Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
My name is John Irvine. I am 77, plus 8 months minus 4 days. I don’t care much about the age thing as long as I can walk with my greyhounds.
Fiona: Where are you from?
Normal place originally (snigger), an event which occured in Lower Hutt city in New Zealand in 1940. When my dad returned (thankfully) from WW11 we were given a simple government house in a brand new suburb named Naenae. (Neye Neye). I lived with my mum there until I was 23 after she and my dad had parted.
Fiona: A little about yourself (i.e., your education, family life, etc.).
Well, a fairly normal childhood for the time (1940s) school, cricket, soccer, school etc. I went to a local primary school not far from where we lived until I was 12, then off to secondary school. I’d had enough at age 15 so left as soon as my October birthday came around. I had quite a few nowhere jobs for a few years and then scored an office job in a footwear factory. Great place, the office, as it is always filled with girls!! That lasted until I and a mate decided Australia was the place for a working holiday.
We were planning on a year but I enjoyed it so much I stayed a further 28 of them! There, I did many kinds of jobs, like selling cars, selling motorbikes and jet skis, delivering cruising yachts, cooking in a bistro and so on. I also played guitar and sang for money in the jar during the 70s. I travelled a lot on my motorcycle all over and I eventually ended up buying a farm in Sth Australia in the Outback farming sheep and wheat.
Got droughted out of there in 5 years and decided to return to NZ where at age 56 I was unemployable!Then I did things like house and pet sitting, farm management, and bludging off the government! Eventually, after a night on red wine, I met my current wife (#4) online in a writer’s group. I went to GReece to meet her and she moved down here. We now live in rural NZ surrounded by cows, and are loved by three beautiful, elderly greyhounds.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
Hmmm… at this age one doesn’t accumulate a lot of exciting news, but mine is that I recently took a fast train from my last publisher and have a new one who seems to be just the thing! He’s younger, Sth African, multi-talented and really keen to take me on. So my book stocks are currently minimal due to him wanting to republish all my current stuff before embarking on the new ones I have ready in the wings. His publishing company is Celenic Earth Publications: https://celenicearth.wordpress.com/celenic-earth-publications/
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Aha…. my mum tells (told, alas) that I began writing poetry at around age 8. Not that I remember , and fortunately none survived!! Hahaha! I wrote some bits and pieces, mainly insulting stuff about people I worked with, but didn’t really get fired up until after my return to NZ. I fell in love a couple of times in the first couple of years and wrote love poems. They were a bit, well, you know! The thing just grew from there unaided by me, and I learned about other forms of poetry. Haiku and sonnets caught my eye early on and I still love both forms. But I write most styles on occasion. My wife was a novelist when we met and wrote no verse. I wrote only poetry, but gradually we both made a move into each other’s territories. I do write fiction, mostly horror and sci fi, in Flash form.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
No idea, honestly. Never thought about writing in that manner. it comes, one taps it out. I have been asked many times about where the inspiration comes from and I can honestly say I have no idea! Certainly I can see something: a bird or dog or tree or an emotion, whatever and a line or couplet often pops up into my head. That’s about it. I guess the real answer though is everything!!!!
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Again, I cannot say as I cannot remember exactly. But in 2005 I had about a 600 pieces lurking in my files, and a friend’s daughter, who was at art school, offered to do illustrations for me if I published anything. I did, and she did! My first collection, Man of Stone, is that book. Still for sale!
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Man of Stone is one of the poems. As the collection does tend to follow my life somewhat (not intentioned!) it seemed appropriate as I am a drifter without dreams or expectations. The book finishes with that poem.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
Not really… my style? Jeeze, Fiona… depends whether I decide to write a sonnet, cinquain, haibun or a humorous sling-off at a friend!
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
We aren’t talking novels here so I’ll slide by this one.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
No… I write about what I have already done, or where I have been. As I have already travelled a huge amount in my life, but I still have many stories to tell! Even my 4 serious illnesses and surgeries have offered subject material for my pen. I have a collection I wrote and photographed while in rehabilitation after cancer surgery and undergoing 5 weeks of radiation treatment on my head. An illuminating group of people were incarcerated with me. The book is “You and me and cancer makes three.” My hospital experiences were definitely inspirational.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Over the years I have had several artists help me out. Most of my collections include some atwork. A lot lifted from the Internet, legally, and some originals. Dave Freeman in the UK, Marge Simon in the US, my wife Maureen Irvine, Laura Givens (a surreal genius.)
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Not a novelist, but I hope readers enjoy what I write..
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
Probably Carson Buckingham. Her style is just so readable. Very creepy!!!
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
My artist/writer friend in the UK, Dave Freeman. He even gave me some money once when I was broke, and did all the artwork for free. He also is a graphic artist and very talented, did the book formatting for all my books. I could never repay the man. I love him dearly.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
No…. I really enjoy it, but few poets become rich and famous. And I don’t care anyway!
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Not a novelist, so moving on.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I learn something every day!! Not necessarily about writing of course!
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
That would be interesting… I would, of course!!! A film based on a collection of my poetry! Hahahahaha!
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
WRITE . IT . DOWN . NOW!!!!!!
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Nope. Apart from “buy, buy, buy!” Please?
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I have just finished Carson Buckingham’s immensely riveting book “Noble Rot.” She is a wonderful, wonderful writer.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
No, but it would have been a kid’s book as I learned to read early. The first book I recall reading as an early teenager was Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, then the Martian Chronicles. I read everything he’d written at that time then. My next big adventure was finding Ian Fleming’s Dr No!
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Leonard Cohen: He was (alas) a genius both musically and lyrically. He showed that raucous music and violent lyrics were unnecessary. He was a poet’s poet. An exceptional human being in all ways.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I laugh at good humour, stuff that the British have always been good at. Cry? Not often however sad or distressed I feel. I have written a few poems about just this subject.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
I have had a few along the way… quite a few. Making dreamcatchers, driftwood sculptures, riding motorcycles long distances to unknown destinations, archery.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Haven’t watched TV or films in more than 10 years.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
How long have you got?
- Colours: Black and purple. I wear black most of the time.
- Foods: Thai food top of the list! But all Asian food, Italian, All seafood. I love cooking.
- Ah, Music. Well, I’m an old folkie so 60s/70s folk music; Dixieland Jazz; Jug Bands; Kristofferson; Leonard Cohen; Willie Nelson; Bluegrass; Mozart; Bach; Beethoven; Some rockers like AC/DC; Alice Cooper; Meatloaf, and the list goes on!! I do especially love the sound of female voices. Singers like Joni Mitchell; Edith Piaf; Joan Baez; Dory Previn… just to mention a few.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Lie with my hounds in a remote seaside place, watch the weather and drink a lot. Otherwise alone.
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
Consuming the very best vodka available and lying about with my hounds on a beach. As above!
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
(Inspiration by Neil Young)
an unknown legend
in no-one’s backyard
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
I have indeed a website which is partly a shop, and where you can read a sample from each book. www.cooldragon76.com The site also has links to purchase. There is also a Visitor’s book to leave comments in.