For the readers, what genre/s do you write in?
I write gay historical fiction, not romance. There are gay men and women, trans, and bisexual characters spread over my 10 published books. There’s always a relationship, but it’s a background to the story, rather than the focus of it. Crime fiction, action thrillers, murder mysteries, the theatre, and music … I even have a series set in WW2.
When did you know you HAD to write?
When I retired from full-time employment. I’d spent years writing academic papers at my university and wanted to turn my hand to fiction.
Do you enjoy reading as well?
Yes, I do. But now that I’m writing full-time, I have to allot myself reading time, otherwise I’d go on writing.
Where do you find inspiration?
From my 30 year long career as a professional performing musician, working all over the world, observing people and places. From my everyday life, interacting with the community, from reading and watching movies.
What’s your favorite part of the writing process?
The research. As all but one of my books are set in historical periods, the long process of research before I start writing gives me enormous satisfaction. I’ve established relationships with archivists in major museums, national libraries, and private collections, all of whom are willing to share their love and passion for their specialist topics. My writing is 80% time spent research, 20% writing. Accuracy is everything. I’m obsessive over it.
Do you feel you build a connection with your characters?
I have a special relationship with all of my characters, the goodies and the baddies. Many of my MCs are based on aspects of myself, and I have a particular fondness for those people who live in the two series I write: one a hard-nosed detective in the 1950s, and the other a professional musician turned spy during WW2.
Have you ever based a character on a friend or family member?
All the time! My book, The House with a Thousand Stairs, set in outback Australia at the end of WW2 on a sheep station, collects various members of my family and transforms them into the characters in the story. My other books all contain friends and family members suitably transmogrified so there can be no direct comparison.
What makes the perfect setting for you to sit down and write?
I live in the tropics in Northern Queensland in Australia. I have a garden full of exotic plants, and my study window, which sits just behind my computer monitor, allows me to glance up to look out into the bushes and palms. My two cats are my writing companions—more help than hindrance (most of the time).
Do you ever take part in NANOWriMo?
I always intend to, but every year it comes around I’m usually midway through writing a book, and once I start writing the first draft, the next three to four months are completely taken over with that.
What do you enjoy about book signings/events?
Something I desperately want to do, but in such a huge country as our own, the distances and expenses involved are a bit out of my reach. There’s a gay bookshop in Sydney in the middle of the gay mile, as it’s called, that stocks my books and they guys who run it are always inviting me to come down to do a book signing, but with air-fares and hotel accommodation, it’s way out of my budget. The small town I live in doesn’t even have a bookshop ☹
What one thing to you wish all new authors would do?
Use the services of a professional editor on your first book. Not a pal, or someone who teaches English and grammar, but an established editor who understands how books should be written. Get a developmental edit, a line/copy edit, and a proofread. Make notes of what they tell you, and as tough as some of the advice might be, think about it before you either accept/reject what they’ve suggested. Make notes of the way they edit speech, use punctuation, cut or suggest additions. It may cost a lot, but it’s better than doing an online course or going to a generic writing site because it’s tailored to how YOU write. My current editor and I have become so used to each other, I second-guess what he’s going to say while I’m writing. Don’t, please don’t ever edit your own work then publish it. You may save money, but you’re not going to grow as a writer as quickly as you would with those professional eyes looking over your shoulder.
What’s your go to writing drink?
Herbal tea. Gave up alcohol in my late teens, and coffee two years ago (still miss it)
Where can readers find more information about you and your work?
The best place is to visit my website, where there’s a biography, a list of my published books, a page for each book with reviews, miscellaneous information about the book and links to buy it, a blog page with information about writing, interviews, the history of the gay movement relating to specific times and places, and some articles about writing a series, research, and why that’s important for anything you write.