Today I have the honour of hosting the Seventeenth author showcase focusing on the awesome talent originating from Australia and New Zealand.
The idea came to me whilst seeing so many of the book community gathering at recent conventions in the US and UK. And once my FOMO had subsided, I got to thinking about who might be gathered together if we had similar conventions closer to home. Pending the master planning required to arrange a massive convention, I thought the next best thing might be to run an Australian & New Zealand author showcase. So, I sent out the call, with the only prerequisite for participating being the author had to have been born in either country or currently live there.
I’m thrilled to say that a huge number of authors have reached out to me, and I will continue to post their individual showcases at regular intervals. So hopefully you will enjoy these interactions with some very talented people. Please be sure to check out their work, sign up to their newsletters and follow them on their social media of choice. I make no apologies for any damage inflicted to your TBR’s!
Showcase No 17 finds me interrogating Aussie author Justin Woolley
- Do you feel that being an Aussie / Kiwi (or residing there) influences your writing?
There’s no doubt that being Australian influences my writing. My first published trilogy was a post-apocalyptic series set in the Australian outback and heavily inspired by time I’d spent in the desert around Woomera and Alice Springs. Even the zombie-like creatures who form the constant background threat in the story are constantly dry and desecated, needing the moisture from living creatures to survive in a kind of reflection of the landscape. I think it’s inescapable that where you’re from influences your writing, place is important to creativity.
- What are some of the challenges being located so far away from the rest of the world, do have any tips for overcoming these?
I think the major challenge is being separated from the publishing hubs of New York and London and the US and UK more broadly. With the internet it certainly isn’t as much of a problem as it used to be but it’s easy to feel isolated when you can’t as easily attend major conventions or events. My agent is based in London and thankfully it isn’t such an issue as it’s easy to correspond over email. I think the best tip for overcoming the geographical isolation of Australia and New Zealand is to join an online writing group and network as much as you can through social media and other channels. This doesn’t help with getting up at 4am to do podcast interviews though!
- How do you go about establishing connections in the book community? (any tips / suggestions)
As I mentioned I think you just need to be open to reaching out online. Facebook groups, Discord groups, Twitter was very valuable prior to its death throes though it still can be. If you have an agent or are published set up a group with your stable-mate authors. Authors are very welcoming in supporting other authors and you can learn a lot from each other.
- Do you have a favourite character to write? And conversely are there any of your characters that are the more of a struggle?
At the moment I’m loving writing the crew that features in my science-fiction comedy series Shakedowners. I think I’ve managed to find a great balance of personalities and enjoy writing the banter between them. I think what I struggle with, or at least need to constantly be aware of, is ensuring I don’t let all my characters become too much of my own voice. As an author writing a series that is essentially an ensemble story I need to make sure each character feels unique which can be a challenge at times.
- So aliens finally reveal themselves to us and your work is presented to them as example of what humanity has to offer, what do you hope they will take away from this intergalactic exchange?
Hopefully they have a bit of a laugh and aren’t too judgmental about how much I got entirely wrong about the broader galaxy.
- Tell us something about yourself that not many people know?
My mother is from New Zealand and I’m part Maori.
- What would you say is the best thing about being an author and the worst?
The best thing about being an author is putting stories down on paper and hearing from people who enjoy them. The worst thing about being an author is dealing with the swings from rejection to great news and back again.
- Any other Aussie / Kiwi creatives you’d like to give a shout out for? (let’s spread the love)
Shout out to some other great Australian authors in Maria Lewis, Jay Kristoff, Heather Rose and Richard Swan (I mean, technically he’s English but he lives in Sydney so we can forgive him – just).
- What’s your favourite quote or passage from one of your books?
“Iridius waited on the Diesel Coast’s bridge as they approached Iota Persei. A far-flung system, Iota Persei was best known for its mining operations and the small moon that orbited Iota Persei G, whose liquid water oceans contained mineral crystals that could turn the skin of most species a sparkling gold colour. Given the name Midas, the moon soon became a major tourist destination, and gold skin became a fashion statement among the wealthy – at least until the first cases of Midas’s diarrhoea began occurring six months after the gold colour had faded. It was about as pleasant a way to die as it sounded.”
- What can you say about your current project or what you are planning next?
I’m currently working on book four in the Shakedowners series, my ongoing science-fiction comedy.
Bonus Question: Lastly Vegemite* yes or no?
* An iconic dark salty spread that (most) Australians slap on toast for breakfast (NB explanation for the rest of the world)
Justin Woolley has been writing stories since he could first scrawl with a crayon. When he was six years old he wrote his first book, a 300 word pirate epic in unreadable handwriting called ‘The Ghost Ship’. He promptly declared that he was now an author and didn’t need to go to school. Despite being informed that this was, in fact, not the case, he continued to make things up and write them down.
Today Justin is the author of the Australian set dystopian trilogy The Territory Series consisting of the novels A Town Called Dust, A City Called Smoke and A World of Ash, the young-adult science fiction adventure We Are Omega, the science-fiction comedy Shakedowners, and is now adding to the darkness of the 41st millennium for Black Library.
Justin lives in Hobart, Australia with his wife and two sons. In his other life he’s been an engineer, a teacher and at one stage even a magician. His handwriting has not improved.
Social media links: