Monday, March 28, 2011

Please welcome Australian author Ian Irvine to Putting Pen To Paper. Don't forget there is a chance to win the first three books in the GRIM AND GRIMMER series. You have to be a follower and comment. Chit chat with Ian. :) I'll use after part two of Ian's interview tomorrow. Good luck. He sent me the books to read and autographed them for me. These are not the books I'll be giving away. I bought some for the giveaway. They had me giggling all the way through. You gotta have these books!

Ian Irvine, a marine scientist who has developed some of Australia's national guidelines for the protection of the oceanic environment, has written 27 novels. 
These include the internationally bestselling Three Worlds fantasy sequence (The View from the Mirror, The Well of Echoes and Song of the Tears), an eco-thriller trilogy and 12 books 
for children. His latest book is Grim and Grimmer 3: The Desperate Dwarf.

Ian’s website is
His author site on Facebook is

I just want to say it has been  pleasure getting to know Ian over these past few 
weeks. On with the interview. (^_^)

Ian, when did you write your first book?
1987. I’d been thinking about writing for years, and writing epic fantasy because it was the genre
I most enjoyed reading. I had done reams of planning and world-building, and drawn maps of my 
fantasy world the size of doors, but struggled to get any story down on paper. Then, finally, in 
of that year my frustrated creative urge burst forth and I told myself – “It’s mid-September, 
I’m starting now, and if I write three pages a day, by Christmas I’ll have the first draft of a novel done.”
Easier said than done. The moment I started writing A Shadow on the Glass I realised that 
I didn’t knowhow to tell a good story. I’d never tried it before. I soon realised that planning was useless, 
so I simply began with the heroine, Karan, in a bad situation and tried to write her out of it. I never 
knew what was going to happen next, but I quickly discovered that every chapter ended with her,\
and her impractical friend Llian, in ever more desperate trouble.
Writing was agony – I felt sure that I was writing rubbish. I often wanted to take the manuscript, the 
computer and floppy discs, out into the middle of the lawn and set fire to them, just to escape. Then, 
suddenly, a third of the way though the book, something clicked and I got into the story, and at that
moment I knew that writing was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
And I did finish the first draft, three days before Christmas.
Unfortunately, Karan’s and Llian’s story didn’t finish there; within weeks I had sketched out three 
morebooks of the quartet called The View from the Mirror, though it took years to draft it all, 
and many years after that before it was finally published, in 1998 and 1999. But since then it has
been published in a dozen countries and has sold a million copies, so the agonising wait was worth it.
It taught me howto write.

Are your characters based on yourself or anyone else you know?
I never base characters on people I know. Partly because that can cause trouble, but mostly because I
write about larger-than-life, often wildly eccentric characters and I don’t know people who are that 
unusual. And because it’s much more fun to create characters from scratch than it is to copy them
from life.
Besides, what writer really understands the innermost workings of another person’s soul. We may
think we understand our spouses, children and dearest friends, but do we really?
Ultimately, the only person I can really understand is myself, so in a way every character is
based on aspects of myself – perhaps turned upside-down or inside-out, but still more me
than anyone I know.
Which is rather worrying, considering the terrible things that happen in my books.

Which is your own favorite book or character?
At the moment it’s The Calamitous Queen, the fourth and last book of Grim and Grimmer
because I’ve just finished correcting the proofs and on the read-through I really enjoyed it. 
I usually like best thelast book I’ve done, because I try hard to learn something new with 
each new book and make it better than the ones that have gone before.
But my sentimental favourite will always be my first book, A Shadow on the Glass
Over ten years Idid 22 hard drafts, and I lived every mile of Karan and Llian’s adventures.
I miss them.

 Do you work from home or elsewhere?
I work from home. I’m a marine scientist by profession, an expert in the management of 
polluted sediments.
I set up my own little consulting company the year before I started writing and I’ve been 
working from my home office ever since. My office has a literary side and a scientific side,
and this is where I’ve done most of my writing for the past twenty years.
But I used to travel a lot for work, and I’ve also written in a mining camp on a
small island in Torres Strait,on a mountaintop in Papua-New Guinea, and on assignments in 
Mauritius, Bali, Fiji, the Philippines, Indonesia, South Korea and Western Samoa, among 
other places. When you have a burning desire to write, and little free 
time, you have to write everywhere.

Is it easier writing for children?
Yes and no. My epic fantasy cycle, THE THREE WORLDS, comprises 11 books so far, written over
nearly 20 years, and runs to 2.3 million words. I loved doing it, but writing all those big books
in such a long sequence was mentally and creatively exhausting. At the end of each series
I have to get away to somethingdifferent, and lately I’ve done this by writing much smaller books for
children (I’ve written 12 so far).
In one sense it’s easier writing for children. Children’s books are much smaller than epic fantasy novels,
and simpler – more often than not there’s but one viewpoint character, rather than many, and the plot is
simpler and tends to be more linear.

Are there any drawbacks?              
On the other hand, huge fantasy novels offer more freedom, because readers are more tolerant
of diversionsand many readers love huge, complex plots. Children, however, won’t put up
with a meandering story orpoorly drawn characters; the writing has to be tight and focused.
A few years ago I wrote a quartet called The Sorcerer’s Tower for mid-primary readers.
Each bookwas just 10,000 words and I found it difficult to adapt my writing style to such
small books – to developinteresting characters and tell an involving adventure story in so few words.
But I learned a tremendous amount about writing economically. It’s changed the way
I’ve written since.

What is the very best thing about writing for children?
Being able to let go and indulge the wild and wacky side that I’ve probably suppressed
in writing my moreserious epic fantasies, and my thrillers about catastrophic climate change.

How did you come up with your enchanting character Ike?
I’ve written about a lot of extraordinary characters, but I wanted to begin Grim and Grimmer
with a very ordinary hero, a boy called Useless Ike who is always in trouble because he can’t
do anything right, and isexpelled from school in the first chapter.
But no one wants to read about a totally useless character. In the crisis of the first chapter,
Ike can’t bear being Useless Ike any more, and decides that he has to make something of his life.
Ike is good heartedand brave, but also impulsive, thoughtless and reckless, and he often gets
himself and his friends into worsetrouble. But he never gives up. Ike keeps trying and by the
end of the story, though sheer, admirabledetermination, he not only transforms himself
but is the hero who has saved Grimmery.

Please join us tomorrow for part two of my interview with Ian.

Ian's blog tour schedule:

January 15, 2011                    
Ripping Ozzie Reads              Book Promotion

March 9, 2011               
A&R Edwardstown                On Writing Children’s Fiction

March 21, 2011             
Kid’s Book Capers                 Review and giveaway

March 22, 2011             
Dee Scribe                               Writing Ike’s Character

March 23, 2011             
Our Lady Of Lourdes School General Writing

March 23, 2011             
Tristan Banck’s Blog              Creative Process/Workspace

March 24                       
Kid’s Book reviews                Top 10 Writing Tips

March 28, 2011              
Robyn Campbell                     About the writing life and this book

March 28, 2011             
George Ivanoff                       10 things I enjoyed most about writing this book

March 31, 2011             
George Ivanoff                       10 things I found hardest about writing this book

April 6, 2011                 
DC Green                                Where the character and story ideas came from

April 11, 2011               
Bug in a Book


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Oops, I made a big mistake in that comment! Let's try again:

    Ike sounds lovely. And how exciting to have your own copies signed by Ian.

    Ian, my niece is off to the Bahamas soon to work in a voluntary marine programme for (I think) Unesco. And that's completely unrelated to your interview, but you're a marine scientist so I though you'd enjoy the trivia!

    Good luck with your books & blog tour!
    Judy (South Africa)

    PS Hugs to Christopher, and don't enter me in the draw Robyn, I'm too far away and don't read children's books (I haven't even read Harry Potter yet!) (terrible, I know!)

  3. Useless Ike sounds like a fun character to hang out with. I'd love to read a book and see things through his eyes.

  4. Loved the title and the name Useless Ike. He sounds great, would definitely like to befriend him.

    I don't know if I can be a part of the draw, I am far away, in India.

  5. Nice interview Robyn! And nice to meet you Ian. These definately sound like some books I could get into.

  6. First of all, I have tried to fix this post. The lines are running into the sidebar. GAH! I dislike blogger, very much today. ARGH

    Judy, Ike is a wonderful character. I love him so much. And you haven't read Harry Potter?? Sriously? (((hugs)))

  7. Paul, I knew you'd love him. All boys/guys would. Girls too, though. :)

  8. Rachna, if random picks your number, you get the books. :)

  9. Bish, Thanks Bish! Your in the drawing, girlfriend. :)

  10. Awesome interview! I hadn't head of these books before. I'm going to have to check them out! :D

  11. Thanks for posting this, Robyn! I particularly liked the discussion of characters. As someone who often bases characters on real-life people, Ian's thoughts were interesting.

  12. Dani, you're in the drawing, girl! (^_^)

  13. Davin, I too found Ian's comments on characters interesting. I'm putting you in the drawing, old friend. :)

  14. Hi Everyone, thanks for your kind words. It's lovely to talk to you all. Judy, I did enjoy the trivia. Even though I've been writing full time for a decade, I still do quite a bit of my marine science work too.

    It sounds as though a lot of readers here are also interested in writing, and for all those who are I wish you all the very best for it. Even though I've written all those books, I still love writing and can't wait to get to my computer each day. It's (almost the best fun I've ever had.

    Thanks for the opportunity, Robyn. It's been great.

  15. Oh, I forgot to mention, if anyone has any questions, I'm only too happy to answer them.

  16. I'm trying to expand my reading horizons and I also have two boys that would enjoy reading these books. Don't you think so, Robyn? Please enter me :) I found one of Mr Irvine's books at the library and will be checking it out!

  17. Thanks for the stop by Ian. YES! Ask the man some questions. He's all ears! :)

  18. Anne, I have you entered. And yep, I think they would love these books. They are SOOO funny. Great writing. Check it out, Anne. :)

  19. Thanks for introducing me to Ian Irvine, Robyn. So far I haven't read any of his books.

  20. Great interview! Thinking a lot about main characters these days so this info is interesting and helpful. Thank you, Ian and Robyn for sharing with us!
    Karen :)

  21. What a fabulous treat! Thank you Robyn and Ian. I can't wait to get these and share them with my sons!

  22. Great interview
    Thank you

  23. Nas, thanks for stopping by. Grab his books if you can. :)

  24. Karen, I'll enter you in the draw. You gotta read these books. :)

  25. Cheryl, Maybe you can win these for your sons. :)

  26. Great interview. Thanks for introducing me to Ian.

    When I have formatting problems, I paste the text into Notepad. I might have to delete spaces so that the text looks uniform; then I copy and paste into Blogger.

  27. If anyone has any writing questions, you're welcome to email me at Or ask a question on my Facebook wall, Cheers, Ian

  28. Fantasy writing intrigues me. I'm very happy to have met Ian through you, Robyn. Sounds like a very interesting author to get to know. Hope Christopher and all the kids are doing well :) You too, my friend. Hugs!!


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