I’d vaguely thought of becoming a writer from the age of nine, but when my Year 11 English teacher read out one of my stories in class, the one that had the word ‘fuck’ in it, I gained a status among my peers I’d never had before. At that moment, I was certain fame and fortune beckoned as a writer.
I’ve been writing for nearly fifty years, and will probably end as I started, writing speculative fiction. I’ve written around 60 short stories – resulting in two short story collections – which have been published in Australia, the US, the UK, France, Poland and Japan. I have also written eight novels, all published in Australia; the last six were also published in the US and Russia.
Given my druthers, meaning if I had all the money I needed, I’d concentrate on writing short stories, my first and best great love, but some ideas demand vast swathes of paper to play out properly, giving characters room to grow, gallop and galumph.
For bigger projects I like thinking in terms of trilogies; a good trilogy is plotting writ large – a story with a beginning, a middle and an end.
More recently I have worked as a casual journalist, rediscovering skills I’d last used when I quite full-time salaried work in 1998. I’ve surprised myself by enjoying it immensely, not least because I am working with a whole tribe of other people who are also writing, editing, cursing and meeting immovable deadlines.
For a period of about eighteen months, ending in September 2017, I also worked as a senior communications officer with UnitingCare Australia, the Uniting Church’s peak body striving for effective community service and social justice in Australia. It was an exciting and immensely gratifying job, involving writing, editing and distributing an online newsletter and magazine, and writing opinion pieces, media releases and speeches.
By the way, I’m still seeking fame and fortune.