Today I welcome author and publisher Paul Collins.
How did you get your first book published?
I didn’t read as a kid — in fact, there wasn’t a book in our house. Well, there was one. A green-spined Penguin mystery that would appear once in a while, and I’d wonder, “What’s that book doing there?” So yes, it was a long, hard road. My first short story was sent to Weirdbook, in the US. The editor wrote back a rejection letter that was nearly as long as the story. Very disheartening, but I followed his advice, resubmitted, and he accepted it. So in 1977 I was officially a published author. I self-published my first book, a western novel called Hot Lead — Cold Sweat. Yes, I know, a shocker. Never mind. We learn from our experiences. The National Library emailed a few years ago wondering why they’d never received a deposit of this title, and if in fact it existed. I sent them a scan of the cover, but never in a million years would they get a copy.
What is your daily writing routine? Do you have a ritual to get into the writing zone?
I’ve always believed in cross-subsidisation. That is, doing several things, all of which pool to achieve a certain aim. These days I run a publishing house, Ford Street Publishing, have a speakers’ agency called Creative Net, and still write books. Combined I’m never stuck, never bored. I get so little chance to write, that when I do it just pours out. There never is a daily routine because each of my three careers throw something new at me every day. I’m always under pressure, but it’s self-inflicted so I don’t see myself as being “under the hammer” as it were.
How do you juggle your work commitments for Ford Street Publishing and your own writing?
I usually respond to whatever is urgent. A writing deadline will take precedence over reading an unsolicited manuscript, for example. An enquiry from a school regarding booking an author will generally beat my writing, simply because it’s a quick fix. So I combine with whatever is urgent with whatever is easily dealt with. I receive around 50 emails a day. The easy fixes get answered immediately. The harder ones can sit in my inbox for weeks, which isn’t to my liking, but there’s no way around it that I can see. Unless I can create a doppelganger.
Describe your writing space. Do you have anything around you that inspires you?
Not really. I’ve never had need for inspiration, to be honest. I’ve always had two or three jobs at a time. When I was in New Zealand, for example, I worked for MGM as a despatch manager, worked in two theatres at nights as an assistant projectionist, and worked with my uncle as a metal polisher on Saturdays. With this work ethic you don’t need inspiration, other than the fact you know you’re saving money to build a future.
What is your latest publication and what are you working on at the moment?
My next book will be from Blake Australia. It’s called The Pranksters’ Club. It’s about a group of nerds that think they’ve concocted the greatest prank of all time, but the tables get turned on them. I’m also working on six chapter books for Macmillan, and the third book in the Maximus Black Files, Il Kedra.
Paul Collins was born in England, raised in New Zealand and immigrated to Australia in 1972. He lives in a historic bluestone home built in 1851 with his partner, fellow author, Meredith Costain, and a menagerie of pets including a kelpie called Jack and Molly, a red heeler.
His many books for young people include The Slightly Skewed Life of Toby Chrysler and series such as The Jelindel Chronicles, The Earthborn Wars, The Quentaris Chronicles and The World of Grrym in collaboration with Danny Willis. His latest is The Maximus Black Files (Mole Hunt and Dysons Drop). The trailers are available here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3S-eKDYqpEs and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4tTn_WXCiw He is also the author of over 150+ short stories.
Paul has been the recipient of the A Bertram Chandler, Aurealis, William Atheling and Peter McNamara awards and has been shortlisted for many others including the Speech Pathology, Mary Grant Bruce, Ditmar and Chronos awards.