Loves going out and about, drinking coffee, eating chocolate, and writing about her adventures!
Published June 3rd 2020
Science fiction and fantasy writer extraordinaire
Renowned Australian fantasy and science fiction author Paul Collins is a rebel. When he worked once upon a time at Travelodge, he clearly remembers his supervisor's wife saying to him, "You don't like authority, do you?"
Paul's defiance of the rules, of tradition, makes him somewhat of a visionary. In the 1980s, he worked in publishing, and he published Australia's very first fantasy novels, a decade before the major publishers even discovered the genre. In the 1990s, Paul published his first young adult fiction novel, the post-apocalyptic nightmare Cyberskin. The plot of Cyberskin and another post-apocalyptic trilogy published in recent years, the hugely popular The Hunger Games, are identical. But Cyberskin pre-dates The Hunger Games by about twenty years.
It's no wonder then that with his uncanny ability of seeing future trends and with a career in writing and publishing spanning some forty five years, Paul Collins has been honoured with Australian Lifetime Achievement Awards in Science Fiction and Fantasy. Michael Hanrahan, writing in the Australian Book Review, summed it all up when he said, "Australia is not the science fiction capital of the world; in fact, we are probably not even on the map. This unfortunate fact would change if we could produce more writers like Paul Collins."
About Paul Paul Collins was born in England, raised in New Zealand, and came to Australia when he was eighteen. "Unlike more writers, I didn't read when I was a kid," Paul tells me. "I read a lot of Marvel Group comics, though. I somehow figured writing would be an easy way to make a living. It took me around 30 years to get that first book published!" Paul gradually built up to writing full time. HarperCollins published his first fantasy novel, The Wizard's Torment, in 1995. To date, Paul has had around 150 books and about the same number of short stories published.
The worlds of Paul Collins "I've written in just about every genre," Paul says. "But not always with success. I even once tried a Mills and Boon with two collaborators. Understandably, it was never published!" Paul was more successful with writing fantasy and science fiction novels. Some of his best selling works include the fantasy series The Jelindel Chronicles, The Quentaris Chronicles and Dragonlinks. Paul's most well-known science fiction novels include The Earthborn Wars and The Maximus Black Files. It is in these story worlds where Paul has created some of his favourite characters such as Sarah in The Earthborn Wars, Jelindel in The Jelindel Chronicles, and Anneke in The Maximus Black Files. "I've always had strong female characters," Paul says. "I can't tell you the reason why. Maybe I just find them more interesting!"
There are some pretty strong females too in Paul's latest children's book, published this year: James Gong: The Big Hit. James Gong is a fourteen year old boy training in taekwondo when a film crew turns up and decides to star him in their next small budget movie. "James' sister, her best friend and his mother all play a big part in the book," Paul tells me. Paul also draws on his extensive skills and knowledge of contemporary martial arts in James Gong."I have two black belts in martial arts and was trained in kickboxing by the Australian Heavyweight Champion, Dana Goodson," he says. "All solid fodder for writing James Gong!"
When he's not writing and kickboxing and also playing tennis and keeping his two energetic dogs Pippa and Benji busy, Paul is managing Ford Street Publishing, which he founded. Ford Street Publishing is a successful small independent Australian publisher of books for children and young adults that publishes around eight titles a year. The very busy Paul also runs literary festivals in schools and libraries, and he also founded and manages the Creative Net Speakers' Agency which hires out authors and illustrators for workshops/presentations.
Paul has won a multitude of awards as both writer and editor, including the Peter McNamara Award for lifetime achievement in Science Fiction in 2002, the Chandler Award for Outstanding Achievement in Australian Science Fiction in 2011, and the Aurealis and William Atheling awards. Ford Street Publishing has also won and been shortlisted in various awards including two Premier's Awards.
Even with his numerous awards and hundreds of books and stories already published, Paul Collins has no intention of slowing down. If James Gong goes well, Paul has another title in rough draft: James Gong: The Red Banshee. And his publishing company has another five books coming out this year. "To be a writer, you need to be very self-disciplined," Paul says. "That means no slacking off. It means being terribly focussed on succeeding. For the most part, you're on your own unless you're fortunate enough to have a partner supporting you. If you can make a living out of it, writing surely has to be one of the most ideal jobs in the world."
If you would like to find out more about Paul and his books, please visit his website here. You can also visit Ford Street Publishing and browse through their high-quality books for children and young adults.
James Gong: The Big Hit is available through Paul's website and Ford Street Publishing. Go here for an excellent review of James Gong by author Dimity Powell.