20 June 2011

Q&A with Michael Gerard Bauer

With the re-release of the first two books in Michael Gerard Bauer's wonderful trilogy due out this month and the final book out in July, we're very excited to hear from this award-winning author about the process of writing not one, but three awesome Australian novels.

How long did it take you to write the Ishmael series? 
I didn’t actually realise it was going to be a series when I started writing Don’t Call Me Ishmael! in 2004 but I liked the characters too much to stop writing and I wanted to find out what would happen to them. The third and final book Ishmael and the Hoops of Steel comes out very soon so it has taken a while to complete the trilogy but I’ve also written Dinosaur Knights and Just a Dog in the meantime.

Do you procrastinate? Are you an early-morning or late-at-night writer? 
Me procrastinate? I’m not sure, although two weeks has passed since I wrote the answer to Question 1. Definitely an early morning writer though. I like to go for a walk first because it helps me get my thoughts in order and to come up with new ideas. I write throughout the day but I rarely do much writing at night. I’m probably on Facebook or watching some embarrassing reality TV program.

Where do you get your inspiration for your books? 
I found that inspiration can come from anywhere. Stories seem to find me rather than me going out looking for them. The Running Man started with childhood memories of looking for silkworms; the Ishmael stories all grew from the first line of the novel Moby Dick which is ‘Call me Ishmael ...’; Dinosaur Knights started when I was watching an old movie about knights and dragons and I had the thought that the dragons looked like dinosaurs; and Just a Dog started one day when I was walking (told you I got ideas doing that!) and the name Mister Mosely for a dog came into my head. I still have no idea where that name came from.

When did you write your first book and how old were you? 
A while back and too old! Or more accurately, I started writing it in 2000 and I was 45.

What does your family think of your writing?
Either they like it or they’re too polite to tell me the truth. My wife is always the first person to read my stories. My son Joe particularly likes the Ishmael series. He always reads the manuscripts and gives me lots of helpful suggestions as well as correcting my mistakes. Joes also created the original covers for the first two Ishmael books.

What are you reading at the moment?
That last question. Oh, I see what you mean. Books, right? Well, I’ve just been at the Voices on the Coast writers’ festival so I bought a few books by the authors who were there with me. At the moment I’m reading A Pocket Full of Eyes by Lili Wilkinson. The last book I read was The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins which I loved.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I hear from readers a bit more now that I have a Facebook page and a blog. Thankfully they mostly say very nice things about my books or ask questions about the stories or about being a writer. Sometimes I get emails and letters from classes who have read one of my novels. Occasionally they ask me if I’ll do their homework for them. (Just in case you’re wondering –- the answer’s no!)

As a child what did you want to be when you grew up?
Taller mainly. But apart from that when I was in primary school I wanted to be either a Samurai warrior or a Ninja because back then there was a really popular TV show on called The Samurai and the main character Shintaro was my hero. He still is. Later on I wanted to be a singer-songwriter or part of a rock band. I eventually became a teacher which was pretty close.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Annoy other people who are writing. Read. Listen to music. Play the guitar and try to sing and write songs. Go for walks. Watch TV. Go to the movies. Play tennis. Meet with my secret Ninja group. No wait, I’m not supposed to mention that … um, what I meant to say was – sleep.

When was the last time you were on a bus?
A hardly ever catch buses when I’m at home in Brisbane – they’re just too fast for me. But when I’m away doing school visits I often get around by train or taxi or bus. So the last time I bus-ed it probably would have been last year in Melbourne.


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