11 Aug 2013

“The Outback” by David Clarkson

1 Comment Book Reviews

 

final 2 part 2THE OUTBACK

Matt joins the outback harvest trail filled with apprehension. Is it really worth doing three months of back breaking labour in exchange for another year added to his visa? His new friends certainly think so and it is not long before they convince him of the same.

Of course, none of them are counting on their new boss. Rhett is cold, callous and delights in watching others suffer. Convinced that the old man is hiding a criminal past, the backpackers begin to do a little digging. Nothing however, can prepare them for what they find.

As the past starts repeating itself, Matt comes to realise that unless he can discover the truth about his foreman, he and his friends may be in more danger than he could possibly have imagined..

 

“The Outback” by David Clarkson was a chance find for me. I have a thing for travel and backpack stories and jumped at this book which follows a group of international younger people on a work assignment in the outback, clearing fields for three months.
The world is full of possibilities, visa problems and living in the moment. Beer, love, smoking and discovering the world, but the real world catches up with them in form of a nasty supervisor, the hostile nature and clashes with the law and the world of the aborigines. The group of characters in the book is colourful and entertaining, the friendships and relationships formed are very realistic and the book gives an excellent account of the work as you travel experience. 
This is excellently written, has great suspense and is a treat for anyone who has ever been on a backpack holiday. I found this very hard to put down, the tension and the pace of the story is really well done. Maybe I am too partial to the genre but I recommend this highly.

 

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Interview with David:

 

David, thanks for joining us today. Tell us a little something about yourself as both a person and an author:

It took me 8 attempts to pass my driving test, so when people say that the most important trait for a writer is perseverance, I think that I pretty much have it covered!

What made you decide to be a writer? Have you always written?

I don’t think that I ever made a conscious choice to become a writer. When I returned from travelling I started to transfer my hand written travel journals to computer format, editing them as I went. With time and practice, I became more creative with what I wrote and started to semi-fictionalise some of the journals. Then one day, after a really rough day at work I came home and visualised the place that I would most like to be (it was camping under the stars in Outback Australia) and just started to write a story about it.

I know from your bio that you spent a lot of time in Australia where your book is set. How autobiographical is the story?

The setting and characters are all fictional, but much of it is a mishmash of people and places that I came across travelling. The stick picking job that the characters do in the book is based on my own experience of the same in Queensland. We had a cantankerous old supervisor who also drove one of the tractors. He used to smoke these really tightly packed rolly cigarettes, which somebody suggested were indicative of time spent in prison and it led to us all trying to guess at his past. This was where the idea of Rhett (the novel’s villain) came from.

Travel books like “Backpack” and “The Beach” have inspired me to see the world. Did you have similar experiences and do you still have the travel bug?

I don’t think that anybody ever really loses the travel bug. If I could, I would have carried on the backpacker lifestyle forever, but if you want to start a family and lay down some roots, you have to give it up eventually. I read “The Beach” shortly before I visited Thailand and when I experienced it for myself and realised just how accurately the book captures the spirit of travelling in Asia, but also turns it into such an exciting thriller, I wanted to find a book that did the same for Australia. When I started to write “The Outback”, I was really trying to write the book that I most wanted to read.

Did you have the story all planned out before you wrote it or did the characters and story surprise you?

The original story plan was a little more off the wall. The second half of the novel was going to move to an isolated observatory where some crazy scientists were doing experiments into astral projection.  Once I started writing it though and created characters that felt so real to me, I did not want to trash it all by adding the sci-fi element. The book was split in two, with the story about the observatory developing into my third novel; “Diamond Sky”.

Did you have any actors or people in mind when writing your characters?

The sisters were originally based on two girls I met briefly in Melbourne, but I now think of Keira Knightley and Emma Watson in their roles. The way that Colin speaks and his humour is based on a friend I worked with on the farms in Australia and he was always having trouble with a couple of stoners who he shared a dorm room with. I suppose that makes it ironic that I made Colin the number one stoner in the story.

Which character did you most enjoy writing? Are you like any of them?

I enjoyed writing the villain; Rhett. It was fun seeing how far I could take him and the fact that his hatred was so self defeating meant that I could show things from his perspective without clouding the morals of the story. I also enjoyed creating Colin. The main protagonist, Matt, is an everyman character and I did not want to burden him with too many vices and flaws for fear of losing the reader’s empathy for him.  That is where Colin comes in. His recklessness and attitude reflect the darker side of Matt. A bit like the devil on his shoulder, whilst Jenny is the angel on his other shoulder, who speaks to his conscience and stops him from getting into the kind of trouble that he would certainly find himself if he listened to Colin.

If you could be one of your characters, which one would you choose?

The journey for many of the characters is quite dark. The exception is Jonas, who is the only one who manages to retain a level of innocence by the end of the story. For this reason, I would have to pick him. The others just lose too much of themselves in the horrors that they face.

With which of your characters would you most like to be stuck on a deserted island?

Jenny – she’s hot, although my wife may have a thing or two to say about that. Out of the guys, I would again, have to choose Jonas. He has a naivety coupled with limitless enthusiasm that makes anything seem possible, even on a desert island. We could have fun together trying to construct a raft to get back to civilisation. On the surface he may seem like a minor character, but he actually adds a lot in way of balancing the overall tone of the story. There is always room for an optimist.

What song would you pick to go with your book?

I make a joke towards the end of the story about residents of the outback being stuck in a musical time-warp. So I guess that anything by AC/DC or Cold Chisel would be fitting in that respect. If I had to choose just one song though, it would be “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd. On my first night stick-picking, we all had a party after work and one of the guys picked up a guitar and just started playing it. By the chorus the whole group was singing along and it is one of those memories that has stuck with me whilst so many others have faded.

What is your writing environment like?

I can write pretty much anywhere. I even write in front of the TV sometimes! All of my best ideas come to me when I am on the move though. I can create entire scenes on a thirty minute jog around my local park. I always plot out a scene in my head and then when I sit down at the computer it is simply a case of playing around with words until what is on the page accurately reflects what was in my mind.

Did you have any say in your cover art? What do you think of it?

When I decided to self publish I had no idea that many indies hire professionals for covers and editing. I thought that we had to do everything ourselves, so that is what I did. I used a photograph taken during my own time in the outback and played around with it until I thought that it conveyed the appropriate tone for the book. It took me a while to get the effect that I wanted, but I would not change it for a pro design as it holds a direct link to the inspiration behind the story.

How have you found the experience of self-publishing? What were your highs and lows? 

I have certainly found it a lot easier to make the content available than I thought it would be. Every positive review and word of encouragement is a high. I also never expected so many friendly communities of indie authors to exist, which is a bonus. The lows are the marketing. Everybody moans that traditional publishing is too corporate and places profit over art, but then there are so many trying to force the same business model onto self publishing. I think that self published books should be distinct from their bookstore counterparts. If we retain our identity as artists, than we can compete on a level playing field with the corporate chains, but once we start viewing our work as a product it greatly devalues it. Ultimately, if you see your story as nothing more than a disposable product, the reader will too.

What do you like best about writing? What’s your least favourite thing? 

I like the fact that nothing is set in stone. If something is not how you want it to be, you can always change it around until it is. The worst thing is the neurosis that writing breeds. Whether it is the guilt of not spending enough time with loved ones or just the insecurity of opening yourself up to being judged by everyone who reads your work; writing can be tough at times.

What is your advice to new writers?

Don’t try writing what you think readers are looking for. Try looking for readers that you think would be interested in what you want to write. If you were told from the start that you will never sell a single book, would you still write? If the answer is yes – you are a writer.

Who are your favourite authors?

John Grisham is my favourite for thrillers and I like the fact that all of his books stand alone, when it would be so easy for him to play it safe with a series (he does have YA series about a kid lawyer named Theodore Boone, but I think that stands apart from his main catalogue). Alex Garland is another favourite for similar reasons. To follow a novel like “The Beach” with “The Tesseract” (a complex story where the narrative only makes sense when unravelled into its constituent parts) is incredibly bold and then “Coma”, which is almost written in a stream of consciousness style, takes him off in yet another original direction. For non-fiction, I really like science writers such as Paul Davies, “How to Build a Time Machine” (he actually delivers on the title!) and Marcus Chown, who opens up the world of quantum physics to his reader in the way not unlike how the masked magician reveals his tricks.

What is your favourite book?

That is much too difficult a question to answer.  If books were wives I would be a polygamist.

What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)? 

It is a paperback of “The Uninvited” by Liz Jensen. I hate to admit it, but my wife is a much more eclectic reader than I and this was one of her recommendations. I try to alternate between fiction and non-fiction, so the next book I read will likely be a travel journal or something on speculative science. As a writer it is useful to know as much as possible about the world and how it works.

How do you handle criticism of your work?

Denial, then acceptance and finally, I will try to improve. One of the toughest parts of the job is knowing that the strongest opinions often come from those least qualified to have an opinion. A one star review says more about the reviewer than the author, but 3 stars can never be taken lightly. I’m only starting out so I’m lucky in that I have not received any harsh reviews yet. My wife was rather blunt when she read through the first draft of my third book, however. The opening chapter moved her to tears, but then the ending left her feeling “cheated” (admittedly, it was a tad over the top). Once I stopped sulking, I realised that she was right and completely rewrote the final three chapters.

What are you working on now?

I am undergoing the final edit of my second novel, “Stealing Asia” for self-publishing soon. Like “The Outback”, it was inspired by my days travelling, but it has more of an adventure/action tone to it. After that I will publish “Diamond Sky”, the first in a trilogy about scientists who create a machine that enables astral travelling, although it is really just an unconventional love story at heart.
Please provide me with all your links, websites, buy links etc, an author picture and any book cover pictures you want to be included

Website –  http://www.davidclarksonwriter.com

Amazon (US) Kindle – http://www.amazon.com/The-Outback-ebook/dp/B00CC3M9TI

Amazon (UK) Kindle – http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Outback-ebook/dp/B00CC3M9TI

itunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/the-outback/id638567223?mt=11

KOBO – http://store.kobobooks.com/en-gb/books/The-Outback/Sk0unvv3e0qbsKkk3F9hWA

Amazon (UK) Paperback http://www.amazon.co.uk/Outback-Mr-David-Clarkson/dp/1484838858

Amazon (US) Paperback http://www.amazon.com/Outback-Mr-David-Clarkson/dp/1484838858

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written by
Christoph Fischer was born in Germany in 1970 as the son of a Sudeten-German father and a Bavarian mother. ‘The Luck of The Weissensteiners’ is his first published work. He has written several other novels which are in the later stages of editing and finalisation.
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One Response to ““The Outback” by David Clarkson”

  1. David Clarkson : The Outback | writerchristophfischer says:

    […] FOR AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR CLICK ON THIS LINK […]

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