Monday, July 26, 2010
Trent Jamieson Interview
Scott Wilson recently caught up with Trent Jamieson to discuss Trent's novel Death Most Definitive; the first in a new series set in Brisbane.
Scott: Let me start by saying how excited I was to see your novel was set in Brisbane, and in particular, the Wintergarden. My first job was in the Wintergarden so I could relate to the setting immediately. How hard was it getting a book set in Brisbane published?
Trent: Thanks, Scott.
I worked for six years across the road from the Wintergarden, ate my lunch and wrote a hell of a lot sitting in its foodcourt, so, I guess it had to featurein my writing eventually.
As a setting Brisbane is as hard to sell as anywhere else, but I think it would have been harder, say, if I’d set the book in Sydney or Melbourne. I just don’t know those places as well. I think making a place real for the reader is the most important thing. If it’s vivid, if it feels real, if it works in the story, I don’t think it matters where you set it.
And Brisbane’s a great city, who wouldn’t want to read a story set here?
Scott: How many books do you plan on writing in the Death Works series? I see on your web page (http://www.trentjamieson.com/) you’re already working on book three.
Trent: I suppose it depends on how well these books work. I’m actually finishing up the first draft of book three today, and I think there’s plenty of room for the characters to move, and I have at least a couple more story arcs in mind. But book three resolves pretty much everything I set up in the first book – well, I think it does, I’ll find out when I get my edits back!
Scott: How much time would you spend writing on a typical day, (if a typical day exists for a writer that is)?
Trent: I tend to write in the mornings, about four hours then do other stuff in the afternoon. But it’s dependent on where I am in a story.Near the end of a draft, I can work up until the early hours of the morning. And there have been days when I’ve walked away from the keyboard in disgust after an hour – even in the face of deadlines.
Scott: What made you interested in writing and what was the first short story you had published?
Trent: I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing, not that I was a particularly precocious kid, I just wanted to write. I’ve loved speculative fiction since I was a child and the idea of writing my own stories has been endlessly appealing. It suits me, and I’ve been lucky that I’ve got a bit of talent – and a very supportive wife.
My first published story was called Threnody,it appeared in a wonderful magazine edited by Jeremy Byrne and Jonathan Strahan called Eidolon way back in 1994. I was 21, and (I love telling people this, makes me sound far better than I am) it was illustrated by Shaun Tan – how cool is that!
Scott: What are you reading at the moment?
Trent: Honestly, I’m reading Book Three trying to gauge whether or not it’s flowing as well as I’d like, and fixing up clunky sentences (far too many of those).
But, when I’m done I’m going to reward myself with some Kate Griffin, and Jeff Vandermeer (he’s got a new collection coming out called the Third Bear). I work at Avid Reader bookstore so there’s always plenty of stuff for me to read. I did just finish Justin Cronin’s The Passage, and really loved it. Nice to see so nasty vampires again.
Scott: I hear you like “gloomy music”. Who are some of your favourite groups and what do you usually listen to when writing?
Trent: Oh, where do I start!
I love Okkervil River they’re an amazing band, and great live. Tom Waits and Radiohead always cheer me up. I’ve been listening to Florence and the Machine lately. And the Clash, Tom Waits, and the Smiths are always dear to my heart. And I love me some Emo when I’m in the mood. Thanks to Kate Eltham, I went through a bit of a My Chemical Romance stage for a while.
As to the music I listen to when I’m writing, it varies, for Death Most Definite it was Okkervil River, Gotye and Spoon. For Managing Death it was Kill Switch Engage, The Afghan Whigs and Amanda Palmer. This last book has been a mix of everything – not all of it gloomy.
Scott: What advice would you offer to unpublished writers in approaching publishers for the first time?
Trent: Read a publisher’s guidelines, and then read them again.
Make sure your manuscript is as good as it can be. Be polite, and be patient. It’s a long journey from submission to publication: I approached Orbit with Death Most over two years ago.
Oh, and be brave. You can’t sell a novel if you don’t submit it. The worst that can happen is a publisher will say no.
Scott: How excited are you about the book launch? Quite an honor having legendary Aussie author Marianne de Pierres launching your first novel. Where and when is this launch?
Trent: I’m very excited. And not just because it’s my first novel, I can finally thank all those people who’ve helped me along the way. I love writing, and this is a dream come true, but it wouldn’t have happened without the support and encouragement of so many people. I’m nervous too, because so many of those people are going to be there.
I’m thrilled that Marianne agreed to launch the book. We’ve been great mates for over a decade, I love her writing and I admire her work ethos. And she had a hand in me finishing the first draft of the first book.
The launch is at Avid Reader on Friday the 13th of August from 6pm.
It should be a lot of fun, and the more the merrier.
Well, I better get back to finishing book three.