Last post, I interviewed Australian author James Roy about his Edsel Grizzler novels. James has written a whole bunch of other books and won a whole bunch of awards. Today, he returns to talk a little more about his writing…
Quite a few of your books have won or been shortlisted for various awards. Town, in particular, has done well, winning a NSW Premier’s award. Has becoming ‘an award-winning author’ put extra pressure on you, or is it something you don’t really think about?
Actually, being recognised in that way relieves pressure more than it builds it. It gives you confidence, and helps you recognise that maybe you are OK at this writing thing, rather than being the fraud that most writers’ internal monologue tells them they are. I suspect that a great many artists spend a lot of time worrying that they’re going to be caught out, and exposed as pretenders. Winning a big prize helps to quiet that annoying little voice of doubt, at least for a while.
The only real pressure I feel is that of a major deadline. As an example: the German edition of Town was recently shortlisted for the German Youth Literature Prize, which has already opened doors into the European international schools, as well as the international publishing market. This means that the follow-on from Town (another collection of short stories, called City) needs to be written, and soon.
And to answer the last part of your question, someone once said that while they know that money won’t make them happy, they’d still prefer to be rich and miserable than poor and miserable. Pressure or not, I’d much prefer to be able to put “award-winning author” after my name than not.
It was fun, and open-ended enough to allow me some real freedom. What was more difficult was working with the characters that had been created and handed on to me. I’m predominantly a character-driven writer, so using someone else’s cast was occasionally a little tricky, but it was an exercise which forced me into a more plot-driven approach.
You’ve written for young adults as well as kids. Do you approach the books in different ways?
Not really. I start with a character, chuck stuff at them until they react, and watch the carnage unfold. I know that that sounds fairly flippant, but at its core, it’s exactly what we do as writers. To some extent the age of the character, and the nature of the stuff I chuck at them, determines what audience the book is for. Obviously the language changes a little depending on who it’s for, but for the most part I just go with it rather than squeeze it into one shape or another.
What’s next for James Roy?
I have to finish City before I go to Frankfurt for the German Youth Literature Prize announcement. After that, I’ve got a book called Miss Understood for middle readers that is developing nicely, and a humourous book with Gus Gordon. I’m hoping to be doing some study next year, so whatever the work linked to the thesis turns out to be will be my next thing after that, I think. But who knows? The best part of doing this for a living is that it’s just one big adventure.
George’s bit at the end
A huge thank you to James for answering my questions. I’ve just finished reading Rescue Mission and I’m about to start the final Edsel Grizzler book. I’ll review the two of them together in a future post. In the meantime, check out James’s website for more info about him and his writing.
Catch ya later, George