There is actually already a series of traditional author questions and answers posted on my pages at

In the interests of not repeating myself all over the web, I asked a friend to come up with an alternate set of questions for this site.  So here goes....

A Few Right Thinking Men

Who and what are real?

Eric Campbell, Francis DeGroot, Patrick Ryan, Jock and Harcourt Garden, Charles Hardy Jnr, Bill Mackay, Colin Delaney, Herbert Poynton, the New Guard, the Old Guard, the Riverina Movement, the Victorian Organisation,  the Australian Labour Army, Hinton, "Roger", Phil "The Jew" Jeffs, Snowy Billington, Reginald Stuart-Jones, the 50-50 Club and of course Jack Lang, all existed, and though their parts in this story are fictionalised, they are not inconsistent with what is recorded about them.  Entirely fictional are the Sinclairs, Clyde Watson Jones, Edna Higgins and Milton Isaacs.  Most of the major events are fact or based on fact, including the Bankstown Riot, the Bong Bong Picnic Races, the Berrima plot, the Belmore exercises, the town hall rally and the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.  Both the challenge and the joy of this novel was to weave the story of Rowland Sinclair into history.

Did you grow up in a family like the Sinclairs?

...sorry...just a minute...can't breathe...laughing too hard...short answer : No.  I grew up in a very ordinary family in the suburbs of Brisbane.  I have known families like the Sinclairs however and they've always intrigued me...perhaps because their lives are so different to my own experience. I am one of three siblings (the middle child actually) but we are nothing like the Sinclair brothers.  No one in my family has plotted revolution in years.

Are you an artist like Rowland?  Do you hate landscapes?

I wouldn't call myself an artist...I paint on and off, but not nearly as well as Rowland Sinclair.  He paints like I wish I was able to.  I am as messy he is...I've often turned up at board meetings with paint in my hair, and both the furniture and carpet at my house bear scars from my bouts of artistic inspiration.  Whilst "hate" is a strong word, I must admit to being unmoved by landscapes.  I prefer to paint people...portraits mostly.  I suppose my writing is similar in a way - my focus is on characters.

Do you base your fictional characters on real people?

Sort characters tend to be composites of traits or idiosyncracies that I've noticed in people.  After a while the characters take on a life of their own regardless of their origin.  Rowland, for example, is now simply Rowland Sinclair. He seems to have a will of his own and an existence  almost independent of me.  It's not so much what I want Rowland to do and say, but what Rowland would do and say in the circumstances that I have written.  Most of the time I feel like I'm following him around recording, whilst he just does what he does.

I have used the names of real people occassionally - friends generally.  I usually cast them in a character that's entirely incongruous with their real selves just to amuse myself.

Who's your favourite character?

That's an impossible choice.  I am ridiculously attached to each of them for different reasons...some of the reasons being about what makes them interesting to write rather than nice people.  It's also complicated by the fact that I have an idea of how each of these characters will develop over the series...what they'll face, where they'll fail, how they'll change and what they'll overcome...or not.

Do you have soft spot for anyone?

For them all really.  I admire Edna's independence and her natural confidence.  Adore Milton's wit, his sense of style and theatre.  Love Clyde for his decency and loyalty.  I'm besotted by Rowland for all manner of reasons.  I'm smitten by Wilfred's quiet power and his sense family.  Ernest makes me smile every time I write him and I even love Lucy Bennett because she makes me giggle as much as she makes me cringe.

Are there any characters you don't like?  Do you want to kill them off?

Not as such.  There are characters whom I would dislike as people but as characters they're fun to write and they serve a purpose in the story.  As for killing people off...I write crime fiction...there's usually a dead body around somewhere.

Will Rowland and Edna ever get together?

At least once.  You'll have to keep reading the books to find out when, where, how, whether it works out and if Rowland takes off his tie. To tell you the truth I haven't decided those details yet.

Where and when will the Rowland Sinclair series end.

I have plans to follow Rowland and his cohorts into and through the Second World War.  Whether all those novels will be published will depend primarily on readers I guess.  I hope of course that Rowland will have a readership that will stay with him until the end.  I find it hard to imagine not writing the series to completion.  I know there'll come a time to write the last the moment the idea is too sad to think about.  Give me a few years...I'm sure I'll eventually learn to let go...


Chasing Odysseus

Chasing Odysseus is markedly different to A Few Right Thinking Men - what made you switch genres?

Actually I wrote Chasing Odysseus first.  I've always had a real passion for Greek mythology.  The Illiad and the Odyssey are at the foundations of Western literature and aside from that they're beautiful.  One of the things I most love about Greek mythology is that there are so many stories within stories.  What I set out to do with Chasing Odysseus was to write a story within the Odyssey. In some ways that is the common thread with all my writing...I write stories within stories or within history.  Just as A Few Right Thinking Men tells the fictional story of Rowland Sinclair within the actual events of the the 1930s, Chasing Odysseus tells the tale of the Herdsmen of Ida within the story of Odysseus' ill-fated journey home to Ithaca.  I have been accused of writing Homeric Fanfic.

Is it particualarly different writing for a Young Adult audience?

Not for me.  I don't really write with a particular audience in mind - I just write the stories as they appear to me.  Someone else decides if they are young adult, adult or whatever.  My writing style changes to suit the story but not really the readership.  Chasing Odysseus is for example written with a much more lyrical style than A Few Right Thinking Men, but then it is a work of mythic fiction and so the style suits. 



Do any aspects of your dark past as lawyer come through in your writing?

I write very quickly.  Lawyers, corporate lawyers in particular, are required to turn advice around as soon as possible.  Sometimes you have to provide an opinion on the spot.  I think that trained me to just write - to come to a decision and put down what was in my head without second-guessing myself too much.

Legal training also really brings home that there is always at least two sides to any tale.  A lot of my writing has involved looking at alternative interpretations and perspectives.

On the negative side, I have been known to lapse into overly formal expression.  Every now and then I regress into using "whereas" or "moreover"...which is where my editors come save me from myself.

Perhaps the biggest influence  of my dark past is that I want it to remain my I work obssessively at my writing in the hope that I won't have to go back to the law...because nobody wants that...

Is there any of you in any of your characters?

Not to any great extent, I think - it's very hard to judge yourself objectively.  There's an element of irreverance in most of my characters...that's probably me.  I have written one character who is earnest and devout...but she's also kind of crazy...

What do you most worry about with respect to publication?  How do you deal with it?

Honestly...I'm haunted by the old "What if nobody likes it?"  I think that goes with the territory...I don't know if that will ever go away.  I go through a similar thing every time I submit a new manuscript or when my manuscript goes to the become plagued with notions like..."What if I'm the only person that gets it?" etc  As I said, for me, it goes with the territory. 

I deal with it by's hard to get too obssessed with the paranoia about Book I when you're writing Book also means that I don't give the fears a chance to get paralysing or inhibiting.

What do you think is the most important skill for a writer?

The power to observe, I think.  When I was younger I was quite shy, even now I consciously fight feelings of awkwardness in social situtaions.  It meant that I would often observe people for a while before I worked up the courage to talk to them.  I'm not shy anymore, but those early habits have died hard and I still watch people.   I think it helps me draw characters when I write.

Where exactly do you write?

Anywhere, really.  I have an ability to phase out the world completely, so I'll write anywhere.  Just need the laptop and coffee.  I do prefer to write in my pyjamas...but to be honest I prefer to do most things in my pyjamas.