Updated: Jun 22, 2021
Tell me a bit about yourself….
I’m a traveler of New Zealand looking for any old job to help fund my writing and publishing. I grew up on several inner farms surrounding Tairāwhiti and moved into Gisborne City at 11. Since leaving Gisborne in 1997, I have lived in Auckland, Invercargill, Whangamata, Darfield, and Motueka; I currently live in Wellington.
What genre/s do you write in?
I don’t write for genres. A story will come to me and that story’s setting will determine the genre. My first two novels are contemporary, the current Work in Progress is what I call “fantasy realism”, and the other novel I’ve been working on since 2001 is Fantasy. I have a Science-Fiction novel in the works, a Magic Realism novel set in a medieval past, and a semi-contemporary Kafkian psychological prison drama planned.
How long have you been writing?
Since the age of 7 or 8 - that’s when I remember writing my first story - a SF adventure about going to the moon, fighting aliens and rescuing a damsel in jail.
Do you have any published books or articles? Tell me a bit about these and what publishing route you took.
My poetry book The Tasman Journey is self-published under my own Warshell Publishing imprint. I am in the process of doing the same for my first two novels: I am the Local Atheist and Auralye on a Harp.
The Tasman Journey covers a period of retreating out of all the negativity in my life that was causing my descent into depression and traveling to Motueka where after a year I eventually moved into my car and lived on the side of the Motueka River. The poetry and (some) prose in this collection spans the year prior and 6 months on as I began to find peace and acceptance while enjoying being on my own and learning to live day to day without the pressure of rent and power costs.
I am the Local Atheist is set in Invercargill and follows the life of a young man who has been kicked out of his church and must try to make it in the secular world. The novel questions whether Christianity is compatible with individual desires takes a candid look at video games, and cellphones, while also exploring friendships, drugs, and dealing with the past instead of hiding from it.
Auralye on a Harp is set in a New Zealand Highschool and follows music teacher Patrick Almont as he falls in love with one of his new music students. The novel deals with the emotional relationships, not just with teacher and student, but also with teachers and their colleagues, as well as management’s impact on teachers trying to do their work. As a male author I was too aware of the cliche of this setting, so took the novel in a different, but honest, direction.
Did you use an editor? If so who?
No. And yes. The novels have had professional assessments done on them (Tina Shaw assessed Auralye on a Harp and provided excellent feedback), but the poetry book was thoroughly edited several times by myself until I was very satisfied with the end result.
Did you use a book formatter and cover designer?
I thoroughly researched books and how they were laid out, especially poetry books, and I formatted all the books like a professionally published book. However, I do always pass the files onto a typesetter/formatter just in case!
I always have my own ideas for cover designs, and with The Tasman Journey, BookPrint in Auckland did a fantastic job of taking my concept and improving it to look like a finished professional product.
Did you self-publish or get traditionally published? How did this go for you?
The novels I self-published on Amazon and Smashwords but have been unhappy with the results, so instead of going digital and online, for my poetry book I decided to publish it myself in hard copy before doing anything digital with it. From 2019 through to 2020, I went through four different printers and typesetters before getting a product I was satisfied with. The book contains all my own photos and artwork, and was designed and set out by myself using a combination of Microsoft Word and Adobe InDesign, before passing it on to typesetters to prepare for printing.
How do you market your work and promote your brand? (Include links)
Do you use an agent?
No. Agents are just as hard to find as publishers!
Do you use paid advertising? If so what?
Do you have a blog or website?
What inspires you most to write?
Just having ideas and wanting to express myself. This interview is just as important as writing short stories, poems, or novels because it’s another way to write and express myself. People will either want to read it or they won’t, but at least I get to express myself in a way that feels comfortable and provides a positive outlet.
What do you do to help with writer’s block?
I FREAK OUT!!!
Haha, just joking! I take a break or work on something different. I’ve got enough projects to work on that writer’s block shouldn’t be an issue. But occasionally I do get stuck, so I go for a long walk, do some exercise, or even do some free-writing to loosen the brain up. Often the best solution to writer’s block is doing more reading - research or otherwise. That almost always sparks off ideas for me.
How do you plan your writing and start?
One idea usually sparks the starting process. I write and write until I start asking myself so many questions that I need to stop and begin planning. Planning can be a continuous process that develops as the writing continues, or vice versa. I probably ask too many questions though!
Is writing your full time job? If not, what else do you do?
I used to be a high school music teacher but found putting aside time to write extremely difficult. The reason I moved into my car and stopped trying to find a permanent job was so that I could work on writing more continuously. Right now I am working as a laborer on the Transmission Gully motorway in Wellington; the income from this will help fund my publishing.
What are you working on at the moment?
My ‘fantasy-realism’ novel Dim Day; preparing my first novel I am the Local Atheist for printing, and revising the manuscript for my follow-up Poetry & Prose collection ‘Two Left Feet’.
What is your target audience?
I write for myself. If other people enjoy reading what I publish, regardless of how different they are to me or each other, then that’s a bonus.
How long does it take you to write a book?
Depends on how much time I have to work on it. Auralye on a Harp was begun in 2008 and finished in 2016, but the amount of time I spent on it was roughly a few months (probably). Dim Day is taking longer because of work interruptions, publishing and distributing The Tasman Journey, and realizing I also need to do a bit more research to support the main story.
When did you first discover you enjoyed writing?
I think writing is something I have always enjoyed, even when I found it hard. Writing sentences, dialogue, and characters that I was really proud of confirmed that this is something I wanted to do more than anything else and would do it full time if I had the opportunity.
What does your writing schedule look like?
It looks like the most completely random thing you can imagine.
What does your family think about you writing?
I don’t know. They don’t acknowledge or speak of it and seem completely uninterested even when I do talk about it. My mother is very supportive though and often talks about authors and books with me. She was the first person to buy a copy of The Tasman Journey! I have an aunty and uncles that have shown support and talked about wanting to read my books also.
What do you do when you are not writing?
Working. Reading. Eating.
Where do you get information and ideas for your writing?
Life. All the jobs I’ve worked, all the people I’ve met, all the journeys I’ve been on, all the books I’ve read, all the questions I’ve asked, all the thoughts I’ve pondered… all these experiences in life have generated inspiration and ideas for writing.
What do you think makes a good story?
Believable characters and believable dialogue. Some good books barely have any plot, but they are enjoyable to read because of the author’s expert skill in making the characters interesting and relatable. Twenty years ago I read a science fiction novel that was actually a pretty good story (“plot and setting”) but the characters were like cardboard cut-outs and that made the book a chore to read. So a “story” can come down to just plot and setting, but characters need really good motivation to make that story come alive.