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 was born in the town of Casino in the Northern Rivers of NSW, the son of country school teacher whose peripatetic existence took me all round the state. My primary school years were spent in Gundagai, where the dog sits on the tuckerbox, and I’m still remembered as the little boy who played with matches and almost burned down the town. The first house the blaze threatened belonged to the boss of the town’s volunteer fire brigade. By then I had crawled under our house among the redback spiders, determined never to emerge.
When I was seven I wanted to be a prison warder because I heard on the radio they were striking for a pay rise to $50 a week. I only earned 20 cents a week. I could do the maths.
When I was twelve I wanted to play cricket for Australia. At eighteen I wanted to be a writer, but had nothing worth writing. I became a journalist to gather material. At thirty I was working on Fleet Street and my dreams of writing novels had been pushed aside by the sheer excitement of seeing history being made – the Berlin Wall tumbling and the Soviet Union crumbling.
3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?
At eighteen I believed I was bulletproof and blessed with enormous talent just waiting to be discovered or nurtured. Now I realise that what little talent I have has been uncovered only hard work and perseverance.
4. What were three works of art – book or painting or piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?
Paintings and music have never managed to move me as much as a great novel can, so I’m going to choose three books: Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez, The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald; and A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving.
5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?
What makes you think I had a choice?
(BBGuru: I refer you to Rodney Hall’s answer to this question – here)
THE WRECKAGE. It’s a little different from my previous novels. Painted on a bigger canvas, it is an international conspiracy thriller set in the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis and the War in Iraq. It introduces a new character, LUCA TERRACINI – a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist who is living outside the wire in Baghdad. Luca is investigating a series of bank robberies that have netted tens of millions of dollars.
Meanwhile in London, former detective, Vincent Ruiz, rescues a girl from a violent argument with her boyfriend. He tries to help her but wakes next morning to discover that he’s been robbed. It was all an elaborate scam. Setting out to find the girl, Ruiz discovers her boyfriend’s tortured body and realizes that powerful men are looking for the same couple. What did they steal that was so important?
I want them to remember the characters and to imagine them as real people whose lives have carried on even though I, as the author, have chosen to end the story at a random point. Just as Graham Greene said:
‘A story has no beginning or end; arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead.’
8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?
Forget the labels or the debate about literary fiction and genre fiction. There are just great writers and great books.
9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?
My goal is never to write the same book twice and to retire one book shy of overstaying my welcome.
10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?
Write, write and when you’re sick of writing, write some more. It’s the only way to get better.
Michael, thank you for playing.
COMING IN AUGUST 2012:
My name is Piper Hadley and I went missing on the last Saturday of the summer holidays three years ago.
When Piper and her friend Tash disappeared, there was a huge police search, but they were never found. Now Tash, reaching breaking point at the abuse their captor has inflicted on them, has escaped, promising to come back for Piper.
Clinical psychologist Joe O’Loughlin and his stalwart companion, ex-cop Vincent Ruiz, force the police to re-open the case after Joe is called in to assess the possible killer of a couple in their own home and finds a connection to the missing girls. But they are racing against time to save Piper from someone with an evil, calculating and twisted mind…
About the Author
Before writing full-time Michael Robotham was an investigative journalist in Britain, Australia and the US. He is the pseudonymous author of ten best-selling non-fiction titles, involving prominent figures in the military, the arts, sport and science. He lives in Sydney with his wife and three daughters.
About the Contributor
While still in his twenties, John Purcell opened a second-hand bookshop in Mosman, Sydney, in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Since then he has written, under a pseudonym, a series of very successful novels, interviewed hundreds of writers about their work, appeared at writers’ festivals, on TV (most bizarrely in comedian Luke McGregor’s documentary Luke Warm Sex) and has been featured in prominent newspapers and magazines. Now, as the Director of Books at booktopia.com.au, Australia’s largest online bookseller, he supports Australian writing in all its forms. He lives in Sydney with his wife, two children, three dogs, five cats, unnumbered gold fish and his overlarge book collection.