction where I reconnected with my passion for music.

I read that you’re a proponent of “write what you know.” How did your background help to mold your Rock & Roll Mystery Series?

I’ve been a mystery reader since high school. Action packed, testosterone-fueled mystery/thrillers got me hooked on the genre. But just as television tends to take a winning formula and do it to death, I was getting the same feeling about my favorite genre at the time that I was developing the characters for my series. To break with the formula, I created a protagonist with a similar background to my own. Jason Duffy worked his way through college as a club musician, earning degrees in Psychology and Counseling, only to drop out of the profession after getting disillusioned by the political BS that takes precedence over what’s best for the clients. So far we’re on the same path. Where I opted for a career in music (and later, writing), Jason entered a variation of the family business by becoming a private investigator. While there is plenty of action in the series, Jason usually tries to use his words and humor to diffuse volatile situations before resorting to violence.

Your detective, Jason Duffy, was a mid-twenties, near-novice in Rock & Roll Homicide. Can you talk about his development?

The series starts one year after Jason opened his own agency. Rock & Roll Homicide is Jason’s first music industry referral, and first murder case. He’s clearly in over his head and uses every contact and resource available to try to keep a slain rock star’s widow out of jail. He even resorted to mending fences with his cantankerous retired police detective father for the sake of his client. In the second novel, Jason is forced to take a life for the first time. Not only does he lose his innocence, he also comes close to losing his girlfriend, Kelly, in the process. Rock & Roll Rip-Off is the darkest novel in the series. We see a significant upturn in Jason’s competence as a PI in The Concert Killer. He’s forced to work without the benefit of his father’s help on a case that could shut down the concert industry in America. In my latest, The Classic Rockers Reunion with Death (scheduled for a summer release), Jason has to deal with major family issues while helping his uncle discover who killed his best friend and band mate. Jason evolved from the role of child to parent over the course of the four novels.



Your detective employs two former clients from his two-year stint as an outpatient mental health counselor. Did you draw from your own experience in the field?

When I was in grad school I had two nine-month internships. One was at a maximum security prison and the other at an outpatient mental health center. I then worked for two years at a social service center. People tend to fear the unknown, and fear can turn into scorn, discrimination, and sometimes even abuse when it comes to the general public interacting with people experiencing mental health issues. Jason employs two former clients from his days as a counselor. They’re both very good at their jobs, but have eccentricities that add humor and tend to endear them to my readers. My goal is to take some of the unknown out of the equation.



I read that your father was a high-profile crimes detective. How did he influence your writing?

My father was a huge television crime drama fan. When the commercials rolled around he would tell me what was real and what was “Hollywood.” He handled a couple of cases that made the national press. One made the cover of True Detective Magazine, and another was the subject of A Justice Story, which ran as the two-page center of the Sunday New York Post for many years. Some of my readers think that Jason’s father, Jim, is based on my own father. I’d say he accounts for about 25% of the character profile. The rest is pure fiction. But, my father’s influence on getting me interested in crime fiction is unmistakable.

You add a fair amount of humor to your mystery series. Where does that come from?

It started in junior high. My first gig was lead writer for the class clowns. My mother was in charge of religious education at our church and my father wore a shoulder holster. Risking a low grade in comportment was not an option. But I was brimming with great ideas and had two friends who were more than willing to run with them. A few years later, after taking a non-fiction writing job, I found an outlet for my humor through an acquaintance who was about to produce a Saturday Night Live-type cable television show in San Diego. Thirty-four of my skits were aired over its two season run. When it came time to develop character sketches for my detective series, I built in an outlet for my humor during some of the lulls between action scenes. It’s unobtrusive enough to avoid aggravating my hardboiled readers, but offers enough fun moments to prompt several readers to tell me it’s their favorite part. When they do, my inner seventh grader beams.

Your detective has been getting serious with his girlfriend. Is he going to pop the question?

One of the things I love about writing a series is the ability to develop subplots from one novel to the next. I write the novels in a way that they can be read as stand-alones, but reading them in order offers the added bonus of watching the series characters and their relationships evolve. Centermost is Jason’s relationship with his father and his girlfriend, Kelly. The father/son relationship devolved from acrimonious to estranged when Jason graduated from high school. But through his mother’s machinations they began to mend fences in Rock & Roll Homicide. Dad is not good at keeping his opinions to himself, and caused a huge riff in Rock & Roll Rip-Off when he tried to manipulate Jason into proposing to Kelly. Sharing his father’s DNA, Jason reacted as expected, and much to Dad’s horror, they now “live in sin.” The new novel has a highly significant development in this area.

I understand the fourth book in your series is scheduled for a summer release. Any sneak peeks for the cool peeps?

Here’s the back cover description: San Diego PI, Jason Duffy, travels to Scranton, PA in January after his Uncle Patrick’s best friend is murdered. He learns that Patrick and the victim were members of a rock band that nearly made it to the national scene in the late 60s, and were about to play a reunion concert in their hometown when the murder occurred.

The investigation leads Jason back to an “almost anything goes” era that is exacting a huge price more than 40 years later. To mix & master this musical mystery, Jason fills in for the murdered guitarist and soon finds himself struggling to avoid filling in a cemetery plot.

Someone doesn’t want that reunion concert to happen and is willing to do anything to cancel it forever. The case teaches Jason how easy it is for all of us to fall victim to our assumptions. It’s a lesson that could exact a tuition that may never be paid back.

The world of publishing is changing so rapidly. It’s hard to keep up. Any thoughts about the ever-evolving landscape? Predictions?

I have some wonderful relationships with readers and fellow writers as a result of being an indie author. That said, publishing is a business, and business has always been about money and power. Ebooks comprised 1% of book sales in 2007, 10% in 2009, and 50% in 2011. The money/power paradigm has shifted faster than a teenager who sat in poison ivy during a camping restroom break. This created an environment where virtually all of the fixed costs, such as paper, printing, shipping, and returns are out of the equation for e-tailers. Ebooks are decidedly more profitable, and indies capitalize a major price advantage that is having a big impact on the money/power dynamic. It’s comparable to when baseball first accepted free agency. The average player of yesteryear, who had to take part-time work in the off-season to get by, is a millionaire in today’s system. Of course for every major leaguer there are 10,000 wannabes who never make much more than minimum wage, and we’ll probably see similar ratios in indie publishing as well. For those with the writing talent and marketing resolve, it’s a tremendous opportunity.

Social media, that ever-evolving beast, has changed the way we do everything. What are your favorite and least-favorite parts of it?

Without a doubt, the best part involves the relationships that are formed with readers and fellow authors. Writing is a very solitary profession. I don’t have a water cooler. My kitchen is my lunchroom, and if I actually eat lunch away from my computer it’s usually with a network news anchor. Just like the film “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” social networking has taught me that I am not alone. The worst part of social media is the time that it takes to maintain an ever-expanding base of friendships and contacts.

I’ve been forever called picky, but I maintain that we’re all picky creatures. What are you picky about?

As I’m sure you’ve guessed from the title of my series, I’m a huge music fan. Unfortunately, I’m so into it that it drives me to distraction when I’m working, so I work in a quiet office. When I finally have the opportunity to listen, I’m very picky about needing the music to accurately reflect (or change) my mood. As long as I control the sound system, I’m happy. But put me in a club with a room full of interesting people and a DJ who sucks, and I’m looking for the door. I wish all karaoke shows could have a Gong Show format. I appreciate you affording me your picky foible forum, Molly. I’m now carrying a lighter load.

Where can people find you in cyberspace?

Website
Twitter
Facebook
KINDLE:
Rock & Roll Homicide
Rock & Roll Rip-Off
The Concert Killer

Any parting words for the masses? Any shameless plugs?
For the next three days (5/30 – 6/1) my 2010 Mystery/Thriller of the Year award winner Rock & Roll Rip-Off is being offered free on Kindle for the first time ever. This is the 2nd novel in the Rock & Roll Mystery Series and follow-up to Kindle #1 hit Rock & Roll Homicide.

As a special bonus for Molly Hacker readers, Rock & Roll Homicide is also available for free today (5/30) on Kindle. This is the only site where I will be announcing the availability of this title for one day only. If you take advantage of the freebies please take a moment to write a brief review at the bottom of each book’s Amazon page – even if it’s just two sentences. Thanks for taking the time to get to know me. I hope to catch up with you on Twitter and Facebook.

7 responses so far

« Prev - Next »

May 22 2012

MEET CARLYLE LABUSCHAGNE

Published by under Interviews



This week, I’m excited to interview my first guest from South Africa, author Carlyle Labuschagne.

Greetings, Carlyle. Introduce yourself to the cool peeps.

Hi, Molly. It’s an honor to be here with you. Well, you all know my name. I was born and raised in the beautiful country South Africa. My journey of writing started on a Safari holiday when I was twelve. I have written ever since. I have two young boys, proud to say they look just like mommy! Married my high school bad boy 😀

Please tell us about your novel, The Broken Destiny.

The Broken Destiny is a mix of Science fiction, Dystopian and Urban Fantasy and is the first book in the Broken Series. The Broken Destiny is the start of Ava’s journey to fulfill a huge destiny written in the stars since ancient times. Her Destiny is to rise above the fall that threatens her soul. Her soul is the key to an ancient weapon. To become what she hates to save the ones she loves. But to know her soul she has to hate it and then come back from that. The Series is set on a purple planet called Poseidon. Magic, genetics, and witchcraft meet, clash and come together.

This is the first book in a series, yes? How many books will complete the series?

At this time I have three books in my head, a fourth one is teasing me, but one never knows where these characters and life will take you.

Can you tell us a bit about the inspiration behind the book?

I always wanted to deliver a message, and the message behind the series is that no matter whom or what you are – you deserve love. But most importantly love of one’s self. To believe in yourself. To make your own destiny. Not let fear cripple your abilities – but let love give you wings.

Are you a meticulous plotter or do you let your story surprise you as you write? Have any of your characters ever thrown you for a loop when you thought you had them all figured out?

I tried the preplotting thing – boy did my plot just go in circles. Pretty much the best plotting evolves as the book moves along.

You’re my very first guest from South Africa. Are you a native? What is it like to live and write there?

Yes I am native. We have a beautiful country with beautiful, spiritual people. We currently have 11 official languages – Yes crazy, but awesome.  Our landscapes are breathtaking, our people diverse and the sun is always shining  😀

(My favorite place in the entire South Africa called Mpumalange, where you can view more than 30 waterfalls, swim, and explore their caves.)

Readers can visit My Africa blog where they can experience the rich culture on my Africa Tour.

Do you have any other projects in the works that you’d like to share with us?

Wow, so many. Book two of the Broken Series is underway. I started a new project – The Haltered Duology – a supernatural dream.  October is my launch party, where I will host four other authors, artists, musicians and book stores. We will be raising money for a school and for Starfish Greathearts foundation. I am accepting book donations to auction off to raise money. Contact me: carlylelabuschagne.com@gmail.com

Social media can be a freakin’ crazy, demanding, and time-sucking beast. I know many peeps have a serious love/hate relationship with it. How do you feel about it? What do you think are the best and worst ways to feed “the beast?”

When I first started out I lived on Twitter. The thing is to make it work for you. Build up a network. Assist others and they will do the same for you. Facebook has recently been a favorite of mine. Triberr is a good way to get others to assist in challenge. Crowdbooster. The thing is to make it fun – and me, I am a lover of marketing.

The world of publishing is changing so rapidly. It’s hard to keep up. Any thoughts about the ever-evolving landscape? Predictions?

Gosh. I am going to be brutally honest here, and I myself have fallen in this trap. Self-pubbing is an amazing journey, hard work and the rewards are amazing. I have found, however, through my own mistakes and through others that many are impatient. I feel Indies need to spend many more hours on their work, perfecting it. Hire an editor or two, a proofreader. Don’t be in a hurry to release – it burns you in the end. However as disappointing as it is the reach of traditional publishers is astonishing! I can however see the amazing spirit of the indie community and we have given traditional publishers a run for their money. But please as an indie author – patience, patience, patience.

Promotion is one of the most difficult things for writers. Do you have any thoughts on what writers can do to effectively promote their work?

As mentioned above: Build a network. Use many platforms. Help others as you would have them help you.

What are your favorite books to read?

My favorite genre is Dystopian. Steampunk, and chick Science fiction.

If you could have a dinner party and invite your favorite fictional characters, who might we see seated around the table?

I have  a few things I’d like to tell my characters! From other books. Will Herondale from the infernal devices – Cassandra Clare. Fire from the book Fire by Kristin Cashore. Izzie from the Mortal instruments series ~ Cassandra Clare , Tris from Divergent and finally Peeta from The Hunger games – I’d like to slap that boy!

I’ve been forever called picky, but I maintain that we’re all picky creatures. What are you picky about?

Just about everything!  My work, books I read, clothes, shoes, food…

But not friends, I love people, maybe too much.

Where can people find you in cyberspace?

Twitter

Website

Goodreads

Facebook

Any parting words for the masses? Any shameless plugs?

Go for it ! Dreams only come true because you make it so. Always be a Diva xoxo

Thank you for the fabulous opportunity to share my story.

 

 

 

 

5 responses so far

« Prev - Next »

May 08 2012

MEET DEAN MAYES

Published by under Interviews

Greetings, cool peeps! My guest this week is author Dean Mayes from Australia.

Welcome, Dean! Tell the cool peeps about yourself.

Hi Molly! Firstly, I must thank you for having me at the Swansea Herald. This is a real honor for me. So, about me – well, I’m on the ‘wrong’ side of 35 and I live in Adelaide, Australia with my wife, Emily and my two children, Xavier (5) & Lucy (2). Adelaide is this wonderfully eclectic, provincial city that is situated on the shores of the Gulf of St. Vincent here in South Australia and is renowned for its wine industry, its architecture and its festival culture.

Ours is a hectic household – as you can imagine – with our day jobs, school runs, sporting commitments for Xavier and toddler dancing for Lucy and all the other minutiae of our little suburban existence for which we constantly wish we had 25 or 26 hours in one day. And somewhere in there, I’ve managed to eke out a ‘minor’ career as an author.

When did you first develop a love of writing? (My undercover sources tell me that purple dragon stickers were involved. 🙂

Yeah (hah, hah), my love for writing began in my 3rd grade class under my teacher Mrs. Furnell, who gave me my first-ever writing award: the purple dragon sticker. For the longest time, I sucked at her creative writing class and I routinely turned out rubbish. All that was required of us at the time was for us to come up with a group of, say five or six words and then incorporate them into a short creative paragraph. Anyway, one day, I totally changed tack and produced a short piece about a soldier’s experience of war that was partly based upon a conversation I had with my grandfather at around that very time. For a 9-year old, I think I must have hit it out of the park as purple dragon stickers were notoriously rare and to get one from Mrs. Furnell was a huge deal.

Some authors are meticulous outliners, others plot as they go along, and many are in the middle somewhere. How about you?

To me, writing and imagining is all consuming and I often compare to art. It’s very similar in fact and I think, in my case, I’m very abstract. For many, writing follows a particular structured path involving planning and construction of plot and character before hand, but I can’t work like that. Often, I’ll figuratively throw a dollop of paint on the canvas and see how it falls. Then I’ll work with it to see what I can draw out of it. That’s not to say that I don’t structure at all, but my initial structuring is very basic. So long as I reach the plot milestones I’ve set for myself, my journey toward each of them is quite open. I discover things along the way about the plot and character and I’ll often go with them instinctively. So far, it has served me well.

Your novel, The Hambledown Dream is on my ever-increasing to-read list. Please, tell the cool peeps all about it.

The Hambledown Dream actually began as a blog. At the time I started writing it, I’d virtually given up on the idea of ever being published, because I felt the industry was too closed shop, but I had this story I passionately wanted to tell and blogging seemed the right fit. I just wanted to get this story out there. After a short time of putting it up in weekly installments, quite unexpectedly, I found I had this following who were enthusiastically ‘tuning in’ to catch more of this unfolding story. I had no inkling that it would lead to my being discovered (by Michelle Halket, Creative Director at Central Avenue Publishing).

The Hambledown Dream is described as a paranormal romance but it doesn’t follow a conventional path – even though it’s a kind of timeless story. I can best describe it as a love story that not even death can conquer – where two unconnected lives are affected by the same tragic event. In Australia, a good and kind young man is torn from the love of his life by cancer while another young man – half way across the world in Chicago – lives on the razor’s edge in a dark and seedy underworld. He is rescued from a near fatal drug overdose at the very same moment. What happens next is an incredible journey of discovery and redemption spanning two continents. For reasons that are borne out during the course of the story, my American anti-hero is forced to reassess his life, once he begins having visions and dreams of life and a love he has never known. The Hambledown Dream is populated by very real and warm characters and situations. I’m very proud of the novel and it’s had a great response – far more than I ever dreamed it would.

The Hambledown Dream is dedicated to the memory of a journalist, Matt Price. Would you tell us about Matt?

Yeah, I dedicated The Hambledown Dream to the memory of an Australian journalist, Matt Price who, to me, was a literary hero. He penned a regular column for our national daily The Australian called ‘The Sketch’ which was a mix of politics and satire. Though Matt loved politics, he loved to ‘take the piss’ out of it even more. He was a lovely, urbane man who was able to talk to both sides of the political divide and he was highly regarded. As a storyteller, Matt Price was wonderfully rich and talented. He died in 2007 after a short battle with brain cancer. He was only 46 and had a wife and beautiful young children.

I know that you’re nearing completion of your second novel. Would you tell us a bit about it?

I am indeed. I’m in the middle of my first major edit of the new novel, which carries the working title Gifts of the Peramangk. It tells the story of a young Aboriginal girl named Ruby who is an incredibly gifted violinist but who lives in crushing poverty and domestic violence in Adelaide’s northern suburbs. She has been taught by her aging grandmother, Virginia who, herself was taught the violin during one of Australia’s darkest periods – The White Australia Policy of the 1950’s. It’s shaping up to be a real special story, though I still have a fair bit of editing to do as well as a lot of cultural fact checking before publication. The novel is challenging in that it’s quite different, stylistically, to Hambledown but also because I as a Caucasian am telling an Aboriginal story which many people regard as pretty risky – at least here anyway. It has the potential to be controversial but I’m not deterred by it. The story has been handled with a great deal of care and I’ve researched it heavily going in. I think the final product will be both powerful and inspiring.

Your publisher is Central Avenue Publishing, founded and run by Michelle Halket. Care to sing the praises of your publisher?

Working with Michelle Halket and her team at CAP has been an amazing experience and it has been a wonderful example of geography being no boundary in terms of working and creative partnerships. We’ve been able to video conference and hold “meetings” in the same fashion as I suspect any publisher would and it has been just as fruitful. We’ve planned and discussed my projects at length via email and we’ve developed an enviable line of communication. Michelle is such an astute judge of literary talent, as evidenced by CAP’s impressive catalogue and she is a trail blazer – having forged a formidable enterprise in a rapidly evolving publishing environment. I’m particularly proud of my association with Michelle and CAP.

The world of publishing is changing so rapidly. It’s hard to keep up. Any thoughts about the ever-evolving landscape? Predictions?

My only prediction is that it is going to remain unpredictable for at least the next couple of years as the rise of digital, independent and self publishing continues unabated.

It’s been alarming to see so many of the big book stores both here in Australia and in the U.S. founder so spectacularly – and not just because of the digital phenomenon. In order for them to survive, they’ve needed to adapt quickly and I guess for some of them, that adaptation came too late. There has been a litany of reports of poor financial practices and misguided business decisions which has lead to the closure of a number of chain stores and thus reduced the bricks and mortar presence of book stores overall. My experience has shown me that a lot of the book stores are incredibly short sighted and conservative when it comes to stocking their shelves. For example, they seemed quite happy for copies of a certain major franchise involving sparkly vampires to gather dust on the same shelf space for months and months on end, yet they were reluctant to support emerging authors for a few weeks – if at all.

The digital landscape remains in flux too as the new giants on the block vie for the attentions of the marketplace. And in that I’ve been concerned at the lengths emerging authors have gone to in the pursuit of best seller rankings and visibility for their product. For example, I’ve long held an antipathy towards the 99c price point for published works because I think it has the potential to cheapen the market overall. Especially when one considers the amount of work an author might pour into their stories – 99 cents is all they think it is worth? Also, some of the selling programs that are being touted by the big e-tailers concern me in that they seem highly inflexible and impose an exclusivity on the author and their product which, in my mind, runs counter to the whole notion of being independent.

My undercover source also tells me that you’re notoriously non-genre specific in your reading and writing? Would you elaborate for the cool peeps?

I’m notoriously non-genre specific in both my reading and my writing. I’ve tried my hand at a few different styles in my various writing projects and indeed, The Hambledown Dream crosses over the genre lines a fair bit. I have a number of samples in the articles and shorts section at my website that people can download view. I’ve experimented with elements of horror, science fiction, abstract literature, erotica and romance as well as magazine styled articles.

Likewise, my library at home is stocked with everything from romance, to science fiction, to literature, to pop culture, to biographies, to Star Wars…and Star Wars…oh! Did I say Star Wars? One of my favorite authors is Simon Winchester who is renowned for tackling subject matter many would regard as painfully obscure and extracting totally riveting stories from them. His titles The Surgeon Of Crowethorne & The Map That Changed The World rank among my favorite books of all time. That second title by the way, is all about the world’s first geological survey map of Great Britain. I mean, a map! Yet it is such an interesting account that one can’t help be suckered in by it.

I hear that you love to cook. Please, tell us all about it. And don’t forget to mention what time dinner is served. ☺

In my down time, I’ve a love for cooking, which has been partially inspired by Australian chef Bill Granger, whose books and shows I love. He is actually self taught and he developed this unique and rustic style which suits almost any occasion and environment. The man can make a gourmet dish out of just about anything and he’ll do it in almost any environment. I love trying to emulate his recipes – and so does my family, thankfully. And, like him, I’ll cook anywhere – indoors on my Smeg, outdoors on an old truck rim firepot, the BBQ, an open fire. Anywhere that I can create and indulge my love for experimentation. Dinner time at my house is usually served at half past… 🙂

I believe that music is a big part of most people’s lives. What kind of music might we find you listening to?

I’m a music nut and I’ll devour everything from Dire Straits to Debussi, Bob Dylan to Bananarama, Pink Floyd to Pink. Music has informed my literary works – especially ‘Hambledown’ and also this new novel – and I have explored vastly different musical forms in order to hone my story telling.

I was one of those who *suffered* the “Zach Braff Effect” in 2003 when the movie “Garden State” came out and since then, I’ve gone way off the mainstream, which has lead me to some really wonderful musical discoveries (some of which, I’ve chronicled at Dean from Australia under a series titled “There Need Be No Other Title”). At the moment, I’m listening to a lot of indie material from the likes of ‘The Decemberists’, ‘Trainwreck In Sarasota’, ‘These Animals’ & New York indie folk rock band ‘Swear & Shake’ – who, I’ve gotta say, are one of the best discoveries I’ve made in the past year.

If you could have a dinner party and invite your favorite fictional characters, who might we see seated around the table?

Wow – that’s a curve ball! Umm, let me think about that for a moment.

Well, first up I’d have Judi Dench’s “M” from the James Bond franchise – but more because she’s Judi Dench than anything and I love watching her being interviewed. She mixes a wicked sense of humour with a bohemian sensibility that would be welcome anytime.

I’d also send an invite to Rutger Hauer’s “Roy Batty” (from the movie Balderunner). Despite his rather messianic disposition, I regard the ‘tears in rain’ speech he gave at the climax of that movie to be one of the most moving speeches ever spoken hands down and the guy can play chess like a bandit so he’d have to be in.

I’d love to have Nikita (as portrayed in the CW series by Maggie Q) – because…I am a man and Maggie Q is gorgeous.

Howard Hesseman’s Charlie Moore, from the 80’s sitcom ‘Head Of The Class’ would be another must have because he was a cool teacher whose classes were rarely boring…(?) – mainly because he had a bunch of gifted, smart alec teens to deal with. I imagine he would make a great conversationalist and debator.

Martin Clunes’ ‘Doc Martin’ – a haemophobic (not homophobic to be clear) London surgeon practicing general medicine in a quaint seaside village in Wales – would also be a must have. He doesn’t suffer fools and is quite prepared to call a spade a spade – or a recalcitrant patient an idiot…if it is warranted of course. However, underneath his gruff and unforgiving exterior, is a surprisingly sensitive and compassionate soul whose sense of duty is without question. As a man of medicine myself, I imagine he would be an engaging personality at the dinner table.

Finally, I would have to include Phryne Fisher, who is the delectable protagonist from a series of books called Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries by Australian author Kerry Underwood. Set in 1920’s Melbourne, Australia, Phryne Fisher is this fearless heroine who works as a private detective, using a combination of sharp investigative skills, a quick wit and sassy sexiness to solve crimes. The books have just been made into a sumptuous television series down under with Essie Davis (The Matrix Reloaded, The Slap) in the title role – which, I think, is an inspired choice – because…I am a man and I think she is gorgeous.

What do you know now that you wish you knew five years ago?

I kinda wish that I had a better handle on marketing both of myself and my work as an author. It’s been a huge learning curve for me and alot of what I have achieved marketing wise – particularly with Hambledown – occurred some period of time after the book was released. I really didn’t have any concept of the breadth of book blogging sites that were out there when I started and I stubbornly confined myself to the pursuit of the mainstream media outlets which yielded pretty well zilch.

What do you hope to know in five years that you don’t know now?

Will The Simpsons still be on T.V.?

I’ve been forever called picky, but I maintain that we’re all picky creatures. What are you picky about?

I have this annoying tick whereby I can’t walk by a bookshelf without rearranging the books on it by height. This is especially true for my children’s respective bookshelves and I can often be found spending inordinate amounts of time rearranging their library like Raymond Babbitt on acid. I mean, how hard is it to line up the Mr. Men books side by side anyway!

I also went through a period of being overly concerned about my skills at writing dialogue – so much so that I ended up a little too much like the ‘Close Talker’ from Seinfeld. I spent a lot of time observing and documenting people engaging with one another in conversation, how they spoke, what emotions they portrayed, their hand gestures and expressions. In the process, I got a little too inside their personal spaces and very nearly ended up getting a punch on the nose. I’ve since learned to observe from a minimum safe distance. How is your personal space right now btw?

Any parting words for the masses? Any shameless plugs? Where can people find you online?

I have long been a fan of the Irish comedian Dave Allen, who had a late night/chat show on British TV back in the day. He always used to sign off with the words – ‘Good night, good luck and may your God go with you’. I have always felt such an understated openess and welcoming in those words and I often have them in mind when I am interacting with people.

My official site – http://www.deanfromaustralia.com – is the best destination for people who want to keep up with my goings on. I try to blog there at least once a week and it is the best place for readers to sample my short story work – including some work-in-progress previews of the new novel, to download a free audio book sampler of The Hambledown Dream (read by me in my Hugh Jackman-esque Australian accent) and to download audio interviews I’ve done over the past year or so.’ And of course, readers can purchase signed copies of my novel The Hambledown Dream in both print and digital formats direct from the site.

I am represented by Michelle Halket at Central Avenue Publishing

I keep a page at Facebook where I am known to brain fart on occasion but it’s also where I like to do a lot of cross promotion of fellow authors and artists and musicians. Invariably, those promos end up as fully blown features at his website under my ‘There Need Be No Other Title’ series at Dean from Australia Dot Com.

Goodreaders can find me at GR

And Amazonian Kindlers can find me and The Hambledown Dream on Amazon.com

7 responses so far

« Prev - Next »