This week, we’ll be seeing someone a bit different in the HOT SEAT. This week’s victim is a little taller, a little broader, and their voice is a little deeper. Yes, that’s right. This week’s victim is a man.
You might think that, as a member of the ‘stronger’ sex, the HOT SEAT wouldn’t faze Ian. You’d be wrong. In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen anybody shake quite so uncontrollably. Sorry, Ian. Too late to back out now!
So let’s get started. What genre(s) do you write?
I write what I call escapist thrillers – books you can escape into for half a day and live other people’s more exciting lives. But I did write one weird little book about a woman with repressed memories growing up in Donnybrook with a drug-addicted mother and a shadow by her side. The thrillers are definitely more marketable!
[CJ: Yep, I’ve read that ‘weird little book’ you speak of. It’s disturbing. But then again, so was your thriller, Gavel. But don’t worry, I mean that in a good way! ]
Tell us about your current WiP… in a limerick!
Not a hope in hell!
Grrr. How about in 25 words or less?
I’m currently working on a BIG thriller spanning 30 years, three continents and featuring an evil Afrikaner geneticist.
[CJ: Ooh, a BIG thriller. As opposed to all the LITTLE stuff you’ve written so far? ;)]
Most of us write part time. How do you spend your time when you’re not writing?
I work in media and communications 3.5 days a week for a community services organisation – doing anything that involves words, photography and publishing – and doesn’t involve management. I also play golf or tennis, or find any other distraction that doesn’t involve a keyboard.
Tell us a little about your writing process.
It’s best described as disorganised. I made the mistake of planning out my current WIP during a Year of the Novel workshop series and it froze me in my tracks. I like to create characters and situations and let them both develop and, if I’m lucky, the story tells itself.
[CJ: I wish I had that courage. Just the thought of writing a novel without a detailed outline paralyses me with fear!]
Who or what are your biggest writing inspirations?
Place, people and events, probably in that order. Often it is the essence of a place that starts me writing – then I put people in the place and things happen to them. My first book The Pawn was inspired by thinking about what it would feel like if one of my daughters was kidnapped and it just naturally grew from there. But inspiration for sections in a work can as easily come from a story I read in the news, or a situation that I feel like exploring.
In my latest book Gavel I imagined what it would feel like to be the twin who didn’t excel at everything. In Shadow by my Side (the weird little book) I explored the repressed memories of the child of a drug-addicted mother. I isolated her in Donnybrook (a small coastal town in Australia) because it enabled me to capture the feelings I have out in my tinnie on the Bribie Passage. In Gavel I used my favourite place in Australia, the Lost World Guesthouse in the Lamington National Park, as a setting for one of the most powerful scenes.
[CJ: Damn straight you did. That scene was one of the most unexpected, powerful pieces of fiction I’ve read for a while.]
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a writer?
I’ve written for a living since my early twenties so it isn’t putting words on paper that’s difficult. My biggest challenge came when I started writing fiction and realised I had never written dialogue before. That was really hard but it gets better with practice. My daily challenge is forcing myself to switch off the TV and write.
[CJ: I face that challenge myself (she says as the Australia’s Got Talent grand final plays in the background).]
Now, ready or not, it’s time for the HOT SEAT questions!
If you could only read one genre for the rest of your life, what genre would you choose?
Definitely thrillers. I call them escapist thrillers because they’re exactly that. You go to somebody else’s world and live in it for a while, and it’s a great feeling – far more relaxing than TV. If the book is well researched, like all the old Dick Francis books were, you also come away feeling better informed about some subject or place.
Finish this sentence from your character’s perspective:
Something from my past that I’ve had trouble getting over is.. the fact my brother was a pedophile.
[CJ: Yep, that’d be tough alright.]
Now finish the same sentence from your perspective:
Something from my past that I’ve had trouble getting over is… living under Apartheid and never really understanding the breadth of its evil.
[CJ: Yes, that would also be very difficult. Hearing stories likes yours make me grateful for being born and raised in Australia.]
If you’d like to hear more from Ian, check out his website. Stay tuned for a review of his book Gavel soon.
If you’d like a turn in the HOT SEAT, let me know in the comments and I’ll schedule you in for a buttocks burning. 😀