Life is about the journey, and not the destination, and what a journey my life has been. We are the sum total of our experiences, and not what we eat, in my humble opinion, and when I start talking about my life to people – just before their eyes glaze over – they often say: “You should write a book.” So I have, several in fact. I left school at fifteen in a totally different era to today. I got involved with the music business as a long haired rock guitarist, wrote poems and music and gave it all up for love. I've threatened to write a book for so many years my wife eventually pushed me into it by buying me a new laptop and said: "No more excuses, do it." And so began this amazing journey.
Thrillers and crime genres have always fascinated me, and in particular, the dark world of serial killers, and while my beginnings were in the ‘Make love not war’ sentiment, I love a good, unputdownable, thriller. You know, the kind you just want to read one more chapter of at three in the morning before bed, but you have to be up at six to go to work. Have I succeeded in creating stories that can take people to that place? I hope so.
My first book, Forever Night, was contracted and published by The Totally Entwined Group's now defunct Evidence Press, and it was followed by a trilogy of Domin8, The Vigilante Taxi and Burial Ground. Repo, my fifth, saw me return to two characters from Forever Night as new private investigators trying to save a man from jail for a murder he did not commit. The folks at The Wild Rose Press were gracious enough to offer to publish Thirty Three Days. They have also contracted another Trilogy called Deadly Glimpses. I hope I have many more books in me, I often say: I work for a living, but write for a passion.
Did you always want to be a writer?
The short answer is yes. In my younger days I wrote poetry and short stories then got involved in a band as a guitarist so I switched to writing songs. But, in my soul I always yearned to write books because for as far back as I can remember, I’ve been deluged with ideas that I felt needed to be told. Once I married and had children, I gave up music, and spent many years making excuses not to write that first book. My wife bless her, after I had the inspiration to write my first book, Forever Night, bought me a laptop and told me no more excuses. Come to think of it, as Thirty Three Days is book number six, and I spend a lot of time writing; she’s probably come to regret it.
How did you get started in your road to publication?
Leonard Cohen is responsible for my first book. Aline in on of his songs ‘spoke’ to me. The line was: ‘I live among you, well disguised.’ Long story short, Forever Night was born, the story of a tortured soul who fell in love while being an SAS soldier, but then was wounded and through circumstances became a highly trained Serial Killer. It was almost Kismet that when it was finished its six re-writes I saw a post from a UK publisher launching Evidence Press and they were open to submissions. The timing was perfect, as in life often the right things need to happen at the right time, so I submitted it, and their senior editor fell in love with the concept and the story, and told me all the things I needed to do before they could accept it. I dutifully did what she asked and they contracted it immediately. They also allocated me an editor to work with on whatever other projects I had, and with her help I wrote a trilogy of Domin8, The Vigilante Taxi, and Burial Ground. But then fate stepped in. They were bought out by a big publishing house who promptly shut down the Evidence line and my bubble had burst. I am so thrilled to now be with NY publisher The Wild Rose Press, who are delightful to deal with, always respond to emails, and gave this Australian a chance.
Tell us about your new book and where you got the idea for it.
I’m almost (but not quite) embarrassed to say the basic plot came to me in a dream. One so vivid I sat up in bed and woke my wife to tell her – and she is not someone who likes to be woken early. It’s a story of different facets, a love story that transcends time itself, a tale of genetic modification and the possibility of modifying a blight so that it cannot be stopped. It’s also about a soccer team, who never get above third place because they have forgotten to believe in themselves until Jenny comes along. It’s a story of love trying to find a way to last forever, when probably it can’t, and it’s about learning what is important in life.
How did you come up with your characters for this book?
I’ve long been drawn to telling what I call ‘impossible love stories’ where two people cannot possibly make a relationship work, despite their feelings, or can love somehow find a way? I had a dream about Jenny, a lonely sixty eight year old woman who spent her life attaining three masters’ degrees and then became a university lecturer and never had the time or inclination to date men. When she gets a chance to send her consciousness back in time to her thirty-five year old body on a mission to save the future of mankind for me it was the perfect chance to write my impossible love story. Because she can only stay in the past for thirty three days, and she meets the father of her target, a widower who too thought he would never find love again. They both find the kind of happiness that comes once in a lifetime, but she must go back to the future, and will have no memory of him when she does.
Where do you normally get ideas for your plots?
Often it’s just a spark. Sometimes a random thought that I feel I need to explore. The only way I can do that is to write, and get lost in my own world. Case in point is Glimpse. I was driving along one day, not thinking anything specific when I had the most bizarre thought pop into my head. Do not ask me why or how, but the thought was: ‘I was five years old when I first saw someone bleed out.’ Now I hasten to add, that never happened in my real life, but the thought was overpowering, and so when I got home I started to write who, why and how someone would say that, and so a trilogy was born.
How do you create your characters?
Generally the plot dictates the people. For me though, the single most important part of being a writer is to get the characters right. If I can get the reader invest in them, then, and only then can I make them care what happens. I spend a lot of time, trying to make sure I get that right. I worked in the music industry, and have been General Manager of large car dealerships for many years, so have met a lot of diverse people to draw on for inspiration.
What is special about your hero and heroine?
Jenny is everything she thinks she isn’t. She takes an enormous leap of faith in the word of a stranger to take a drug and go back in time to save the world. She things she is unattractive, boring and uninteresting, yet she is braver than she knows, and get a chance to learn that what she thought was important in life, wasn’t. Its love and family that count more than anything, which she discovers when she falls in love for the fist and only time in her life. I love that about her.
How about a blurb?
Jenny is a lonely university lecturer who's consciousness has traveled back in time to her younger body to try to save the future of the world. A young microbiologist is going to release a genetically modified wheat that will mutate and ultimately destroy all plant life, leaving nothing but barren windswept dust bowls. In the past, Jenny finds a love that has been missing from her life; the kind that comes just once in a lifetime. But Jenny can only stay in that time period for thirty-three days. Meanwhile, in the future, fearful Jenny will fail, plans are made to send another back in time--an assassin. How can she choose between saving the man she loves or saving the future?
What are you working on now (or your next project)
TWRP have contracted books 1 and 2 of a Trilogy called: Deadly Glimpses. Over three books I tell the story of four people, two couples, whose lives become entwined. One is Rick, a cop whose marriage is shaky due to a previous affair. In the build up to Y2K and the mass hysteria that surrounded the fear of all computers shutting down at midnight December 31 1999, he is paired with a glamorous criminal psychologist to assists in tracking down a serial killer called PPP. It’s an era when female police battled for equality, and psychologists were seen to be the enemy. Her working with Rick leads to a mutual attraction and they battle their desires for each other. Book 1 is called Glimpse, Memoir of a Serial Killer, and see’s Patricia Holmes stabbed during the confrontation with PPP causing her husband to want her to cease working with the cops. Book 2, Glimpse, The Beautiful Deaths sees Pat recover and be recalled to the police when 6 teenage girls’ bodies are found in a cave. Their attraction is reignited as they investigate a man who is addicted to beauty. Book 3, Glimpse, The Tender Killer, sees Pat separate from her controlling husband and Rick’s marriage in tatters as they investigate a killer suffering situation schizophrenia. The relationship comes to boiling point, an affair inevitable, just as PPP escapes custody to wreak revenge.
How can readers reach you or find you online?
Thank you so much, Stephen, for being my guest today. Any questions or comments for Stephen?