Today on Words Read & Written I’m interviewing Australian author, Joe Ducie, winner of the Guardian Young Writer’s Prize.
Author: Joe Ducie
Publisher: Five Mile Press
Blurb: (The Rig)
Fifteen-year-old Will Drake has made a career of breaking out from high-security prisons. His talents have landed him at The Rig, a specialist juvenile holding facility in the middle of the Arctic Ocean. No one can escape from The Rig. No one except for Drake…
After making some escape plans and meeting the first real friends of his life, Drake quickly realises that all is not as it seems on The Rig. The Warden is obsessed with the mysterious Crystal-X – a blue, glowing substance that appears to give superpowers to the teens exposed to it. Drake, Tristan and Irene are banking on a bid for freedom – but can they survive long enough to make it?
1. Where do your novel ideas come from?
Always an interesting question. Not one I’m sure there’s any particular answer that fits across the board! I read a lot, consume large amounts of media across all sorts of platforms (TV, movies). The idea for THE RIG, the first book in the Will Drake series, actually came from my work in the security/counterterrorism industry. I was inspecting some oil rigs and a thought occurred that, with no access off the platform, this place would make a fairly decent prison. Then I pictured it as a juvenile holding facility, and the rest snowballed from there.
2. Describe your writing process? Are you a planner or do you write by the seam of your pants?
Little of both, with a larger slice of the pie heading toward seam of my pants. I start with a rough idea, maybe just a scene (like a kid jumping off an oil rig), and from there I’ll build a story around that particular, usually rather cool and action-orientated, scene. I try to write one page at a time, in the sense that I don’t often jump ahead and write future chapters ahead of time. I jot notes for those chapters, which is something of a plan, but I often find the ending comes as I get about 60% of the way into a manuscript. That’s when it’s time to consider planning a bit more.
Often this way of doing business means I need to go back and alter/spruce beginning chapters to be more aligned with the end, but that’s the fun part after getting a 100k words of rough story onto the page.
3. What makes you happy?
Oh, wow. Surrounding myself with good people, quiet drinks in dimly lit bars, discovering new books. Finishing a book long since past deadline.
4. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Same old advice they’ve no doubt heard a dozen times before, but sit down and write! Read with a critical eye. The only real writing advice I’ve ever felt qualified to give has been to finish what you start. Even if you start to think the work is rubbish. Sit down and finish the story. The pages may go straight to the bin, but it is vastly important to get over the hurdle and finish something.
5. What are your writing goals?
Technical goals: 2000 words a day. I hit this goal on average.
Overall goals: Write until they tell me to stop, then keep writing. I’d love to hit bestseller lists and all that jazz, of course, but I’m more in it for the story. I want to write cool stories. Going to try my hand at adult thrillers soon.
6. When are aren’t writing, what do you get up to?
I’m employed in the counterterrorism and intelligence industry. That’s another bit of writing advice I’d give – don’t quit your day job. Heh.
7. What are your favourite books?
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
The Dark Tower series by Stephen King
Stolen by Lucy Christopher (very good book)
Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
A small selection.
8. What is the most important this you’ve learnt in your writing journey?
Don’t forget to write! It’s becoming increasingly easier for me to get caught up in things related to writing, that isn’t actually writing. Need to ensure you have a daily word goal and work towards it! The rest of the stuff can and should wait until after those words are on the page.