I am really glad you’ve accepted my interview. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions.
Can you tell us a bit more about how you became a writer?
Well, being a writer is something I always wanted to do. You know how when you’re a kid, and people say, ‘what do you want to do when you grow up?’ – and you’d say ‘I want to be a superhero, or a firefighter, or a police officer’. Well, I would say I wanted to be Batman. And – if I couldn’t be Batman, then I wanted to be a writer. So I can officially tell you that I’m not Batman, but I did get to become a writer. Then, years later, when I was 19, a friend said to me ‘what is the one thing you really wish you could do in life’, and I said ‘be a writer’, and she said ‘then why don’t you try it?’. It was weird – up until then there was a huge disconnect. It was like she was saying ‘why not try being Batman?’. Because wanting to be a writer and actually becoming a writer are two very different things. But I figured, hey, why not try? So I did try. I started writing when I was 19, and I kept at it, getting better and better, and years later it led me writing what would become my first book – The Cleaner.
Was it difficult for the first book to find a publisher?
It was, for sure. It always is. You write and you write, and you get rejected time and time again. We’ve all heard those stories, and it was the same for me. But eventually The Cleaner got signed up here in NZ, and then their rights department started sending it to other countries, and suddenly a lot of publishers were buying it. It changed my life. But yeah, that sure is a difficult time trying to get people interested in it.
Could you describe literature in three words?
I can describe it in one – Essential.
Is there a book you would never read? Why?
There are plenty of books I wouldn’t read. I don’t like books that are sadistic. People think I do, but I don’t. I don’t like pointless or graphic violence toward innocent victims. I’m okay with it when it’s done to bad people, but not to good people. I tend to gloss over that in my own writing. Or if the author was somebody who I thought was a complete asshole – I wouldn’t read that. If somebody I didn’t like wrote the best crime novel in the world, I’m not reading that thing.
What’s your favorite book?
Okay, that’s tough. There are so many great books. A couple of my favorites are – The Catcher in the Rye, Of Mice and Men, The Passage, and To Kill a Mockingbird. As for a favorite quote – I don’t have one off the top of my head. Plus there are so many.
EBooks or paper print?
I’ve always read and preferred real books. But I bought a kindle a year or so ago so I can read books when I travel. I like to travel light, and books take up a lot of room… so you know, the kindle is perfect.
What inspires you?
Good books. Movies. Music. Travel.
One of the best things about writing is having the chance to travel a lot to other countries and getting to meet really cool people. I have great friends all over the world now – it’s brilliant. That keeps me writing.
Imagine you were given the opportunity to meet a book character in real life. Who would that be?
Jesus. If I met Jesus from The Bible, then he could keep turning stuff into wine. It’d be great. Would be even better if he could turn water into Gin and Tonics.
What’s your worst nightmare?
I have these dreams where my teeth fall out. It freaks the hell out of me. I’ve been having them for years. I hate it. I wake up and for a moment I think all my teeth are gone. That’s my literal nightmare. My other nightmares are going to book signings and having nobody show up. That happens. It’s pretty awful.
The best decision of your life was?
Well, I’ve certainly made a lot of bad decisions. Too many to list – not that I would list them. There are definitely things I would change if I had a time-machine. It’s easy to say something like ‘the best decision was deciding to become a writer’ – which is actually pretty true. It’s led to plenty of cool things – my life would be completely different now. I’d never have been to Europe, or America, or Asia, or anywhere else. I don’t know what I’d be doing. One of the best decisions I’ve made has turned out to be one of the worst. I put a couch in my office a couple of years ago, so I’d have somewhere to lay down and read while taking a break from writing – but I spend too much time reading and napping on it these days. I would say one of the best things I’ve done in the last five years is take up tennis. I’d never played before, and I’m pretty crap at it – but it’s fun. I play every Friday night with a bunch of my friends – hanging out with friends is the best thing in the world.
I can’t wait to read your next book. Are you currently working on a project? Is there any release date to reveal?
Well, there’s a new book coming out in Germany later this year – I think June (something like that). It’s different from anything else I’ve written. It deals with cellular memory, and the main character is a sixteen year old boy named Josh. It’s a really cool book. And I have a new book coming out in English later this year – which, for the first time, is a story not sent in NZ. That’s also very cool… but it’s too soon to start talking about it…