1. Tell us a bit about your family.
My family? They’re awesome. I guess there’s a few circles of family — the ones you’re born with, the ones you get for free, and the ones you choose.
The ones I was born with are cool. My brother is also a writer, banging out his dreams a page at a time in Melbourne, Australia. I know that the eighth wonder of the world is a New Zealander with a return ticket, and he fits that bill. He’s easily the most insightful of us kids on my mother’s side. My sister is brilliant and terrifying in equal measure. She has a brain the size of a planet, a job as a lawyer, and lives in New York wrangling kids and a husband. I feel for those guys, you know?
That leaves my mother and father — both divorced form each other, both better for it, but in a good way. They’re both heroes of mine in different ways — not in some sort of trite I-read-that-on-the-back-of-a-book way, but in tangible ways. When my folks split I got to watch my mother taking care of me through the eyes of a child, and learned a lot about sacrifice, and the value of honesty and integrity even — or especially — when it’s hard. My father was US Navy, a Captain, a real man’s man, and he showed me that it’s okay to be funny and caring and strong at the same time.
My father remarried, and had kids from a previous marriage — my brothers and sisters on his side are Legion. I’ll admit to my loss that I don’t know them at all well, and I guess that’s one of the hard parts of split nuclear families where half of each atom lives in a different continent. These are the family you get for free, which just goes to show that free things are sometimes worth a lot more than you paid for them. It’s funny, on my mother’s side I’m the eldest, but on my father’s side it’s the opposite. It’s weird seeing the world as the prototype model as well as the polished product, you know?
The family you choose is the best. My fiancé and I live with a cat and a dog, or they live with us, I don’t really know. We have a turn of the century cottage nestled against a river, where it’s often sunny and almost never windy. We work, and live, and laugh, and play.
2. How do you work through self-doubts and fear?
Me, I’m kind of a blunt instrument: I just go head-on. My view is that a fear confronted is a fear torn apart, but it can be really hard despite that.
As an allegorical example, I find that I get myself into situations I’m not fully qualified for. Or situations that hurt — physically. Something more concrete? Okay. I have a fear of getting hit and getting into fights. I don’t think this is especially atypical, but it’s there. To resolve this, I decided it’d be useful to get some skills, so I went and took up a full-contact martial arts style. It pushes the needle to 11, but it also gets the job done. I still don’t like the idea of fights, because that’d be crazy, but I now know I’ve been bashed around by some huge units, so how bad can it be?
Despite this, some stuff is always scary — like writing a book. Marcus Romer (@MarcusRomer) had a great comment on Twitter last year about the Creative Process™ (https://twitter.com/MarcusRomer/status/393094184652902402). He said:
“The Creative Process
1. This is awesome
2. This is tricky
3. This is shit
4. I am shit
5. This might be okay
1. This is awesome”
I find no matter how much I face the self-doubts of writing, it’s still pretty true. I’m about 2/3 through writing my next book, Upgrade, and I’m firmly stuck somewhere between 3 and 4 at this point. I’m hoping I’ll get to 5 by the time I do my third draft. Sometimes you’ve just got to be uncomfortable to make better art — I don’t think I’ll ever get over self-doubt, and maybe that’s a good thing. Self-doubt makes me question everything, to try and make the product better.
3. What scares you the most?
Having to live in a world where there’s no individuality, creativity, or freedom.
It’d be easier to say, “spiders,” but I don’t think that’s really true — spiders can be kind of cool, as long as they’re not on your face or in your hair, right?
The thing is, the world seems to be pulled towards this future state where we all make decisions together, and have long, soul-destroying meetings. Maybe it’s just my few through the lens of working for the G-Men, but this consensus-based approach seems to me to be the best way to reduce creativity and innovation.
For someone who fancies himself as a bit of a storyteller, that’s a terrifying future. You know — there’s that old meme kicking around, I don’t know if it’s entirely true, but it’s like this:
1. Five people wrote “Baby” by Justin Beiber.
2. Five people wrote “We Can’t Stop” by Wrecking Ball, I mean, Miley Cyrus.
3. Nine people wrote “Imma Stop” by The Black Eyed Peas.
4. One person — Freddie Mercury — wrote “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
There’s a lesson in there somewhere. I don’t think you need to like or hate any of those pieces of music to understand what I’m talking about — consensus is a poor substitute for creativity or innovation. The end product feels dilute, less than it could be with a strong single voice.
Maybe I feel that we want to tell our own stories.
4. What makes you happiest?
Good time, quiet time, either inside my head or with My Person*.
* Grey’s Anatomy fans unite!
I really like being able to sit down and chew through thoughts and ideas. Sometimes it’s my characters talking to each other — I do a lot of dialogue in my head when I’m on the train, or listening to music, or whatever. But it can also be chewing through great content made by other people — the latest novel I’ve grabbed and love, or a TED talk that blows my mind.
Being with My Person is awesome. It seems we can talk for hours, and hours, and never run out of things to talk about. Sometimes we’re crazy fun, sometimes we’re serious, it doesn’t much matter. Where, or when, isn’t as important as who
5. What’s your greatest character strength?
Wow, this question sounds like one of those ones you get at a job interview. “Tell us your awesome superpower.”
Maybe it’s courage. I’m no X-Man, but I’d like to think that I’d be on the front lines when the aliens invade, or standing there with a crowbar at the ready when the zombie apocalypse arrives. Until I get the chance to test those theories, I tend to face things that look really hard, despite being scared of them. I tell you, you haven’t faced hope and fear in quite the same way until you put your first book out there and wait for the reviews — but if you have courage, if you believe in yourself a little, you’ll do it anyway.
6. What’s your weakest character trait?
I can be a bit of an asshole.
I don’t mean to be. I don’t get up in the morning thinking, “Hey, it’s Tuesday: I’m going to be an asshole today.” It’s just that sometimes I get carried away in myself, or what I’m doing, and can sort of forget that there are other people who are part of the equation.
I hate myself a little when I do that. It’s never at the time — it’s afterwards, and I think, “Man, I made that person’s day a little more shit than it was.”
7. Why do you write?
Stories. I want to tell stories. Have for a long, long time — since before I was ten years old, easily.
It probably started with play acting with toys as a kid, and telling the stories about how the Evil Hairbrush was going to take over Couch Land. We lived between feast and famine from a finance perspective when I was a kid, so sometimes I had Lego scattered everywhere, and sometimes I was making up stories between heroes made of cardboard or whatever. You’ve never really breathed life into something until you’ve used a fork as a starship.
Those stories were interesting — even at a young age, they had some common themes, where there might be a group of people, and they’re trying to overcome something or someone.
I have this idea that — just maybe — I can tell exciting, interesting stories that people want to read that will also tell them a little bit about people. I don’t get why stories about being a human being have to be told in the context of dying from cancer or whatever. That’s just hard going. Wouldn’t it be cool if stories could be fun, and exciting, and still explore the human condition?
Valentine’s an ordinary guy with ordinary problems. His boss is an asshole. He’s an alcoholic. And he’s getting that middle age spread just a bit too early. One night — the one night he can’t remember — changes everything. What happened at the popular downtown bar, The Elephant Blues? Why is Biomne, the largest pharmaceutical company in the world, so interested in him — and the virus he carries? How is he getting stronger, faster, and more fit? And what’s the connection between Valentine and the criminally insane Russian, Volk?
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Genre – Action, Thriller, Urban Fantasy
Rating – R16
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