Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I have written over 25 books of fiction and non-fiction and seem to take turns moving between one and the other, which provides a nice balance to my work. I have also several children’s and young adult books. Much of my work is driven by an interest in history, whether that is telling stories from history or writing alternative histories.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
The Floating City is a book set in Renaissance Italy, in a Venice-type city, but where magic is real. I was inspired to write it while traveling in Italy and looking at the machines and inventions of the Renaissance and thinking some of them must have seemed like magic to people at the time…
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Every book seems to have its own different way of being written. Some have been written in the mornings and some in the evenings. Some in fast bursts of energy and some painfully slow.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
Modern Irish and American authors that play with form impress me a great deal, such as Michael Chabon and Colum McCann and Mike McCormack.
What are you working on now?
I am working on a book that re-imagines Captain Cook’s voyage to Australia, whereby he is wrecked on the Great Barrier Reef, his ship sinks and he and his crew have to come ashore and find a way to survive with very little, and a reversal of power roles with the indigenous peoples.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Write. Write some more. Then write a bit more still. Also, don’t presume that the book you most need to write is the book that somebody else most needs to read. Once you have written the book you most need to write, you then need to find a way to transform it to the book somebody wants to read.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Everybody will give you advice on what worked for them, but you need to find your own path.
What are you reading now?
So many things. Fantasy and literary fiction and short stories and anthologies of the best short stories of the year.
What’s next for you as a writer?
Complete the book on Captain Cook I am writing, that I call my Cook Book.
If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
Empty note books so I could fill them with writing.