Monthly Archives: October 2012

I Wanna Be Your Dog (Apologies to Iggy Pop)

Last week, I posted about the fact that I would possibly be guest blogging on another website. Well, that possibility has become a reality. For the month of November, I’m going to be Inside a Dog‘s resident author, blogging three times a week. Needles to say, I’m very excited about the opportunity. And if you’ve come here after reading one of my Inside a Dog blog posts, let me take this chance to say ‘Welcome!’


I’m going to be blogging a lot about the craft of writing, as well as offering some insights into the publishing industry. You’ll be able to follow all my posts on the Residence page, the first of which is entitled ‘The Opposite of No’. I nearly called it ‘The Power of Yes’, or some variation thereof, but decided that that made me sound like, well…a bit of an idiot.


Now, this may mean that my blogging here slacks off, but my aim will be to keep to my weekly(ish) schedule. Of course, this’ll be especially challenging because I just received the edited manuscript for Vanguard Prime: Wild Card, with two weeks to complete my rewrites and get it back to the editor. Not that I’m complaining, mind you! I’ll be reserving the complaints for a later blog post, when I’ve completely run out of constructive things to write about and just want to vent some steam.


There may be gifs involved.

Of School Visits, Interviews, and Songbirds…

As I mentioned in my last post, I was invited to speak to a group of Year 5 & 6 students at Brunswick North Primary last week. I knew I was in good company when it turned out the kids were already well-versed in comic books. Not only did the name tags on their desks feature each student’s favourite comic book character, there was also a lending library of old comics available to the class (as donated by their teacher Travis). One girl blindsided me with how awesome she was when she told me her favourite superhero was Songbird.

There’s not many kids who know who Songbird is.

All the kids expressed a lot of enthusiasm for reading and writing, and provided me with a lot of insightful questions to answer. The artists in the class were interested to hear about the process behind designing a book cover, as related by a guy who’s only passingly familiar with the details of that himself (though I think I bluffed my way through pretty well). Unfortunately, the time passed far more quickly than I’d have liked, and after signing a few books and posters I was waving goodbye.


I’ll be bundling together a collection of comics to donate to the class’s library to say thanks to Travis and all the kids for their hospitality and the opportunity to speak to them. And thanks also have to go to Natasha at Book Bonding in Niddrie for arranging everything! If you get the chance, you should definitely drop in and see the shop. Natasha’s great and really knows her stuff…though I’d be surprised if she also knew who Songbird was.


In addition to fielding questions in a classroom, I also spent some time last week being interviewed by Stephanie Campisi for her blog Read in a Single Sitting. We covered a lot of ground in the interview, ranging from what makes a strong female character to the appeal of action books for young readers. If you’re interested, you can read the interview here, and when you’re done with me waxing lyrical I heartily recommend checking out the rest of the site. You’ll find that Stephanie is a far more interesting and productive blogger than I could ever hope to be.


…speaking of which! I don’t know how much I can say at this stage, but it looks like I’ll be writing a series of guest posts over on another prominent blog in the very near future. More details will follow when final confirmation comes through, but I’m hoping to blog about all the aspects of writing that I mean to cover here and never quite get around to.


Too busy making multiple references to Songbird, I guess.

Armageddon Out of Here

This week I’ll be giving a talk at a primary school in Melbourne, where I’ll be discussing the path that brought me to publication, as well as hopefully fielding some questions from the students. I’ve given other talks to support the release of Vanguard Prime: Goldrush, but this’ll be my first school visit. I’m only slightly nervous.


Something else I did this week was go to the Armageddon pop culture convention that took place over the weekend. Though I didn’t attend as an author, I was there in a vaguely official capacity as I’d volunteered to help out on a stand that my fiancé was working at. I’ve wanted to go to a comic convention ever since I was a kid but never had…until now.


I have to admit, the experience was a little overwhelming. There was so much to see that I didn’t really know what direction to go in, and though I intended to get photos of all the awesome cosplayers I found myself a little…well, shy…at the prospect of asking. So instead of asking, I took the socially awkward route of simply taking photos of inanimate objects that couldn’t object. Those objects included…


The DeLorean from Back to the Future Part III…


…A TARDIS (with some random dude standing in front of it)…



…and Shadow the Hedgehog hanging out with Chewbacca, as observed from a distance.

That last one might not have been inanimate, but I doubt either of them will object (side note: “Chewbacca” isn’t included in WordPress’s spellchecker. That just seems wrong. Isn’t the Internet built on blogging about Star Wars?).


I have to admit, the thought occurred to me that it would be cool to see a Vanguard Prime cosplayer or two. And if/when that happens, you better believe I’ll get some proper photos taken. The people in them may even know I’m taking them and everything!




Kick Out The (Vanguard Prime) Jams

After yesterday’s post on the music that inspired Vanguard Prime: Goldrush, it occurred to me that there was not one but two songs that I should have mentioned in my list. Instead of having contributed to the creation of VP, however, they were instead inspired by the book.

You see, before Goldrush was published I had some early conversations with Penguin’s marketing department about the potential of putting together a book trailer. While that didn’t eventuate (at least not for the first book), the discussion about it was enough to get my creative juices flowing and I sat down with some mixing software to produce a piece of music that would serve as the Vanguard Prime theme song.

Be nothing short of an obsessive geek, I ended up putting together two songs. Now, I’m by no means a musician, so I’ll happily admit that both these tracks are pretty rough around the edges. That said, I’m still fond of them. In fact, my favourite of the two would have to be the track I called ‘Power Up!’


Of course, that’s not to discount the first song I put together when trying to come up with a Vanguard Prime theme, which I called ‘Gods & Overmen’ (incidentally, that was one of my original suggestions for the title of Goldrush).


You may agree that it lacks the energy of the first song, but I like to think it has a certain grandeur to it. Of course, that may just be how it sounds to me. Perhaps time and perspective will convince me how misguided I was in not only producing these two songs, but also in uploading them to the internet. 

That said, I have to admit that the teenager-who-wanted-to-be-a-rockstar inside of me is pleased to have had the chance to finally make a little music. Of course, if I end up quitting writing to pursue a self-produced hip hop career…

…even if it’s for a mockumentary…

…you have my permission to quietly take me aside and advise me against it. I might not want to hear it but I’ll thank you in the long run.

‘Til next time.

The Ideas Shoppe: In The Groove

One of my biggest sources of inspiration is music; so much so that I gave a presentation at uni on songs that had inspired my writing. It…did not go well. I’d hoped to stimulate conversation amongst my fellow students about what music sparked their imaginations. What I got instead was muted befuddlement. I was eventually told by someone who’d been in the class that the excerpts I played dragged on too long to maintain everyone’s interest, which is something I should have probably realised on my own.

At the risk of having history repeat itself, I thought I’d write about a few of the songs that inspired Vanguard Prime: Goldrush. I’ll try to keep things as spoiler-free…and succinct…as possible!


National Anthem – Radiohead 

This was not a song that had to grow on me. I loved it from the very first moment I heard it. It’s dark and hypnotic and brimming with a hard-driving energy, and it’s the song I imagine playing in Machina’s room when sirens start going off to tell her and Sam that something on the Round Table has gone terribly wrong.


Take a Bow – Muse

Not a devastatingly original choice, given its use in one of the trailers for Watchmen, but it’s the song that changed my mind about Muse (well, this and Feeling Good) and its slow-building grandeur is endlessly compelling. It’s the song I played over and over again when first envisioning and then writing the passage where the Overman stuns the Round Table’s crew by demonstrating just how powerful his telekinesis has become. 


Runaway – Yeah Yeah Yeahs

I don’t know if you could find a more appropriate song  for Sam than this one, which I always felt would work perfectly in the moment where he turns and runs from the Overman, but that would also fit quite comfortably into the passage where he’s describing to Machina what happened to him the day his powers first manifested.


Army of Me – Bjork

Goldrush isn’t the only one piece of writing I’ve had inspired by this track, which remains as energising and…well, cool…as it was when it was first released. It’s a very cinematic piece of music, immediately bringing to mind scenes of action and stalwart determination. You may even notice that I named a chapter after it, which would be the exact same chapter where I imagine it playing.


Heroes – David Bowie

My original vision for the book’s ending involved the members of Vanguard Prime standing on a beach watching the sun go down. It was an image that came to me when listening to this song…which, I’ll admit, is a fairly on-the-nose choice. The book’s ending may have changed somewhat, but the imagery still occurs to me whenever this song plays on my car’s stereo. Side note: David Bowie’s eyes inspired the Knight of Wands’ appearance when his mask is removed, which you’ll learn more about in March when Book 2 is released.


Hero – Childish Gambino

Sticking with the ‘hero’ motif, this song didn’t play a part in inspiring the writing of Goldrush, but it’s one that I can easily imagine Sam loading onto his gauntlet’s MP3 player. Note for younger readers and their parents; track contains explicit lyrics.

Now, I could keep going as I’ve just barely scratched the surface of the music that inspires me – I haven’t even touched on the cinematic scores of Murray Gold, Two Steps From Hell and Daft Punk – but this seems like a pretty good place to wrap up, lest I end up confounding my audience with my self-indulgence all over again. And given how many more books I have to write and how many more songs I have to talk about, I don’t want to burn you all out too quickly!

In the meantime, drop me a line and let me know what songs inspire you when writing. I’m always on the lookout for new music to listen to!

‘Til next time.