Paul Collins is a multi-award-winning publisher and author, well-known for series’ like The Quentaris Chronicles and The Jelindl Chronicles. He is a black belt in taekwondo and jujitsu (so you better like his books) and, to my mind, bears more than a passing resemblance to Robert Redford. Here, Paul takes us behind-the-scenes on his writing process and into his creative space..
Where did you write your latest book? How important to you is the space in which you write?
Mole Hunt was written here at home in my studio. I know a lot of authors write notes for themselves wherever they are, and take their laptops interstate or to the local cafe, but I really do need to be here in the studio with all my familiar things around me. Like my kelpie, Jack, for example (pictured below). There are two trailers for Mole Hunt, one featuring Molly, the heeler, helping me promote the book: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4tTn_WXCiw and a more serious one at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3S-eKDYqpEs
Do you transform your space in any way for each book? Do you ‘get into character’ at all?
I try to, but each character is so different because I write across the board, from picture books such as The Glasshouse through to Mole Hunt. One is about a girl who lives in her own ivory tower thinking all is well with the world, totally oblivious to the plight of those around her, while the other is about a psychotic killer with ambitions of ruling the universe lol.
How has the place that you write evolved or changed since you first began writing novels?
I owned bookshops most of my life and would type my novels and short stories in the various shops. Needless to say my customers weren’t well looked after. But having said that, I’ve always believed that customers should be left to their own devices unless they actually want assistance. So yes, from public places to private places. I much prefer the latter. Until the Yarra Council poisoned my Peace rose when spraying “weeds”, I looked out at a beautiful towering rose — it was at least five metres tall and had beautiful roses when in bloom. I still look out the window, though.
Do you keep regular writing hours? If not, when do you write?
I pretty much write when I can these days. As the publisher at Ford Street Publishing, I publish about eight novels a year, so that keeps me busy. Running the speakers agency Creative Net also keeps me on my toes.
Do you have a morning ritual? Roald Dahl was said to sharpen pencils. What settles your mind for writing?
I guess I do have a ritual. I take Molly and Jack for a 40 minute run every morning. I feed them, the chooks, the cat, the fish, then read The Age newspaper. Four times a week I train in the gym and on the boxing bag the other three days. I have a shower, have breakfast, and then get behind the desk and in front of the computer around 10 am. Every day is different. If there’s nothing urgent to do, I might work on my own writing, or not. When you work from home, you never leave work. So although people might think I have it easy starting work at such a late hour, I actually do this seven days a week, and can be found at the computer after dinner till around 11 most nights. Luckily I enjoy doing what I do!
Thanks Paul. Check back next week for another children’s writer in The Writer’s Studio.