23 October 2013

Five Questions for Paul Collins

Paul Collins’s books for young people include Trust Me Too, and series such as The Jelindel Chronicles, The Earthborn Wars, The Quentaris Chronicles and The World of Grrym in collaboration with Danny Willis. His latest is The Maximus Black Files (Mole Hunt, Dyson’s Drop and The Only Game in the Galaxy). He is also the author of 150+ short stories. His adult horror book, The Beckoning, was just published by Damnation Books. Paul has been the recipient of the A Bertram Chandler, Aurealis, William Atheling and Peter McNamara awards, and has been shortlisted for many others including the Speech Pathology, Mary Grant Bruce, Ditmar and Chronos awards. He is currently the publisher at Ford Street Publishing and runs the speakers agency Creative Net. Visit him at www.paulcollins.com.au.

Can you tell us a little about your new books?

The Beckoning starts with Matt Brannigan, his wife Helen and daughter Briony moving to Warrnambool. Trouble isn’t far behind. Unbeknown to the family, a religious guru by the name of Brother Desmond has lured them to Warrnambool where he has set up headquarters. Brother Desmond knows that the power within Briony is the remaining key he needs to enter the next dimension. With her power in his control, he will have access to all that is presently denied him.

The Only Game in the Galaxy is the third book in The Maximus Black Files trilogy. Special Agent Maximus Black excels at everything he attempts. The problem is, most of what he attempts is highly illegal. Recruited by the Regis Imperium Mentatis when he was just fifteen, he is the youngest cadet ever to become a RIM agent. Of course, being a certified sociopath helps. Right now, Black has a new problem; one that will challenge him to the max. Maximus needs to find three sets of lost coordinates to rediscover the power of the dreadnoughts – an armada of unbeatable power, long since put into mothballs by the sentinels whose job it is to keep peace and harmony in the ever expanding universe.

How is it different writing for adults and for children?

I can quite easily switch from one to the other, although must admit I wrote The Beckoning over 30 years ago and have been writing for younger readers ever since. Oddly enough, another book for adults that I collaborated on back in the 80s has also just sold. Just as well I haven’t been relying on sales all these years. The main difference between the adult and children’s market is that there are fewer restrictions when writing for adults. 

What do you like most about writing (for each audience)?

There’s a slight snobbishness writing for adults as compared to writing for younger readers. The supposed descending tiers are writers of adult books, YA books, children’s books, non-fiction books and writers of educational books. Luckily for me my writing transcends all of these audiences. Writing for younger readers is more fulfilling for me because you get to regularly meet your audience when visiting schools/libraries to give talks. Writers of adult fiction basically live in a vacuum. Yes, they do signings, appear at festivals, etc, but these are few and far between for most writers. Writers of children’s literature get invited to schools, libraries, festivals, signings fairly regularly. A writer of books for adults only has one market for their writing, and that’s the trade. Writers of children’s books have trade and education (a bigger market than trade).

Do you have a preference for either print books or ebooks?

Definitely print books. They’re much easier to promote. I’ve not seen an ebook launch, for example, unless on the Internet. Too, I imagine it’s quite hard to sign an ebook! I also think that anyone can produce an ebook these days. When you see a print book, you know that a publisher has invested a fair bit of money into producing that book. And no publisher would do that unless they think they’re recoup their outlay. Ebooks cost very little to produce – so strictly on a quality basis I’m a bit dubious when I see a book has been produced simply as an ebook or POD.

Where to now for Paul Collins?

I have a fantasy novel called Broken Magic, which can either be published as a novel or in six chapters across six months. I have it out with a publisher now. I’m also working on six chapter books for a Macmillan series called Legends in their Own Lunchbox. My books are about Lucy Lee, a martial artist who thinks she’s the best. I also have a Jelindel novella in first draft. I could release it as a sampler to promote The Jelindel Chronicles. I’m not quite sure what to do with it right now. I was thinking of a Jelindel collection, but the way things are with Ford Street and Creative Net, I don’t see myself getting the time to write enough stories to fill it. Last but not least, about the time I wrote The Beckoning, I also collaborated with a handful of Australia’s leading SF writers on a novel called The Morgan Template. Satalyte Publishing has just offered a contract for it. So at this moment I’m contacting all the authors involved to see if they’re all happy with going ahead – finally! – with publication :)