Shaun Micallef, author of Preincarnate, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

by |October 18, 2010

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Shaun Micallef

author of Preincarnate

Ten Terrifying Questions


1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

Born in Adelaide. Raised by wolves. Schooled by Marist Brothers.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

At 12 I wanted to be a movie star. At 18, a lawyer. At 30 a comedy writer. Now, I want to be a movie star again. Or a cowboy.

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

I honestly thought that alcohol made me more engaging.

4. What were three works of art – book or painting or piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?

The book was Puckoon by Spike Milligan (which I read when I was 14; the first book to make me laugh out loud); for some reason I am drawn to Edmund Blair Leighton’s ‘The Accolade’; and as for music, gimme the fat big band jazz of Count Basie in ‘Bangtail’.

5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?

It chose me, I guess. This idea I had wouldn’t have fitted into a TV sketch or a movie or a throw to an ad break from a game show.

6. Please tell us about your  novel Preincarnate?

Okay, this guy gets murdered and wakes up 300 years earlier in someone else’s body. He puts himself in suspended animation and is re-awoken in time to prevent himself being murdered in the first place. Also includes plenty of references to soul transference, time travel, cloning, space ships, Hollywood and the Loch Ness monster. Standard novel folderol.

(BBGuru: Here’s what Shaun’s publisher has to say – Australia’s pre-eminent comic Renaissance man turns his genius to novel writing. Having conquered television, radio, theatre and film, Shaun Micallef smashes his mighty fist onto the keyboard of his soul and produces a novel of such breathtaking brilliance that if Patrick White were alive today he’d hurl his own typewriter into the sea and start a lawn-mowing business.

Suppose you were murdered and woke up 300 years earlier in someone else’s body. Wouldn’t you put yourself in suspended animation and be re-awoken in time to prevent yourself being murdered in the first place? This is the extraordinary tale of an ordinary man in a race against and across time.

Join Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, HG Wells, Queen Victoria, Jack the Ripper and Tom Cruise as they unravel a Masonic plot to restore James II to the throne – and in the process, perhaps destroy the Universe itself.

Soul transference, time travel, cloning, space ships, Hollywood and the Loch Ness Monster all come together for the first time in one action-packed and beautifully typeset novel.

Preincarnate, Micallef’s first – and very probably only – novel, shows not only that he is the rightful heir to the mantle of White but also the unruly bastard son of Barry Humphries, Clive James and Miles Franklin (obviously they’d all been very drunk that night).)

7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?

A fondness for it bordering on compulsion. That way, they keeping buying it. Like The Catcher in the Rye.

8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?

Alan Bennett. He writes with such apparent effortlessness. And is a good speller.

9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

Oh, the usual stuff. I want my followers to build a golden statue of me twenty stories high that will be worshipped centuries after my death.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Wear a hat if you’re writing in the sun.

Shaun, thank you for playing.


Shaun Patrick Micallef (born 18 July 1962) is an Australian comedian, actor and writer. After ten years of working in insurance law as a solicitor in Adelaide, Micallef moved to Melbourne to pursue a full-time comedy career in 1993. He first gained recognition as a cast member of the sketch comedy show Full Frontal, which in turn led to a number of television roles including his own sketch show, The Micallef Program, the sitcom Welcher & Welcher and the variety show Micallef Tonight. He also fronted the satirical news comedy series Newstopia on SBS and currently hosts the game show Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation on Channel Ten.

In addition to his television work, Micallef has appeared on stage, most notably in the Australian production of Boeing Boeing, and radio as the co-host of Melbourne station Vega 91.5 FM’s morning program. He is also a published author; his book Smithereens was released in 2004.

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About the Contributor

While still in his twenties, John Purcell opened a second-hand bookshop in Mosman, Sydney, in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Since then he has written, under a pseudonym, a series of very successful novels, interviewed hundreds of writers about their work, appeared at writers’ festivals, on TV (most bizarrely in comedian Luke McGregor’s documentary Luke Warm Sex) and has been featured in prominent newspapers and magazines. ​Now, as the Director of Books at, Australia’s largest online bookseller, he supports Australian writing in all its forms. He lives in Sydney with his wife, two children, three dogs, five cats, unnumbered gold fish and his overlarge book collection. His novel, The Girl on the Page, will be published by HarperCollins Australia in October, 2018.

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