Since Somewhere back in October, the Queensland Writers Centre has been quietly winding its way through the blogs and backwaters of Queensland's writers. Today the bus has parked outside and a ragtag bunch of blog tourists are welcomed in. Make yourselves at home. The coffee machine is on, but I can only do two cups at a time. Anyway, to answer your questions...
Where do your words come from?
I could be a smart arse and say 'the English dictionary', but instead I'll respond in the spirit of the question.
The words come from characters and scenes. The better I can imagine those two things, the better the words. Words come easily when I have characters I know well bouncing dialogue off each other. That stuff is fun. Other times I can be moving so slowly through a scene or stretch of narrative that I wonder how the hell I will ever get to some kind of conclusion. Such stretches are hard, but inevitable in a big manuscript. My only hope is that it won't be obvious in the final draft which bits came in the blink of an eye and which bits contain blood and sweat and other body fluids that no one wants to see on a page.
Where did you grow up and where do you live now?
I grew up in Mitchelton: a standard Brisbane suburb in the shadow of a shopping centre. We literally lived a block away from the thing. I spent much of my childhood watching the place expand like the Blob, devouring land as it went. I went to school next door to it. On weekends I rode my bike illegally through its carparks (ah, those days before Sunday trading...).
Mitchelton has little literary tradition that I know of (though I heard Janette Turner Hospital lived there for a while), but then both my brothers and I have ended up writers. I think it's a combination of genetic predisposition and clearly some kind of social engineering experiment conducted by the the city council on our suburb during the seventies and eighties.
Right now, I'm in exile by the beach (it's a nice exile), but in a few short weeks I'll be back in the city surrounded by good coffee, restaurants, and extended family (that's not necessarily in order of importance...or maybe it is...let me think about that).
What’s the first sentence/line of your latest work?
I don't tend to decide that stuff until very late in a work's composition and I don't usually overload that first sentence with Dickens or Tolstoy style witticisms. I looked up the first sentence of the new novel and it's not all that flash (and my editor has suggested a new intro anyway). I looked up the last and realised that it will probably remain the final sentence regardless of whatever further work will go in, so here it is:
Brisbane is beautiful this time of year.
What piece of writing do you wish you had written?
Pretty much anything from the Twelves. If I had to choose one, it would probably be To Kill A Mockingbird. If it meant though that, like Harper Lee, I would never write another novel? That I would have to really really think about. That would be a classic deal with the Devil, wouldn't it?
What are you currently working towards?
A balance of work and life with some kind of writing taking the fore in the work side. Simple.
Complete this sentence… The future of the book is…
...assured. Readers will continue to read. Writers will continue to write. And there will be something in between that we call a "book".