Many thanks to Gill for providing this opportunity to reveal a little of the story behind my stories. I hope you enjoy delving into my somewhat strange mind and aren’t too traumatised by the experience. You have been warned.
As you might gather from my antipodean greeting, I’m an Aussie, born and bred. I’m currently exiled from there, living in Southport England with my Brit wife, Anne.
I’m a member of the Romantic Novelists Association as I write mushy romance stuff, usually with a twist; an explosion, murder, ghosts or kidnapping. I’ve always liked HEA (Happy Ever After) stories, mainly from reading comics throughout my life. Yeah, kinda sad in a way. I still have my Superman costume worn in public well before it was seen as cool to be a cosplayer.
I found my niche writing for women’s magazines where my tales feature a strong female lead. I’ve also done okay with children’s stories sold to an Australian publication used in classrooms to inspire kids to read.
Okay. Where did it all begin? I used to write and illustrate my own comics back in the days when Marvel was just starting. I was more a DC fan. Then work got in the way – a Science teacher and eventually a Financial Services manager. After early retirement at 49, due to ill health, I started going to art and writing in a town called Cygnet, SW Tasmania. We’d make up a new story each week, listening and encouraging others in the group. Most were female and humoured me about my stories of telepathic Tasmanian tigers and love in the Garden of Eden, not the usual type of short story.
I won a few competitions and eventually was thrilled to have my story The Cool, Dark Place bought by That’s Life in Australia ten years ago. A few editors enjoyed my different style and asked for more. Since then I’ve sold over 60 short stories to national magazines in Australia, Britain and Ireland.
As for a writing routine, I don’t have one. I sit in the lounge and type away with the telly on. I compose my stories at night in bed and type them the next day.
I guess I first called myself a writer after selling that breakthrough story. With retired men especially, it’s customary to say as an introduction that ‘I’m retired but I used to be …’. Our jobs were a part of who we are. These days I say I’m a romance writer proudly. I mean everyone writes – shopping lists, letters, SMSs so I prefer novelist or author these days. When I sold my first tale, I was so ecstatic that I wore a cardboard sign around my neck for a day with Superstar on it. History hasn’t recorded what the neighbours thought but my wife had serious doubts about my sanity. She still does.
I’m the proudest though of my readership. I write to entertain and if a reader enjoys my ideas, characters and convoluted plots then I’ve achieved my goal. I’ll never be famous but I gather that some readers search out my books on supermarket shelves or libraries. Feedback suggests they enjoy my heroines’ exciting adventures whether they be riding with bushrangers in outback Australia, as a nurse fighting Nazi spies in WW2 or as a modern-day teacher helping search out an arsonist in rural Tasmania.
A month ago, mine was the sole fiction story in That’s Life Mega Monthly in Australia. It has a readership exceeding 550,000. That’s a lot of people possibly reading my love story. To know that others are following my characters’ lives is special. There’s nothing like that engagement.
I use Grammarly and Smart Edit to help guide me. Not that I follow all suggestions. I don’t have beta readers as that didn’t work for me. If an editor requests changes, I’m happy to do so. I understand my limitations. Regarding research, I try to be though but often merge fact and fiction. To me giving a flavour of an era or setting is more productive than being meticulous.
As to the future, I aspire to continue letting my imagination and my characters discover further adventures, hopefully with an even wider audience.
I used to read voraciously, fiction and non-fiction. If I pointed to influences, I’d cite Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, Brad Meltzer, Neil Gaiman and Clive Cussler. Despite writing romance, I don’t read much apart from my friends like Dawn Knox, Jill Barry, Enid Reece and Sue Cook amongst others.
Thanks for reading my ramblings. If you wish to find out more, here’s my website
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/TassieTiger2020
Or my short story collection on Amazon – The Rain, The Park & Other Things
Thanks again, Gill