Where were you born? Where do you live now?
Born Sydney, NSW. Lived in Perth WA since I was thirteen years old.Where did you go to school?
Campsie Primary, Scotch College Perth. The latter was because I got a scholarship.Did you have a nickname?
Puffin.What were you like in school?
Hated it, did all right. Not brilliant, but OK, except in Maths.What is the naughtiest thing you did?
Pass. Plenty pretty bad, not willing to remember.What was your favourite book growing up?
At age 5, The Saggy Baggy Elephant
by K and B Jackson.
At age 10, The Wizard of Oz
by L Frank Baum
At age 13, A Wizard of Earthsea
by Ursula Leguin.
At age 15, The Lord of the Rings
by J R R Tolkien.
The last two remain.Who is your favourite children’s author?
Overall, I suppose it would be Lewis Carroll, or maybe Kenneth Grahame.
What is your favourite food/colour/movie?
Roast pork/ None/ Zulu
, 1964. Stanley Baker, Michael Caine. Dir Cy Endfield.Who inspired you to write?
Best single candidate would be Stan Richards, who taught creative writing as an elective at Teachers’ College. He communicated enthusiasm. In fact, he radiated it.
Other candidates are the pulp fiction authors who wrote for the SF magazines of the fifties and sixties. Mack Reynolds, Heinlein, Azimov, Vance, LeGuin, Silverberg.
How did you get started?
I wrote a historical novel at age 18. It was dreadful. I wrote a social realist novel at age 22 (doesn’t everyone?). If anything, it was worse. I wrote short stories spasmodically throughout my twenties. They started out awful, and improved to merely very bad by the time I was thirty.
I kept doing it, knowing that it was only for my own amusement, and I’d never get published. When I was forty, I started selling them for nothing to local small press magazines. When I was forty-two, I went to a writing workshop run by Lucy Sussex. She invited submissions for a short story anthology she was working on for Omnibus. I sent one, she took it, and that was The Patternmaker
.Why did you want to be a writer?
For the fame, glory and riches.
How do you think up ideas?
Start by asking 'what would happen if...?', and put someone in the result.Do you have a special place where you write?
Wherever I keep my computer.What is the best thing about being a writer?
Being your own boss, except when someone else is, really.Have you had any funny or embarrassing moment as a writer?
I was scheduled to do a reading at the World SF Convention in Tokyo, 2007. Not a soul turned up.What do you do when you are not writing?
Cook. Wash clothes. Take out garbage. Play computer games.What would you have chosen to be if you were not a writer?
Dead.Which famous person from the past would you like to talk to?
Field-Marshal the Earl Haig of Ypres, as he became. What I’d like to say to him is, 'Any last words?' But no. I would have liked to have said that to him in about 1915. It would do no good now. 'Why in God’s name did nobody shoot you then?' would have to do.Is there anything else you would like to tell us about yourself?
I write verse that not even my wife can read. We all have a secret vice.Website/blog details