Paul Carter, author of Is That Thing Diesel?, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Paul Carter

author of Is That Thing Diesel?Don’t Tell Mum I Work on the Rigs…She Thinks I’m a Piano Player in a Whorehouse and This Is Not A Drill,

Ten Terrifying Questions


1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I’m from Scotland circa 1969, back when Scotland was to an Australian still a far off place North of London. We lived in a fairly rough part of Aberdeen, Scotland’s Oil Capital; our neighbourhood was on occasion like a cold wet version of Beirut. Most of the kids I hung around with where not the academic type, nether was I, in fact by the time we had all grown up anyone who wasn’t a Heroin addict, hadn’t been charged with assault, or done serious time was considered a high achiever.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

My German grandfather was a dispatch rider during World War Two, so was my English grandfather. I never knew who to cheer for in old war films, only that I wanted to ride bikes. So at twelve I wanted to be Steve McQueen, because he was cool.  At eighteen I wanted to be an offshore crew chief, because I’d started in the oil industry and knew where I wanted to be. At thirty working as a crew chief I wanted a transfer out of Columbia to Brunei, the oilfield equivalent of ‘The Betty Ford Clinic’ because I’d ground two mill off my teeth and had turned from a happy go lucky ass wrangler into your standard narcissistic coke head with post traumatic stress disorder and a hellish self destructive streak.

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

I believed in our system of government, I thought the future was bright in terms of the whole planet, our first real war for oil since the end of world war two was about to kick off. Now I have no faith in government, the future of our planet is like the worst parts of the bible rolled into one giant war for oil and water.

4. What were three works of art – book, painting, piece of music, object, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?

The Harley Davidson XLCR, it’s not just a motorcycle it’s an unlicensed berretta under the floor boards and a fat bank guard. It helped put me in the right mindset, blocked out all the chatter and white noise that used to clutter my thinking.

Single Gun Theory‘s 1994 studio album – Flow, River of My Soul.

No Beast So Fierce by Edward Bunker (Pub 1973)

5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a book?

I didn’t.  I always enjoyed painting and drawing, the publishing house came to me and asked if I would write.

6. Please tell us about your latest book.

Is That Thing Diesel? I spent 20 years in the oil exploration game, and now I’m riding Experimental motorcycles that run on “free” fuel derived from waste used cooking oil. I’m the last guy in the world who should be doing this. (BBGuru – Here’s what the publisher says: At forty years old, a successful writer, husband and father, no longer toiling on offshore drilling rigs, was Paul Carter happily nestled in the cotton wool of suburban life enjoying the fruits of his labour? Was he f**k!

With his manic life left far behind and the perfect opportunity to take it easy stretched before him what else would a middle-aged, bike obsessed, man want?

Yes, that’s right, he’d want to be the first guy to ride around Australia on an underpowered experimental motorcycle that runs on used cooking oil, wouldn’t he? Preferably without getting hit by a semi-trailer full of bridge parts. Is he out of his mind? Quite possibly. Embark on a rollickingly, downright dangerous and often unhinged quest that starts on an environmentally friendly motorcycle built on a shoestring budget by students, and ends with a plan to break the motorcycle land speed record for bio fuel.

Carter is back to his old balls-to-the-wall style of writing, prepare to laugh out loud.)

7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?

Let’s be frank, my books are not going to win any literary awards, they should have included a pop-up section, or perhaps scratch-n-sniff. I simply hope they entertain, if I get one smile then I’m happy.

8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?

Clive James, because he’s been at it for decades and never fails to make me laugh.

9. Many people set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

Stay Sane, and break the land speed record for alternate fuel in March 2011.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Never under any circumstances give up.

Paul, thank you for playing.

14 Responses

  1. […] Paul Carter, author of Is That Thing Diesel?, answers Ten*Terrifying*Questions | Booktopia – A Book … […]


  2. My hubby and I spent a couple of weeks driving around the outback,listening to the audio book”is that thing diesel?”. Loved it! We want to know if the footage filmed is in fact avalible on dvd. Paul Carter your a legend.


  3. I have just read Hale and Hardy and loved it. I had thought it was written of the author’s own experiences but having looked up on the net I gather this is not so. Please tell me if this is a work of fiction or not.


  4. I read this while recovering from a broken ankle and extensive bruising due to being run over while cycling. Your description of a similar problem was very close to the bone.


  5. Does anyone know where I can find Pauls email address or mailing address? I


  6. Loved the book, made me cry with laughter in some places. Paul doesn’t give himself enough credit with his writing. It’s not what you say but how you say it and he says it well. Thanks.


    • Such a pity that the story’s he writes about belong to other people sad really


  7. just read in paper of the sinking of a Russian oil rig & workers dead/missing 20 dec 20011 – hope & pray all your friends & workmates are safe – my sincere sympathy to all those who have lost love ones in this disaster


  8. Absolutely hillarious all that he had seen at his work. “Legless in Russia” is a very realistic story, I had met guys like that personally while working out in the field. It is very nice to see that Mr. Carter took the situation with humour and eventually made it a chapter of his book. I was in tears… Would love to provide a proper translation into Russian.


  9. description of recovering from injury is all too real, after being run over by a car I spent some agonising time on the big zimmer frame stretching protesting tendons and ligaments just as you outlined. very character building. Hopping on one foot up stairs egged on by a physiotherapest while your body shrieks is also brought back by your prose,


  10. I have read all his books and laugh at the stuff he gets up to and the problems he faces his latest book is a scream, as a bike rider i feel for him after his crash and going through physio, been there done that got the scars to prove it


  11. Having influenced Paul a little bit while he was growing up,and pushed him in the oil industry ,I am very proud for what he has made of his life and achived as yet, personnelly I am still wondering where all this is going to end .I am sure that anything he starts in future will be somewhat crazy but great fun for him and entertaining for me ,(if he can write about it)!
    When he married I had one advise and told him what women want from men: Son, they want Sex, Security and Shoes!
    John Verschoor, his step father in France.


    • I loved the book, and was very impressed by Paul’s drive, passion and determination. Thankyou for your influence on his life that helped get him to where he is today, in part a writer and very determined man. I am not a male, or a bikie or a drinker, but I loved his book Is That Thing Deisel and the insight it gave me into Man’s World so different to my own. While talking about the book today I met a man who had met Pauls crew and seen the truck full of oil during his travels near Albury. He worked for the local council, but rode bikes and looked just like the big bearded bikies Paul described. He would have looked fearsome on a bike rigged out but was gentle and chatty with a big smile and easy going manner. As Paul said bikies can look fearsome at times but aren’t necessarily so. I was pleased to have met someone who had met Paul’s team and perhaps Paul too.


  12. […] Also posted in 'What Book are you reading' thread. For Fans of Paul Carter's books Paul Carter, author of Is That Thing Diesel?, answers Ten Reply With Quote + Reply to […]


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