Here in Perth, I run a monthly teen book club for the Centre for Stories. Recently, we read Gap Year In Ghost Town by the prolific Australian author, Michael Pryor and because we had some burning questions, we thought we’d ask Michael for answers…
NLK: Have you ever seen a ghost?
MP: No (NLK: We have to admit to being so disappointed by this answer 😉.
NLK: Are you secretly a ghost hunter?
MP: No, but I do hunt for spooky, atmospheric locations because they’re great writer inspirations.
NLK: What inspired you to write Gap Year In Ghost Town? Was there a particular incident that set you off on the story?
MP: After having written so many books set in the past, or in far off, imaginary locations, I wanted to challenge myself to write a contemporary, modern-day story set in a real-life location. In this case, my home city of Melbourne!
No particular incident set me off unless it was walking through some of the evocative locations that ended up in the story. In particular, the wonderful old conservatory in the Fitzroy Gardens is always somewhere I’ve loved, and I liked the idea of sneaking it into a story. Lots of pix here.
NLK: What was the biggest challenge to writing Gap Year In Ghost Town?
MP: The biggest challenge was getting Anton’s voice right. Gap Year In Ghost Town is very much what I call a voice novel, where the main character stands in front of the reader and speaks to them, so the voice has to sound authentic and capture his/her character. In this case, the book had to sound like Anton, an eighteen-year-old smart alec who is a good guy, when all’s said and done. I worked hard on the rhythm of his speech, the way he’d tail off sentences, or add little qualifiers. His vocabulary had to be right, too. He’s not dumb, and he actually has a way with words, but he also slips in real vernacular. Read the first couple of paragraphs of Chapter Two and you’ll see what I mean, especially when he says ‘Yeah, nah’. As soon as that hit the screen, I was confident that I’d nailed him.
NLK: We can’t believe you’ve written 38 books, what’s your secret (asking for a friend 😉 )?
MP: No real secret – just work steadily and take it seriously. It’s amazing what you can get done if you dedicate yourself to it, set quotas and targets, and push yourself to do your very best at all times. It helps if you love what you’re doing, too. 😊
NLK: What’s your biggest piece of advice for today’s teens?
MP: Enjoy yourself. Life is great and has so many profound, hilarious, moving and astonishing things in it. Make the most of them and don’t be afraid to be enthusiastic about what you love. Enthusiasm is so much better than apathy.
Even as a young kid, I thought being a writer would be a fun thing – but I didn’t really know how to go about it, so I didn’t do anything serious about it for ages. One day, though, I thought I’d better have a real go at writing otherwise I’d never find out if I could do it or not, so I simply sat down and started. After lots of fumbling around and lots of false starts, I wrote some short stories that were published, so I wrote some more. After having about a dozen stories appear in magazines, I thought I’d try writing a novel, because a novel is just a long short story, right? Wrong. It’s different, very different. Some things are the same, but it was back to the drawing board. A couple of years later, I finished and sent it to a publisher. They asked for a major rewrite, but in the end, they published it. That year, the publisher had a couple of thousand submissions and they only published a dozen of them, including mine, phew!
NLK: Can you please set parts of Gap Year In Ghost Town 2 in Perth?
MP: Ooh, you’ll have to wait and see! BTW, I’m coming over to WA in October, appearing at the Literature Centre in Fremantle!
About Michael Pryor
Michael Pryor is one of Australia’s premier Science Fiction and Fantasy authors. He has more than a million words in print, publishing more than thirty-five books and over fifty short stories. Michael has been shortlisted seven times for the Aurealis Awards and seven of his books have been CBCA Notable Books. For more on Michael and his books, go to http://www.michaelpryor.com.au.
Connect with Michael
Find out more about Centre for Stories Teen Book Club here.