First published on 20 Mar 2012.
Quitting being a doctor to become a writer.
“I’m not a big risk-taker so I finished the medical degree, graduated, worked in a hospital, became a GP then became a medical editor. I had people throughout my life say, ‘you know it’s great that you’ve got this sensible day job, no-one makes a living out of full-time writing, so don’t ever expect to.’ And then I found myself in a position where I actually was [making a living]. My books were selling and it was a job. So then I thought; ‘how do I make that move?’ I talked to my agent and my publicist at the time and said, ‘I really think I’m going to have to let that medical editing job go now cos I just can’t fit everything in’ and they both went, ‘Yeah, I don’t know why you’re still doing that.’“
His latest novel, The Fix.
“The central character is a 28-year-old guy who’s returned to Brisbane having gone to London hoping to make it as an investigative journalist. With the financial crisis he’s come home, he’s taken on a mortgage that he probably shouldn’t have, and he’s blogging part-time for some money but it’s not enough. His brother who owns a PR company offers him a one-off job - getting someone who’s won a bravery award through the process of the ceremony. What he doesn’t know when he takes on the job is that the guy is his nemesis. They’d had issues over a girl and so he’d left town. In the process of getting him fully ready, the closer he [the protagonist] looks at the story the more the cracks appear and he realises it might be something else entirely.”
Writing about Brisbane.
“Brisbane wasn’t totally a blank canvas [in the ‘90s]. There weren’t many people writing contemporary fiction set in Brisbane and for a long time the Australian publishing industry was dominated by Sydney and Melbourne. There were publishers from Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide discovering talent in those places but the big publishers didn’t tend to, and that changed in the early 90s. It meant that for the first time, the playing field wasn’t level but it wasn’t a slope you couldn’t run up. “
“Spalding Gray – better known for his acting than his writing – wrote something called Monster in a Box, which I read in about 1993. I read it as a book , but he’d actually done it as a monologue, a monologue that went for an hour and a half and that he’d recorded as a feature film. It had to be so good to work for an hour and a half that it really is brilliantly finely tuned. It was such a compelling, realistic voice. It felt like someone telling you a story. It was the first time I’d read something like that and I thought, ‘maybe there’s a version of that that’s right for me. And if I can, instead of writing these half-smart stories that people don’t actually like, if I can connect more with my character and make reading one of my stories like eavesdropping on that character maybe I’ll create something a lot more readable.’”