Don’t complain about J K Rowling. Follow her lead instead.

The other day a novelist complained that J K Rowling was making it harder for other authors, and why didn’t she just stop?

By her own admission, this critic had never read a word of ‘Harry Potter’.

To me it came across as a ‘she’s had her turn, now it’s mine’ kind of argument.

From http://public-domain.zorger.comIt’s common enough in writing. I had something similar happen many years ago when I was working as a professional historian in Hawke’s Bay. A local history enthusiast rang up the local newspaper editor and actually told him I’d had my turn. Then she proceeded to gather up her enthusiast friends and conduct a public crusade against everything I did.

Not the worst display of malice I’ve been subjected to as a result of writing history, but the attitude was clear – ‘You’ve got my slice of pie, and I’m going to destroy you.’

Never mind that the targeted author actually created the slice that the rival author covets.

This is where ‘academic jealousies’ come from too. Ultimately, such selfish ambition highlights the darker side of the human condition.

It’s also entirely wrong. You see, the writing pie grows with its authors. We all have something to contribute. And if someone does so – spectacularly – then that’s good for all. Rowling is a case in point. There are kids who discovered reading through Harry Potter. She opened up a new world for them – a world where other writers get to add their part.

The same’s true for Rowling’s adult books. The publicity around them raises the profile of all books for all authors. ‘Hey guys – writing’s out here!’

See what I mean about the pie growing? It’s all to do with attitude. The people who get angry and want to destroy the success of others are the losers – they don’t realise that success is made. It isn’t handed out. And it isn’t a limited resource that must be taken off whoever has it.

Of course, human nature being what it is, that’s all too often what seems to happen. I’ve used writing as an example here – but it’s generally true.

My take? Don’t complain about people who’ve created something – knuckle down, do the hard yards, and join the fun, making sure you put your own original thought into what you’re doing. There’s more for everybody. And everybody wins.

Get that? Everybody wins.

A proverbial good thing. Isn’t it? Certainly better than jealously smashing something in order to deny it to its creator.

What do you figure?

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2014
Coming up: More writing tips, thoughts, science geekery and more.

Creating your own literary ‘ear worm’ – like Tolkien and Rowling

Ever had a song stuck in your head – usually, the catchy riff or chorus the composer deliberately engineered for the purpose? They’re called ear-worms.

Weta's 10-metre high Gandalf above the Embassy theatre, Courtenay Place, Wellington.

Weta’s 10-metre high Gandalf above the Embassy theatre, Courtenay Place, Wellington, December 2012.

It’s apparently been discovered that the way to kill them – for a third of us anyway – is to listen to Thomas Arne’s eighteenth century ditty God Save The Queen.

Truth be told, I’m not sure that dislodging mental wheelspin with something horrible is a discovery. Back in the 1970s, for instance, Kiwi gentlemen knew that if they became transfixed by posters of the latest glamour pin-up de jour (Farrah Fawcett or, given that New Zealand was still 98.5% British back then, Caroline Munro), all they had to do for instant antidote was glance at a picture of our Prime Minister of the day, Robert Muldoon.

For writers the problem is the exact reverse. We have to figure out how to create a literary earworm – a concept or idea that keys so deeply into popular psyche that it sticks. I hesitate to call it a ‘book worm’. It’s one of the keys to sales.

To my mind the guy who did it – in spades – was J R R Tolkien. Not intentionally. What he was consciously doing with his Middle Earth mythos was creating a new mythology for Britain. And for a long time, nobody noticed – he couldn’t get the Silmarillion published, and Rayner Unwin was dubious about the viability of The Lord Of The Rings. A judgement borne out by dismal early sales figures.

But then something happened. In 1965 – after nearly a decade of bobbing along in mediocre-sales-land – it took off. The break-through came with a guerilla edition produced via copyright loopholes in the US. Tolkien hastened to get an authorised ‘second edition’ pushed into the market. That sold like hotcakes.

But even the pirate edition wouldn’t have taken off if it hadn’t keyed into what society wanted, just then.

Tolkien’s rusticated Hobbit society – and his faerie imagery with Tom Bombadil – harked to ‘Merrie England‘ and, to some extent, the arts-and-crafts movement of the nineteenth century. But by chance it also keyed directly into the values of 1960s counter-culture, which drew from similar inspiration. Mix that with epic-scale setting, the huge operatic scenario of good and evil – imagery that ran to the heart of western culture – and he had a winner.

The Lord of the Rings, in short, became a literary ‘ear-worm’. J K Rowling did much the same thing – using, in this case, classic ‘magic’, blended with much the same epic-scale themes – with Harry Potter.

So that’s how it’s done. The problem is that in both cases, luck played a role. But, as I’ve said before, that’s always part of the calculation.

Have you ever read something that stuck in your mind – that impressed you hugely? And have you ever read a book that’s left you stone cold – the ‘anti-earworm’ of literature?

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2014

Coming up: More writing and publishing tips, science, history and other stuff. Watch this space.

Guess which real-world place is most like Mordor…

Last week a British meteorologist at the University of Bristol published a weather analysis of Middle Earth. Tres cool.

Here’s a link to the paper: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/news/2013/10013-english.pdf

According to the report, the weather in The Shire was much the same as that of Lincolnshire – which is pretty much what Tolkien was envisaging. It’s also like Belarus, but that may be coincidence. The place in New Zealand where the weather is closest to The Shire is north of Dunedin. Curiously – though the report didn’t mention it – there’s an area there called Middlemarch, which sounds suitably Tolkienish.

Not really Mordor - this is a photo I took of the open cast coal mine on the Stockton Plateau, near Westport in the South Island of New Zealand.

Not really Gorgoroth – this is a photo I took of the open cast coal mine on the Stockton Plateau, near Westport in the South Island of New Zealand.

When it comes to Mordor, the real-world place I immediately think of is the open cast coal mine on the Stockton Plateau, which I visited earlier this year. Tolkien’s explicit imagery was First World War trenches and Birmingham factories. But that isn’t where the British meteorologist found Mordor weather. Oh no. turns out the places most like Mordor, weather-wise, are New South Wales, western Texas and Los Angeles. (That said, Tolkien also made clear that the gloom around Mordor was made by Sauron.)

It was spring when I took this picture of a railway station in Soest, Netherlands.

Ok, so it wasn’t raining when I took this picture in Soest, Netherlands…but it was overcast.

What struck me about the report was how close Tolkien got to what we’d expect from a scientific perspective, if his land was real. There is a reason for this – Tolkien was basing his world on Europe. The Shire was approximately where Britain lies; Gondor and Mordor in North Italy. The weather he described followed, especially the constant rain around Trollshaws in The Hobbit, a place geographically congruent to Soest, Netherlands.

All of which is pretty neat. And it goes to show that there is often a lot more in the creations of fantasy writers than they perhaps imagine when they come up with the concept.

What do you think of Middle Earth weather?

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2013

Coming up: More writing tips, more science, more humour and more Tolkien stuff. Not that I’m a fan. Well, I am really.

Return of Revenge of Sauron – nooooooo!

The other week George R. R. Martin was reported as saying he wouldn’t license Westeros.

He admired the Tolkien estate for not licensing derivative works of The Lord Of The Rings. And I’m inclined to agree.

sleeping-man-with-newspapers-mdEven if a top-notch author is hired for the purpose, they will – because they are top-notch – put their own stamp on the story. And it won’t be the same as the original author’s. By nature. That’s good in a way; it’s adding something to the genre. But in others it isn’t, because it inevitably differs from the original concept the author had.

Martin is reported as hoping that some publisher, awash with cash, isn’t ready to commission a Lord Of The Rings sequel or prequel as soon as the Tolkien Estate gives the nod (which, I am sure, it won’t be any time in the foreseeable future).

I hope so too.

What concerns me about this sort of derivative work is where it’s done solely for the money – where a third-rate author is commissioned to do it, and often credited in tiny letters underneath the headline name of the original (dead) author. The writing that follows is often third rate too.

Of course I can’t fault publishers for wanting to make money. They’re businesses. They have to survive, and that’s getting ever-harder these days. Risk is something to avoid; a sure-fire best seller keying off a well known name is the only way to go. Apparently.

But is deriving ‘new’ stories that don’t match the quality of the original the way to do it? I doubt it. Any book, no matter what its origin, must push for the highest quality – it should attempt to lead, not merely fill a gap. It is from this leading edge that new markets are created – new demand for new material.

Regurgitating old material may be a way to make sure money in the short term, but it’s not a long-term method. That needs new material – new ideas, new concepts.

And yes, publishers have to take risks along the way. I mean, back in the early 1950s, who’d have imagined that a 650,000 word novel about the epic struggle between good and evil, as filtered through a nostalgic sense of English village life, might re-define fantasy literature? Rayner Unwin took a gamble with Tolkien. Early sales figures were dismal – and yet, well, what can I say?

It seems to me that the way ahead is by innovating a new awesome. Not trying to re-live the old. The only problem is that these things always emerge at the intersection between imagination and mass culture, which can’t be engineered. Efforts to do so always look contrived.

Your thoughts? Let’s talk.

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2013

Coming up: More writing tips, more humour, commentaries and fun stuff. Watch this space.

Should authors license their imaginary worlds?

George R. R. Martin explained last week that he wasn’t going to license his fantasy world. Which to me raised an important question.

Hmmn

Hmmn

Should authors do that? Should authors allow their world to be used by other authors – to expand the genre, and keep readers enjoying the experience?

I’d agree with Martin. They shouldn’t. Because the experience won’t be the same. Not worse, but different.

It is over twenty years now since Isaac Asimov passed away – a great loss to the world of writing. He was more than just a sci-fi author; he was a great writer by any measure, influential and capable in many fields.

He left behind a hanging thread; his Foundation series, which by 1990 he had amalgamated with his Robot series. The last lines of the ultimate volume, Foundation and Earth, left hints at a tantalising future story – and Asimov indicated he had every intention of writing it.

Except he didn’t. Since then that universe has been licensed; there have been ‘gap filler’ books produced by some very capable and well known SF authors, all of them highly professional and solid in their own right.

But they weren’t Asimov. And to me, it shows. They put their own spin into the stories – their own stamp, as any good author should.

To me, that meant they weren’t the same. Not at all; and – to me at least – a good part of the magic of Asimov’s world wasn’t the setting he’d created, but the way he handled that setting. Other authors – quite rightly, I might add – didn’t do it the same way. And to me that lost something.

Others may disagree. Others might like the licensed books better than the originals, maybe. It’s all a matter of taste.

I think commercialism also plays a part – but more on that next time.

Meanwhile, what do you think of licensed worlds? Your cup of tea? Or not at all.

Cowpyright © Matthew Wright 2013

Next week – we’ll be discussing commercial motives to license. But before then, more writing tips, more humour, more – well, you’ll see. Watch this space.

George R. R. Martin won’t license his world. Quite right too.

George R. R. Martin reportedly said this week that he wouldn’t license his fantasy world.

He also apparently told fan fiction writers he’d prefer they didn’t borrow his world.

Both points are interesting, and I basically agree. I won’t get a chance to ask him about that in person – he’s in Wellington late next week, signing books, but I won’t be in town to queue up, alas.

1197094932257185876johnny_automatic_books_svg_medStill, it’s something to discuss. What do you think? To me, fan fiction is a product of the emotional response of a reader. They want to extend and explore that emotion by writing more of it themselves – the exercise is one of validation, of satisfaction, of happiness.

The problem is that much fan fiction is deeply personal and means little to anybody other than the author. At worst what emerges is the classic ‘Mary Sue’ story in which the author inserts an idealised version of themselves into the bridge of the Starship Enterprise, there to out-think Spock and win the heart of Kirk.

The other issue I have with fan fiction is that it’s not original. Even if copyright infringement issues are averted by altering names and settings, the work is still derived. The author hasn’t put in the hard yards (and they are hard) to make up their own setting.

I draw a distinction here between ‘fan fiction’ works triggered by a popular novel or movie, and novels extrapolated from old literature. There have been some interesting works written on the back of out-of-copyright concepts – Nicholas Meyer’s The Seven Percent Solution, Fred Saberhagen’s The Dracula Tapes, and George McDonald Fraser’s astounding Flashman series among them. However, in each case, the author has re-invented, re-cast and re-originated so much about their version of the story that they have made something new.

That to me is the secret to writing. It’s better to invent your own ideas – to think up a world of your own and devise your own characters.  To create an emotional response that is uniquely yours – and then share it with your readers.

Hey, maybe they’ll start writing fan fiction about your world.

What are your thoughts? I think it’s an important issue that runs to the heart of writing. And I’d love to hear from you about it.

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2013

Next week - why authors license their stuff (or not). But before then, more writing tips, more humour, more – well, you’ll see. Watch this space.

Congratulations to Man Booker prize winner Eleanor Catton

New Zealand is on top of the world this month. Auckland singer Ella Maria Lani Yelich-O’Connor, aged just 16 and better known as Lorde, knocked Miley Cyrus off the US charts and just went to No. 1 in the UK. And, more substantially for us writers, Eleanor Catton won the Man Booker Prize for her novel The Luminaries.

It’s the second time a Kiwi has won the coveted Booker. Catton’s win – coming after Lloyd Jones’ nomination and Keri Hulme’s similar win – also underscores just how much writing talent there is in New Zealand. I haven’t read Catton’s book yet, but I understand it flouts the usual structure – successfully – and that is SO hard to do well.

Board marking Catton's win in Unity Books, Wellington. Catton's book is in the window to the right (mine is in the window further along...heeey...)

Board marking Catton’s win in Unity Books, Wellington. Catton’s book is in the window to the right (my NZ history is in the window further along…. Click to enlarge.

It’s set in New Zealand’s colonial gold rush, which is also bold. Those stories are topic de jour in New Zealand at the moment. I discovered this a while back when I chatting about books I might write with a commissioning editor at Random House. I mentioned novels. ‘You could write one on the gold rush,’ she explained. ‘They sell well’. Alas, I was flat out of story ideas. I’d also written non-fiction about the period a couple of times and knew what I’d have to research for a novel, which demands a different style of data.

More to the point, as soon as a topic’s in vogue, it’s too late to leap on the band wagon. Especially in New Zealand, where just four percent of local books published are novels. (The book that actually emerged from that meeting was my non-fiction Big Ideas, which sat on the local best-seller lists for some months in 2009 and has only just gone out of print.)

So, to me, writing a novel – of epic length – on the goldfields, and catapulting it to the top of the literary world, is awesome.

All power to Catton’s writing arm – and I’m sure she has a great future ahead of her.

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2013

Coming up this week: More NaNo writing tips and ways to get those 50,000 words and ‘Write It Now’ – an ongoing exploration of all things writing.

Write it now, part 30: Middle Earth on a plate?

I’ve mentioned before that the art of writing focuses on what to avoid – not what to add.

Take food, for which we need go no further than J R R Tolkien. This week, the Roxy– a wonderful art deco cinema, literally just down the road from Peter Jackson’s studios in Miramar, Wellington – got into Hobbit mode for the annual ‘Wellington on a plate’ food festival.

The Roxy cinema, Miramar, Wellington - restored to fabulous 1930s art deco condition by Peter Jackson. A photo I took in 2011.

The Roxy cinema, Miramar, Wellington – restored to fabulous 1930s art deco condition by Peter Jackson. A photo I took in 2011.

The cinema’s restaurant, Coco at the Roxy, is providing Lord Of The Rings themed meals – which is pretty cool idea. Though I don’t think I’d be a fan of their genuine sixteenth century starters such as ‘faggots’,  a legitimate sixteenth century delicacy made of offal with a delicate covering of stomach fat. Mind you, how would a sixteenth century peasant view the fast foods we gorge on? I bet they’d find them too sweet (including the savouries) and way too salty.

The Roxy menu was a modern interpretation. Which is fair enough, because with a few exceptions, Tolkien was a bit vague about food. And that was a good thing. Let me explain.

Although Tolkien portrayed Middle Earth tech as High Medieval (creating the default fantasy tech for the genre), Hobbit society was a deliberate take on 1890s Midlands village life. He did this consciously, one of the many elaborate jokes he wove into his mythos. Their food reflected it; in The Hobbit, Bilbo’s cuisine is specifically English middle class, including the afternoon tea cake selection.

Tolkien went wider with the other peoples – but not much. Dwarves ate Cram on the road. Apart from lembas, Elvish food was conceptually ‘higher taste’ and largely nonspecific. He described various meals, but roast meats, vegetables, mead, breads and other pre-industrial fare was implicit rather than explicit, most of the time.

All was duly lampooned by Messrs Beard and Kenney in Bored Of The Rings, whose Boggies were uncontrollable gluttons who ate anything they would wrist-wrestle down their well-muscled  throats (anything, that is that they weren’t stashing in their coin purses ‘for later’). When the Boggies got going on the road, eventually, their menus were laugh-out-loud funny.

As always, Tolkien got it right; he did not have to describe all the food in every detail – it was more powerful to omit descriptions. Instead, and with the elves particularly, he usually gave us the idea of the food – what it meant to those experiencing it.  By painting other aspects of the elves in full detail, he was able to provoke our imaginations into filling the food gap via skilful use of image and concept – not literal description.

A brilliant technique; but, of course, that’s Tolkien for you.

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2013

Coming up: more writing tips, publishing news, general geekery and more. Watch this space.

A glimpse of The Hobbit on its last day

I flew out of Wellington late last week and – as the aircraft climbed into a flawless sky – caught a glimpse of Peter Jackson’s studios, with outdoor green screen, then of The Hobbit set perched atop Mount Crawford.

Yes, like a geeky Tolkien fan I had to pose in the entrance, such as it was - you could circle it, just like the door Aslan made to get rid of the Telmarines in .Prince Caspian'.

I just HAD to do the fanboy thing in the entrance to 2012′s Hobbit Artisan Market, central Wellington.’.

Shooting was wrapping up that day on the last pick-ups for the third movie. Ending, for Jackson, a fourteen year odyssey into J. R. R. Tolkien’s fantastic world that began in October 1999 with the first shooting day on The Lord Of The Rings.

In the process he planted Wellington, New Zealand, firmly on the movie-making map. Today we’ve got major Hollywood blockbusters under way in the capital – and top directors like James Cameron in residence.

It got me thinking. I was introduced to The Hobbit aged 8. It’s a timeless story. I re-read it recently, before I saw the movie – and it’s still got it. My nephew, now aged 8, is a fan and just loves watching the movies. It’s a story for all ages.

A story that, truth be told, Tolkien wrote not for the world, but for his own kids. And in creating something personal, something immediate for those he knew, he created something profoundly iconic – something that speaks to people of all ages, that spans the generations. In a way, it is a product of its time; his writing is firmly 1930s in many respects. But we don’t care.

That makes me wonder. Who do writers write for –  and how far do they get when writing for a specific audience, as opposed to a general one? What counts – commercial product or author satisfaction?

I have my own thoughts on the answers, and I’m sure you do too. I’d love to hear from you – let’s talk.

Copyright © Matthew Wight 2013

Author Interview: Peter King and the Changels series

I had lunch the other day with Peter King, author of the Changels series – a soaring sci-fi YA trilogy that, at 600,000 words, tops The Lord Of The Rings for scale.

I met Peter over 30 years ago when we were both in the Victoria University Drama Club. Peter’s just released the second edition of his trilogy – which he wrote mostly on his phone while rattling back and forth on the creaking Wellington commuter train network. I asked him how it went.

Peter: Being the main breadwinner means that writing has to fit in with my life. Changels had to be written around a full-time job and a new baby. The funny thing was that I was way more productive than when I was younger with heaps of time to stare at a blinking cursor. I guess it just proves the old adage that if you want something done, ask a busy person.

Writing on a cell-phone is great. It’s always with you, it’s instant on and instant off, and every spare moment is yours to add to your story. I wrote on the bus, on the train, putting my baby son to bed, watching my older boy play soccer, anywhere and everywhere I had a moment.

Matthew: You didn’t go the trad route for this book – it’s self-pubbed. What prompted that direction?

Serendipity-f2-200x300Peter: Frankly, I had no idea what to expect when I finished my first draft. I had learned already that publishers were closed to approaches from all but literary agents, and I had read a lot about pitching them. To be honest I think pitching is a good exercise to do even if you aren’t planning to go the trad route because it forces you to answer the question ‘why would anyone want to read my book?’. And if you can’t succinctly summarise your work to pitch agents you sure can’t expect attract readers.

I pitched for about six months but gradually began to notice a depressing pattern. I had written the story thinking that minority superheroes would be a selling point.  I mean how many minority superheroes can you think of, right? X-Men’s Storm and that’s about it. What I found was the more I stressed the minority angle the quicker the rejections came. I did experiments and found emphasising the minority angle could speed rejections from weeks to literally hours.

I couldn’t de-emphasise minorities because genetics, minority and inheritance is core to the whole work. Then a friend of mine in New York sent me an article which was a survey of Young Adult covers which basically pointed out how few minorities were portrayed in them. Even those figures in covers which were deemed ‘Asian’ showed blue-eyed very white people with vaguely Asian features. It suggested that my experience with agents was rooted in something way more entrenched than I had anticipated.

Metamorphosis-f2-200x300I had written for an international audience but I tried New Zealand and basically found it was closed. Even the New Zealand Author’s Society had no real idea what was happening in the real world of publishing in the country. The advice on their website was woefully out of date.

So I felt I had no choice but to go Indie. I have to admit fatigue was setting in and the edit I did on the first edition was more of a desperate drive to get the whole thing off my shoulders and finally get some feedback. It’s bloody hard to write something that huge in a complete vacuum. So I published between November 2012 and February 2013 and I did get some feedback.

The feedback was “marvellous story but your editing sucks”, which was pretty hard. I’ve been in the publishing game for a long time (I’m a journalist and magazine editor) , so I know how much editing costs and frankly I didn’t have that kind of money for a story of this size. Fortunately about the same time I joined the Romance Writers who know publishing very well, and they advised me to chop up the trilogy into packages of six 100,000 word books for marketing reasons. So with some help from my parents I did a major re-edit and re-packaging effort (gotta do a plug here for the Atlantis word-processor – absolutely the author’s best friend) and I’m now where I probably should have been when I started.

Matthew: Sounds like a lot of hard work.

Peter: Yeah, I had hoped that I could simply finish my first draft, sign a deal with a publisher and let them do the hard yakka, leaving me to collect the royalty checks. No such luck

Matthew: I’ve found the biggest challenge for any author, trad or self-pubbed, is discovery – care to comment?

Peter: I like Mark Coker’s quote, “Obscurity is a far greater threat to authors and creative artists than piracy.” It’s so true. I think a large part of the problem is ebook retail sites have such crap search systems.  You can’t categorise your own work for essential qualities like dominant emotions (comedy, pathos etc), or realism or political orientation (liberal to conservative), and then have readers endorse or reject those ratings so as to provide a more structured form of review and guide to other readers.  Frankly with Wattpad and Smashwords it seems the quickest way to discovery is a cover with sex appeal and porn content, which is rather sad.

Matthew: We were talking about a change in paradigm and behaviour – the instant internet and ‘free download’ generation. You mentioned something about even ‘free’ not stimulating interest – that these days people seem not able to even give their time. Tell me more.

Brudershaft-f2-200x300Peter: I guess we have to face the fact that people are spoilt by the huge production values of movies. Movies are short and invade the senses. It’s hard for words on a page to compete with a cast of thousands and hundreds of millions worth of music and special effects. Reading involves a commitment by readers and they have a huge amount of choice. I guess it comes back to the search thing, though. People want to have a reasonable idea before downloading your story that its something they want to spend a lot of hours with. They need more guidance than a cover and a few sentences from another reader who they may have nothing whatsoever in common with.

Matthew: Can you tell me a little about the Changels series – we’re Kiwi authors. Why go for sci-fi?

Peter: The Changels Genesis Trilogy is a large PG13 Y.A trilogy which I describe as X-files meets Tintin. Its scary, fun, romantic, paranormal and globally adventurous all at once.

Fundamentally it’s about how a group of teenagers, all minority refugees of some kind or another end up trained and empowered to teleport around the planet to safeguard future world leaders in the world’s most dangerous places. The protagonist is a Maori boy whose gang-boss father beat his mother to death in front of him when he was four. So its about a kid transitioning from victim to hero.

Like any YA story it’s about growing up. Sam worries about what he has inherited from his father and is conflicted by that. He has to sort himself out romantically, but the main thing he does is become an agent of change for earth’s future – a kind of guardian angel of change.  To do that he has to be trained to do some rather adult things. That exposes him to some of the worst aspects of our world and to hard adult choices. And then of course there are the unfriendly aliens out to get them.

Science fiction is a rather strange classification. Is Superman science fiction? How about Salman Rushdies Midnight’s Children? Changels is firmly set on Earth between 2007 and 2009 so this doesn’t involve some half-thought-out imaginary world. Its about some of the shocking things happening in this one.

Where Changels is science fiction is that it explores the implications of science. So the Changels’ sponsors, the Phae, are aliens who decide their genetics rather than inherit them. When you start to look at what that means it throws a lot of what happens on Earth to minorities (ethnic, religious or sexual) into pretty stark relief.

Changels is both global and Kiwi. Let’s face it nobody else would put the Haka (Maori warrior dance) at the centre of their story. I’m proud of our indigenous Maori culture but I think it will resonate with a lot of other cultures both minority and otherwise.

Matthew: It’s been good to catch up.

Peter: Thanks for the opportunity.

Visit Peter at www.changels.info. Read part one of Changels Genesis free on your smartphone at  m.changels.info. And you can buy Changels on Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords or direct from the author at his Wazala shop orders.changels.info