author of A Crucible of Souls
Ten Terrifying Questions
1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?
I was born and raised in Sydney, Australia, and have lived here all my life. Although I’ve travelled quite a bit, there’s no place like home! I grew up with two sisters, and my mother did a fantastic job in raising us on her own under extremely trying conditions when we were young.
2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?
When I was twelve I wanted to work with wood in some way. I loved woodwork classes at school and I still think back fondly on those times. At eighteen I was studying Chemical Engineering at university, mainly because I was good at mathematics and science. Then at thirty I was working for a US bank in funds management, although it was just what I’d fallen into for various reasons. To be honest, by then it felt like I’d be in the same career for the rest of my life. There were bills to pay and a mortgage to worry about so I never stopped to think about what I really wanted to with my life until later on.
I was naive at eighteen and thought I’d be able to get by without going to too much extra effort. That was fine until my third year of university when I failed half my subjects! After that I knuckled down and realised that a little extra effort now makes everything so much easier later on, and if you want to be good at something you need to work at it.
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?
When I was eleven a teacher began reading The Hobbit to my class at primary school. I enjoyed it so much my mother bought me The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. That opened up a whole new world to me, and it was such a small thing really.
When I was twenty my father took his own life. I coped with the tragedy fairly well at the time, but I think it instilled in me a willingness to be able to stop and examine my own life, what I was doing and where I was going. I’ve had a couple of major career changes since then and deciding to move on in each case was relatively easy.
Which leads to about six years ago when I was burned out with my job. It was getting better but I’d been through a really bad six months of way too much overtime and stress. I stepped back and thought about what I was doing with my life. That’s when I decided to resign from work and finish the book I’d started writing so many years ago. I didn’t want to regret not finishing it – and so far it’s worked out well!
5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?
I chose to write a book because I love to read, and I had a lot of ideas and wanted to see if I could craft a story out of them. I didn’t consider any other mode of storytelling, it just seemed natural to write. Books are far from obsolete — in fact more people are reading more books than in any other time in history, and there are more books available at lower prices than ever before. With current technology any book that is published will be around, and easily accessible, forever.
I’d be delighted to! A Crucible of Souls is an epic fantasy novel about a young man raised by monks who is thrust into the unfamiliar chaos of city life, and finds the world he is caught up in has disturbing depths… and the good guys don’t always win. It has sorcery, morally ambivalent characters, and some dark and gritty content. The first review it ever received described it as ‘entertainingly ambiguous’, which I thought was quite a good description.
7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?
I hope readers feel they’re a part of the world I’ve created. I’d like them to become lost in the story and want to go back and re-read my books again. And of course I want people to feel as if their time and money was well spent.
8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?
Any author who continually produces books and endeavours to improve on all aspects of writing—both with their craft and the business side.
9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?
In a relatively short time with my writing career I found myself having achieved more than I ever hoped. That led me to step back and think about where to go from here. My main goal now is to make a living from my writing, and as most other authors can attest that is hard. I also want to make sure my writing appeals to the majority of readers, which means putting a lot of work into improving and making sure I don’t get complacent.
10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?
Finish your first book. It’s the hardest one and after that you’ll realise you’ve done it once so you can do it again. Plus, the best advice on editing, promotion, marketing, branding, submissions, agents, the publishing industry, etc, doesn’t mean a thing unless you have a completed manuscript.
And once you have a book finished, work on understanding the business of writing and the industry. This is important stuff. Your intellectual property has an intrinsic value. There is writing and the business of writing, two very different things. Understand the business you’re in if you want to succeed.
Mitchell, thank you for playing.
by Mitchell Hogan
The Aurealis Award-winning e-book bestseller now in print.
An imaginative new talent makes his debut with the acclaimed first installment in the epic Sorcery Ascendant Sequence, a mesmerizing tale of high fantasy that combines magic, malevolence, and mystery.
When young Caldan’s parents are brutally slain, the boy is raised by monks who initiate him into the arcane mysteries of sorcery.
Growing up plagued by questions about his past, Caldan vows to discover who his parents were, and why they were violently killed. The search will take him beyond the walls of the monastery, into the unfamiliar and dangerous chaos of city life. With nothing to his name but a pair of mysterious heirlooms and a handful of coins, he must prove his talent to become apprenticed to a guild of sorcerers.
But the world outside the monastery is a darker place than he ever imagined, and his treasured sorcery has disturbing depths he does not fully understand. As a shadowed evil manipulates the unwary and forbidden powers are unleashed, Caldan is plunged into an age-old conflict that will bring the world to the edge of destruction.
Soon, he must choose a side, and face the true cost of uncovering his past.
About the Contributor
Andrew Cattanach is a regular contributor to The Booktopia Blog. He has been shortlisted for The Age Short Story Prize and was named a finalist for the 2015 Young Bookseller of the Year Award. He enjoys reading, writing and sleeping, though finds it difficult to do them all at once.
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