Welcome to Clubhouse Chat page. Those of you who are not a member won’t be aware that the location of the Clubhouse is shrouded in mystery. The only way to visit it is via membership or an invite to the tearoom. Every few days, I’ll be sharing a conversation with all sorts of writers and authors at different levels of their writing careers. Over tea and cakes, or maybe a glass of something stronger, I shall be chatting with my guest about their work in progress, or latest book release.
Today I’ve invited Black Hare Press writer, Gary Rubidge to join me. Welcome to the tearoom, Gary.
Thanks for the invite, Paula. The room is much bigger than I thought, but comfy too.
Yes it’s very cozy too. We want our members to feel right at home here. Now we have our refreshments let me start by asking you when you first begun your writing journey what drew you to your chosen genre?
I started writing poetry when I was in high school many, many years ago (1980s) I was an angry teenager and very much into protest songs. I was a big supporter of people like Peter Garrett of Midnight Oil fame. I think my poems were a thinly veiled attempt to write lyrics for a protest song to begin with but became protest songs reflecting the angst of angry teenagers as influenced by the media of the time. Outside of that Science Fiction and Horror have always been a big influence.
Tell us a little about latest writing project. Is it a new idea, or one you have been mulling over for some time?
The current project is my first project. I discussed a number of things with my good friend, Gregg Cunningham, and suggested he write a story based on an idea I had. He knew I’d written poems when I was at school and had been trying to get me to write something, anything, to get me back into writing. When I pitched my idea to him, he shrugged his shoulders, looked me in the eyes and said “You write it.”
Gregg introduced me to Black Hare Press and I started to write my story. I soon discovered a number of perils associated with writing stories. The most obvious was that being a novice, I wasn’t about to write a 100,000 word novel straight up, even though the idea was all there in my head. I broke it down into smaller chunks because BHP were looking for some stories.
I needed to be a published author so I put my story aside and worked on drabbles, eventually some success. So, with a big head from my drabble success I submitted my first story ‘chunk’ to BHP expecting it to be accepted.
It was rejected. So was my next chunk and a third chunk. The story is now sitting on my computer, eagerly waiting for me to revisit it.
Gregg calls it my submarine story but I look upon it as an alien story. The synopsis being Aliens visited Earth and established Atlantis. Something evil was stored at Atlantis because there was nowhere else in the known universe willing to take it, causing a war which ended with the Aliens leaving Earth and Atlantis being buried at the bottom of the ocean along with the evil prescence. Fast forward to today and a submarine has been mysteriously despatched to find an ‘item’ at the bottom of the ocean. Weird things happen as people and animals emotions seem to be manipulated as they get closer to the item. In effect, a conspiracy between an alien race and the government.
How many unfinished projects do you have on your computer?
Lots. As mentioned, my first big project. Then there were several stories I started for various anthologies that were never completed on time. I’m hoping I can manipulate some to fit into future anthologies.
Choosing only five of your favourite authors. Can you list them in order 1 begin the top of your list and say how have they influenced your writing?
- Clive Cussler is/was a genius as far as I was concerned. He has a number of books based around characters out to save the world. He only had two books converted into movies (Raise The Titanic and Sahara) and refused to let more be converted due to disagreements with the screen writers, movie studios, etc. His characters are involved in action sequences around the world as they try to thwart an evil empire/company/conglomerate/family from causing widespread destruction to the environment. I’ve been told my writing style is very similar to his and, if true, is a coincidence. It’s just that he was a prolific writer and I lapped up every page of every book.
- Raymond Feist created an Imaginary land and introduced different characters over several generations in the same world, fighting an unseen and unknown, but very influential evil spirit that manipulated kingdoms behind the scenes as It tried to take over the world. A Magician has gathered a number of powerful magicians to work behind the scenes whilst the humans fight the resulting wars as armies try to invade the world from the depths of hell. Again, I’ve read every book in each trilogy he wrote about this imaginary kingdom of Midkemia.
- Douglas Adams Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy series. What more can I say? A trilogy in five parts. His sense of humour was so different to anything I’d seen or heard before and I fell under his spell. I discovered him initially through the TV version of his books and then read everything I could find. If I could write humorous stories the way he does then I would. “The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don’t”. Absolute genius. Don’t forget his Dirk Gently Holistic Detective Agency books and the only semi-serious “Last Chance To See.”
- Dan Brown courted controversy by upsetting the church. He had a great story but the lines were blurred over the claims to be accurate. Either way, the stories, like Clive Cussler and Raymond Feist, moved quickly and kept me engaged. The descriptions were kept to a minimal and I liked how this allowed my imagination to interpret what was being described differently to someone else.
- My Aunty, Norma Rubidge. Something different. To the best of my knowledge, she had only one poem published. It was a book called Poetry Today, 1977. My parents have the only known copy I am aware of. I can’t recall the poem very well but she inspired me to write poetry to begin with. I was amazed that a woman who was not very well educated could achieve that sort of recognition and be remembered for all time. Well, inspiration does come from the funniest of places. Hmm, and I just placed her in the company of some very prolific, well known authors.
You know, Paula? You are one of several authors I’ve come across since entering the world of Facebook that has intrigued me. I’m starting to draw inspiration from a number of you as I read your contributions to the anthologies I have been involved in (either being accepted into or rejected from). Time permitting, I am starting to read a little more widely (including your stories, ‘Stone Angels’, and ‘Funeral Birds’.) to find ways of tackling story lines and character development.
(Thank you for saying so, Gary.🙂 )
Were any of your characters inspired by real people?
Hard as I try, I cannot help but notice I have described some people I know when writing the odd character. It was not my intention to do so but looking back, it’s what I did. More often, I am influenced by movie characters or characters from books. For example, Clive Cussler describes two close characters, Dirk Pitt and his buddy, Al Giordino. They have some wonderful banter and I cannot help but imitate that. My sense of humour is very much Douglas Adams and Monty Python, and that comes through with my friends and family. In essence, not the character, but some aspects are drawn from a variety of places.
I find I have to describe the characters on a separate piece of paper to avoid crossing the traits of the various characters in the story with other characters.
What did you learn when writing your book and story? In writing it, how much research did you do?
My first attempt at a story (discussed earlier) was set on a submarine. I put a lot of effort on line to learn about submarines, weapons, government positions, etc. It surprised how much I had to learn in order to start writing a story that was somewhat accurate.
I’m currently involved in one of the 13 book series that was with Black Hare Press and is now at home with Raven and Drake. The book is set in an asylum in England in 1950s. I’ve needed to do a lot or research to get as much authenticity as I can. As a newbie to the writing world and now writing with some considerably more experienced writers, I am feeling the pressure to get it as right as I can (all self-imposed pressure).
I’m used to writing papers, reports, etc. So I’m fine with getting the facts correct. I just need to focus on being more descriptive and emotional. Therefore, I’m learning heaps about what to include and to what extent. The best way to learn is to dive in and seek as much feedback as I can.
Is there anything about you your readers might be surprised to find out?
I mentioned my auntie and my long haired, hippy protest phase growing up. Something my dad likes to tell people is that I was a Police Officer in the WA Police Force for a number of years before becoming a legal drug dealer (I sold pharmaceuticals to doctors, nurses, specialists in hospitals and GP clinics).
And being dragged into the 21st Century. I was not on social media until I started writing. Then I joined facebook in a moment of insanity. Now I’ve moved on and joined several on line writing groups to learn and become inspired. When I feel I have reached the point where I can contribute more then I’ll contribute to some of the groups. Until then, I’m a keen observer with not enough time on his hands.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
The fear of rejection was a big motivator in my consideration of using a pseudonym. However, common sense kicked in, along with my ego. If a story was to be accepted, it needed to have my name attached so that people knew it was me. If it’s a crap story then…I only wrote it, the publisher accepted it! I still hate rejection emails (we all have them) but I’m learning and so I will eventually have a book (We can only dream, can’t we?) with MY NAME on it.
As a newbie, I’m crawling. I hope to claim soon that I’m walking and I’ll claim to be running if I ever have a book out. If I do, you’ll know it was mine because my name will be on it.
How do you select the names of your characters? Do you know everything about them before you start writing their story?
For a slightly historical sense, I googled the most popular names of that era. My character shares my initials with names popular from that era. I had an idea of what they looked like, mannerisms, etc. These were somewhat stereotypical. In some sense, I also asked myself “Does he look like a Kevin to you?” or “she doesn’tseem like a Jane at all.” We all have our ideas of what they look like and I know everyone has a different idea so I go with what I think they look like.
I did some ‘Alien” research and came up with a list of names from supposed alien races mentioned in shows like “Ancient Aliens”, etc. When I did these, my knowledge of the character was limited to what I knew of the few facts mentioned about the race/species.
As for the others, the obituary column works for me. I can mix and match Christian and surnames. I even found a few interesting names to give the ethnic characters, too.
How long on average does it take you to write a book and story?
In short – a bloody long time.
It’s hard for me to find time to write! There is so much happening in my life at the moment. Trying to get the story done on time for the ‘13’ book I am involved in is hard enough. Add that to my current studies – I am doing an on-line course in Project Management and trying to find a new job outside of the drug industry, my wife has a list of jobs to do around the house because we cannot travel during these Covid times.
I’d like to have a lot of time but writing doesn’t pay my bills. As mentioned earlier, most of my efforts don’t make the deadline. Most of the time, getting started is the issue. Once I get started I can knock out several thousand words. It’s then a case of putting it away to pull out later and review, hopefully so that the story can be refined to the word limit and submitted on time – If I remember.
I used to procrastinate, now I’m not sure if I should or shouldn’t write a story this way or that way!
Thank you for joining me in the tearoom, Gary. If you would like to find out more about Gary’s work check the link:
Gary Rubidge – Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gary.rubidge.7/
Black Hare Press Author Page: Gary Rubidge
If you want to find out more about Clubhouse Members’ Books, don’t forget to check out the Clubhouse Bookshops too.