Friday, December 21, 2012

An Interview With Ged Maybury

Seeing I'm away next week for some fun in the sun and by the ocean to chill out, I thought to set up a funny and wonderful interview with one of my favouritely funny people, Ged Maybury. 

I met Ged about 20 years ago when I was a financial member of the Logan Writers' Guild and he spoke at one of our workshops at the Logan North Library in the IKEA Centre at Springwood (now that's a long time ago seeing how much that area's changed).  He wrote Young Adult works back then and he was as funny then as he is now.  We took him to The Coffee Club for afternoon tea and everyone got on famously with him.  He and I ended up nearly having a food fight over a piece of gluten-free Jaffa Cake... yummo and hilariously funny too.  Now, it's been quite some time and I found him on Facebook.  He no longer writers Young Adult, but Steampunk, wears a lot of pink - his favourite colour - and he's enjoying life and writing totally; and he agreed to be interviewed and we can still make each other laugh.  So, here you all are:  and interview with Brisbane Steampunk author, Ged Maybury.

1.  How long have you been writing?  And what kinds of genre have you written in your life? 

I began writing prior to high school, as most of us do. I recall my very first attempt at a story in about grade 7:
Teacher: “Today I want you to write an adventure story.”
I got to works and duly turned in about 12 pages (the average being about 1) Mrs Wilson was very impressed, probably astonished, and praised me to the entire class. But later she called me up for a private chat. Handed me back my epic tale, “This is very good, Ged.”
(nod)"Is this the first time you’ve written a story?”

“It’s very VERY good. You have quite a talent.”

(surprised by this, belated nod) 
“But I’m wondering: is this maybe a bit like a book you recently got out of the library?” [I had only just discovered the school library.]
“Ah. So you copied the same story ideas you saw in the book?” 
(nod) [I saw nothing wrong in that.]

“Well, when you do creative writing, it’s best if you come up with your own ideas.”

“Oh.” [This was a surprising new idea to me. Somewhat alarming.]

“Do you think you can do that?”
And I did. A mere 20 years later I wrote my next story. “TimeTwister” was taken up by Ashton Scholastic and sold about 50,000 copies. This was such a good start I decided to write some more.

2.  Have you always called Australia home? Or have you travelled and lived in all kinds of places?

I’m from New Zealand. I’ve been in Aus for 13 years, and have been a citizen since 2001. The only other places I have been are Papua New Guinea and Kansas City in the USA.

3.  How long did it take to get your first book published?  Or did you self-publish?

My first book started out as a script idea for a TV drama for children. (I’d been writing stageplays prior to that.) After I completed the first episode in 1984, someone suggested I approach a TV producer in TVNZ – who just happening to be starting up his own company right then – and while he had it he showed it to a Scholastic rep, and she thought it was a go-er. Soon I had a contract to write a book before a single word of it had been written!

I set about writing the book while the TV company completed their first big project, and got it finished just in time for them to crash and burn and go bankrupt and hastily leave their offices owing rent and I arrived in time to retrieve exactly 14 pages of my only hand-written copy from the bin. The guy with the computer had already stormed off, taking all their records with him.

At that point my book was dead, and I tried hard to give up all dreams of being a writer ( – which, incidentally, I never wanted to be).

But by a bizarre twist, five months later someone sent another computer printout of the book to the publisher – once again in draft-quality not letter-quality. Lacking a return address, but having mine, they sent it to me to complain. My book had come back to me!!

We then agreed to give up on the TV series tie-in and just do the book, which we duly did. That is how I came to be a writer.

You may call that easy if you like.

4.  Who is your favourite character from any of your books or stories?  Why?

Oh that is a hard one. I have created so many characters over the years. Comedic ones, and heroic ones. I think my favourite plucky hero type would have to be Varja D’Rotimar – heroine of my space adventure “Hive of the StarBees” (published 1995). Niece to a nasty neurotic space pirate Pommit D’Rotimar, she takes charge after they crash on a strange and distant planet – not far from a bizarre hive seething with gigantic metalloid insects, while a mind-controlling alien tries to steal the very core of their ship and other complex stuff. She’s heroic.

5.  Do you plan your books or do they just happen and the characters take you on a big adventure?

I’m a ‘pantser’ – I write by the seat of my pants, with only the barest intuition of how the story must go. That way, wonderful things happen along the way as my characters come out with unexpected gifts, secrets, or twists. Or even surprise chareacters who walk in at the halfway point and send the tale spinning off in a new direction.

I never get the story I expect. Usually I get one a lot better.

1.  What's your favourite colour/s? (everyone's got more than one).

Pink. (D’uh!) And burgundy colours too.

2.  Seeing it's close to Christmas, what do you love - or loath - about this time of year?

I loath the inescapability of it all. The commercial barrage. The ritual of obligation over genuine gift-giving. And having to spend time with people who are just not on my wavelength. Oh, and the sheer bloody *waste*. Bins full of cheap paper the next day. Toys that break. Presents that no-one wants or likes. Love for Christmas? – I have none, except that my two boys kind of like the fluff and stuff and ritual. (None of us are Christians.) 

3.  What is your funniest memory of all time?

I’m more inclined to recall the moments when I got a big laugh from my surprise on-liners, but they would take too much explaining, so here’s a childhood moment instead:

My younger brother was (and still is) intellectually impaired. At the age of about 2, he was given scrambled eggs for the first time. We were given the job of serving him this, and we told him what it was, “mmm, yummy” and all that, and told him to get eating. He gazed at it for many long seconds, then poked his finger into it. This tiny moment became memorable, and for years afterwards my elder brother and I could instantly set ourselves laughing by remembering it. Sadly, what delights a child can be just plain unfunny to an adult.

4.  If you had the cash, time and a building for a bookstore, what would you name your bookstore?  And what kinds of books would you have in it?

A bookstore? Gods, why would I want one of those? That sounds like work! Besides, I’ve quite lost my love of books and reading. But if I did have a bookstore, I’d call it本の愛. [“hon no ai” – “Love of Books” or more simply “Love This” ]. And I’d sell Japanese plushies, books, manga and anime as well as indie Sci Fi and kids books and just any kind of stuff that I like. (But NO COMICS!)

5.  What is your favourite place where you live now?

The West End. Spring Hill. Bardon. East Brisbane … anywhere with history and remnants of Victorian elegance.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks... I'm happy you've enjoyed it. :D Ged is a great person to know and a funny person too. :D