Matthew Reilly is an internationally acclaimed Australian author. He has appeared on the New York Times best-selling list, and is renowned for his high-tempo, exciting stories.
The sheer scale of the action scenes he creates have to be read to be believed, and his latest offering “The One Impossible Labyrinth” (wrapping up the Jack West Jr storyline) is promising to be the biggest yet.
I have been a fan of his since my youth (and the baton has now been passed on to my son!), and I was stoked that he would sit down with Etherea Magazine for an interview.
How are you feeling now that the Jack West Jr storyline has wrapped up?
Very satisfied. I feel like I’ve wrapped it up in a way that readers—and the characters—deserve. It’s a real sense of completion.
The environs your novels are set in often become the most dangerous antagonist. What makes The One Impossible Labyrinth worthy of the finale?
Since the very beginning with Seven Ancient Wonders, I always wanted the Jack West Jr series to feature dangerous, ancient, often-booby-trapped places. So when it came to the last novel, it had to be the biggest, baddest, most dangerous one of them all. Hence, the impossible labyrinth, a maze of mazes, some of which are simply fantastically colossal! When you finish a story—be it a single novel or a series—your climax has to be the biggest moment, and the Labyrinth definitely makes that the case here.
Fans obviously get very attached to characters, particularly over the course of several novels (I still don’t know if I will be able to forgive you a certain scene in ‘Scarecrow’), and I imagine it is even more so for yourself. What is your process when deciding upon the death of a character?
My process is this: will that character’s death make a resounding impact on the story and on the hero? The notorious death scene in Scarecrow fit that bill to the letter. As you said, it resonates to this day, such was its impact. It’s the same here. And since my readers know that no character is safe, they also know that any death will be seriously impactful to the story and to the hero.
Since there is canonically a “Matthew Reilly Universe” (Shane Schofield and Jack West Jr in the same novel, the events of Temple referenced in Area 7) is there the possibility of further crossovers in the future?
Absolutely! I mean, I’ve now written so many novels, it’s fun to cross them over, just like I did in The Four Legendary Kingdoms. Thank you Marvel for paving the way in this regard!
You famously took the plunge and self published Contest, kick starting your career as a professional writer. Do you have any advice for writers seeking to do the same today, given the glut of options?
This is a tough one. I did it before Amazon and e-publishing, so I still kind of stood out. It’s harder to do that now. I also got galactically lucky that a good publisher, Cate Paterson, walked into that store, saw Contest and then actually bought and read it. My advice is: write your book, revise it twice, then send it to publishers. Then start your next one, as a publisher doesn’t want just one novel from an author; they want several. Show them you can write more than one.
What do you think makes a good story?
A first line that makes the reader think, “Oooh, that’s interesting, I want to know more.’
Have you read any indie Authors lately?
I confess I haven’t read much lately, since I’ve been busy directing my first movie, Interceptor. When I do get to read for fun, lately I’ve been reading science fiction from Dan Simmons and Ursula K Le Guin.
What was the biggest challenge stepping into the Directors chair for Interceptor?
Managing people and letting go. For a novel, I just have to manage me! For a movie, it’s all about picking good people (actors and crew), managing them and then letting go, and letting them do what they do well. As the director, I’m in charge of the story. I don’t tell stunt people how to do stunts or VFX people how to create effects. What I tell them is what I need for the story.
Interestingly, I think writing novels has helped me as a film director. Because when you write a novel, you have to make decisions and then live with them—you can’t recall the printed books and rewrite them. You have to know how to let go, be happy with what you’ve written and put it out there. With a movie, you make a million decisions and then you live with them. I’ve been doing that with my books for 23 years now, so I’ve had lots of practice at that!
Was Directing what you expected?
Pretty much. I’d been hoping to do it for a long, long time.
What is next for you?
Write more novels, make more movies! Tell stories. For me, it’s all about getting readers and audiences on the edges of their seats—turning those pages furiously or leaning forward as they watch the movie. I can’t believe I get paid to tell stories.
And there you go!
Thanks for the great questions!
Thank you very much for answering them!