Ohmigosh! Q&A with the wonderful DC Green – grommet, writer, entertainer, cat-herder, friend, guy with panache…………..and all round Good Guy.
- Tell us about the young DC – what were you like as a kid, what did you like doing, where you grew up, how naughty you were?
Young DC would be devastated to learn that old DC went bald decades ago! I hope he’d be stoked, though, that his wrinklier-self learned to become less bashful about talking in public and ended up a surprisingly okay parent. Old DC still loves the same things he loved as a grommet: reading, writing, surfing, new experiences – and befriending every animal he meets! So, not much has changed.
Yes, Mini-me was a bit of a naughty class clown. He just liked making other kids laugh and feel happy (even if that meant the odd detention or five). Old DC still enjoys being an entertainer, whether through his writing or his zany school shows. Again, not much change!
(Phew, and I’ll stop calling myself ‘Old DC’ now!)
- Which City of Monsters student most resembles DC at school? Were you a laid-back spider grommet or a tightly-bound serious mummy or…?
I think I possessed a combination of monster traits. Like Stoker the vampire, I hated injustice and had a rebellious streak (and once, even a Mohawk!). I definitely enjoyed being the class joker a la Bruce the giant spider. Yet I could also be, like Greta the forest goblin, quite a studious, serious nerdy type; not to mention I remained vertically challenged until year 11 (when I finally hit puberty)! And in certain social situations, I probably matched Zorg the zombie for being introverted, mumbly and incoherent.
- What does your writing space look like and how do you approach your writing? (photos always welcome!)
I have a big computer desk in the lounge room that is usually piled high with books, paperwork, notes, coffee cups and a sprawling cat named Frankie Hollywood Junior (photo attached!). I have rural views out the window with a distant ocean glimpse, if I crane my neck. As for how I approach my writing – usually with a sense of wonder, nerves of steel and caffeine!
- You live in Ulladulla, which is one of my favourite towns in the country, what does a typical day look like for you? What is it about the place you like so much?
I was super-lucky because my single-parent teacher mother moved to Ulladulla on the NSW South Coast when I was in primary school. Apart from a few years at uni and numerous overseas jaunts, I’ve never left! I ended up becoming a single parent myself. I love the natural beauty, country towns remain great places to raise capable, confident kids – and the surf is a definite bonus!
My days vary with the seasons. For a few months each year I’m busily emailing and phoning schools to organise two cold season months on the road, touring schools around Australia. That bit’s hard work, but tremendously rewarding. When I’m at home and on deadline (or a writing roll), I can become a hermit, blinking rarely into the sunshine. When the waves are firing, I can lose whole days surfing, eating, dozing and surfing some more!
- How did City of Monsters come into being? When can we expect the next instalment? And what next?
I planned the City of Monsters series for years before I actually began writing. I researched monsters from all over the world. I wrote hundreds of pages of background notes. I drew ever-refined city maps, and worked out the multitude of details that would make my monster metropolis feel vibrant and alive (well, apart from the Dead Zone). For every different monster species, I tried to build a working niche in the city, covering their history, politics, cultural quirks, language differences, grudges, demographics and religions. Finally, after building this amazing playground, it was time to play – and start weaving some stories!
My goal was to write a multi-book story that the young DC would love as much as the old: an epic like Lord of the Rings, but for modern kids and adults – full of action and break-neck adventure, but also with heart, subtle themes, great twists and a truck-load of humour. Oh, and with as many fully-rounded female characters as male! Well, why not have a lofty goal? 😉
The next City of Monsters book should hit bookstores in early 2017. Dragon Apocalypse will be the third and final instalment in the series. I biasedly think this is the best children’s novel I’ve written – and at 73K words, it’s certainly the thickest! The hard bit will be saying goodbye to the monster and human characters I’ve grown to love . . . writing into so many hideous conflicts! :L I only hope Dragon Apocalypse proves to be a worthy and satisfying farewell for my few but precious monster fans.
The hardest part after that will be choosing which of several jostling book ideas to pursue next!
- Aside from surfing, cat-wrangling and avid adjectival activity how do you chill out?
I’ve been trying to cut down on my adjectives! For chilling out, I love the beach, good company, salty air, the odd Oxford comma, and an intriguing glass of red. This is starting to sound like a dating profile!
- What other jobs have you done? What was the worst? How did you make the leap to writing professionally?
When I was a boy I mowed lawns, babysat naughty kids (karma) and sold macadamia nuts and lemons from our backyard trees to health stores, and fish and chips shops. At uni, I worked as a car counter, swimming instructor and gentle bouncer. My worst job was on Saturday mornings in year 11. Skulking in the clothing section of Ulladulla’s new department store, I was shy, felt ridiculous in my uniform, and would much rather have been writing stories or surfing!
I won an interstate short story award (and $250!) for a story I wrote in Year Ten. Through uni, and for most of my adult life, I’ve been fortunate to be able to contribute semi-regularly to surf magazine around the world (admittedly, mostly to swindle free trips to exotic locations!). Becoming a children’s author seemed a challenging segue, and I’m grateful that 2017 will see my children’s book tally hit nine (with the third City of Monsters and also my new PICTURE BOOK, Pirate School!). I’ve always been fortunate to make at least a part-time living from my writing. Or, at least, I’ve tried!
- What are you reading at the moment? Do you have some favourite authors? Did you read as a child – what did you read then?
I’ve been immersed in endlessly re-reading Dragon Apocalypse over the last month or three, but am looking forward to reading other authors soon! My favourite author list is massive, but the Aussie children’s author section would surely include Carol Wilkinson, Bill Condon, Di Bates, Sue Whiting, Dee White, Robyn Opie Parnell, Michael Gerard Bauer, Ian Irvine, Sally Odgers, Isobelle Carmody – and many more! I was a voracious reader as a child. Loved Doctor Seuss, Paddington the Bear, the X-men, Lord of the Rings and being allowed to read adult science fiction and fantasy when I was in junior high school (thank you, super-cool librarian!).
- What inspires you?
I think I’ll need a list for this one! My daughter. Kindness. Helping or inspiring others. My friends. My family (well, most of them). Seeing people take risks and strive for their goals. Nature. When good people earn their happy endings. Travelling.
- What suggestions can you make for others who want to write for young people?
I could jabber on this topic for tens of thousands of words, but here’s a (mercifully) shorter list instead . . .
Don’t write for young people to become rich. That’s a distant, unlikely dream for the vast majority of published authors, including myself. Write because you LOVE writing for young people. Whatever happens after that is a bonus!
Read! Read the classics of children’s literature and the best of modern novels. Not only is reading the most awesome ‘research’ ever invented, it helps to be knowledgeable about the industry and publishing trends.
Write! The more you write, the better your writing will become. Make it a regular habit – even if for just half an hour every day. It takes 10,000 hours to become a master.
Have fun! Pour your heart and imagination into your stories.
Use only the most powerful of verbs and specific of nouns.
Be polite (and grateful) about any feedback, even when the news isn’t to your liking.
Re-write! Make your story so dazzling no reader (or editor) could resist.
And, most importantly, don’t quit!
Thank you for putting me on the hot seat, Losang! And may I publicly thank you for your awesome and insightful book reviews. Your review of Monster School earned a back-page quote on my second City of Monsters book, Goblin Mafia Wars – available in bookstores and online!
I can be contacted for author visits, book orders and Hollywood offers at my facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/DCGreenAuthor/
DC Green – thank you so much for such a fab Q&A! Can’t wait to get stuck into the 3rd and final instalment of City of Monsters. You inspire me with your fantastical exuberant joyous entertaining narratives!