Hi there. Curiosity and a love of words drives me creatively, alongside that big question – what if? What if I didn’t live in Wellington with my partner and boys? What if I’d frozen to death on that mountainside in Corsica? What if that squishy lump in my pocket was plastic explosive? (It isn’t.) In my life as a social scientist I have explored issues from activism to architecture. Flash Frontier has kindly published my short fiction. Stop Looking is my second novel.
What authors did you dislike at first but grew into?
Raymond Carver. US acclaimed short story writer. I had to read him in a short fiction course at Victoria and could not see why he was so popular. So I studied him – his story telling techniques. He’s sparse and clever. I admire his style but still don’t like his stories that much. I had to stop examining him because his stories started to infect my stories – modern, alcohol, drug-addicted, North American characters started to show up. Which is ok – unless your stories are period-dramas set in NZ!
Do you try more to be original, or to deliver to readers what they want?
I write first to explore issues and characters. I think the re-drafting and editing process helps deliver something readers might want to read.
How do you select the names of your characters?
I Google names, especially if my characters aren’t from the Anglo-world.
Have you Googled yourself? Did you find out anything interesting?
I Googled myself in response to this question. Nothing surprising. Interesting might be in the eye of the beholder. Academic articles on education, gender and diversity, anyone?
Are there any secrets in your books that only a few people will find? Can you tell us one? Or give us any hints?
Sometimes I use names or addresses or phone numbers that people close to me might recognise. It’s another point of connection with them.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym? Why?
Yes. I use A C Praat for my contemporary fiction books on the ethics of killer robots. I read that there is still gender bias in the book market – better to be non-specific where gender is concerned – or be a man.
How did publishing your first book change your writing process?
I’m tighter in story intention – less waffly – off-story passages. Though you need a lot of waffle to get to the useful stuff sometimes.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters of the opposite sex?
I think all characters are tricky. I have lots of brothers and two sons, which probably helps a bit with the boy stuff.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Sometimes. Not too many reviews yet so I haven’t had to deal with negative reviewers. Hopefully negative reviewers would say what they didn’t like so I could learn from it. Great to know what people connect with, too.