Name Andrew Nette
Where are you from?
I am Melbourne born and bred, although I have lived and worked all over the place, including as a journalist for nearly seven years in Asia.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
There is a lot going on at the moment. My main focus at the moment is a PhD on the history of Australian pulp fiction. I also have my first non-fiction book, which I have co-edited, coming out later this year. It is called Girl Gangs, Biker Boys & Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction & Youth Culture, 1950-1980 and is the first comprehensive account of how the rise of postwar youth culture was depicted in mass-market pulp fiction.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Writing has been a part of virtually every job I have done ever since I left university in the late 1980s. I first started writing fiction about eight years ago. My first novel is called Ghost Money, a crime story set in mid-1990s Cambodia, when I was working in the country as a journalist. I actually made a very fumbling attempt to start writing the novel when I was working overseas as a journalist, but it didn’t work. It was probably after the death of my father in 2006, that I finally decided I had to get the novel out of me. I think that is probably a pretty common experience for writings; something happens that makes you realise the clock is ticking and you better get on it.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
For me, it is just how I write. Others have called my style sparse. The words ‘hard boiled’ have also been used.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
The title ‘Ghost Money’ refers to the fake paper money that is burnt at Chinese or Vietnamese funerals or other holidays and special occasions. Criminals also send ghost money to people they are trying to scare off or threaten, the implication being pretty obvious. The title refers to a number of things that happen in the book. I won’t say anything more than that.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I don’t think there is a central ‘message’ in Ghost Money. I was more trying to give people a flavour of what life was like in Cambodia in the mid 1990s.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
As I said above, the book is set in the mid-1990s, when I was working on an off as a journalist in Cambodia. In particular, the books revolves around events that took place in
August 1996. I had just arrived in Cambodia for stint working for one of the wire services. A couple of weeks before I arrived, Ieng Sary, the former Deputy Prime Minister in the charnel house the Khmer Rouge called Democratic Kampuchea, announced he’d split from the movement and wanted to negotiate with the then Cambodia Coalition Government for amnesty. He claimed he’d grown sick of fighting and wanted to end the war. A more significant influence were reports Khmer Rouge hardliners under Pol Pot had discovered Sary was skimming the proceeds from gem mining and logging operations, and were about to move against him.
Whatever the case, both sides of Cambodia’s dysfunctional coalition government courted Sary and his not inconsiderable military clout for their own ends. Sary, meanwhile, used his position to stay one step ahead of a prison cell. It was a bizarre, increasingly acrimonious game of cat and mouse that eventually resulted in open warfare between the two coalition partners. But that’s another story. These events form the backdrop to Ghost Money.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
If I had to pick crime authors that have influenced me, they would include James Elloy, the British crime writer, David Peace and Donald Westlake, an American author who wrote a tremendous series of books, under the name Richard Stark, featuring a criminal called Parker. I don’t know if I have a mentor, as such, but my partner, Angela Savage also writes crime (and other) novels, and she has been a great support and inspiration.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Too many to name, I think. If I had to pick one, I would probably say Western Australian writer, and my friend, David Whish-Wilson. Not only is he a terrific writer, he has been very encouraging of my work.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
One day, hopefully.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
My second book is called Gunshine State. It is a heist novel set in Queensland, Thailand and Melbourne. That came out late last year and whenever I do readings from that book or Ghost Money, I think, I would change that, that and that. In some respects I think you have to resist the urge to think about what you would do differently with previous books, because you are always changing as a writer. The thing is to channel your energy into the next book.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
As I said above, I have always written in one form or another. In terms of fiction writing, I think it was just the realization that I’d been thinking about doing a novel set in Cambodia and the point came when I either had to do it or shut up about it.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Everything about writing is challenging.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I like to travel to gather material for my books but it is not always possible. The initial draft of my first book, Ghost Money, was written during a year my family and I spent living and working in Cambodia. Obviously that immersion in Cambodia culture and politics was crucial to give it a deep sense of place.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
You learn things from every piece of writing you do. Seriously, I have been writing for work in one form or another since I was about 24. And, as I said above, I’ve been doing fiction since about 2008. But I am still learning and honing my craft.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead
The main character of my second novel, Gunshine State, is Gary Chance, a former Australian army driver, ex-bouncer and thief. A young Bryan Brown would be perfect to play him in the movie version.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Yes, don’t spend all your time talking about writing. Write.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Seriously, thank you.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Reading fiction for pleasure this year has really taken due to all the reading I have to do for my Phd and other projects I am currently involved in. But I am currently half way through The Whites by Richard Price. Not surprisingly, it is very good.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Yes. It was Robinson Crusoe. I remember the pivotal moment quite clearly. I was thirteen. My father came home from work one day and, to my complete horror, announced he was withholding my allowance until I started reading books (comics, which I loved, didn’t count). He set the first two books, Robinson Crusoe, followed by Treasure Island. They were heavy looking volumes with no pictures that had belonged to my father when he was a boy. I can recall thinking I would never work my way through them. Of course, I did and I have been a voracious reader ever since.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Laugh: my 11-year-old daughter
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
There’s lots. If I had to pick one, however, it would be Raymond Chandler, so I could try and cage a few writing tips off him.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
He gave it his best shot. Because that’s what I always try and do.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
I am a huge movie buff. I am also an avid gardener.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Crime, war movies, SF, musicals, my tastes are pretty broad. Just to give you an indication of what I have been consuming lately, I took my daughter to see Guardians of the Galaxy 2, which I loved. I have also been binge watching the The Vikings on TV.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Writing is all I have ever done. I can’t think of what else I could do
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Yes, you can catch me at my on-line home Pulp Curry: www.pulpcurry.com
You can also find me on me as @Pulpcurry on Twitter
Amazon Author pages