- Tell us about yourself:
- Where do you live? South of Adelaide in South Australia. We’re five minutes to the beach, five minutes to the Australian bush and ten minutes from a world-class wine district full of gourmet food.
- How long have you lived there? Most of my life – I also lived in Sydney for a few years.
- Are you married? Yes, I’ve been married to Nicky for more than 25 years.
- Kids? Three – a 17-year-old son and twin girls. One is 14, the other fluctuates between 14 and 27, depending on the day.
- Full time job? I’m a freelance copywriter who also lectures at University.
- Education? Alumni of the University of South Australia, came out of there with my Bachelor of Journalism.
- Who is your favorite author and book? Favorite authors…hmmm. James L Rubart, Ted Dekker and Frank Peretti. I also read some of Ben Elton’s work.
- What is your preferred genre? Contemporary, with smart writing, and a touch of humor.
- How did you start this journey to become a writer? I’ve been writing since I could hold a pen. But while my writing journey started when I was four, and has meandered through journalism, songwriting, corporate writing, online writing, and now fiction. Although I’ve been writing in my career for more than 25 years, I’ve been focusing seriously on fiction for three.
- What have you written so far? My first manuscript – Pastor Swap, about a reality TV show based in two churches – finalled in the ACFW Genesis Awards and the OCW Cascade Awards. I’ve since written The Baggage Handler (coming out March 2019 through HarperCollins Christian/Thomas Nelson) and The Camera Never Lies (coming out November 2019). Short stories, songs and hundreds of poems – some good, some not so much.
- Tell us about your current book. My current book is The Baggage Handler, to be launched in March 2019. Here’s the blurb: “Three people take a flight that will change their lives forever.
Fresh off a run-in with his wife, harried businessman DAVID disembarks the plane angry and impatient. No company car awaits him, a foreboding sign of the coming standoff that will either save his job or kill his career.
GILLIAN thought she would be more excited about coming to her niece’s wedding, but she will be spending a few days staying with her oversharing, overachieving sister. She is just hoping to survive.
MICHAEL has come to the city for a track scholarship he doesn’t want … but his father demands. But it’s the only way he can reach for his artistic dream, and failure means working in hardware. A “real” job.
When the three travellers arrive at their destinations they quickly realize they have picked up the wrong suitcase at the airport.
They make their way to the baggage depot – a mysterious building in a deserted, industrial part of the city. There they meet The Baggage Handler, who shows them there is more in their baggage than what they have packed.
And they have to deal with it before they can leave.
- What is the inspiration for your current book? There wasn’t an inspiration as such, but The Baggage Handler was borne out of rejection. My first manuscript had just been rejected by the fifth agent I’d pitched, but he’d suggested I write something else. So I did, and the story downloaded into my head at 9pm one night. When I came back to bed four hours later, I had the storyline, characters, plot twists and themes for The Baggage Handler.
- Who was your favorite character to write and why? There are three major characters and I loved writing them all because they were so different. David (not named after me, by the way) is convinced he can control his world. Gillian (also not named after me 🙂 ) is sure she’s never good enough and Michael is forced to live his father’s dream. I loved writing all of them.
- Is there anything of you in that character? Of course. All good writing should come from deep within.
- What sets your book apart? The fact that it’s inspirational without being preachy. It’s full of values that are accessible. It’s easy-to-read in terms of style.
- What’s your favorite part in the book? I have plenty of favorite sections (mainly turns of phrase I’m happy with, but there is a section where Gillian is waiting for her baggage at Baggage Services, and is watching TV:
Gillian settled back into the sofa, the leather creaking under her. Her upward glance caught her reflection in the mirror. She scooched down in a hurry, out of her own eyeline, and looked instead at the TV on the wall. She lifted a remote and punched up the volume on the soap opera. “But, Ranch, I can’t love you when I’m in love with your twin brother.” The brunette with the heaving bosom walked past her costar toward the camera and stared off into the middle distance over Gillian’s shoulder.
Ranch moved in behind the brunette and placed his hands on her bare shoulders. An emotive piano tinkled away. “Kourtnay, my love, my soul mate. I’m not Ranch, nor am I his twin brother, French.” A string concerto joined the piano as the music swelled and drew Gillian into the soap opera’s manufactured pain. “I am their long-lost triplet, Caesar.” The music climbed to a crescendo; a final, moody piano chord hung out to dry as the screen faded to black.
Gillian jumped as her senses were assaulted by pulsing graphics and thumping dance music. “In this week’s edition of Perfect Woman magazine, has Taylor Swift finally had a bad hair day? We have the photos!” The voiceover grated on Gillian’s nerves as an unflattering portrait of a royal getting off a plane in a windstorm was smeared across the screen.
Gillian’s hand patted down her own hair out of reflex.
That’s pretty unfair.
“Ten ways for you to look fantastic 24/7!” A woman rolled over in bed to reveal a perfect, lipsticked smile and a cheesy thumbs-up. “Our celebrity makeover judges give you the tips to look fabulous at any time of the day or night!”
Gillian shook her head. No one with kids looked like that. Did they?
“And we’ll fulfill every woman’s dream by revealing the makeup secrets that will catch the eye of every man in town!”
As she sipped her juice, Gillian racked her brain for one woman she knew for whom that was a dream. She came up empty.
“All in this week’s edition of Perfect Woman magazine! Out now!”
On the screen, popcorn spilled across a carefully groomed rug.
Now that’s more like the real world.
Three boys bounced on the sofa in a family room wearing crisp jeans, white T-shirts, and impossibly perfect tousled mops of blond hair. Their mother swept in, her hair perfect, her makeup immaculate. “Boys!” An ever-so-slightly disapproving look drifted across her face as she pulled a steaming muffin tray from behind her back. “Who’s the best mom on the street?”
“You are!” the boys shrieked as they raced over to her, grabbed a muffin the size of a small Volkswagen, gave her an energetic hug, and sped off to the kitchen table.
The mother sighed in triumph—another job well done—as a deep male voice floated across the scene of domestic bliss. “White Wings muffins. Do you want to be the best mom on the street?”
Mom turned to the camera and smiled widely. The voiceover continued. “Well, do you Gillian?” Mom winked. Gillian dropped the grape juice on the carpet. She stared at the television.
- What was the most difficult part to write? There is a scene towards the climax of the story where Gillian refuses to look in a mirror because she’s convinced she’s not worth looking at. Being a male writer, I had to work hard to get that right; to get inside the female head and faithfully put that on the page without being stereotypical. I couldn’t guess; I wouldn’t guess. It would be disrespectful to my readers. And early feedback from reviewers suggests I got that right, so the hard work was worth it.
- What was your favorite book to write? At this stage, The Baggage Handler. I’m all but done on the drafts of The Camera Never Lies, which was also fun to write, but I genuinely love the edit process, so I haven’t been through that yet with this story.
- How do you write? Do you have a set time or place? How many hours a day? I don’t have a set routine as such, but I do dictate a lot of my writing. Then when I transcribe, it’s more draft 1.5 than 1. When I’m on a roll – or on deadline – I will write 4-5 hours a day.
- Why did you want to be a writer? Because that’s who I am. I have friends who are tradesmen – they can look at raw materials and know exactly what they’ll do with them. I have friends who are accountants – they take one look at a spreadsheet and can see something in the numbers. I can knock out 4,000-5,000 words a day and it doesn’t feel hard. In fact, it leaves me feeling like I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.
- How do you get your ideas? As mentioned before, The Baggage Handler downloaded to me. The Camera Never Lies started with a question: what would you do if your secrets were revealed to those around you? And Book 3 (due mid-2020) is called The Pledge and is based in Central Australia. That idea stemmed from a desire to write a story based in my country.
- What do you have planned next? The Camera Never Lies is underway at the moment. Due November 2019. Then I’ll be writing The Pledge, which is coming out in 2020.
- What advice would you give new writers? Write. Believe. Learn to take criticism, but only the right criticism.
- How can readers get in touch with you? Probably by subscribing to my newsletter – and they’ll get some free short stories as well. They’ll find me in social media as well (Facebook and Instagram).