Welcome to Spotlight Sunday with our very own admin Austin Sheehan.
Thank you for taking time and answering my questions for our speculative fiction group. It’s been a big week for you, reading submissions, writing your own and having yours accepted into the amazing upcoming Australian Speculative Fiction Anthology.
What was the catalyst that pushed you towards writing?
Two things happened almost simultaneously. I had a dream which gave me a story idea so good that I just had to write it, and I realised that if I was to write a book, it wouldn’t need to be as incredibly good as the books of my idols – amazingly gifted authors like Le Guin, Burgess, Donaldson and P. K. Dick. My innate knowledge that nothing I could write would ever be on their level really prevented me from trying, but it just dawned on me that it doesn’t need to be amazing, it can just be good.
Do you have a writing habit? Something that you tend to do each time you sit down to write.
I like to have music on, music that’s related to my work’s setting if I can. My first novel and a number of short stories are set in Melbourne and rural Victoria so when I work on those I listen to You Am I, Augie March, Hunters and Collectors, AC/DC etc. Another project is an alternate history piece set in Germany, so I listen to Kraftwerk, Rammstein, Ludwig Van, Wagner etc when working on that.
What has influenced you most as a writer?
Politics. The way the most vulnerable people in our society are systematically abused and neglected.
The need to do something different, to have more anti-heroes, to have stories told from different perspectives.
I want to share a message that people don’t have to have superpowers or be wizards or whatever to change the world, to make a difference. Because after all, there’s no superman who’s going to save us. We’re going to have to do it ourselves.
What does being a successful author look like to you?
Defining success is a hard one. I want people to read and enjoy what I write, and hopefully it might inspire them or make an impression. If that happens, I will be happy.
We recently discussed taglines for books. What would be the tagline of your life?
My wife would say it’s “Have you seen my keys?”
What is your current work in progress about?
My main piece is about the son of a private investigator who goes with his dad to Albury searching for a missing girl from Melbourne. I don’t want to give away too much, but I will say to find the girl he has to lose himself. There may also be secret research facilities, crazy doctors, enemies to friends, friends to enemies, and villains to heroes.
How do you think being a writer has influenced your life?
It’s given me a creative outlet I haven’t had for a long time. But it’s taken away my sleep.
What kind of research do you do for your book? How’s that google history looking…
I’ve been doing a lot of research into dragons recently for my upcoming NaNoWriMo project and two short stories. I’ve been reading so many dragon books over the last few months, from Pern to Earthsea to Talon, but my favourite so far is ‘Tooth and Claw’ by Walton.
Along with that, I’ve researched what corpses look like after they’ve been buried for 50 years, russian folk tales, the individual history of the former German Kingdoms and the mystery of the Dyalatov Pass.
Any advice you would give your past self or any writers just starting out?
Yes. Don’t be overawed by what other people have written.
Find a writing style that works for you, don’t force yourself to outline everything if it takes all the fun out of it.
What is your goal/dream for your writing career?
I would love to walk into a bookstore and see my book on the shelves.
Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
I’d like to say that I’ve been overwhelmed by the support of the online writing community. People who don’t even know you are always there to celebrate your successes – even the little ones like beating your daily writing goal. There’s so much camaraderie, encouragement and love out there, and it’s honestly something I didn’t expect.