1) What are you writ­ing at the moment?

I’m work­ing on a nov­el about North Korea. In a way, I’ve been research­ing and writ­ing this nov­el since I start­ed my the­sis research back in 2012. Mean­while, I have recent­ly com­plet­ed the first draft of a spec-fic nov­el set in a future Aus­tralia. Enti­tled Occu­pa­tion Zone, this brain-sear­ing thriller tack­les many of the polit­i­cal, cul­tur­al, and social ques­tions that have trou­bled me of late.

Also in the works, a col­lec­tion of poet­ry for chil­dren. Like Empire of the Waves, this is a decade in the mak­ing. My poems are very much in the tra­di­tion of Roald Dahl, Hilaire Bel­loc, Edward Lear and Lewis Car­roll. Lots of non­sense, music, food and hor­ri­fy­ing vio­lence. You can read much of my poet­ry right here!

2) Can I con­tact you?

Please do! My email address is chris@christopherrichardson.com.au 

My use of social media is lim­it­ed to Twit­ter, but you can find me there too: https://twitter.com/Richardson_CW  

3) Can you vis­it my school or library?

Love to!

Thank you very much for such a warm and enthu­si­as­tic talk to our stu­dents. The Year 8 stu­dents are already ask­ing when can you speak to them! I loved the pirate clan work­shop too…” Helen Lee, Teacher-Librar­i­an, St George Girls High

For infor­ma­tion, see Author Talks & Vis­its on my web­site. Online work­shops are avail­able dur­ing the Age of Coro­n­avirus.

4) Can I have your auto­graph?

Why, yes! E‑mail me your con­tact details and I will send you a signed Empire of the Waves post­card with a per­son­al note.

Send to: chris@christopherrichardson.com.au

If you want a book signed, come along to meet me at an event! Or email me, and we can arrange some­thing via mail.

5) Who are your favourite writ­ers?

So many! In no par­tic­u­lar order: Mar­i­lynne Robin­son, Shusaku Endo, William Tyn­dale, Philip K Dick, Albert Mur­ray, Christo­pher Ish­er­wood, John Kennedy Toole, Ursu­la Le Guin, Nikos Kazantza­kis, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Ken­neth Gra­hame, Stephen Crane, Lewis Car­roll, Edward Lear, Susan Coop­er, William Blake, John Donne, John Mil­ton, William Shake­speare,  George Orwell, John LeCarre, J. Michael Straczyn­s­ki, Chris­tos Tsi­olkas, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Patri­cia High­smith, Ian Flem­ing, William Dal­rym­ple, Her­man Melville, Edward St Aubyn, Mitch Cullin, Emi­ly Dick­in­son, Rud­yard Kipling, Peter Tem­ple, Robert Con­quest, Rus­sell T Davies, Robert Holmes, Fran­cis Spufford, Bob Dylan, Han Kang, Vic­tor Hugo, Søren Kierkegaard, Gra­ham Greene, Jacques Ellul, Ralph Elli­son, Dani­il Kharms, David Bent­ley Hart.

If had to pick a favourite nov­el, I would pick three: Gilead by Mar­i­lynne Robin­son, Silence by Shusaku Endo, and The Wind in the Wil­lows by Ken­neth Gra­hame.

When I was a child, my favourite books were: The Dark Is Ris­ing Sequence by Susan Coop­er, The Earth­sea Quar­tet by Ursu­la Le Guin, The Hitch­hik­er’s Guide to the Galaxy by Dou­glas Adams, The Hob­bit by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Chron­i­cles of Nar­nia by C.S. Lewis (espe­cial­ly The Voy­age of the Dawn Tread­er), The Tripods Tril­o­gy by John Christo­pher, Alice’s Adven­tures in Won­der­land by Lewis Car­roll, The Wind in the Wil­lows by Ken­neth Gra­hame, and pret­ty much every Doc­tor Who nov­el­i­sa­tion I could get my hands on. God bless you, Ter­rance Dicks!

6) What are your favourite films?

So many! In no par­tic­u­lar order: Fan­ny and Alexan­der, Spir­it of the Bee­hive, Alien, Aliens, Stalk­er, Amadeus, Apu Tril­o­gy, Blade Run­ner, Tree of Life, Brazil, Lady Snow­blood, Aguirre: The Wrath of God, Jack­ie Brown, From Rus­sia With Love, Rear Win­dow, Ver­ti­go, Wait­ing For Guff­man, Once Upon A Time In The West, The Good the Bad and the Ugly, Spir­it­ed Away, Mul­hol­land Dri­ve, The Last Temp­ta­tion of Christ, Lapu­ta: Cas­tle In the Sky, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Sweet Coun­try.

7) What are your favourite TV shows?

Doc­tor Who, Baby­lon 5, I Claudius, The Mys­te­ri­ous Cities of Gold, Astro Boy (1980s), Twin Peaks, The X‑Files, Han­ni­bal, Bat­tlestar Galac­ti­ca (2004), The Pris­on­er (with Patrick McGoohan), Dead­wood, Tin­ker Tai­lor Sol­dier Spy (1979).

8) What is your advice to young and/or new writ­ers?

Christo­pher’s Rules

Read wide­ly, and not just in the genre or the style you wish to write. The best writ­ers — like Philip Pull­man or Ursu­la LeGuin — draw inspi­ra­tion from wells both deep and dis­tant. Read nov­els, poems, plays, essays, scrip­tures, songs, film scripts, diaries and words found scat­tered on life’s way. Read of his­to­ry and sci­ence. Read books old and new and in trans­la­tion. Learn anoth­er lan­guage, even just a lit­tle. Don’t apol­o­gise for books you haven’t read, they are undis­cov­ered coun­tries wait­ing to be found. Yet don’t be scared of daunt­ing books. Reject age-band­ing and neat cat­e­gori­sa­tions (of books and peo­ple), these are false idols that serve ide­olo­gies and mar­ke­teers, not read­ers.

Write often, but don’t pun­ish your­self if life gets in the way. You don’t have to write every­day to be good. Some of the best writ­ers in his­to­ry had / have day jobs, fam­i­lies, friends, and all man­ner of respon­si­bil­i­ties com­pet­ing for their time. T.S. Eliot worked in a bank and was a genius.

Per­sist. All writ­ers (pub­lished or oth­er­wise) are sur­vivors of often unbear­able suf­fer­ing at the hands of oth­ers (not to men­tion their own inter­nal voice of doubt). My best friend once told me it was time to quit when it seemed Empire of the Waves might nev­er be pub­lished. He meant well, but I’m glad I ignored him and per­sist­ed. He’s still my friend.

Take advice, but tread care­ful­ly. The prob­lem with ask­ing for the opin­ion of oth­ers, is that they will give it. One agent told me the first half of my nov­el was per­fec­tion, yet to scrap the sec­ond half. Anoth­er told me the sec­ond half was won­der­ful and to scrap the first. If had lis­tened to them both, there would be no book at all. Con­verse­ly, I am cau­tious when asked for advice. One should nev­er offer coun­sel just to seem like you have some­thing worth say­ing. Find a small cir­cle of con­fi­dantes who you trust to speak the truth with love. Yet still be pre­pared to ignore them and fight on.

Love well. It may or may not help your writ­ing, but love will give you strength and make every­thing worth­while.

I’ll give the last word to David Lynch…

“Ideas are like fish.

If you want to catch lit­tle fish, you can stay in the shal­low water. But if you want to catch the big fish, you’ve got to go deep­er.

Down deep, the fish are more pow­er­ful and more pure. They’re huge and abstract. And they’re very beau­ti­ful.”

Anni Tidechild by Allen Dou­glas