Interview With… Keith Austin

Today I am chatting with Sydneyite writer, Keith Austin. Originally from London’s East End, Keith has been a journalist more than 36 years. After working in local newspapers in London, Essex and the Home Counties he made the move to Fleet Street in 1986 when he joined The Sunday Times as deputy chief sub. Since then Keith has worked in Glasgow, Beijing and, for the past 18 years, Sydney, Australia.

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Keith has been, variously, a chief sub, production editor, travel editor, feature writer, regular columnist, news reporter, restaurant and book reviewer, and has also edited two cookbooks, Blokes and Seafood, and four editions of the NSW Good Pub Food Guide.

He is also the author of GRYMM, a novel for Young Adults described by The Guardian as “up there with Stephen King and Neil Gaiman”, and SNOW, WHITE, published in 2014. JAGO, the third of his Fractured Fairytales, was published as an Amazon Kindle edition in November 2014.

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He is passionate about food, drink, travel, writing, photography, humour and football. But not in that order.

Keith, what inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Work, life, everything? I write travel stories and general journalism for a living and I write for fun, too, so getting out of bed each day isn’t much of a chore. Also, there’s so much to see and so little time in this life – it’s best not to waste it in bed staring up at the ceiling. Don’t want to go to the grave saying ‘what if…’

If you could hang out with one famous person for one day, who would it be and why?
Stephen King, so I could pick his brain. With any luck Joe Hill might pop in for tea and I’d get two for one…

What’s the story behind your latest book?
Jago, A Monstrous Tale of Happy Never Afters was inspired by a real place in East London, where I come from originally, and a book that was written about it many years ago called A Child of the Jago. The Jago was the name given to a rookery, or thieves’ den,  in Shoreditch – a sort of hellhole within a hellhole in the 19th century. It’s something that just stuck in my mind for decades, that one day I’d write something around it. Then I got the idea of two street urchins in the 19th century who find a dragon in a basement and somehow the two things just fell into place. Of course, not everything’s quite what it seems …

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What are you working on next?
I’m about halfway through a novel called Surreal, which I’m hoping an artist friend will illustrate for me. It’s about a 10-year-old girl who gets locked in a toilet at her grandparents’ house. I know, I know, but, trust me, it works … I think …

Do you have any special/extraordinary talents?
I can spot a misplaced apostrophe from outer space!

Who are your favorite authors?
How long do we have? In no particular order: Stephen King, John Banville (Benjamin Black), Cormac McCarthy, Chuck Palahniuk, Kurt Vonnegut, Isaac Asimov, R. J. Ellory, Alexander McCall Smith,  Oscar Wilde, Raymond Chandler, P. J. O’Rourke, P. G. Wodehouse, Damon Runyon … it’s a never-ending list, I’m afraid. Of them all, McCarthy is probably my favourite; I just read A Child of God and kept re-reading passages to make sure they were as extraordinary as I thought they were the first time round.

What do you like to do with your free time?
I write books, and play soccer for a local team here in Sydney. I like movies, beer and pubs, too.

Tell us about your plans for upcoming books.
Well, after I’ve finished Surreal I’ve got another kids’ book planned – all I can say is that it’s about clowns – and then an ambitious project that I’ve been thinking about for a while now which will see me collaborate with my brother-in-law on a sprawling, inter-generational horror story set in Britain. He writes frighteningly creepy short stories under the name Benedict Ashforth so I’m going to hitch my wagon to his for a while. If it works it’ll be epic.

Where can people find you on the web?
My website can be found at www.keithaustin.org and Twitter. I have Facebook pages for my books Grymm and Snow, White.
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Any final thoughts?
Just thanks for giving me the opportunity to dribble on about myself! It’s a tough job getting your work noticed so any help is much appreciated. And if anyone’s got an interest in my stuff you can read FREE chapters of Grymm, Snow, White and Jago via the website.

Keith thanks for being my guest today 🙂

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Posted on March 22, 2015, in Guest Authors, Interviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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