'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Tuesday 29 October 2019

12 Curly Questions with author Phillip Gwynne

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.
I love watching America Idol auditions on YouTube. Real talent is such a rare thing, I like to see the judges' reactions on the rare occasions they encounter it.

2. What is your nickname?
I’ve had various nicknames during my life but now my kids like to call me ‘Big Phil’. The irony there is that I’m actually not as big now as I once was!

2. What is your greatest fear?
Getting stuck in an elevator – I usually take the stairs, even if there’s a lot of them.

3. Describe your writing style in 10 words.
I write concisely, with humour. And I don’t like adverbs.

4. Tell us five positive words that describe you as a writer. 
Humorous. Engaged. Courageous. Concerned.

5. What book character would you be, and why? 
 Perhaps Odysseus of Homer’s The Iliad and The Odyssey. The original action hero. What extraordinary adventures he had. I love the fact that there is no interior life in these books; it’s all about action, action, and more action!

6. If you could time travel, what year would you go to and why?
I know this is quite a common answer, but here we go again: 1969. Because, yes, I’m another one of those music tragics who wished they’d gone to Woodstock!

8. What would your 10-year-old self say to you now?
Wow, dude, how did you became so confident! Ten-year-old me was incredibly shy. Now, I would no doubt be diagnosed as suffering from severe social anxiety. And, in story terms, my own character arc has been about overcoming this shyness. Writing has definitely helped me with this, because fiction is about imagining different realities, about a different way of being.

9. Who is your greatest influence?
I get this question a lot when I talk at schools, and what I tell the kids is that I didn’t have a lot of role models growing up, not male ones anyway. So I found mine in fiction: Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird, Doc from Cannery Row, Yossarian from Catch 22, to name a few.

10. What/who made you start writing?
At the age of 38, having tried just about everything, I finally got around to doing what my primary school teacher had told me I’d be good at – writing. My first novel Deadly Unna? was based on my childhood, growing up in a large family in a small town, playing AFL football with Indigenous kids, and fortunately for me became a very popular book. In fact, it’s sold close to 250,000 copies

11. What is your favourite word and why?
Football, because I love AFL and am so excited now because both my daughters are playing!

12. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I’m a huge fanboy of The Stoics. It seems to me those ancient Greeks provided some very practical solutions to the problems of contemporary living. So given that, can I please have three books: Meditations (Marcus Aurelius), Discourse and Selected Writings (Epictetus), Letters from a Stoic (Seneca).

Phillip Gwynne's first novel Deadly Unna? was a literary hit and was made into the feature film Australian Rules for which Phillip won an AFI award. The sequel, Nukkin Ya, was also published to great acclaim. He writes for a wide range of age groups from picture books such as Brothers From a Different Mother and junior fiction such as Jetty Rats and Michael in the Stuff Happens series, to the young adult novel Swerve, shortlisted for many awards amongst them the 2010 Prime Minister's Award and the Golden Inky.