Describe yourself in one word:
What is your background with regard to writing?
Not much, really. I just read books. Lots and lots of books. When I was 20 years old, I tackled a professional writing and editing course at RMIT — which I highly recommend! Not to say a diploma or degree in writing is in any way essential, but the interaction with other writers in this environment and the workshopping of our manuscripts helped me greatly. When you have to read your writing to a class full of adults twice your age with red pens poised for action, you soon discover my flaws and ultimately become a braver writer.
When did you first begin writing with a view of embarking on a career as a published author?
I started writing my first novel (now published as The Chimera Vector) when I was 17. I just really wanted to write it, I don’t think I was focused on being published at the time. It was a dream, but like anyone in a creative line of work, I was writing because I enjoyed it. I loved telling stories. A few years later I jumped into the RMIT writing course and that was really my way of telling myself I was serious.
Tell us about the first book you wrote
It was called The Final Collapse and went through ten years and ten major drafts before being published by Momentum as The Chimera Vector. Quite a few things were cut, including a whole raft of chapters chronicling Denton’s rise to power, a car chase scene that I later used in the sequel, and a fictional religion that might make a re-appearance in the future. The writing course helped get it into shape for my literary agent. At the time, he was the only agent in Australia who was interested in the thriller genre. He mentored me on the path to publication. My manuscript quite by accident landed on Momentum’s desk.
What is your writing routine?
I start by scribbling ideas into Evernote. It doesn’t really matter what order they’re in, because I transplant or refer back to them later. I use these notes to help me map out the plot in Scapple, get a feel for the plotlines and the acts, the character interaction and conflict. Once I’m happy with the structure of the story I drop the plot into Scrivener and flesh it out into a final plot structure. Then I’m ready to go. Social media is switched off, email is off, the phone is set to do not disturb. It’s just me and the keyboard.
Favourite snack whilst writing?
I don’t really snack, but if I did it would most likely be bacon or bacon-related.
If you weren’t writing, what would you be doing?
Probably another career that is just as unlikely to pay off. The other side of the coin to writing is acting, which I’ve always loved. But I’d much prefer to write my own characters than be someone else’s.
One thing you’d like readers to know about your genre…
Technothrillers are a pretty cool subgenre. Bruce Sterling describes a technothriller as “a science fiction story with the president in it”. It’s a genre that borrows unashamedly from hard science fiction and even occasionally from horror. In film, technothrillers are a Hollywood staple. Most tales of superheroes are by definition technothrillers, as is the near-future technology in James Bond films. Technothrillers employ strong elements of martial arts, espionage and technology. You might know technothriller authors already, such as Tom Clancy, Michael Crichton, Clive Cussler and Greg Bear.
Number one thing to do on your bucket list?
Visit another planet. Probably not a short term goal. Number two was get chased by a giant neon robot through a Mexican nightclub, and that’s been ticked off.
Biggest accomplishment to date:
Seeing my novel published. I did originally want to see it on the shelf at Borders, but then they shut down. Now I have to remind myself the shelf is irrelevant, it’s about having a story published and out there for people to enjoy.
What’s next for you?
Continue with the Fifth Column series of technothrillers and see where it takes Sophia, Damien and Jay. We’re in a very interesting time right now with technology and entertainment. I’m having fun experimenting with different styles, formats and even other languages. I’ve also joined forces with some fellow Momentum authors and other Australian authors to create ThrillerEdge. Our aim is to help thriller fans discover books they enjoy and encourage young Australians to read for their enjoyment.
Confessions of an Author:
Is there something we’d be shocked to know about you?
I once mimed and danced to a Brady Brunch song on live national television.
What do you find easiest to write? And, the hardest?
This will probably sound strange but I thrive when there are severe restrictions placed on my characters. The more limited they are in their options, in what they can do and where they can go, the more resourceful they need to become in order to survive, learn or progress to the next stage of the story. And I have a lot of fun in that space. The hardest thing to write is something I’m not enjoying. That’s not good because if I’m not enjoying it then no one else will.
Favourite travel experience?
Being pursued by former special forces and FBI through the streets of Houston, Texas. (It was a training exercise, I’m not a terrorist, I swear.)
Favourite fictional character:
Sonic the Hedgehog.
Milk or dark chocolate?
Red, white, bubbly?
Red. Although a few glasses makes me sleepy, so it’s not an ideal pre-party drink unless you prefer me comatose on the couch.
Salty or sweet?
Bacon. Wait. What was the question?
Beach or mountains?
Beach. Mountains. A mountainous beach?
Give or receive?