Coming into the world on Halloween may explain Kirstyn McDermott’s life-long attraction to all things dark and mysterious.
The Newcastle-born author grew up in Woodberry. She began writing in her teens and her short fiction has been published in various magazines and anthologies.
After graduating from the University of Newcastle, she moved to Melbourne in 1995 where she lives with husband Jason Nahrung (also an author).
She released her first novel, Madigan Mine, on July 1.
The psychological thriller follows Alex who meets the beautiful, impulsive and yet somewhat dangerous Madigan.
Q: What was one of your earliest pieces of writing?
A: In primary school, I wrote a sad little story about a phoenix that wakes from an eons-old slumber only to get shot to death by a farmer when it mistakes a paddock of sheep for a breakfast buffet. Happy endings have never really been my thing.
Q: Favourite author?
A: It’s so hard to choose. Caitlin R. Kiernan is a writer I’ve long admired, as is Neil Gaiman. And, of course, I’ve been reading Stephen King since I was a kid.
Q: Favourite book?
A: That’s even harder. I’m going to cheat and say that my favourite recently read book is The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. It’s an astonishing novel.
Q: Best cure for writer’s block?
A: Keep writing anyway. Getting words down – even if they’re rubbish – is the only way through.
Q: You were born on Halloween – are you a superstitious person?
A: I’m not overly superstitious, but I am fascinated by the origins of superstitions, how they change over time, and so on. Having said that, I do confess to finding comfort in a handful of writing-related rituals and totems. There’s a statue of Thoth – the Egyptian god of writing – on my desk and I also keep a little tin containing various objects of personal significance nearby when I work ... okay, so maybe I’m just a little superstitious.
Q: What inspires you to write?
A: People. Almost everything I write, whether it’s a novel or a short story, begins with the characters. If the characters get under my skin, I have to tell their story.
Q: How long did it take to write Madigan Mine?
A: I worked on the manuscript, in some form or another, over a period of 10 years. It was rewritten several times and there were huge breaks when I didn’t spare it so much as a single glance. Long enough, though, that it still feels odd not to have those characters hanging around in my head.
Q: ... and how many cups of coffee did it take?
A: Enough to power a small South American country!
Q: Typewriter or computer?
A: Definitely a computer. Word processing – the ability to edit, rewrite, and push words around on the screen as I go along – has become such an integral part of the way I write and create that I almost can’t imagine going back to a typewriter.
Q: What do you miss most about Newcastle?
A: My mum. I try to get back to Newcastle fairly regularly to visit family and I’m always surprised by how much things have changed. Most of the places I miss – certain nightclubs or secondhand bookshops – are no longer there. But Newcastle is where I grew up so maybe that’s what I miss most: the freedom – and perils – of being a kid.