The coming year of 2019 has the potential to be a cracker for me as a writer.
The sequel to SOLD, called Sold to the Devil, is well underway and should be released early 2019. Australia’s number one antihero, Gary Braswell, sporting a new look and new name, lobs into Tasmanian to wreak untold havoc. A crazy cast of new characters are set to make Gary’s life a merry hell. Set in a cold snap of epic Antarctic proportions, Gary matches wits with a steroid-fueled body builder, a dread-lock hippie chick with the voice of an angel and a dimwitted work-mate who could be the unlikeliest of saviours. On the margins hovers a love-deprived copper who makes the acquaintance of the very same people hellbent on sinking Gary once and for all.
The other potential big project is working as a columnist for a fledgling Gold Coast newspaper. The specific details are yet to be worked out, but if the publication establishes itself, this will be a fantastic opportunity to reach out to a wide, regular audience.
Finally, a short story I wrote back in February was selected for a soon-to-be-published anthology. I’ll drop the details when the release date is confirmed.
Do you enjoy reading about dashing, heroic characters? Men and women of action, pure of heart and valorous in deed, willing to face incredible danger – even death – to save others?
Or do you prefer to read about low-life degenerates, those who triumph against the odds, whose cowardly and venal actions (or lack of actions) win out despite their efforts (or lack of efforts) rather than because of them?
Maybe you like both. Can you cheer on Luke Skywalker on the one hand, but secretly root for Darth Vader on the other?
Most of us fall into the third category. However, many struggle with a truly despicable bad guy. Pity, ‘cos they are often the best fun to write and read.
A frequent comment I get about my debut novel, SOLD, is that the protagonist is completely “unlikeable”. Sure, they say, give us a baddie, but at least let us like something about him or her. It seems in Gary Braswell I’ve created someone completely beyond the pale. One reviewer referred to him as “one of the most unlikable characters ever written”. Thankfully, though, many can see beyond his negative traits to find the flawed human being underneath. Surprisingly for me, a certain contingent of reader even feels for “poor old Gary”, rather than condemn him for his unspeakable behavior.
In terms of creating what is called in the business a “well-rounded” character, a writer has to perform a balancing act. And for uber-baddies, it’s a question of: how vile and putrid can I make this arsehole and yet still have the reader empathise with them, even if only a smidgen? After all, even Hitler liked animals, so he couldn’t have been 100% bad, right? And Donald Trump… well… ok.
My goal with Gary Braswell was to create a man with as few positive aspects as possible, while at the same time make him believable and avoid drifting too far into caricature. Hopefully, I managed that, and the bulk of readers seem to agree with me. But one thing I’ve learned in my very short career as a writer is this: you can’t please everyone. So no character is ever going to be to everyone’s taste, no matter what.
Grub Street Bookshop downtown Fitzroy was the scene for the official Melbourne book launch of my debut crime novel SOLD (9 March 2018). A good crowd turned up to be well entertained by the effervescent and delightful Leigh Redhead, plus some misplaced and awkward words from yours truly. Even better, many bought books! Leigh is something of an expert in the “noir” genre of fiction, and is even doing some serious studies in the field. She had lots of positive things to say about SOLD and got the crowd all excited about the novel. Either that or they were enjoying the drinks on offer at this “noir at the bar” style event. Either way, lots of laughs and fun was had by everyone who attended. Once again, thanks to all for your fantastic support.
Much love and appreciation to my publisher Lindy Cameron from Clan Destine Press for organising this fabulous event, and the curious punters who attended. Seeing an old Queenslander mate from yesteryear at the launch was particularly fantastic. On ya Paul De Vere! Special thanks goes to to Ruth Wykes and Moraig Kisler for guiding me through the difficult editing and rewriting process and bringing the work to the point where it shined and sparkled. PR specialist Carmel Shute managed to arrange not one, but two radio interviews for me while visiting the world’s most livable city. One was an early starter – 9:00 on the morning after the book launch. Thanks, Carmel! Luckily, the studio was but a short stroll from the hotel to a studio at the RMIT building in Bowen Street. My interviewers were a couple of keen, young journalism students hosting the breakfast shift (called “Get Cereal”) for community station SYN-FM. The second interview was with experienced journo and book expert, Vincent O’Donnell. That one went at a more leisurely pace than the first and should be broadcast in a few weeks. One of my most comfortable experiences being interviewed so far – can’t wait to hear what it sounds like.
SOLD has now officially been launched in Hobart and Melbourne. Where to from here?
The first three people to message me and confirm they have downloaded an e-book will get a signed paperback copy delivered to them – anywhere in the world!
Escape From Passing Winds is currently rating an amazing 4.8 out of 5 on Amazon.
One of Amazon’s top reviewers says: There are plenty of quirky characters to enjoy, and young readers will delight in the witty wordplay that Denholm includes. His portrayal of several of the adults as grossly inept will, no doubt, also appeal to the target age group. With a cover as colourful as the characters, this madcap adventure definitely makes for a fun read.
In mid November 2017, I embarked on a mini journey of discovery in the company of my super supportive publisher, Lindy Cameron, from Clan Destine Press.
The release of my first crime fiction novel, SOLD, roughly coincided with the biennial writers’ conference, Genrecon. Lindy convinced me attending this event, held in my home town of Brisbane, would be the perfect opportunity to meet some “real” writers and learn a thing or two about the craft. And was she right!
There are too many people to name, but off the top of my head I can say I took away plenty of knowledge from a bunch of enthusiastic writers, including brainy Charlotte Nash, sharp-witted Emma Visckic and ebullient and smooth-talking Garth Nix. Lessons learned ranged from how to manage your taxes and finances, how important it is to get the “details” right using horses in fantasy fiction as an example (yep, no kidding), and how to write 500,000 words in a year. In between seminars and talks, there was plenty of opportunity to socialise with established and aspiring writers alike. I made some great new friends at Genrecon, hopefully for life.
Something I wasn’t prepared for was a radio interview at the crack of dawn, a newspaper interview that was a bit like an interrogation, and giving a talk at a bookshop. I was apprehensive for each of these, however somehow I conquered my fears and nerves and all of these “assignments” came off much better than I’d anticipated. I guess that has as much to do with the skills of the interviewers and the enthusiasm levels of the audience as much as any moderate talent I might have. I was least comfortable with the interview at the Gold Coast Bulletin, but even that got easier the longer it went.
At first these gigs seem like ordeals – horrible events that must be endured rather than enjoyed. It’s more the dread, the awful waiting, that gets the palms sweating and the heart racing. However, as Garth Nix pointed out at Genrecon, the more you do these things, the easier they get. And he is absolutely correct. Yesterday evening I did a telephone radio interview for a Melbourne community station and was horrified at the thought of having to read from my own novel. I’d never done it before and was agitated all day thinking about it. Would I sound stupid? Would I stuff up, stumble over words? Again, the host was gracious and able to put me at ease. Listening back to the interview today, I’m rather pleased with the result. So, take it from a naturally shy person, you can do it too!
From now on, I shall embrace opportunities to self-promote rather than shy away from them. In this day and age, you have to knock on lots of doors to get attention, especially if you don’t have a big publicity machine behind you. There are a gazillion writers and wannabes out there, and the meek will not inherit the earth when it comes to fiction writing.
A while back my publisher and editing team suggested I attend Genrecon, a writers’ conference/festival organised by the Australian Writer’s Marketplace. This year the event will be held in November 2017 in my old home town of Brisbane. So popular is Genrecon, tickets were snapped up in no time. I put myself on a waiting list and promptly forgot about it. But the gods smiled down upon me. A vacancy opened up!
Other authors with whom I’m virtual and real friends have endorsed Genrecon as a wonderful chance to advance one’s writing career. And also to learn and have some fun. Hopefully lots of talks, nibblies and drinkies, plus a huge dose of advice from the experts. My novel SOLD should be out by then, and Genrecon will be an awesome opportunity to get the word out about it. I’ll be rubbing shoulders with some of the best-known genre authors in Australia, as well as other movers and shakers in the Australian publishing industry. As a new author – but, sadly, not a young one – it will be an eye-opening experience. One I am really looking forward to.
If SOLD is published by then, the plan is to have a book launch and perhaps some other “author events” in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast, where the novel is set.
I’m writing this at the end of a chilly Tasmanian winter, so the idea of spending time in the QLD sunshine is positively inspirational.