For those unfamiliar with your books, how would you describe your fiction?
All over the shop – but most has speculative fiction, and/or psychologically interesting elements.
You have several novels published with small publishers and self-published, What has your experience been like with these methods of publishing?
My first experience resulted in a book (junior novel) that, while it sold very well, was remaindered after a year so the publisher could focus on picture books. The second fell through the cracks and was remaindered even sooner due to a buy-out by another publisher who wanted to focus on their own titles. My third book experience was much better. Despite slow sales, Ford Street Publishing still has faith in The Ice-Cream Man, for which I’m eternally grateful.
As for self-publishing: I’m still very new to this experience, having only just released my first Kindle e-book—an adult title: The Unforgetting. The novel had done the publisher rounds, so I thought it would be a good one to publish on Kindle (better than leaving it to moulder in the reject drawer). I’m treating this one as an experiment. So far it’s clocked up over 600 downloads.
The book description for your novel, The Ice-Cream Man reads: ‘One hot summer afternoon, three boys play a prank on the ice-cream man. This one decision sets in motion a chain of events that will forge a life-long bond, testing each boy as never before. Three boys united by fear and their need for friendship. Three boys united against the ice-cream man.’ What can readers look forwards to in, The Ice-Cream Man?
Hopefully, a good, entertaining read. The story came to me after my son, Daniel (then around 14) and a friend stalked and pranked the ice-cream man one afternoon. The boys thought the whole thing hilarious, whereas I, on the other hand, spent the next several hours worrying that the man might have seen where the boys went and be plotting his revenge (my mind always leans towards the more dramatic outcomes). By the next day, I had turned my manic musing into a novel plot.
Who is one of your favourite fictional characters and why?
Roland of Gilead, from Stephen King’s The Dark Tower. The reason is that Roland never gives up, no matter what. I wish I had more of that.
What is the novel you are looking forward to reading, and why?
There are so many. Among others in my reading pile are: Nightfall by Will Elliott, The Self-Illusion by Bruce Hood and A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty. I always look forward to anything new by Stephen King. Some writers have a way of cracking open a reader’s mind, and King has that gift – as does Jasper Fforde. I’m particularly keen to read the next in his, Shades of Grey series. The first book is so mind-bendingly original.
What kinds of fiction did you read as a child and teenager, and have these stories had a lasting impact on how you write fiction now?
My very first book memory is a fairytale, as is the case with most of us, I suspect. I was obsessed with fairies and magic from a very young age. I wanted to be a fairy. It didn’t take me long to work out that the world is a scary place, so fantasy worlds became a refuge.
Around nine or ten I discovered science fiction and became obsessed with that – still am. My father collected vintage SF books and read magazines containing short stories, so I had plenty of reading material. I no longer wanted to be a fairy; I wanted a time machine so I could visit the future and see what wonderful advances had been made (still do). Although I understand very little, I am enthralled by quantum physics.
As a teen I diverted slightly from the path and had a bit of a Harold Robbins/Jacqueline Sussan breakdown. Thankfully I was soon saved by Stephen King’s Carrie and became a firm fan, adding horror to my favourite genres list.
The bulk of my reading experience has definitely influenced my writing (not counting Robins and Sussan). Stephen King particularly has had a huge influence on how I view the world: I am always looking for the weird and unexpected in the every day.
What lesson do you wish you had known when you started out writing your first novel?
I’ve given this question a lot of thought. Almost instantly I came up with half a dozen things I could name because, like most things in life, I’ve done everything from writing to getting published the hard way (I seem to be attracted to the rocky roads.) But then it occurred to me that if I had known just how difficult the writer’s life could be, I probably wouldn’t have stuck with it. My ignorance in those early years is what saved me. So, I guess my advice would be: Don’t listen to anyone’s advice; just write.
What is next for your fiction writing?
I recently signed a contract with Blake Publishing for a YA fantasy, The Haunted Beach, which is currently in the editing stage. As for writing, I’m torn right now between my YA and adult fiction. I have a number of YA stories in various stages of completion, as well as two more adult titles to follow The Unforgetting.
The Australian Literature Review