I’m an Australian journalist who grew up in tropical north Queensland. It’s cyclone-territory, pretty laid-back and if you’re wearing thongs you’re overdressed.
In comparison, I now call the Darling Downs home. It’s high up and cold, which is tricky for a north Queenslander who thinks the next ice age is upon us when it drops below 30 degrees Celsius.
I’m also a fencer, which is useful for all those sword fights in epic fantasy. Can you have two many sword fights? Never. The 19th Bladesman was my first published novel, though there are some practice ones in the computer version of a drawer.
What inspires you to write?
I really wanted to share the characters going around in my head. I also started to write because I wasn't quite finding epic fantasy that had the dark psychological edge that I was looking for.
I'm fascinated by emotions like guilt, but also by redemption and hope. One doesn't exist without the other. I love exploring the tiny moments between people that bind them together, as much as the epic actions that save kingdoms, realms and defeat darkness.
Tell us about your writing process.
The 19th Bladesman, my first published book, was definitely the product of seat-of-the-pants writing. It started out as simply an idea about, what if you had to murder a stranger to save someone you love, but the stranger you murder is vital to protecting a whole kingdom. It became a sword and sorcery adventure, full of sword fights, ambushes, plots, magic, and betrayal, but always at its heart it was about fatherhood.
I was mentored by the amazing Dr Kathryn Heyman, who taught me so much about structure and about character arcs, about finding what a character wants or needs to learn. So now that's the first thing I work out: what does my character lack, think they need, or need to learn? What do they want? Then, will they get it? Or maybe they won't want it because they change over the course of the book…
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I don't talk to them, but conversations between them play out in my head all the time. Often a scene starts for me with dialogue. It's at the heart of the scene and I get it down first. Then I layer the scene with the setting etc.
Who are your favorite authors?
I love Gregg Hurwitz's Orphan X series so much. I was on his hero, Evan Smoak's, side by the time I read the very first page. That's fabulous writing. I love the character's vulnerability, even though he's a trained assassin.
I recently devoured C.S. Pacat's Captive Prince fantasy series. It's pretty hot…In Australia we'd say it was R-rated for sure. I loved her character Damon.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I kept reading in magazines from writing organisations in Australia that pretty much no traditional publisher was going to publish new fantasy in Australia at the moment. Especially a new author with books each at 169,000 words.
I'm not opposed to traditional publishing, but I straight away chose the indy route. It's been like having two jobs. I go home from the newspaper and then if I'm not writing, I'm learning how to do AMS ads, or discovering another promotional site etc. It's amazing what you have to learn: where to go for editing, covers, formatting etc. How to set up a mailing list, how to set up your website. Setting up your goodreads account, your Library Thing profile etc, your Amazon author page, etc, etc, etc. Often doing things, pressing SEND, without any real idea of what's about to happen…then learning (hopefully) from your mistakes.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I'm such a new author, I feel really unqualified to take a stab at that. Maybe after the next few books?
What genres do you write?
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.