An English-born Australian, Rob Shackleford has lived in New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and has travelled extensively internationally.
His varied careers have included Customs Officer, SCUBA instructor, college teacher, and management roles in too many places.
With degrees in the Arts and Business, he is mad keen on travel, SCUBA diving, family history, astronomy and playing the djembe and congas.
Rob is father of two and lives with his partner on Queensland’s Gold Coast.
What inspires you to write?
Why do I write?
Essentially the story has to be told, like a vomiting forth of what I hope will be entertaining to others. I find the most encouragement when others are entertained and amused, where they feel their time spent in reading my work has been time well spent. Yes – that is the greatest thrill and motivation.
I do like books that have me engrossed in the world the author creates so that is the world I seek to share. As I am a lover of History and Science Fiction, it perhaps was logical that I would find joy in blending those genres.
But I don't have a calculated, premeditated style where the story is already know. The first draft of my books is essentially a story I am telling. The frequent rewrites then allow me to better define my language and the imagery I hope allows the reader to become immersed into the universe I have created.
Tell us about your writing process.
I generally write in the morning. If I have a flash of inspiration, that means I can get up as early as 4am. After a few hours we go for a walk and a coffee. By midday I gym and then sometimes play the Play Station while I think about my research or seek inspiration while I am killing zombies or whatever.
I do research a lot! With Traveller Inceptio I lacked the confidence to write so I thoroughly researched for about a year before I dared write anything. I live in terror of having wrong information, of a historian saying – "Oh, this is rubbish because xyz!" My local library banned me at one stage as I had a really good book on Saxon history out for 6 months.
The most unusual thing is how sometimes I can write and it doesn't feel like I am writing, where the story develops in ways I had not anticipated, where I go, "Wow! I didn't know that was going to happen!"
Once the story is written and refined, then my partner Deb reads it and tells me where I have place the word 'beautiful' into a paragraph four times – and similar gaffs.
Then it is a rewrite and polish before visiting an editor.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
No, my characters are in another world to me, though I am constantly working at getting into their heads, in making them human rather than a shallow, 2 dimensional cartoon. I try to understand their thoughts and dreams, their fears and hopes, what they like to eat, what annoys them.
Insights can pop into my head in the most inopportune times, which means scribbling notes, jotting key words onto my phone notepad, or jumping up from bed to jot down my ideas.
Who are your favorite authors?
There are so many!
I admire the beautiful descriptive writing of 'The Life of Pi's Yann Martel, 'Shantaram's Gregory David Roberts, or Colleen McCullough's superb series of novels on Rome.
I love brilliant imagination and the ability to story-tell as shown in the warped imagination of Steven King, Tolkien and even the simplicity of 'The Martian's Andy Weir.
I am also astounded by the pure brilliance of the research undertaken by historian Simon Sebag Montfiore and his range of excellent novels, and of course Bernard Cornwell.
Last but not least I adore the Science Fiction greats – Arthur C Clarke, Frank Herbert, Robert Heinlein, Greg Bear and so many others who make our imaginations soar beyond the stars.
And these are but a few. I will post this and then say – "How could I have forgotten …?"
How did you decide how to publish your books?
Before I made the choice to publish, my manuscript was read by a few friends and then passed on to a grumpy old bastard of an English editor for his evaluation. It was the best and worst thing that could happen to me as he pretty well tore off my arm and beat me over the head with it. After extensively rewriting, deleting chapters and making the manuscript tighter, it was again passed on to another editor.
In the end I had to believe in myself, which is the most difficult leg of the journey.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
Being an author is ultimately about being commercially viable.
Modern publishers want to make money off you, web sites want to make money off you, the various nebulous publishing services do too. Be judicious about where you spend your money and understand this is a business much like the music industry. In the end you will have to watch out!
Believe in your work, believe you have a story to tell and persist at it. Nobody is perfect or appeals to everyone, but if someone like what you write, then you are a successful author.
What genres do you write?
Science fiction, Historical fiction, action and adventure
What formats are your books in?
All information is provided by the author and is presented as it was submitted so you the reader get to hear the author’s own “voice” in their interview.