Science Fiction author Paul Collins gets Scary!

Science Fiction author Paul Collins gets Scary!

You are a successful YA Science fiction author. What inspired you to change from YA to adult literature with The Beckoning?

A) Actually, it’s the other way around. I wrote The Beckoning over 30 years ago when I was writing for adults. I was having great success with selling short stories, but my novels were slow to take off. I sold a collection called The Government in Exile plus a YA crossover called Cyberskin, but that’s about it. I then wrote two novellas and sold them to Parteach. They promptly went broke and disappeared (don’t blame me – they hadn’t published my books!) so I figured perhaps I should be writing for a younger audience. The Wizards’ Torment sold to HarperCollins and The Earthborn sold to TOR in the US. So away I went.

Your YA trilogy, The Maximus Black Files has received great acclaim as edgy, powerful, violent. The brilliant hero, Maximus, a master of disguise and technology on the quest to uncover the weapon caches of the Old Empire, has a strong fan base.   Fans are waiting for The Only Game in the Galaxy, the third book in this science fiction trilogy.  Do you believe these fans will read your new entry into adult fiction with The Beckoning?


A)   I  somehow doubt you’ll find The Beckoning in schools, so if any young adults do want it, they’ll have to go to the effort of finding it on Amazon: Of course, young adults become adults, so if they really like my books for younger readers, there’s no reason why they wouldn’t seek out anything I’ve written for adults. Most writers of books for kids don’t venture into the adult market, so in this case I’m somewhat a rarity.

What is the difference between your YA science fiction trilogy and an adult horror story?

A) The genres are completely different, of course. One is contemporary, the other science fiction. My style has changed considerably since I wrote The Beckoning. Oddly enough, I think the adult book is an easier read than the young adult trilogy. Simply in terms of technology. The Maximus Black Files is bursting with it, although I think in a self-explanatory way. In other words, you don’t need to be a geek to understand what’s going on. The trick when writing SF if you’re not a geek is to make it seem like it’s reality – in other words, suspend disbelief.

Are you tempted to move now totally into adult writing? If so why? If not, why?

A) To be honest, I’ve moved somewhere away from writing in recent years to concentrate on Ford Street Publishing and Creative Net Having said that, I’ve just sold a six book series called Lucy Lee to Macmillan Add another two chapter books and it’s been a busy year. So for now I’ll be taking a break from writing. Mind you, I do have another six book series out with a publisher right now, so I might be breaking my word on that if it gets accepted!

You are a recognised, award winning Science Fiction writer. What attracts you to Science Fiction?

A) I fell into science fiction quite by accident. I was working at the Breakfast Creek Hotel in Brisbane in the early 70s and a fellow waiter suggested I publish a science fiction magazine because there wasn’t one in the country. I only vaguely knew the name Asimov, so I enlisted the help of many well known SF writers of the day. These included A Bertram Chandler, David Lake, Jack Wodhams, Frank Bryning, Wynne Whiteford and others. Somehow I bluffed my way along. Then I published Australia’s first heroic/epic fantasy novels along with a series of science fiction books. The fun thing about SF is that you can predict things and have fun doing it. And let’s face it, most of today’s tech was written about by SF writers long before it became reality. Who knows, some of the tech I used in The Maximus Black Files might one day become commonplace.

Your books are known for high-level excitement and action in The Maximus Black trilogy. Is this the same driver as in The Beckoning? 

A) People who read my books do so because my writing is plot and action-driven. Characters I think find their own way. As a reader I get bored quickly is nothing happens in a book. Give me an action-packed book for relaxation any day. The last adult book I remember reading was Peter Carey’s Oscar and Lucinda. I don’t think I finished it. It might’ve won a truckload of awards and garnered more critical praise than all of my books put together, but I don’t think a book is well-written if people don’t finish it. And I know a lot of people who couldn’t wade through the mire. Not as much action happens in The Beckoning, simply because it’s not that type of book, but for those who love horror, I’m sure they’ll enjoy the ride.

Where is your Science Fiction going?

A) Nowhere right now LOL. I’ve moved back into fantasy, if anything. The six book series I mentioned is a fantasy called Broken Magic. I also have a Jelindel novella waiting for a second draft, if I get some time to work on it. I have no immediate plans to write SF, not unless I get commissioned to write something.

 How would you describe the main characters of the trilogy versus The Beckoning?

A) As you can imagine the characters in a science fiction book can be shall we say superheroes, simply because they’re augmented with all sorts of tech wizardry. They scale walls, jump higher (Anneke was born on a high grav planet), are hyper knowledgeable due to being wired into mainframes, super-fast due to enhancements. Nothing is impossible so long as the writer suspends disbelief and shows how it’s all just every-day simple. With a contemporary novel such as The Beckoning, about the only suspension of disbelief is that the dead can rise and can be beckoned from another dimension. For those who believe in psychic phenomena, there’s not much in The Beckoning to disbelieve. So we’re talking everyday mortals who can die from stabs wounds, gunshot, and no augmentation is going to save them. Writing a contemporary book is way more limiting than writing within the realms of science fiction and fantasy.

I'm a writer committed to kids in particular. Adults are good too. Want to bring hope through story to my readers. Awarded an Order of Australia, Lady Cutler Award and a Lifetime International Award for Literacy for my body of work, spreading literacy is really important. I'm head of SCBWI Australia East & New Zealand, patron of Monkey Baa Theatre, Ambassador for the Premier's Reading Challenge, Writer Ambassador for Room to Read ... among other roles. I also love heritage and adapting to enhance the lives of people today, which is why I restored The Hughenden Hotel 1870s and The Residences Centennial Park - the only homes in the parklands which are open now for accommodation, events and lots of nature.


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