For today's Aussie Month Post,
please welcome author of Gamers' Guest: George Ivanoff!
*crazy fans yelling*
Glad to have you here, George!
1. When and how did you start writing?
I think I first began to enjoy writing way back in high school. I was a huge science fiction fan and I began contributing to amateur publications — fanzines and club newsletters (remember, this was back in the dark ages before the Internet). I continued doing this while at university. Eventually I decided I should try to sell some of my writing and began to send out stuff to professional publications. After some minor success, my break came with the publication of a YA short story collection in 1999 called Life, Death and Detention. This is when I decided that writing for teens and kids was what I wanted to do.
I spent many years writing in my spare time while working a ‘day job’. But now, finally, writing is my career. I write a lot of books for the primary school education market, both in Australia and overseas. I like all sorts of writing — long and short, fiction and non-fiction, a variety of different genres… but it’s always science fiction that I find myself returning to.
2. Could you tell me a bit about your novel?
Gamers’ Quest actually began life as a short story called ‘Game Plan’, published in Trust Me! (Ford Street Publishing, 2008), a YA anthology edited by Paul Collins. I was inspired to write the story by a documentary about online gaming, which showed how people all over the world were immersing themselves in fantasy games because they considered their own lives mundane and boring. I wanted to turn this around and ask: If a person lived in a fantastical world full of exotic dangers, what sort of computer games would s/he play?
It was only after fellow author, Meredith Costain, suggested that it would make a good basis for a novel that I stopped to think about it. And once I did stop to think about it, there was no turning back — the characters and the environment seemed well suited to a longer story.
At its heart, Gamers’ Quest is science fiction, although it also has a healthy dose of fantasy elements, including mages and dragons. It is about two teenage thieves, Tark and Zyra, who live within a computer game environment. They are on a quest to reach Designers Paradise, where they will be able to escape the death and danger of their own world. During their quest they make some powerful enemies who then pursue then into Designers Paradise.
There is a definite computer game feel to the book. I wanted to tap into the excitement and non-stop challenges one faces when playing computer games and transpose that into the novel.
3. What inspires your writing? Are there any authors who particularly influence your work?
I find inspiration everywhere — from the people I meet, to the places I visit; from the music I listen to, to the stuff I watch on tv; from the books I read, to the movies I go out to see; from my family and friends, to the strangers I pass in the street. Yes, I’m that weird person who sits on the train eavesdropping on your conversation! Everything is fuel for the imagination.
Every writer that I read influences me in some way. Sometimes it’s simply a case of inspiring me to try harder. Sometimes it’s a case of me thinking, “well, damn, I can do better than that”. Sometimes there are specific writers who have influenced specific stories. I very much admire Terry Dowling’s writing, and I do remember once writing a story and consciously trying to give the piece a Dowling-ish flavour. Whether or not I succeeded is another matter. I’ve got a story coming up in Ticonderoga’s Belong anthology, which was inspired by the writings of Neil Gaiman.
4. What are you working on now? (if you're working on something)
I’m always working on something… usually more than one thing! At the moment I’m working on a series of educational books about nutrition and healthy eating. I’ve also started making notes on a new novel — the working title is Tornado Riders. They are just random notes for the moment. They may or may not result in a completed novel.
a. Do you write with music on or off? Have you ever made a "writing playlist"? (a playlist you listened to while writing certain book) If so, share it!
No music, I’m afraid. I tend to zone out when I write, ignoring everything around me. I share a home office with my wife, and she always has music playing… but when I’m writing, I don’t hear it.
5. Name 3 (they can be more or less) books from last year that you loved/really liked.
My favourite YA books for 2009:
4. The Slightly Skewed Life of Toby Chrysler by Paul Collins
Funny, inventive and quirky with some great characters.
3. Vulture's Gate by Kirsty Murray
Thoughtful and exciting, edge-of-your-seat science fiction adventure.
2. The Loblolly Boy by James Norcliffe
A magical, modern-day fairy-tale.
And in the Number 1 spot — Worldshaker by Richard Harland.
Actually, this book has shot into my all-time top 10! It’s a great steampunk adventure with Harland’s typical bizarreness.
Other than The Loblolly Boy, which is by a New Zealand author, the others are all Australian.
6. What Aussie YA author(s) do you think people should read more of? (Authors that most of us don't know, since we don't live in AU, and it's hard for us to get ahold of their books).
At the top of my list would be Richard Harland and Carole Wilkinson. Aside from Harland’s Worldshaker, I would highly recommend his Heaven and Earth trilogy. Wilkinson’s books include the Dragonkeeper series.
There are many more Aussie authors writing for kids and teens that I would recommend, including Meredith Costain, Paul Collins, Jen Storer, Kate Forsyth, Isobelle Carmody, Sean McMullen, Michael Prior, Gary Crew… the list goes on and on.
I’d also like to mention a couple of Aussie adult authors who I really like. Terry Dowling, who is best know for his Tom Rynosseros stories, writes beautifully lyrical science fiction and dark fantasy. Narrelle M. Harris has a brilliant vampire novel set in the city of Melbourne called The Opposite of Life.
Follow George on Twitter, Facebook.
Visit his website.
Visit Gamers' Quest's website.
And now for the Giveaway:
George has kindly agreed to give away a copy of Gamers' Quest to one lucky winner!
All you have to do to enter is:
Leave a comment with your email address. No email, no entry.
For extra entries, you get one for each time you link to this giveaway (leave link for me to see).
This is open to EVERYONE!
And it ends on March 15th.
There has to be at least 15 entries for this giveaway to carry out.