Ian Belshaw - Indie Author
A tale of two men and the recent history of a glorified past...
Luke Barclay, a man inspired by tales of his youth becomes a modern-day bushranger.
Stephen Owens, a veteran police officer on the hunt for a criminal yet burdened by concerns for his own family amidst the challenge of the pursuit.
Across dusty plains and through wild Australian bush, the new kind of bushranger and experienced lawman play a game of fox and chicken.
Perspectives vary as minds begin to unravel but the goal of consequence and legacy remain unshakeable.
Two conflicted men inspired by passions are blended into a tale of timeless tribute to the Australian outback, its people and the recent past of a glorified history.
“A page turner and gripping tale of modern crime…cat and mouse in the outback and a great new Australian voice….” Murry, IndieBook reviewer.
Who inspires you?
I'm inspired by the world around me, by wild Australian landscapes and stoic human nature. I'm inspired by people who aim to accomplish, improve and discover. In terms of authors, I am inspired by William Faulkner, Cormac McCarthy, John Steinbeck, HP Lovecraft, Ernest Hemingway, Flannery O'Connor, Isak Dinesen, Ambrose Bierce, Henry Lawson, Banjo Patterson and more.
How many books have you published?
This is my first.
When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer?
It was never a calculated decision. When I was a teenager, I wrote a lot of poetry and had dreams of seeing this published, but thankfully (in hindsight) it never saw the light of day. It has only been in the last five years that I've decided to focus on prose and explore what I can achieve with words that don’t rhyme.
How long does it take you to write a book?
This one took around 6 months from start to finish. The next one: who knows!
What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
Variable. I work full-time, so I don't have days on end to get lost in what I'm writing. For me, it's a matter of fitting in writing time when I can or grabbing hold of inspiration when it comes to me and writing it down. This novel was written in all sorts of places: from my home study, to work, to the train, to the pub.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Perhaps that when I start a novel, I don't necessarily have a set plan of where it will go. It's a matter of making a start and seeing where the story takes me. In terms of style, I do have a very poetic, rhythmic flow that I believe comes from my musical background.
How did you find the publishing process?
In terms of finding a publisher: challenging. A real 'small fish in a big sea' scenario. Coming from a musical background, where I had worked in quite a niche and underground scenario where record labels were never hard to find, it was an almost overwhelming process, though more rewarding in the end due to the amount of effort put in.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
For this book, the historical aspect came from years of reading stories about colonial Australia and bushrangers. Geographical information came from my travels, mixed with a few glances at maps to check accuracy. Information about the two main characters came from observing my own personality and the behaviour of people around me. The broad idea of the novel was something that came to mind one day as a curious Australian story that was yet to be written.
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I wrote my first novel when I was 40 years old. A mid to late bloomer!
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I like listening to music, playing music, reading, watching movies, exercising, being in nature, traveling (especially, these days, around Australia), catching up with friends, cooking, going to bars and restaurants, drinking fine whiskey and unwinding.
What does your family think of your writing?
My partner has been full of encouragement and very kind words which have provided powerful motivation, and my friends have been a massive support as well. My parents and siblings haven't read it yet, but they are supportive and proud.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
That I could create a novel and enjoy the process! I wasn't sure I had the patience but am glad to have discovered that I did.
How many books have you written? Which is your favourite?
This is the first novel-length book. I have written short stories and a lot of poetry, none of it published.
Do you have any suggestions to help others become a better writer? If so, what are they?
Give it a go and don't give up. You don’t need the complete story in your head before you start: find a subject that interests you and see where the story takes you. Keep reading and keep learning from as wide a range of authors as you can.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I hope to once the book has been published. I shared some or all of the story with friends along the way. They told me they enjoyed it and encouraged me to have it published, while also pointing out areas for improvement.
Do you like to create books for adults? Why?
I set out to create books that I would like to read. As I don't have children and haven't been one for some time, I feel I would find it difficult to write for that audience, so my writing is aimed at adults.
What do you think makes a good story?
I think a good story needs a strong narrative and engaging characters. You don't need to like the characters, but there needs to be something about them. I think good writing and a good story don’t necessarily go hand in hand though, and there are some books I enjoy purely for the quality and richness of phrasing, rather than a particular strong narrative arc.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
An adult! A rock star and a poet – or employed in a job that allowed me to focus on things outside of work that I wanted to do, rather than taking up all my time.
What are your plans for your future book/s?
I am two thirds of the way through a memoir, a journey into the world of musical discovery in days before the internet. I have also started another fiction that is again set in Australia but is very much in infancy.
What tips would you share with other new writers about your learning?
Have a go. It sounds simple, but the amount of people I speak to who say they want to write, or they've started writing and given up, is incredible. You don't have to write if you don't want to, but everyone has a story to tell and you'd be amazed what you can accomplish if you see it through. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself and enjoy writing for what it is: an escape and an exploration.
Please write a few paragraphs on why you wrote this book - what were your inspirations?
I wrote this book because I had the idea of a modern-day bushranger that I felt was worth exploring. Rather than having the explicit goal of publication, I wrote it for myself and to share with mates, as a distinctly Australian tale that touched deeply on the landscape and vastness of this country as well as human fragility and failings – something of an Australian western. I love late 19th Century/early 20th Century American fiction and was inspired to try taking some of this into a modern context and an Australian setting.
I was also inspired by language: playing with it, exploring it, using it to paint pictures and create an atmosphere. Rather than to just tell a story straight up and down, I set out to embellish that story with evocative words and lyrical phrasing, while also keeping the book relatively succinct.
I was further inspired by the frontier colonial spirit as portrayed in the history that has been passed down, trying not to eulogise so much as remember that these were men and women with shortcomings and personal issues who were doing the best they could in a difficult environment.
How did you decide on the characters in the book would also be an interesting concept to include?
The character of Luke Barclay is the core of the story and everything else flowed from him. Because he is a loner, I drilled in on him rather than those close to him. The police officer, Stephen Owens, was included as an obvious adversary to young Luke. To keep the story taut, I decided not to broaden the range of characters too far. I considered other character options, including different genders and cultures, but the story seemed to work best with Anglo-Saxon male protagonists – just as these stories generally played out in the 19th Century.
What drew you to the subject matter or the characters?
I won't deny, I have long been fascinated by bushrangers – without wanting to be one, of course – and do see a bit of myself in Luke Barclay. I see a bit of myself in Stephen Owens as well. Both he and Barclay are complex and sometimes confounding characters who struggle to 'see the wood for the trees'. I'm drawn to the subject matter due my interests in Australian history, nature and people. It was an easy book to write in the sense that the subject matter is close to my heart.
What was the biggest challenge when writing the book?
The main challenges were maintaining a consistent narrative and working out where it would head next. Most of it was written chronologically and I knew the story well, but I still had to go back regularly to see what I'd written and to avoid contradicting myself.
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