The author will be awarding an eCopy of Mortal Thoughts to 3 randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour.
The heist is cursed from the start. Doug Mulcahy and his gang hijack a mining plane and a fortune in black opals - gemstones with a rep for being unlucky. Following a brutal shootout on a remote airfield, the hijackers flee in the crippled plane only to crash-land soon after. Shaken and battered, they stagger through the outback until they stumble upon a strange little house and an ethereal woman. Taking the woman hostage, the thieves wait for her husband to return with his truck. But it all goes to hell when a rogue gang member forces himself onto the woman. The house is drenched with blood, the husband returns, and the men realise nothing in this place is as it seems. And the horrors are only just beginning...
Doug Mulcahy always wanted another smoke before he’d finished the last one, more to feel a cigarette between his lips than nicotine in his lungs. An oral fixation, his ex-wife used to call it, usually earning herself a smack. The only oral fixation he ever admitted to suffering was how to shut her smart mouth.
Gripping the wheel with both hands, searching for the turn, he saw a black snake standing on its tail in the distance down the road, swaying like a charmer’s trick in the midday rising heat.
Getting closer, the snake became a pair of black, stretch denim jeans, long blonde hair, a backpack – and the potential for female company. But then sharper focus revealed scrawny shoulders wider than the hips, a lack of arse and an unfeminine stride.
The snake stuck out a thumb.
“Good fucking luck,” growled the man seated beside Doug.
The truck didn’t slow. In the rear-view Doug saw the hitchhiker hawk and spit in their direction, never breaking stride.
Enjoy the walk, smartarse.
A sign ahead showed their destination writ large in faded letters: Mirribindi Aerodrome. As Doug slowed for the turn, an oncoming white Ford Falcon hurtled past back toward town. Sporting an ostentatious bullbar and radio antennas like fishing poles, it was the kind of vehicle endemic in country areas, favoured by the landed gentry. Its tyres kicked up a stone which cracked hard against Doug’s windscreen.
Doug thought he disguised his reaction, but his passenger chuckled.
Both knew he’d never enjoyed the loud, sudden bangs that punctuated their line of work.
Tell us about yourself:
I’m an Australian screenwriter and first time novelist. I drink too much, exercise too little and I’m pleased with that balance. I grew up in a small Queensland town very close to the small town that Dr George Miller grew up. The isolation, brutality, enthusiastic gun and car culture inspired MAD MAX in Young George – it invoked a horror crime novel out of me. I like travelling in comfort – hitchhiked a lot in my 20s and slept on dirt, sand, concrete and cow shit – those days are happily over unless I end up homeless and mad which is likely.
What was your first book?
UNBIDDEN is my first book. The fine people at Harper Collins have broken it up into five installments with the combined edition coming out in April. I’m proud to have a similar release strategy to H.G Wells and other weird fiction authors of the 19th century who had their work serialized. I hope to write more books as long as it doesn’t impinge on my loafing.
Describe your first break.
My first break was as a screenwriter. I was always told that movies were hard to break into and television was easier. Not the case in my experience. I’m happy to have made inroads into film and now a small foray into fiction because television in Australia is unwatchable. I dodged a fate worse than death. I always wanted to try and write books to see if I could at least finish one – and then maybe even write a readable one. I never expected I would attempt it before I was 60 years-old but here I am. There’s ageism in screenwriting like anywhere else. Writing novels was and still is my retirement plan. After a lifetime of screenwriting it’ll be strange and jarring not to have to deal with cowards, clowns and idiots. I’m looking forward to my screenwriting pariah status – bring it on!
What is your favorite genre to read? To write?
I’ve always devoured crime novels. The more hardboiled and hateful the better. But a mission I do have in the very few years we possess eyeballs is to read as many of the classic novels as I can. Apart from boasting about it and feeling superior I want to see what makes them classic novels and steal anything I can that’s in the public domain – that’s only half a joke. My favorite genre to write for is horror and sci-fi but I adore thrillers, crime and mystery. Everything I touch has the same grim and oppressive tone which is why I’m such good company.
Are Happy Endings are must in your stories?
The only must is the right ending. The one that feels honest or has some impact. The right ending can haunt a reader and that’s what I’m in it for. It’s an appeal of the novel – the truthful, uncompromised ending. Writing for cinema is a different ballgame. A lot of money is being risked and producers are a careful lot. It’s going to be a happy ending substantially more often than not because they think/hope they’ll make more money that way.
What makes a protagonist interesting?
I think it helps having a protagonist that pisses you off sometimes. Someone who frustrates you. The reader wants and yearns them to do something, say something, act, make the right decision and they don’t – not straight up anyway. I’m happy watching 2D characters in movies because some movies are meant to be dumb or well rounded characters are not called for – James Bond is a womanizing sociopath in every movie and we love that guy! But I do like to see something more interesting and complicated in fiction. Grey area is also vital – a bit of shade and light – just like real people if we’re being honest about each other and who we are. We’re complicated and inconsistent and we struggle to be better people – I want to see this dose of reality within the pure bunkum of a genre plot.
What is the best thing about being a writer?
As a horror and crime writer you spend your days harming people, destroying their minds and bodies, throwing every awful thing at them you can think of but no-one really gets hurt – unlike the real world which really has it in for us. People talk about environmental footprints but there are other kinds of footprints – did you do evil, did you cause harm in the woefully short time you were here? I may write about terrible things but they’re just words on paper – writers don’t pollute waterways, inject perfume into bunny rabbit’s eyeballs or firebomb small Middle Eastern villages – we don’t do much harm at all, unless they wrote Mein Kampf.
What is the worst thing?
That it’s not a demonstrative talent .You can’t take your Mac to a party and impress a girl the way a muso can – well, you can but you’ll look like a jerk. The other downside is you’ll never get to all the stories you want to write. Even if they come at a sluggish rate of two ideas a year you’ll probably never turn all of them into books or scripts. Many are going to stay little movies in the home cinema of your head. Maybe that’s not so bad.
Pantser or plotter?
Bit of both. Was more of a plotter when I first started out but these days I don’t often have the luxury of putting together detailed outlines – particularly for the screenwriting side of things. But no matter what there’s always some kind of outline even if its only ten generously spaced pages. That takes care of the spine of it at least. The more writing I do the more confident I am of forming the connective tissue of each vertebra that makes up the spine. And sometimes you throw away large swathes of the spine completely and improvise which is scary but thrilling also and great breakthroughs can come out of tossing away the roadmap and pressing ahead. Or you can hit a wall and hate yourself. Most of the time completing any kind of creative work is a combination of good planning and the courage to go off-road, choose a direction and follow it doggedly – you’ll either arrive at a verdant oasis or a stinking node of despair.
What do you see the direction of your future writing taking? What can we expect next? Give us a little taste.
Well, I’m never going to write Australian literary fiction unless I really want to be cruel to readers as well as myself. What years I have left are going to be wasted happily on genre fiction. I’m a lifer. All genres are fair game – horror, sci-fi, thrillers, crime. I have a hope of writing a decent mystery movie which are few and far between in Australia. I had an epiphany twenty years ago to write what I would read. I know whatever direction my work takes it will at least have the very sincere ambition of trying to entertain whoever I’m lucky enough to pick up my book and read.
Just for fun
Cat or dog person?
Dogs. Cats don’t have much meat on them. See now that’s a horror writer kind of joke and if you don’t like that kind of black humour maybe you shouldn’t be reading my book. Don’t say I didn’t warn you now…
I’m low brow in everything but my taste in women. Give me burgers and slow-cooked comfort food over anything infinitesimal and overpriced tweezered onto a plate. I like cooks, not chefs.
Great Expectations. Rip it off all the time. Mrs Havisham is a fine maniac and who’s got a cooler name than Magwitch? Then there’s Magwitch’s Australian connection. Sorry, Charlie D - we’re claiming Magwitch as an Aussie!
The Thing. The John Carpenter remake. You don’t see many boy’s own adventures anymore. I miss them. Love the beards in this movie – they continue to inspire my own.
Halloween of course but all of them provide an excuse to drink – Christmas and Mother’s Day the most infamously drunken of them.
Would you rather be the princess or the villain? Why?
Princess. You’re rich and idle – sounds like a happy life. The life of a villain seems stressful to me. They don’t often seem to luxuriate in their evil and just enjoy life. Looks like work, work, work and then you get hacked to death to provide a happy ending for rich people.
Who has more fun, orcs or hobbits?
I initially said Orcs but if we’re talking about Lord of the Rings – the movie version at least – then I think Hobbits have more fun. Look at their larders! There’s a bit too much unsanitary bodypiercing going on with Orcs and not once have I seen a lady orc – or maybe I have… Hmmm…
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
The book is $0.99.
TJ Park is an Australian novelist and screenwriter. He was raised on a steady diet of Stephen King novels, British science-fiction television, and the cinema of John Carpenter and Sergio Leone. Not much else is known about him. That's just the way he likes it.