Today we go down under for an interview with Australian multi-genre author John Holland. Welcome, John. It is always a delight to have author interviews and it isn’t often that I have authors outside the US. Let’s get started. Tell my readers a little about your writing journey.
I always wanted to write. My love for books comes from my childhood growing up on cattle stations (ranches) in the Australian outback. Not that we called it the outback. It was always referred to by us as “the bush”.
We had no TV and only some short-wave radio to listen to music on. Movies were something we attended when in town. Those trips to town were typically about three months apart. But we had books! Lots of books.
The first “proper book” I remember reading was The Hobbit. I also remember Zane Grey’s book Tappan’s Burro and sneaking away somewhere private to read God’s Little Acre, which I had been forbidden to read.
My writing journey began there. I grew to love books and wanted to be one of those people who told such magical stories.
Now that you are creating those magical stories what is your latest published project?
My latest published book is Mark Taggart and the Circle of Stones. It is a middle-grade fantasy, co-authored with Nicci Carrera of San Diego. It is about portals and beasts. and of course, a quest that could change the lives of many people back on earth. Set in the Australian outback to begin, it involves two boys who are drawn through a portal into the Elemental Realm. A quest begins to defeat the great beast Gorge, who had his genesis in this world as well.
How did you research for your book?
I didn’t have to do much research. I already knew most of the things the story touched on. Apart from the Elemental Realm and the beings encountered there. That part is pure imagination on mine and Nicci’s part.
What inspired you to write your book?
The plot of the book revolves around a site where a massacre of aborigines occurred in the past. Such things did happen and I was aware of a place I was forbidden to go, where it was rumored a massacre had taken place, long ago.
I think part of the story had been in my head ever since and when I started to write I knew I wanted to tell this story but tell it in a different way via an entertaining storyline. My friend Nicci became very interested in the story too and together we set out to create the story.
My writing prior to this book is usually quite dark in places. I credit Nicci with rounding of some of my sharp edges in this book.
Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?
I am a poet as well as a writer of fiction, so I’ll give you a short poem of my own.
I like to go back into the dreaming.
Following the current of time
as it pours over a remembered
lake and turns it to grey-black earth.
With a surface baked
hard as rock by a pitiless sun.
I pass through ghost water.
Throwing up the clues that they
will puzzle over, in the chill halls
of their new learning.
Very nice, John.
If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice for your younger self about writing what would that be?
I’m not sure my younger self would listen! Perhaps I would tell him to start early on in life and not wait as long to start writing.
Who is your best support system to keep you focused on your writing?
My friend Nicci Carrera is one constant support. She had helped me with editing etc on other books, before we wrote Mark Taggart and the Circle of Stones together, We are in touch frequently, even though we live on opposite sides of the Pacific. My constant companion while I’m at my desk is my English Staffordshire Bullterrier, Meg. She has a calming effect on me and is very wise!
What is your favorite genre to read for fun?
I do less reading for fun these days than I did before I started writing. I like some of the works of Stephen King. I also like to re-read old classics like The Grapes of Wrath, To Kill a Mockingbird and Poor Man’s Orange, which to those who are familiar with the book, was written by the Australian/New Zealand writer Ruth Park.
Where is your favorite place to write?
I’ve converted a small spare bedroom into my writing space. I type directly into Word and just work with that application.
When I call myself a multi-genre writer it is because others see my work that way. I just write a story that tells itself the way it wants to be told. The one exception is Mark Taggart and the Circle of Stones. We did have a younger audience in mind when we wrote that story.
I’ve published books of poetry, literary fiction, speculative fiction, youth adventure/survival and youth fantasy.
Can Americans understand Aussie slang?
I think so. I’ve tried not to use any obscure slang in my books. However, I’m sure some has slipped in there somewhere. I just tell people to google the word up if they don’t understand it. Then they will have learned a new word or concept.
In some cases, such as in the speculative fiction book, Old Year’s Day, I have deliberately written as an international who wants to be understood by all.
Australian twelve-year-old Mark Taggart can’t wait to finish his correspondence classes each day, so he can get out on the family cattle station to help his dad. But his life is changing and the future is threatened by a prolonged drought. His dad owes money to Bull Corcoran who is demanding payment. Not only is Mark’s family about to lose everything, he may never get a chance to visit a forbidden site on the land, a circle of stones that has drawn his imagination and curiosity for years. So Mark and his friend visit the site that marks a long-ago crime. When they enter the area, the world drops away beneath their feet. They land in another world and learn they’ve been summoned to the Elemental Realm. This powerful place is under attack. Now Mark must lead an army against a darkly magical being and the beasts he controls to make it back home, save his family, and right an ancient crime.
More about John:
John Holland grew up in outback Australia. Living on cattle stations his father Jack Holland managed in Queensland, the Northern Territory and the Kimberley. He has been a stockman, miner, road worker, speechwriter/media officer for a Queensland state member of parliament and a newspaper columnist. John now lives in Townsville, tropical North Queensland and writes full time.
Mark Taggart and the Circle of Stones: (also at most online outlets)
John Holland, Amazon author page:
Nicci Carrera, Amazon author page:
Nicci Carrera’s site:
John Holland social media:
If you have young adult readers grab a copy of Mark Taggert and the Circle of Stones. Click here. Thank you, John for being my guest today.