AN INTERVIEW WITH MATTHEW REILLY
This is an edited extract of an interview Matthew Reilly did on Reddit before the release of TROLL MOUNTAIN in April 2014.
Is there any hope for a movie soon? With Contest being optioned again recently, are you hopeful that it will get the Hollywood treatment?
If you were to retire tomorrow, which of your books do you want to be remembered for the most? Which book do you want people to say when they go “Matthew Reilly? Oh, he’s that bloke who wrote _____”?
Me and my mate love your books, especially the Jack West and Scarecrow stories, and we’ve tossed around the idea of getting tattoos of them!
The movie world is fickle and I can’t make them move faster. Contest is looking the best right now.
At the moment, THE TOURNAMENT is the one I’d like to be remembered for, because of the teacher-student relationship in it. But I think I will be remembered for the novel set in China, coming out later this year. It’s getting big buzz from those who have read it in-house.
I once had a super-cool “Scarecrow” emblem drawn up — it was a wooden scarecrow with a helmet and sunglasses. That would be the best tattoo. I’d get one of those!
Hi Mr Reilly, 1. Have you ever looked into doing a regional tour of Australia? I live about four hours away from Sydney and have never had the opportunity to meet you, or get one of my copies signed. 2. How long on average does the research for each book take you? Thank you again.
Over the years, I’ve done many speeches in regional libraries — Singleton, Tamworth, Minlaton, Toowoomba, Dalby. Must have missed your town! Will do some later this year. Keep an eye on my website.
Research can take three months or many years. THE TOURNAMENT grew over eighteen years. Usually, it’s about six months.
Hi Matthew, massive fan! I’m so glad to see you back after all you went through.
My question is, do other characters ever pop into your head when you’re writing? Like for example if you’re writing a Jack West novel, do you ever suddenly have an idea and then think “Hmm, this might actually better for Scarecrow to go through”? Do you have a system for keeping them separate?
All the time! I just pull out my notebook and jot it down for later. The key is to FINISH THE BOOK I AM WRITING NOW!!!
My system reflects my brain — I have a million notebooks ling around my desk, filled with notes!
Where did you get the inspiration for the Maghook?/Where can I get my hands on a Maghook?
How is Mother, what’s she been up to recently? Is she going to make an appearance in any future story?
I like heroes who swing — Indiana Jones, Luke Skywalker. So Scarecrow (and Jack) were going to swing. The Maghook enabled that! (And I made it up, so you can’t buy one. Bummer.)
I get the odd thought about Mother every few months and I always jot it down on a piece of paper: “What would Mother thinks of Vladimir Putin riding on a horse with his shirt off?” Stuff like that. She’s awesome to think about in that way…and it gets filed away for the next Scarecrow book.
Hey Matthew – Compared to Ice Station, Temple and Area 7, your more recent books have taken on a more fantastical approach to story telling (except perhaps Army of Thieves).
Is that a conscious move on your part?
I noticed the same thing myself, actually. Recently, I have gone into history, trolls and wait for the China book (whoa!). And yes, the Jack West series is essentially a fantasy quest with modern weaponry.
Perhaps this reflects a need on my part to escape, I’m not sure. I know, after 2011, I wanted to write a novel that was not a sequel to anything I’d done before, it had to be new, and the China book — with its rampant monster-movie-on-paper qualities — is a total work of “sheer giant-scale action escapist fun”. Again, maybe I needed it, but damn it felt good to write. It’s very geopolitical.
The Scarecrow world is my geopolitical realm, and when I return there, I will bring back to grittier stuff.
Any news on an Aloysius Knight book/appearance in a book? Also a second Hover Car book?
Aloysius Knight might return in an ebook novella.
As for a Hover Car sequel: you know, probably not. It was a once-off. The exception rather than the rule. My books are for adults…Hover Car may have actually muddied the waters (some of those kids bought THE TOURNAMENT…)
What is the best advice ever given to you?
Oh, man…. that’s a big one. “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” It was on a poster in a hotel gym.
Hello Mr Reilly,
You may remember a couple months ago signing a copy of Ice Station and Scarecrow and sending it to my family after we lost our house in a fire, I would just like to take this opportunity to thank you again for your kindness
No problem. It was the least I could do in such circumstances. Hope you’re back on your feet.
Hi Matthew. How do you handle living in the public eye since gaining notoriety, more so now as a very popular Australian author? Also will Troll Mountain ever be released in paperback?
Being an author is the best kind of fame — I am recognised at book events, but generally, no-one knows what I look like. (Since being on Australian Story, I get more looks in the street. I’d rather be known for my books than my life, though.)
It’s usually nice — when a QANTAS steward is a fan, I get nicer wine! And you’d be amazed how many kids of Important People are fans of mine!
Troll Mountain will be an ebook for now…but never say never! Momentum (my ebook publisher) have done hardcopies before.
Do you have any person in particular that you used for military reference training? Alternatively, is all of your knowledge on equipment etc. sourced mostly from wikipedia, manuals, and documentaries? Have you ever participated in any live firing exercises?
I’ve had a few US Marines and commandos from the Australian 2 Commando Regiment help me out.
I prefer manuals (like Jane’s) and non-fiction to Wikipedia. Wikipedia is good just for quick reference, but always back it up.
Yes, I’ve been in live-fire stuff. Very cool. Can’t say where.
From your experience getting published for the first time, what would you recommend that others do the same or differently? Also, can you give any tips on writing fast-paced action sequences?
Getting published is HARD. You must, above all else, persevere. Persistence is everything. Self-publishing on Amazon is something you can do now that I could not back in 1996. It’s a great option.
Action sequences: think visually. Short sentences. And a hero you care about. Works for me!
Everyone has their favourite Reilly characters to read, but which ones are your favourites to write and why?
Mother and the Black Knight — because they say what we would never say out loud.
Roger Ascham from THE TOURNAMENT was also fun, because he is the ideal teacher, the kind we wish we all had.
What’s Troll Mountain about and why did you write it?
I started TROLL MOUNTAIN back in 2009, I think. It was designed to be a pure hero’s journey. Worked on it, on and off, between the major novels and decided, with e-publishing now mature, the time was right.
Peanut butter or Nutella?
How much does travel influence where you set your characters? And where has been your favourite place to travel to?
The best part of my success has been how it allows me to travel more and more.
I couldn’t afford to travel when I wrote CONTEST, ICE STATION and TEMPLE. But since then, I’ve been to nearly every place: Lake Powell for AREA 7, Istanbul for THE TOURNAMENT, Egypt/Stonehenge/China for THE JACK WEST SERIES.
Egypt stands above everywhere else. It’s simple awesome. Bigger and older than anything else in the world. Easter Island comes 2nd.
I just recently finished reading ‘The Tournament’ and absolutely loved it. I found it quite a different read from your other books. So where did that come from?
I just wanted to do a story about:
(1) a chess tournament, because I thought it’d be a challenge and (2) a story about how a great historic individual, Queen Elizabeth I, became great. My answer: her education. I’m a big fan of education.
Concerning Contest, where did the inspiration behind the Karanadon come from in contest?
The Karanadon was simply designed to be a random element. It’s like a cross between a bear and a wolf, in my mind. I came up with the name by taking the dinosaur name “pteranadon” and going through the alphabet till I found a starting letter that sounded cool…got to “K” and bingo.
How do you turn an idea into a novel? I’ve been writing small pieces for a long time but I just can’t draw the stories out past a couple pages.
You need a really big idea and I find I need to get the ending in my head first.
What are your favorite books?
JURASSIC PARK by Michael Crichton, FATHERLAND by Robert Harris and THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS by Thomas Harris.
MONEYBALL by Michael Lewis and OUTLIERS by Malcolm Gladwell are two non-fiction faves.