G’day / Kia Ora.
Today I have the honour of hosting the fourth the author showcases 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 be posting their individual showcases at regular intervals over the coming weeks. 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!
Today I’m pleased to be chatting to Aussie expat (currently living in London) James Flanagan.
- Do you feel that being an Aussie / Kiwi (or residing there) influences your writing?
I’m sure it has on some level, perhaps not noticeable in my novel GENEFIRE, but certainly in some of my short stories. I have one short story published called “The Perfect Wave” and I’m sure that resonates with any Aussie who has a strong connection with the beach and surf. You often draw from your own experiences when you are writing and I have often found myself writing about being at the beach at Christmas time (a foreign idea to Europeans), or scuba diving on the barrier reef, etc. So those topics will seem very authentic “Aussie”.
- What are some of the challenges being located so far away from the rest of the world, do have any tips for overcoming these?
Well, currently I’m an expat in London, so I have the opposite problem of being located so far away from my family and those beaches that I love. My biggest tip to anyone is to get out there and travel. Find opportunities to work somewhere new and expand your horizon.
- How do you go about establishing connections in the book community? (any tips / suggestions)
To me, it seems its all online these days, we have discord groups, and social media connections via almost every platform, YouTube channels etc. I don’t think anyone is short of connections. But meaningful ones, you need to make an effort to make those happen. However, the in-person connection you get with a close knit writing group is still valuable if you can find it. I haven’t found that yet. One way to find these sort of things is to go to writing events and meet other writers. We have local library events for Authors (I did one recently), we have “Spoken Word” events to attend, author book launches, perhaps even writing conventions and things like that. One tip that might not be obvious (but should be), is get to know your local librarians.
- Do you have a favourite character to write? And conversely are there any of your characters that are the more of a struggle?
I have two main male protagonists in my novel GENEFIRE. One is Larry Milton and the other is Tammy. Larry is a bit of an arse and I really loved writing him, but Tammy is very sweet and I really have a soft spot for him. I would say Tammy was the favourite one to write, as he is the one with the hardest choices to make. The most difficult character to write was Gessica, not only in writing a female character, but she is also quite complex, very intelligent, very sure of herself, and wracked with guilt. She certainly has her own agenda which doesn’t always align with Tammy.
- 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?
Given that my book is about genetics, the aliens would at least understand the level of technology and advancement in science and biology that we have reached (that is if they are DNA / Carbon based lifeforms, I’m thinking Star Trek aliens here). If they are aliens that are offended by the fact that we are “Meat”(* see note), then they might not take too much from the story. If they were to really understand the story, they would learn something about human behaviour: That we are driven to succeed and that love seems to creep into every human story. That certain destruction of our own planet is never really that far away. (note: https://www.mit.edu/people/dpolicar/writing/prose/text/thinkingMeat.html ).
- Tell us something about yourself that not many people know?
I wrote a story a few years ago called “The Silver Pyramid” that was a Choose Your Own Genre story (just like CYOA, where you choose the direction of the story, and in this case you choose what Genre it turns out to be). It was a bit of a challenge to myself. But only a handful of people read it. You can find it on my reddit page, here (https://www.reddit.com/r/Jimiflan/comments/oldtjg/part_0_in_which_you_wake_up/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web3x&utm_name=web3xcss&utm_term=1&utm_content=share_button ). And a random fact that you will want to know for the Pub Quiz: In my youth I was in the SCA, which is a medieval society, where you can get dressed up in real armour and hit each other with sticks. Lots of fun!
- What would you say is the best thing about being an author and the worst?
The best thing about being an author is the large wads of cash that you get to roll around in like Scrooge McDuck… no actually that doesn’t happen. I think for me the best thing is to get these ideas out of my head and in print. As a scientist I have “novelty” etched into my brain, so when I have an idea to write a book with something novel in it, that no one else has ever tried to attempt, then i had to make sure I did it first. (Spoilers – if you can add a spoiler alert – The Tammy story is written in the protein code, encoded in the DNA of one of the main characters, so a literary conceit to write half the novel in the 20-letter alphabet of the protein code). The worst thing about being an author is it is a solitary task, and although you can find support from other writers, the only person that can actually make you do it, is yourself. And it is hard.
- Any other Aussie / Kiwi creatives you’d like to give a shout out for? (lets spread the love)
I have a good friend who is an Aussie and a Poet/Singer/Songwriter, called K.D.Zwierz. He is a great singer and you can see some of his work in his bands Lord Byron, and Errant Shadow, and others, but he also has a growing folder of poetry to publish.
- What’s your favourite quote or passage from one of your books?
This is a quote from Noah, a biohacker, to Larry Milton: “For someone trying to get his PhD, you sure don’t know much. Reading is what makes you smart, not degrees.”
- What can you say about your current project or what you are planning next?
I have a plan for book 2 and 3 of this series. It will be a trilogy if I can ever find the time to finish it. I have a growing catalogue of unpublished short stories and a novella that might one day find their way out into the world.
Bonus Question: Lastly Vegemite* yes or no?
Absolutely Yes! And it is becoming harder to find in London these days (please send!). They eat this awful stuff over here called Marmite.
* An iconic dark salty spread that (most) Australians slap on toast for breakfast (NB explanation for the rest of the world)
James Flanagan is an author of speculative fiction having published several short fiction stories and his debut SciFi novel, GENEFIRE. He can’t resist a good writing contest and was a finalist in the NYCmidnight short story contest for 2023. By day he is an academic scientist with a Ph.D. in cancer genetics, working at Imperial College London. He was born in Brisbane, Australia, and now lives in East London, UK, with his wife, son, and two cats.
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