© 2013 Clive Eaton
Rachel Amphlett previously worked in the legal and economic publishing industry in
the UK, and undertook several publishing courses at Oxford John Brookes University.
Always a keen story-teller at school, a few years ago Rachel felt it was time to
sit down and write again.
A member of Queensland Writer’s Centre since 2009, Rachel undertook some of their courses to redevelop her craft. These provided her with the skills and dedication to return to writing and led to publication success both in Australia and the United Kingdom with her short stories.
Rachel is currently enjoying success with her first thriller, 'White Gold'. A sequel is currently being researched, while a further novel is in early draft stage. Rachel moved to Australia from the United Kingdom in 2005 and lives in Queensland.
Book title: White Gold
When Sarah Edgewater’s ex-husband is murdered by a radical organisation hell-bent
on protecting their assets, she turns to Dan Taylor – geologist, ex-soldier, and
lost cause. Together, they must unravel the research notes which Sarah’s ex-husband
left behind to locate an explosive device which is circumnavigating the globe towards
London – and time is running out.
In a fast-paced ecological thriller which spans the globe, from London to Brisbane and back via the Arctic Circle, Dan and Sarah aren’t just chasing the truth – they’re chasing a bomb which, if detonated, will change the future of alternative energy research and the centre of England’s capital forever.
What do you do to relax when you are not writing?
If I’m not boxing or cycling, then I’m reading - I’ve always got a book on the go and probably read 1-2 books every week.
What, or who, inspired you to become a writer?
Growing up we were always encouraged to use our imagination rather than being plonked in front of the TV or computer games. I really enjoyed English at school and it was my secondary school English teachers who really pushed me to develop my writing skills.
What or who inspired you to write your current novel?
A few years ago I was sent an article from a UK newspaper about super-conducted heated metals but from a different angle to what I’ve done in the book. The original article was enough to get me thinking about what would happen if someone tried to so something a little less charitable with the knowledge though, and it went from there.
Tell us three interesting facts about your book which are not covered in the synopsis.
1) It took 7 months to write and another 7 months to edit;
2) The white gold phenomena is real – super-conducted metals are already used in fuel cells in large buildings such as hospitals in the US;
3) The original intro is now the epilogue for the sequel – just shows what the power of editing can do to a book!
What research did you need to do for this book?
I had to learn about how to diffuse a bomb, whether it was possible for a ship to traverse the Arctic at that particular time of year, what it was like being in Iraq as a soldier, what happens when a house is destroyed by an explosion – pretty much everything I wrote about had an element of research!
I did read an interesting quote by Lee Child on his website the other day in that only about 10% of the research you do ends up in your book. I think that’s about right for the style of writing I’m doing – I want to keep the pace moving, rather than losing my readers in a bunch of facts.
Are any elements/characters of your book based on real life experiences or people you’ve met/known?
They’re really a mixture of people – both real and imagined. I undertook a course with Queensland Writers Centre (Year of the Novel) whilst writing the first draft. One of the questions we were asked was – “do you know what your character does at 2pm on a Saturday? If not, why not?”
That way, I developed a really good sense of who Dan Taylor is – you don’t get to see all of that in the book, but it’s there as an undertone and snippets get revealed as the story develops.
Tell us a little about your current work-in-progress.
It’s the next book to feature Dan Taylor – this time the threat is based even more closely on fact and I’ve been spending a lot more time at the ‘front end’ doing the research. A couple of other characters from White Gold feature but I’ve purposefully written it so it can be read as a standalone novel. The cover art is currently being designed and I’ll be releasing that on my website soon.
What process did you adopt from inception through to the finished book?
For White Gold, I wrote down ideas as they came into my head. I got about 60,000 words in and then started piecing everything together. Never underestimate the power of a white board and stick-on notes!
What do you need (or not need) around you whilst writing?
Quiet. I can’t have music playing – I’ll end up trying to work the chords out! Luckily our house backs on to a park in Brisbane so often it’s just the parrots squawking which causes the most distraction!
What prompted you to self-publish your current book?
I had some great feedback from some literary agents in London but all three said that their publishing clients weren’t after something like this at the moment. They also highlighted that due to this, they could be very subjective. Rather than having the book languishing away on an agent’s desk for the next 2-3 years, I felt I had to push it out the door so I could get on with the next one.
If I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have bothered with the agents – I would’ve self-published straight away.
What were the three biggest challenges you faced when writing your book?
1) Time – writing doesn’t pay the mortgage yet so having to gear myself up to write after a day’s work is sometimes difficult!
2) Motivation – just sometimes the research takes over and it’s hard to flick the switch and go back into writing mode.
3) Too many books to read – Stephen King states in On Writing that he writes in the morning and reads in the afternoon. Sounds like the perfect job to me.
Every author seems to suffer with writer’s block at some point. How do you overcome it?
Go boxing or for a bike ride – it just makes me think about anything other than writing and often I’ll be out on a ride and suddenly think ‘A-ha!’ and the words start flowing again.
What single piece of advice would you give to any aspiring writer?
Don’t just talk about it – get on with it!
What genre does your book fall into?
How did you get interested in this specific genre?
I’ve been reading from a very early age so by about 13 I was bored with what YA fiction was around at the time. My Grandad got me started on the Dick Francis books and then I devoured Jack Higgins’ The Eagle has Landed – still one of my favourite books today. I’ve been reading thrillers ever since (although there’s plenty of other books I enjoy reading too).
You as a reader
Which three authors have inspired you the most, and why?
1) Jack Higgins – see above
2) Robert Crais – only discovered him recently but his characters are just so well defined and he has a great balance of action and humour.
3) Michael Connolly – again, really well developed characters and the storylines have a great pace to them
What was your favourite book as a child? Any of the Famous Five books. Chatting to a few other thriller writers last month at a seminar, it seems that was the staple read for a lot of us!
What is the best book you’ve read in the last 12 months?
I had to check my Goodreads list for this – there have been so many, I’d forgotten! I’m going to say LA Requiem by Robert Crais – I discovered his books at the beginning of December 2011, downloaded all 13 available at the time and just devoured them one after the other. They’re all good (they have to be read in order really) but this is the one where he really hit his stride and they’ve just gone from strength to strength. I can’t recommend him highly enough. The Elvis Cole/Joe Pike characters are just so perfectly created and shows what great thriller writing can really achieve – anyone who likes the Lee Child Jack Reacher books should be reading Robert Crais.
What was the last book you recommended to a friend, and why did you think it was worthy of recommendation?
Alexandra Sokolov’s Screenwriting Tips for Writers (available through Smashwords) because it sheds light on timing in novels which is brilliant for new writers. Being able to read her advice, then watch the film she bases the advice on so you understand how a story should be told, is very clever. For example, dividing up your story as you would a three- or five-Act play – I highly recommend it to anyone currently working on a writing project.
Kindle (or other e-reader) or paperback, and why?
Both – Kindle’s great for reading on the train into work or taking on holiday (not to mention that paperbacks are very expensive here in Australia) but I love second-hand bookshops. Definitely paperback for non-fiction because if I’m reading for research, I can put those little sticky flags on the pages.
Hollywood is calling
You’ve had the call from Hollywood and they want your opinion on who should play the leading roles in the film based upon your book. Who would you choose, and why?
NOT Tom Cruise!! Gerard Butler to play Dan Taylor – I think he’s shown the right amount of action/humour in previous roles, plus he’s about the right height. I’m not sure about the female role of Sarah Edgewater - a lot of authors say they picture the actors who would play the parts whilst they’re writing, but I didn’t do that so it’s all open to debate – I guess it would depend on whether the studio decides to Americanise (ize?) the story or not!
The film of your book is now going to need a soundtrack. Which musician(s) would you want to write and play it?
My friend Marcus Flynn (www.marcusflynn.com) is a fantastic musician and already writes scores for various sports shows and documentaries so he’d do a good job. Highly recommend people check out his website.
Drink – white wine (verdelho at the moment!)
Meal – tapas
Holiday destination –Buenos Aires (summer); Canada (winter)
TV programme – The Wire
Method of travel – Gulet
Sport – love watching the World Rally Championships – wouldn’t mind a go at that!
How can people connect with you?
Twitter - @RachelAmphlett
Facebook - Rachel Amphlett - writer
Website - www.rachelamphlett.com/blog
Where can readers obtain “White Gold”?
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