MOTH: 1. What inspired you to become a writer?
PR: 1. When I was a child I loved books, films, and pictures. I never had any idea how to get into making films, but I went to art college and was an illustrator for a while. Writing stories was always my first love though, so I kept doing that as a hobby and eventually, I wrote Mortal Engines and found a publisher for it.
MOTH: 2. The title of your last book?
PR: 2. Kevin and the Biscuit Bandit! It’s part of a series I’m doing with my friend Sarah McIntyre, who illustrates them; Kevin is a very fat flying pony. The last solo book I published was called Station Zero, the last part of my Railhead trilogy.
MOTH: 3. Ebook – for or against?
PR: 3. As a reader I’m kind of neutral – I prefer reading an old-fashioned paper book, but I do read e-books and the experience is much the same. As a writer, I find them a bit frustrating – I can see them, I can’t sign them, they don’t seem to have an official publication date like paper books do, they just kind of leak out… I’d rather they didn’t exist, really, but they can’t be uninvented so there’s no point worrying about them.
MOTH: 4. How do you deal with bad reviews?
PR: 4. Luckily I realized very early on that I should never read reviews – I didn’t see a bad one which made me decide that, I just sensed that I would spend too much time worrying about what other people think. So I almost never see any reviews at all!
MOTH: 5. Is it better to promote yourself online or in other media?
PR: 5. I don’t know… There’s so much stuff online, getting yourself noticed amid all the other noise seems almost impossible. I think the only thing that really makes a difference is if you can get on TV or radio, but that’s quite difficult too! Book festivals are good and trying to build a relationship with small bookshops, I think that makes a difference.
MOTH: 6. Which writers had the most influence on your writing style?
PR: 6. When I was a child I loved Tolkien and probably tried (and failed) to write like him. Then as I grew older and read other authors I started being influenced by them too – Raymond Chandler, Ray Bradbury, J G Ballard, Angela Carter, Geraldine McCaughrean, far too many to list – and eventually I had so many influences that I hope you can’t spot them, it all blended together to make my own style.
MOTH: 7. What success do you expect from your work?
PR: 7. I’ve already had more success than I ever imagined, but all I ever really hope for is that each new book will sell well enough that someone will want to publish the next one.
MOTH: 8. What is your target audience?
PR: 8. All my books are sold as children’s books – 5-years and upwards in the case of the ones I write with Sarah McIntyre, a bit older for things like Mortal Engines. But I hope they’ll appeal to anyone who likes the sort of things I write. When I was eleven or twelve I read a lot of adult science fiction novels, and that’s the sort of feeling I’m aiming for when I write a book like Mortal Engines or Railhead.
MOTH: 9. Describe your last work in 12 words.
PR: 9. My last solo work? Love, action, and adventure in a galactic empire linked by hyperspace trains…
My last book with Sarah McIntyre: a flying pony accused of biscuit theft fights to clear his name!
MOTH: 10. Advice for future writers?
PR: 10. Write! I’m always surprised how many don’t: they talk about writing, or think deeply about writing, or take courses about writing, or get hung up on polishing and polishing one particular project. But you need to write all the time and lots of different things.
MOTH: 11. Where would you like your writing to take you as a guest?
PR: 11. There are so many places I haven’t been to, and I’d like to visit all of them. I’d love to see more of Europe, more of America, and I’d like to go back to New Zealand one day.
MOTH: 12. Holding your next book promotion?
PR: 12. Thanks to the Coronavirus, I don’t even know when my next book will be published, let alone how it will be promoted!