Welcome Geoff, would you like to tell us a little about your background?
I grew up in a working-class suburb west of Melbourne, Victoria. I’m an only child, and made some bad choices early on in life. I spent over twenty years as a drug user, and only just got clean in my late thirties. I’ve always read a lot, and written as well, although I didn’t take writing seriously until I’d cleaned up my act. I started networking online in the horror genre (a genre I’ve always loved), and quickly made a few friends among the horror community in the US.
I joined the Australian Horror Writers Association (AHWA) in 2009, as I wanted to network more in Australia and saw the group as a great opportunity. Social-media sites gave me the chance to interact with writers, editors and publishers all over, and I quickly made many friends in the writing industry. In 2010, I became the vice-president of the AHWA when the committee change-over occurred. This networking was instrumental in my rise as a writer. In late 2011, I was asked to take over as the president of the AHWA, and this has helped even more. I now deal with people in the major publishing houses around the world, as well as world-renowned writers.
How did Hammered come about.
Hammered: Memoir of an Addict is a telling of my history as a drug-user throughout the 80s, 90s and 2000s in Melbourne. It tells how I was first introduced to drugs in my mid-teens, the lifestyle I led while using and selling drugs—from marijuana through to speed and heroin—and how I finally gained the strength and conviction to get off drugs.
In Hammered, as it’s a memoir, the protagonist is myself and the antagonist is the addiction I fight to overcome. I always saw myself as weak, and the drugs too strong to ever kick, but maturity and life-experience—and finally a strong desire to change my life—gave me the strength to fight my way clear of the lifestyle I was in.
Inner-strength is a great thing for any protagonist to either have or find at some stage through the story. Character growth is vital for any longer work, and the better writers of short fiction can create character change in something that is only a few pages long. Any antagonist or protagonist that undergoes change and growth throughout a story is always interesting to read. Two-dimensional characters that go nowhere are boring.
How do you tie components like character and plot together into the final work?
Stories are most often either plot-driven or character-driven. Rarely are they both. Whichever one is dominant, the other still needs to be prominent enough to catch the reader and form some bond. There are parts to a story: archetypes and characters (as outlined in Christopher Vogler’s wonderful reference book The Writer’s Journey); plot (also covered in Vogler’s book); pacing, which works hand-in-hand with plot; and setting.
All of these come together, and work to a greater or lesser degree to carry the story along for the readers. Any one of these can be the strongest point, although setting usually takes second place to one of the other two. All need to work together, and all are integral to a great story. The characters can (and should) develop along with the plot, and to tie the two together, especially through symbols embedded in the story, is the sign of a good writer.
What is one thing that has helped you develop as a writer?
I think professional training in language and writing style is invaluable. I have had short stories published prior to studying Professional Writing and Editing, but my writing has improved immeasurably since I began the two-year diploma course.
What is the most successful thing you’ve done to market your book?
I used social media (Facebook and Twitter) to promote my book once it was accepted by the publisher. I built the vibe around it, releasing excerpts and teasers over a few months prior to publication. It’s best not to start too early, as any excitement you do manage can die down if people have to wait too long. I find that blogging on a regular basis, with free fiction and posts that are engaging, also attracts attention. Finally, I started a ‘Buy a signed copy of Hammered’ page on Facebook, and that resulted in over a hundred sales as soon as I got my copies from the publishers.
Thanks for the chance to appear on your site, Ian. It’s been a pleasure!
Hammered is available from Amazon as a Kindle book (http://www.amazon.com/Hammered-Memoir-Addict-ebook/dp/B007F2851W/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&m=A24IB90LPZJ0BS);
and on Smashwords in all electronic formats (http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/131127)