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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Trent Jamieson Interview

Trent Jamieson is the author of the Death Works series. Set in Australia we follow the Pomp (Pomp is short for Psychopomp) Steven de Selby in his second book Managing Death which is in store now. 

It's not easy being Death. For starters, people keep dying. And then, they keep getting up again.

Steven de Selby got promoted. This makes the increasing number of stirrers (and the disturbing rumors of a zombie god rising sometime soon) his problem. That time management seminar he keeps meaning to take would also remind him that he's got a Death Moot to plan, a Christmas party to organize, and an end-of-the-world thing to avert.

Steven must start managing Death, before Death starts managing him, or this time the Apocalypse will be more than Regional.

A&R: Can you please explain your world and the premise of your novel! 

The world of the Death Works books is modern Australia, mainly Brisbane. It’s our world with a few twists.
Steven de Selby is a Pomp, an employee of Australia’s Death. He helps souls cross over into the afterlife and stops Stirrers from inhabiting the bodies. It’s a job that sounds more exciting than it is, and a family trade. He’s been doing it all his life, and, to be honest, he’s a bit over it.
But when he meets a mysterious dead girl, and someone starts killing Pomps, his friends and family, he has to run for his life. What he uncovers will change his life forever.

A&R: Are the names of your characters are important? And what do they mean?

They’re always important. Some are nods to characters in Death Mythology. Neti, Charon, and Morrigan. Others are nods to other books about the Afterlife de Selby is the name of a philosopher who features in The Third Policeman by Flann O’brien.I spend a lot of time working on names, and quite often change them, I think the most important thing is that they fit the character, and sometimes that’s more of a feeling than a conscious choice, you can’t explain why a name works, just that it does. 
A&R:How do you react to a bad review of one of your books?

Alastair Reynolds told me this, I can’t remember who he was quoting because, well, I was talking to Alastair Reynolds! But he said a bad review should only spoil your breakfast not your dinner. And I reckon that’s fair enough.
As much as you’d like everyone to love you, that’s not even remotely reasonable. We all have different tastes and different expectations of a book.
Thing about most people, me included, it doesn’t matter how many good reviews you get, it’s the bad stuff you zone in on. Still I seem to enjoy my dinner most of the time, so maybe I’m getting better.

A&R:Are there any occupational hazards to being a novelist?
Too much sitting around tap-tap-tapping at a keyboard isn’t very healthy. It hasn’t bothered me too much because I’m always getting up and down from my desk.

You really need to make sure you exercise, or you can put on weight in a flash! Walking’s a great one to clear your head, but you have to make sure you’re concentrating on where you’re going or you can get into trouble, I’ve nearly been run over several times.

And it can be a lonely business at times. Having another job can be really good for your sanity.

A&R:Can you describe your desk or office/writing area. Also, do you write at a certain time of day?

My desk is pretty small, not much room for more than a computer. And I have a lot of bookcases filled with all sorts of books, dictionaries, histories, and books of poetry as well as fiction. I love having books around me, comes from working for years in bookstores, too.

I write best in the morning, and late at night. But sometimes you just have to write when you can.

A&R: What excites you about writing?

Writing is just so much fun. I love playing around with words, I love making up worlds, and my characters really entertain me. There’s just something so satisfying about writing, I’ve found it exciting since the very first time I tried to write a story.

A&R: How do you start for the day?

COFFEE!!!! Then I make my wife’s lunch, and when she heads off for work I go down to my desk and get a start on. Some days are more productive than others, but that’s the usual way it begins.
A&R: Can you explain why you chose this theme for your book?
Death (and the Afterlife) is a bit of an obsession of mine. So I don’t know if I chose the theme or if it chose me.
A&R:Ever dispatched someone and then regretted it?

No, because I’m an extremely mean person! But I try not to waste a good death scene.Doesn’t mean I don’t feel sad about it. A couple of scenes in these books actually make me choke up. I don’t want to say which because I’ll give too much away!
A&R:Who would play you in a film of your life?

Buster Keaton

A&R:What are books for?

Mind reading. Stephen King said that literature is the closest thing we have to mind reading. When you open a book you enter someone else’s head. That’s kinda exciting.

A&R:Which character was the hardest to write? Which one was the easiest? Are any of your characters based on people you know or purely imaginative?

Steven’s the hardest and the easiest character to write, because all of the Death Works books are written from his perspective. Everything you see is how Steve sees things, and often he just sees things wrong. I love writing scenes with him and Lissa together, and I love writing scenes with Wal in them. Aunt Neti, who is introduced in Managing Death is one of my favourites.
Ah, I love writing them all!

A&R:If you could invite 3 famous people (living, dead, fictional) to a dinner party who would they be and why?

Gandalf (though he’d have to smoke his pipe outside). Hope Mirrlees, because she wrote the best fantasy novel ever (Lud-in-the-Mist), and Ricky Gervais. because I think he’s funny and bright and has an infectious laugh (much, much better than an infectious cough).
Yeah, it’d be a bit of an odd party, but we’d bumble our way through.

A&R: Do you think that fiction brings something to peoples lives?

If I didn’t I don’t think I’d write. Well, I’d still write because I think it’s so much fun. Fiction’s important because it helps you imagine other people’s perspectives. Empathy is something we could all do with a lot more of and good stories are always about empathy. 

SF writer and Silent Motion Picture Actor, Trent Jamieson should be 107 years old, but is only 37 on account of TEMPORAL RADIATION. He lives in Brisbane with his wife, Diana. He is currently writing a series of novels called Death Works. The first Death Most Definite was released in August 2010, the second, Managing Death, is due for release in December 2010. The third, The Business of Death, is due for release in April 2010. They’re about Death – you know, the Grim Reaper.
Trent can be contacted at teacupthrenody at hotmail dot com or check out his blog here

1 comment:

  1. Great interview. I did wonder at the time I read the first book why you chose the word 'pomp' and it was only a few days ago that I came across the term 'psychopomp' and what they do. It was in a book I was reading but can't remember what the book was called. Not good!


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