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pegamoose_g

20 Questions with Glenn H. Mitchell

Q1: What is your name?
Glenn H. Mitchell

Q2: When did you decide to be a writer?
I started writing at about age eight and decided to be a writer by the age of ten.

Q3: What did you most recently publish (title and genre)?
My debut novel titled 'Nowhere' is a work of speculative fiction.

Q4: What is your next project?
A supernatural/psychological thriller called 'Alice and Tony Forever'.

Q5: Which path(s) have you taken: traditional publishing, self-publishing, or both?
I did everything by the book (pardon the pun) for the first novel including assessment agencies and editing. The general consensus was that the book was good, but very dark and not clearly within a genre - two things that would make publishers nervous. So I recently went independent. I'm now writing full time so I thought the logical thing was to seek closure, release the book and get busy on the next few novels.

Q6: Why should people consider reading your work?
I'm a very self-conscious writer because I've been writing professionally for ten years. That's not some form of validation; it just means that I have a high QA level and can't abide shoddy writing. I think that means a pretty fluid book for readers, with good pace and structure. I know that I'm certainly a good dialogue writer and have a twisted imagination. Those two aspects are my strengths.

Q7: How do you describe your writing style?
Dark, noir, twisted and humorous. One thing you'll be guaranteed of is knowing that I'll never write for a market. I'm unapologetic about that. I know it will make my books difficult to categorise but I don't care. I write for myself first. Having said that, I naturally write quite approachable stories because that's what I like to read. I don't write for writers. I tell stories.

Q8: Where and when do you like to write?
I get up just before noon and do coffee and social media for a couple of hours before locking myself down to write at an old desk. By 1pm I like to have a very loud soundtrack blaring, a large strong and very high quality coffee within reach and minimum lighting. If I'm in form, I'll emerge from my imagination about six hours and 5,000 words later. Sometimes I can do 8,000 words but that's my PB. I then exercise, eat and start drinking which takes me to the evening shift when I mainly do editing or write short stories.

Q9: At what time, day or night, do you feel the most creative?
One o'clock in the morning is best but I've learnt to apply myself and do some good work during the day. I think all good writers eventually get more work-like. I used to think it would make me more boring but that isn't the case at all. If anything, persistent application has led to an ability to make the most of an increasing amount of hours every day. Ten years ago if you told me I'd write well for ten hours in a row I would have thought it impossible.

Q10: Which authors inspire you the most, and how?
Bukowski as the tragic figure, and also because he did a lot of living before becoming a success, which helped his writing but made him bitter as a person. His poetry is amazing if consumed in small nibbles. 'Ham On Rye' is a fantastic autobiographical work. He's so carefree but potent. That's a really weird combination. In the same way (the bold application of literary energy) Kathy Acker's work was like a punch in the face. She made me want to scream my words at people. Franz Kafka's dialogue is underrated. It blows my mind, but of course he's more recognised for his illustration of oppressive bureaucracy and the sinister workings of 'the state'. He's my favourite writer. Steinbeck is my safe writer. A lot of people are surprised when I mention him but I just think he's an amazing story-teller. Early Tim Winton novels make him my favourite Australian writer. Then you get to the weird fiction and I have a long list, but highlights are Lovecraft, Ballard, Chambers. Salinger is the best writer though. Not for Catcher, but for some of his shorts. 'Nine Stories' features two of the most amazing short stories I've ever read - right up there with Kafka's 'Metamorphosis'. Of course I've also gone through phases with Eco, Suskind, D M Thomas etc.

Q11: How do you overcome the writer’s demons: Procrastination and Self-Doubt?
They don't exist anymore. I can't remember how I shook them. I think I killed them with sheer volume. They were crushed under the weight of an increasing output. My theory is that you push on and stop getting finicky about the quality of the first draft. Your job is to tell the story. Just get it out of your head first. You'll generally find that the more you persist, the greater chance that you'll slip into the groove we all strive for. At the very worst, you'll improve it during the second draft which I think is the time for brilliant touch. When you're reading the first draft you'll be able to see when you were in form, and that teaches you more about yourself than stopping and agonising over the story. One important tip is to turn off all your spell check and grammar during the first draft. Try to get as close as possible to stream of consciousness. Never correct unless you think the mistake will be so severe that you won't be able to understand it during the second draft.

Q12: What aspect of your writing do you feel is strongest, and what needs the most improvement?
I received some very heavy criticism from the writer and professor, Nigel Krauth while I was a student. It still applies. He told me I was over-imaginative and had to tame my ideas. But he also said that I was an expert writer of dialogue. I was only 18 when he said that so I knew I had to start shaping stories around it. My first novel, Nowhere, is the result of that. There's a general sense of massive ideas that could be complex if they were explored, but they're tamed in preference of a more human story that is character-driven. I've continued to try to tame my ideas, but the second book is definitely a case of breaking a few chains and getting crazy.

Q13: What was the best part of the worst thing you’ve ever written?
When I received such a damning criticism from Krauth, I was gutted. He wrote on every available piece of blank paper on the back of all my printed pages. He wrote nearly as many words as the story! It didn't take long before I reassessed that story and thought it was total crap. It was awful, juvenile garbage. But I realised he was right about the dialogue. I think I'd always been acting out conversations in my head (yeah maybe in a deranged way) where I constructed fantasy scenarios where I got the girl, or I got the upper hand in a debate, or I provided the perfect punchline. That's what made me quick in conversations and a good writer of dialogue.

Q14: What advice do you have for others who want to be writers?
The difference between myself as a writer ten years ago and the current version of myself is approximately one million words. Like I said before, doubts and weaknesses have been crushed under the weight of my own output. You think of the advice you see (blogs, tweets, books, word of mouth etc) and how distracting that is. Now I'll tell you how many suggestions I benefited from: one. Yes just one, and I actually paid for it. It was the result of my first assessment of the novel. I'd created a character that was unlikeable so I rewrote the novel, and it improved as a result. So I'm saying, if you can't find the inspiration and discipline to write the volume required, nothing will help you. Writers write. It's that simple. We write, not because we have to (that's some bull that aspiring writers peddle to make you feel as though we're 'the chosen ones') but because we want to. We like writing. if you can't write for long enough to create stories, you can't like it much, can you? I know people that play musical instruments badly. They're crap at it, but they still do it. So if you need some magical formula just to sit down for three hours and type, maybe the issue isn't technical, maybe it's motivation. Maybe you should do something else. If on the other hand, you can sit down and apply yourself, sheer volume will make you a writer, as long as you've got the talent. I don't believe a course or a book will do it.

Q15: What form of marketing works best for promoting your work(s)?
I don't know the answer to that at the moment. My book became available about three hours ago. I'm learning as I go. Apparently I need to get very social (in an online sense). I started a Twitter account, joined groups on Goodreads, already built up a half-decent Facebook following, started a blog a month ago. I guess I'm pretty green when it comes to the marketing so I'll learn the hard way.

Q16: If life is a bowl of cherries, what does your life as a bowl of cherries look like?
For me, the cherries are only possible if I write fiction full time. That's what I'm doing. So life is pretty amazing right now for me. Abject failure as a full time writer is better for my constitution than success as anything else. Luckily I'm not a complete failure so I can survive. I get scriptwriting work as well so I can make ends meet until I have enough momentum.

Q17: Who is your rock, the one who encourages you the most to keep writing, and why?
I realised as I was writing the acknowledgements for my novel that my mother gave me a typewriter for my birthday when I was about thirteen. There was no fuss about it. She didn't say, 'I'm doing this so you can be a writer' but that was obviously the intent. When you think about it, that's a risk for a single mother of a thirteen year-old boy. What young lad is going to think that's a great present? But of course, I thought it was one of the best presents I'd ever received. In her subtle way, I feel as though she encouraged me very cleverly.

Q18: What do you do apart from writing?
I do Krav Maga, play a lot of music, draw and read. My love for AFL football (my team is Collingwood) verges on religious fervour. I love films and good TV series. It also looks as though I will be completely covered with tattoos eventually.

Q19: Where can people find more about you and your work(s)?
My Amazon author page:
http://www.amazon.com/Glenn-Mitchell/e/B00NN7FHTQ
And Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/glennhmitchell

Q20: What one question should this interviewer have asked, and how would you answer it?
Q: I'm interested in literature as art in a world of consumerism. How can you retain your integrity if you're told by agents and publishers to read books in genres and tailor your book to appeal to that audience?

A: You can't. You'll never write art. You may however be able to 'craft' an appealing book. Perhaps that's good enough for some people. I'm not one of them. I won't be satisfied until I write something that can be considered great. If that makes me poor, I'll be poor. If it makes me a snob, I'll handle the criticism. The people who craft two highly entertaining books a year, I'll applaud. I may even read them, the same way I watch Game Of Thrones. But I personally won't 'craft' books in a formulaic way. There won't be a template.

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If you are an author who would like to participate, you can find the questions here.
Tags: 20 questions, author interview, glenn mitchell
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