1. How did you get your first book published?
My road to publication was paved with a combination of persistence and luck. I started sending short stories to publishers when I was doing my Bachelor of Arts at uni. Many years later, I finally hit the right publisher with the right story at the right time. The story was “Life, Death and Detention”, and the publisher was Margaret Hamilton Publishing (which had just become an imprint of Scholastic).
I got a call from the publisher saying that they liked my story and that they were going to use it in an anthology of hard-hitting, YA stories about high school. I was so excited that I promptly sent them a whole bunch of other stories… and then didn’t hear from them for about six months. I thought that I’d blown it — that they hated my new stories and that they would no longer want my first story. But then I got another phone call.
It turned out that the anthology had fallen through. But, they loved the other stories I had sent them and so they wanted to publish a collection of my stories… and would I mind writing them a few more?
The result was Life, Death and Detention, published in 1999, about ten years after I had sent out my first submission. Although now out of print, this book is still on the Victorian Premier’s Reading Challenge booklist for Years 7 and 8.
2. Your writing routine.
As well as being an author, I’m also a stay-at-home dad. One of my daughters is now in school, but my youngest is only two and a half… so my routine varies from day to day. I only have one definite full writing day per week. Every Tuesday Lexi goes off to day-care, and my parents pick Nykita up from school, so that I get a completely uninterrupted day.
Aside from that one day, I write whenever I can — during nap time; in the evening after the kids have gone to bed; over the weekend; sitting on the park bench while the girls run around the playground. When I first started writing, before I had kids, I’d need silence and long uninterrupted stretches of time in which to write. Now I’ve learnt to write in short bursts under any sort of conditions. The house could be falling in around me and I’d still be able to plot a novel.
3. Your writing space
I have a cluttered mind and my workspace reflects this (which is why I called my blog Literary Clutter –http://content.boomerangbooks.com.au/literary-clutter-blog/). I’m always working on more than one project and my mind is constantly skipping from one idea to the next. And somehow, from this chaos, coherent pieces of writing occasionally spring. My desk and surrounding area is VERY cluttered. There are piles of books and papers, post-it notes stuck to things, and movie memorabilia scattered throughout. And somehow, I always know where everything is. It’s an environment I feel very comfortable in.
4. What is your latest publication or WIP
My latest novel is Gamers’ Challenge published by Ford Street. It’s a sequel to my computer-game inspired, teen, sci-fi, action/adventure, Gamers’ Quest. As with the first book, it’s entirely set within an elaborate computer game. In the first book my lead characters, Tark and Zyra, didn’t realise they were in a game. This time around, however, they know they’re trapped in a game and are trying to get out. I had a lot of fun writing it. Filled with dragons, cyborgs, robot spiders, warrior monks, rampaging centurions, homicidal computer viruses and a plethora of other fantastical characters, these books are very much the books I would have loved reading as a 13-year-old.