IamA Matthew Reilly, bestselling author of the upcoming TROLL MOUNTAIN AMA!
I'm the author ICE STATION and the Scarecrow series, as well as SEVEN ANCIENT WONDERS with Jack West Jr. My new e-book, TROLL MOUNTAIN, comes out next week.
You can find it at: http://momentumbooks.com.au/books/troll-mountain-episode-1/
I once had a super-cool "Scarecrow" emblem drawn up -- it was a wooden scarecrow with a helmet and sunglasses. That would be the best tattoo. I'd get one of those!
The movie world is fickle and I can't make them move faster. Contest is looking the best right now.
Tough question, that one. At the moment, THE TOURNAMENT is the one I'd like to be remembered for, because of the teacher-student relationship in it. But I think I will be remembered for the novel set in China, coming out later this year. It's getting big buzz from those who have read it in-house.
I had to find a way to do it. Natalie was a great sounding board, but I just had to be my own sounding board. My brother, Stephen, has stepped in to be my second set of eyes and he's great.
Thanks for being such a fun!
Hi Matthew! There was a quote in the Q&A section of Area 7 that has stuck with me ever since I read it back in high school –
quoted text “There is no such thing as an “aspiring writer”. You are a writer. Period.”
As hyperbolic as this might sound, that quote changed my life. Back in high school I was severely depressed, almost dropped out of high school, and almost gave up on my dream of writing books. That quote gave me the courage to start writing, and through the power of Kickstarter and self-publishing, my first book is coming out this year.
How does it feel to be the inspiration of a new generation of Australian writers?
I'm thrilled to hear that. That quote is true, too.
One of the nicest yet most unexpected things about what I do is inspiring people. I didn't set out to do it, but it's nice to be able to.
Good luck and well done!
Hey Matthew, I don't have a question but I had to say your awesome and never stop writing!
Mr. Reilly, I randomly picked up your book (Seven Deadly Wonders) when I was 12 off the floor at a bookstore and bought it because I was about to leave for a trip to Argentina. I didn't actually sleep on the plane because I read the book nonstop. Thank you for getting me into reading, that is all!
Hi Matthew, massive fan! I'm so glad to see you back after all you went through. :(
My question is, do other characters ever pop into your head when you're writing? Like for example if you're writing a Jack West novel, do you ever suddenly have an idea and then think "Hmm, this might actually better for Scarecrow to go through"? Do you have a system for keeping them separate?
Also, how much of yourself goes into your characters in terms of experiences or personality?
Lots of questions! So I have to type fast!
All the time! I just pull out my notebook and jot it down for later. The key is to FINISH THE BOOK I AM WRITING NOW!!!
My system reflects my brain -- I have a million notebooks ling around my desk, filled with notes!
Hi Mr Reilly, I have been reading your books since I was 13. I am now 20. My Dad originally introduced me to them and I loved them, so much so that I have purchased every single new release on the first day that they come out. I am so glad and thankful that my Dad looked past gender stereotypes and introduced me to a whole new genre of action reading. Thank you for giving me so much literary joy over the years – I always make sure to suggest your writings. I have two questions. 1. Have you ever looked into doing a regional tour of Australia? I live about four hours away from Sydney and have never had the opportunity to meet you, or get one of my copies signed. 2. How long on average does the research for each book take you? Thank you again.
Over the years, I've done many speeches in regional libraries -- Singleton, Tamworth, Minlaton, Toowoomba, Dalby. Must have missed your town! Will do some later this year. Keep an eye on my website.
Research can take three months or many years. THE TOURNAMENT grew over eighteen years. Usually, it's about six months.
Any news on an Aloysius Knight book/appearance in a book? Also a second Hover Car book?
Knight: perhaps an ebook novella.
Hover Car sequel: you know, probably not. It was a once-off. The exception rather than the rule. My books are for adults...Hover Car may have actually muddied the waters (some of those kids bought THE TOURNAMENT...)
Hey Matthew - Compared to Ice Station, Temple and Area 7, your more recent books have taken on a more fantastical approach to story telling (except perhaps Army of Thieves).
Is that a conscious move on your part?
Its hard to ask with out sounding like a complaint, but do you think you will ever go back to the more traditional geopolitical action-thriller rather than the globe trotting "fantasy with guns"?
Sorry, I somehow missed this one earlier.
- I noticed the same thing myself, actually. Recently, I have gone into history, trolls and wait for the China book (whoa!). And yes, the Jack West series is essentially a fantasy quest with modern weaponry.
Perhaps this reflects a need on my part to escape, I'm not sure. I know, after 2011, I wanted to write a novel that was not a sequel to anything I'd done before, it had to be new, and the China book -- with its rampant monster-movie-on-paper qualities -- is a total work of "sheer giant-scale action escapist fun". Again, maybe I needed it, but damn it felt good to write. It's very geopolitical.
The Scarecrow world is my geopolitical realm, and when I return there, I will bring back to grittier stuff.
Hey there Matthew!
I just wanted to say that I’m a pretty big fan of your books. Contest and Ice Station are definitely two of my favorites. I remember I when I was reading Ice Station, I was so into it I read about 200 pages in one sitting. I don’t think I can say that about anything else I’ve read.
Anyway on to questions.
Where did you get the inspiration for the Maghook?/Where can I get my hands on a Maghook?
How is Mother, what’s she been up to recently? Is she going to make an appearance in any future story?
I like heroes who swing -- Indiana Jones, Luke Skywalker. So Scarecrow (and Jack) were going to swing. The Maghook enabled that! (And I made it up, so you can't buy one. Bummer.)
I get the odd thought about Mother every few months and I always jot it down on a piece of paper: "What would Mother thinks of Vladimir Putin riding on a horse with his shirt off?" Stuff like that. She's awesome to think about in that way...and it gets filed away for the next Scarecrow book.
What is the best advice ever given to you?
Oh, man.... that's a big one.
"You miss 100% of the shots you don't take."
It was on a poster in a hotel gym.
Huge fan! Actually rereading the Scarecrow series as we speak. My question is, which series do you enjoy writing more, Scarecrow or Jack West Jr? Also, are going to get a new Jack West Jr book?
I like them both -- the Scarecrow world is harder, meaner, more violent. While Jack's world is more "adventure" and history-based -- plus, I think Lily makes it gentler.
I'm working on Jack West IV right now, just refining an idea. If I get it right, I'll start work on it.
Hello Mr Reilly,
You may remember a couple months ago signing a copy of Ice Station and Scarecrow and sending it to my family after we lost our house in a fire, I would just like to take this opportunity to thank you again for your kindness :) and just one question, will there ever be an Aloysius Knight book? :)
No problem. It's the least i can do in such circumstances. Hope you're back on your feet.
Perhaps an ebook. See above.
Made an account just for this. Do you have any definitive plans to do another Jack West Jr story? Not that I don't want a new Scarecrow book aswell.
This is the most frequently asked question I get. And I like to listen to my fans. If I can crack the idea for JW4, I'll do it next.
Hello Mathew, It is because of you that I finally wrote my book www.phoenixproject-thenovel.com I would love to send you a copy. If you can let me know how... you can always contact me through my email on my site. I am sure you will enjoy it! I tried to match your writing style fast and non stop... it received great reviews who knows if you find the time in your busy schedule. I am also working on the sequel you might want to take a look... Currently it is in most ebook formats and I am working on the print version from Creatspace. Thank you for all your wonderful stories. Keep them coming. Loved Tournament beautifully paced... Let us know when you will be in the states and I will make some time to fly out to you! Best regards, Robert in Miami
Well done with your book! No time to read right now. Got a pile of books to get through. And I'll post a US visit on the website and Facebook.
Huge fan for many years, love every piece you have ever written and can't wait for the new books! I'm currently working on a videogame inspired by the style of your writing for the Scarecrow novels. Do you have any person in particular that you used for military reference training? Alternatively, is all of your knowledge on equipment etc. sourced mostly from wikipedia, manuals, and documentaries? Have you ever participated in any live firing exercises? Did you ever have the chance to meet Tom Clancy and was his style inspiring to you early on? Hope you are well, and wish nothing but the very best for you!
I've had a few US Marines and commandos from the Australian 2 Commando Regiment help me out.
I prefer manuals (like Jane's) and non-fiction to Wikipedia. Wikipedia is good just for quick reference, but always back it up.
Yes, I've been in live-fire stuff. Very cool. Can't say where.
Never got to meet Clancy, but his style was a huge inspiration -- I loved his geopolitical concepts, but just wanted a faster pace.
Thanks for your kind wishes.
Hi!! I love your books and really excited to read your new one! I was just wondering if you will ever have one of your books become a movie!! You've mentioned it in some interviews, especially for Hovercar Racer but so far nothing. I really hope one will start being produced soon!! Thank you for writing these amazing books and continually allowing me and I'm sure many others to expand our imaginations like we were able to as children. Hope to see you soon in Sydney!
The movie world is fickle and largely out of my control. I sell or option the rights, but then it's out of my hands, sadly.
Hover Car is still with Disney, but they haven't got a director yet, which is a key moment. Contest is the closest right now.
Hi Matthew, thank you very much for doing this AMA. When I met you at your recent book launch, my friends and I couldn't believe how extremely humble and excited you were to meet all your loyal fans. How do you handle living in the public eye since gaining notoriety, more so now as a very popular Australian author, throughout both your ups and downs? Also will Troll Mountain ever be released in paperback? Thanks again for all you do, and keep up the fantastic page turners!
Being an author is the best kind of fame -- I am recognised at book events, but generally, no-one knows what I look like. (Since being on Australian Story, I get more looks in the street. I'd rather be known for my books than my ups and downs, though.)
It's usually nice -- when a QANTAS steward is a fan, I get nicer wine! And you'd be amazed how many kids of Important People are fans of mine!
Troll Mountain will be an ebook for now...but never say never! Momentum (my ebook publisher) have done hardcopies before.
Hi Matthew, I'm a big fan of all your books. I was also hugely impressed by you on Australian Story recently. I have to ask, what Aston Martin do you love the most?
I have had a V8 Vantage since 2007 and I love it. Can't find anything better. And thanks about Aus Story.
From your experience getting published for the first time, what would you recommend that others do the same or differently? Also, can you give any tips on writing fast-paced action sequences?
Getting published is HARD. You must, above all else, persevere. Persistence is everything. Self-publishing on Amazon is something you can do now that I could not back in 1996. It's a great option.
Action sequences: think visually. Short sentences. And a hero you care about. Works for me!
Hey Matthew! How long did it take for Troll Mountain to go from initial concept to a finished novella? Also, I know you do your own research for all your novels; how often do you consult with professionals when writing about a particular field e.g. technology, weaponry etc.
I started TROLL MOUNTAIN back in 2009, I think. It was designed to be a pure hero's journey. Worked on it, on and off, between the major novels and decided, with e-publishing now mature, the time was right.
I see some military mates a few times a year about weapons etc.
I totally forgot that he was writing this book, and thought it was an actual troll doing this AMA lol
Different kind of troll -- the kind that eats people!
Hi Matthew, Huge fan. I just wanted to say thanks for all the amazing times I had reading your books. You've started to create new series of characters besides Scarecrow series, and Jack West. Do you have plans of making new series or do you think you'll go back to writing about Scarecrow and Jack West after the Troll mountain series?
I have many readers asking for a new Jack West Jr book, so I working on an idea for that.
That said, I enjoyed THE TOURNAMENT, and I have a cool sequel idea for that, too.
Right now...I have to rest!
When I first heard that Contest might get made into a movie, I tried to imagine what the trailer would look like, and I end up writing it down. Here it is:
A man is talking on the phone. He calls out to his daughter to turn the TV volume down. She runs into the kitchen and hugs his legs, playfully annoying him. He laughs and attempts to swat her away when he sees a tiny ball of bright light appear above his daughter's head. He stares at it for a second, before it grows in size until he and his daughter are enveloped in light. Before he can exclaim, the light disappears and they are surrounded by darkness. He instantly realises he is no longer in his kitchen.
He looks around but can't see anything, not even his hand in front of his face. His daughter tugs at his shirt, beginning to get frightened. He hugs her tightly and calls out to the darkness. "H...Hello? Is anyone there?" A voice answers. "Good evening Mr. Swain, and welcome." "What? Who's there? Welcome to what?" "Welcome, of course, to the Seventh Presidium." "What's going on? What's the Seventh Presidium?" "It is a contest held once every thousand years, consisting of seven contestants pitted against each other. The only way to leave is to win, and to win, you must fight." "What? Fight who?" "Not who, Mr. Swain. 'What'"
Images of strange creatures flash across the screen, consisting of a bizarre crocodile chasing Stephen, a giant preying mantis lowering itself behind an enemy, a large man throwing knives almost too fast to see movement, another large man with horns surrounded by small vicious-looking dogs, and finally, and enormous creature that looks like a gorilla with the head of a jackal.
"Remember Mr. Swain, the rules are simple. Seven contestants enter. Only one will leave"
What do you think?
Sounds like the trailer I made myself! i'd see it.
Peanut butter or Nutella?
Hi Matthew - big fan! Wondering if you have any plans to focus a book or storyline around the Black Knight - would love to hear more about his backstory & adventures...
Perhaps a short novel. I do have a killer idea.
Hey Matt, huge fan of your work! Everyone has their favourite Reilly characters to read, but which ones are your favourites to write and why? Thanks for doing the AMA!
Mother and the Black Knight -- because they say what we would never say out loud.
Roger Ascham from THE TOURNAMENT was also fun, because he the ideal teacher, the kind we wish we all had.
No question, I just want to thank you for over a decade of wonderful reading. Your books along with James Rollins and Jack DuBrul really brought me back into the adventure genre. When I worked in a bookstore I received Ice Station as an advanced reader and I read it straight through that night. I sold the heck out of it when it was released and many who bought it came back and thanked me. I look forward to many more books from you over the years.
Cool. Glad to hear it!
Hi Matt, long time reader here. I absolutely love the Jack West Jr. series, and live in hope that another is on the way soon!
My question: I just recently finished reading 'The Tournament' and absolutely loved it. I found it quite a different read from your other books. So where did that come from? Cheers!
I just wanted to do a story about:
(1) a chess tournament, because I thought it'd be a challenge and (2) a story about how a great historic individual, Queen Elizabeth I, became great. My answer: her education.
I'm a big fan of education.
Hi Matthew, I am a massive fan. I wanted too ask, what are your favorite books?
I loved JURASSIC PARK by Michael Crichton, FATHERLAND by Robert Harris and THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS by Thomas Harris. MONEYBALL by Michael Lewis and OUTLIERS by Malcolm Gladwell are two non-fiction faves.
Hey Matthew, huge fan of your work, especially the Jack West Jr saga. A few years back my dad came home from a business trip and got me the Six Sacred Stones hardcover. It was an instant addiction and within a month I had bought all of your novels. You always says to never underestimate encouragement, so from one fan to an exceptional author, keep doing what you do best.
My question is; How do you turn an idea into a novel? I've been writing small pieces for a long time but I just can't draw the stories out past a couple pages.
You need a big idea and you need to get the ending in your head first. That works for me.
Firstly, thankyou for your writing. They helped me go from the 14 yo kid at school who always had his head in a book, to the one who introduced Mattthew Reilly to my year level. Cool in a (very long...) instant.
Again, a second thankyou for your part in a 21st present, where a couple of friends travelled to Melbourne to have 5 Greatest Warriors signed by you. A great surprise, and one I have been waiting for an opportunity to thank you for.
What is the status of your film rights? I recall you were filming "The Contest" a number of years ago; did that ever get finished?
Contest is still ongoing. Hover Car has gone quiet. Glad you liked the present.
Hi Matt, I was so sorry to hear about your wife, hope things are well.
You have been my favourite author for as along as i can remember, I was hooked after reading contest. Concerning contest, where did the inspiration behind the Karanadon come from in contest? Also, will we ever see a movie based on any of your books?
Thanks for your kind thoughts.
The Karanadon was simply designed to be a random element. It's like a cross between a bear and a wolf, in my mind. I came up with the name by taking the dinosaur name "pteranadon" and going through the alphabet till I found a starting letter that sounded cool...got to "K" and bingo.
See above answer for movies. I'm typing as fast as I can!
Hi matt Completely unrelated to books, but your success has allowed you to travel around. How much does that influence where you set your characters? And where has been your favourite place to travel to?
The best part of my success has been how it allows me to travel more and more.
I couldn't afford to travel when I wrote CONTEST, ICE STATION and TEMPLE. But since then, I've been to nearly every place: Lake Powell for AREA 7, Istanbul for THE TOURNAMENT, Egypt/Stonehenge/China for THE JACK WEST SERIES.
Egypt stands above everywhere else. It's simple awesome. Bigger and older than anything else in the world. Easter Island comes 2nd.
Hi Mr Reilly, I met you last in Nov last year at Southland, you signed all 14 of my books. i had planned on dialling the number on christmas day and wishing the people at the other end a merry christmas! but i totally forgot with the business that is christmas!!! anyhoo! what i wish i had asked you on that day was have you seen Olympus has Fallen? and what do you think? I felt like it was a tribute to scarecrow!!! even has Gerard Butler as the main character whom which my best friend and i have cast as Scarecrow! i know you think tom cruise he's just too damn pretty and annoying!!!! PS meeting you and discovering you were the real deal and the nicest guy ever, made me smile for a week!!! :) xox
Saw a bit of Olympus Has Fallen and thought it was just okay. I liked WHITE HOUSE DOWN, though, even if it got a bit silly at the end.
Gerard Butler would be a great Scarecrow. My choice these days is not Tom Cruise but Chris Hemsworth. He's awesome. (And Russell Crowe for Jack West.)
Hey Matthew, could you tell us more about your Delorean? How it came to be in your ownership?
The D is AWESOMENESS PERSONIFIED (if a car can be personified...)
It's a cool, low-slung, cruisy beast. It's not the fastest car ever, but the stainless steel makes it glint like ROBOCOP (the original, not the woeful recent version). It gets looks all the time.
I bought it from a guy who owned a pinball parlour in Melbourne. He'd park it out the front of his shop to entice people inside. He got tired of people asking him about it at the gas station! But I don't mind.
They pop up on carsales.com.au from time to time.
Hey Matt, firstly I've been reading your books for years and they're amazing! All I wanted to ask is if you'd consider a story based on a side character like Mother sometime in the future. Would love to see what they do outside the main story. And if there is anymore news on the Jack West TV series? Thanks!
Not sure if I'd take Mother away from Scarecrow. They kind of work best together. But you never know!
I think the TV series is cactus, sadly.
I am a huge fan of your books and have read everything you have written since first diving into Hover Car Racer aged 12. I am yet to come across another author who can weave multi-dimensional characters together with blockbuster action as seamlessly as you. I particularly enjoyed The Tournament (especially as a current Cambridge Student it was nice seeing the university being the home of the hero rather than Oxford!). I have so many questions I could ask, but will limit myself to just two:
The Tournament was a big departure from your usual settings and action, although you managed to keep a similar level of excitement and tension throughout the book. Did you mean to come up with a setting/idea/location for a different type of story or did the idea come first and the pacing second?
What's next for Scarecrow? After his last adventure with the Army of Thieves he was continuing his recovery from the losses he suffered in Scarecrow, but what comes next?
Many thanks for taking the time to do this and, as always, keep writing!
Edit: I meant to say that I was so sorry to hear about your wife and glad to read in the end of book interview after The Tournament that things are starting to get better. Stay strong and best wishes.
Yes. I wanted to see if I could maintain tension in a story about a chess tournament and analyse greatness, really. if I could make a chess tournament exciting, then I felt that would be an achievement. People have loved it and it outsold the last Scarecrow book easily. The biggest-selling Australian fiction book for 2013 was one about chess! How about that!
I'll come back to Scarecrow one day, but I have some other fish to fry in the meantime.
Gotta keep living.
Hi Matthew! Like most everyone else here I am a massive fan! I read Contest at age 12 and have been in love with your books ever since! I actually read it all in one sitting on New Years Eve 2006 while I was at the fireworks show! I completely ignored my friends and family all night but it was totally worth it :D
So my question is: what is a day in the life of Matthew Reilly like? What time do you wake up, do you have breakfast, how long do you write/research for etc? What time of day do you work best? I find that late afternoons are best for me!
On Mondays and Tuesdays, I wake up around 7:15. Have breakfast, watch the news. Write from 8:30 to about 1pm; turn the phone off.
On Wednesdays, I play golf. Gotta get out in the fresh air and be sociable. Don't want to end up like Jack Nicholson's character in AS GOOD AS IT GETS (it could happen).
I work best in the mornings.
Hi matthew my mother got me into your books around 6 years ago just wondering if there is any news on the contest film? it always majorly interested me
I'm meeting a director shortly about it. The heat on it is building...
Who is your favourite character that you have written into existence? Will you be touring Australia doing signings for the release of Troll Mountain? (And will there be a maximum to the amount of books I can get signed because I own all of them and it would be awesome to have them all signed). Have you ever cried when writing a scene?
I like Mother and Roger Ascham.
No tour for TROLL MOUNTAIN, but I will be doing signings in November when the China novel comes out -- and you can bring as many as you want. if you can carry them, I can sign them!
Have I ever cried when writing a scene? Actually, once: and it's not where you'd think. It didn't happen in SCARECROW during the infamous guillotine scene. It was in THE FIVE GREATEST WARRIORS when the twins get out of the underground waterfall-filled Vertex and one says, "He's not heavy, he's my brother." It' a quote from a lovely, WWII story and that made me teary.
In the Scarecrow series, is the POTUS fictional or am I supposed to be imagining George Bush?
also, fill in the blanks "The Four ____ Kings" ;)
The POTUS was originally supposed to be George W Bush, but my publisher asked me to be a bit more vague about it.
As for your second question: you are very close and if I told you, I'd have to kill you.
Can I direct movies based on your books? I have no experience and don't know anybody in 'the biz' but I think I would do a damn good job! I always imagine how the scenes would play out in my head when I read your books. There would definitely be no stupid shaky-cam!
Also, what motivates you to write? I have a few ideas kicking around in my head (full stories practically) but it's such a chore writing/typing it down.
I don't know if Hollywood would give you $50 million bucks, based on that level of experience!
I write because I love it. I can't stop. I have to make myself stop. You just have to sit down and get it on the page....and then re-read it a million times and put it out there!
Hi Matthew Super big fan ever since I was given a copy of Ice Station! Since then I've been to all of your appearances in my area and have all my books signed :-) When I get Troll Mountain how am I going to get them signed huh? Thanks for all the adventures. You keep writing and I'll keep collecting.
Thanks for coming so often.
Print it out and bring it along -- people bring the short stories all the time.
Hi Matthew. Thanks so much for doing this AMA; I'm a big fan, especially of your Jack West Jr. series. It's always great to read a series featuring an Australian protagonist, and I could enthuse about the gorgeous dynamic of Lily's "family" for days. Such a refreshing ensemble cast of characters.
I'll make my question quick (hastily typing this in between classes!): have you ever considered writing a novel where the typically gun-toting, badass Scarecrow/Jack central figure is female? Don't get me wrong, I adore Mother and Zoe and Lily, but I think it would be great to have a lady in the leading role.
If not, I hope to see the other girls return soon! (I hear whispers in your answers of a fourth Jack West book – so excited! Please promise you'll be nice to Zoe. We don't want any more... axe-idents.)
The lead character of the China novel is a woman...and a bad-ass woman at that.
As for Zoe -- that is indeed the question. I don't want to repeat myself, so she's probably -- probably -- safe.
Hi Matt, big fan can't wait to dig into Troll Mountain: 1: Are we going to get to see Aloysius Knight again? 2: Any chance of interaction between Shane Schofield and Jack West Jr? 3: If you get the chance, what authors do you like?
See above for Scarecrow and Jack. Knight may get a short novel.
I like Michael Crichton, Thomas Harris, and in non-fiction, Michael Lewis and Malcolm Gladwell.
Matthew whats the book you are most proud of? Which one took you the longest to write? P.S Scarecrow is my all time favorite book
I'm most proud of THE TOURNAMENT. I think it shows my development as an author.
The longest to write? Hmmm. Maybe TEMPLE or TOURNAMENT.
Hi Matthew, Would there be any chance in the near future to set up a Kickstarter Campaign to fund a Scarecrow movie? I'm pretty sure your fans will happily donate to the worthy cause.
Oh, if you had the option to choose any actors to be cast in a Scarecrow movie/series, who would you cast?
It'd be an option, although I felt VERONICA MARS was not as good as the TV show.
Choosing actors is a dangerous thing for me to do...because people get so upset! I like Chris Hemsworth these days and Queen Latifah for Mother.
Hi Matthew, thanks so much for providing such a positive influence from my high school years right till today, and also thanks for always being so awesome to meet in person, I've had the pleasure a number of times!
It was interesting to see Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves return to a formula that was closer to that of Ice Station and Area 7, where they are set largely in one amazing location. I love these books the most. Would you say that this style is reserved just for scarecrow stories or is it something that you would want to use again in the future?
So far, it has suited Scarecrow stories.
The China book has a killer single location.
I like it as a story structure. It keeps it contained. It all depends on the story, though.
What influences your writing the most? Thank you for your time!
Trying to tell a better story, a story that I haven't seen in ivies or print before.
How many hours would you estimate goes into the writing of each book?
And how much planning and brainstorming does it take to bring the idea to a point where it can become a book?
Is it often you discard ideas? for example are there any adventures that Scarecrow/Jack had that didn't make the final cut?
Finally how do you keep your books so exciting? Or does that just come naturally?
I've never calculated the hours, come to think of it. It takes me about 8 months for a first draft. Then 5 months of revising. But I don't work every day of the week.
Planning takes a further 3-4 months. Do I discard ideas: all the time! That's perhaps the key to a fast-paced book, discarding the ideas that slow it down. The exploding aircraft carrier scene in SCARECROW was meant to be in TEMPLE, but it was making TEMPLE too long, so I kept it for later.
Keeping them exciting: I love fast-paced movies and stories that keep you turning the pages. I write what I would want to read myself and that seems to work.
Big fan. Outside of writing, what other artistic outlets do you like to do?
Golf. That's kind of artistic!
I draw the original diagrams for the books before a proper artist gets to redraw them, and I like doing that. i also once built a hover car model.
I actually just go out and see a lot of weird stuff: art shows, films, documentaries, Wrestlemania, PGA tour golf stuff. I am a curious person, so finding stuff out gets my mind flowing.
OMG! HI! For years I've been waiting for you to come to the States on a book tour to ask you this question. (when you've been here, you've never come to Florida. Fix that. :D kthx.) I'll save the fan-girl gushing of excitement and cut to the chase. Need you to settle a years-long on-going argument between my now-husband, former roommate, and myself.
Scarecrow vs Jack West: TWO MEN ENTER, ONE MAN LEAVES!? WHO WILL BE THE VICTOR!?!?
Omg. Thanks. :D
That is one of the hardest questions of them all.
Both a determined sons of bitches.
But then, Jack as a titanium arm, which, if he hit you, would do substantial damage. But we also know that Scarecrow beat Mother in their hand-to-hand fight...easily.
Maybe Jack, just, but I wouldn't want to see that fight.
Hey Matthew, I've been wondering for ages, are you going to continue on with the Jack West Jr series (All the way down to 1?) and if you do intend to continue, will the next book involve 4 kings? I remember reading in 5 Greatest Warriors when Jack is retrieving the Philosophers stone from the underground shrine that it sat in an alcove framed by 4 kings and 5 warriors. Love your writings, you are by far my favourite author so please keep up the good work and keep them stories rolling :)
That was a big hint, yes.
Hi Matthew, Firstly I am huge fan - ever since picking up one of your books on a recommendation - and now I read Ice Station (and some of the others) at least twice a year. My question is - if you could have anyone play the roles of Scarecrow, Mother, Gant and the crew - who would you choose? Also - any chance at all of a return of Scarecrow? (he is my favourite).
Chris Hemsworth Queen Latifah A young Renee Zellweger. The new girl from THE WOLF OF WALL STREET wouldn't be bad, either as Gant.
Scarecrow will return, but I have a few other books to write first.
Hi Matthew, another huge fan here.
You've always been a massive inspiration to me with self-publishing your first book. I always dream of writing a book one day but seem to have a really short attention span. When it comes to writing I struggle to get my thoughts down on paper and words things the way I want to word them. I'm sure you hear this all the time but, got any pro tips for a struggling wannabe writer? Also, I am INSANELY jealous of your Delorean, I'm not sure if it's been my dream car since back to the future or since I heard that you have one. I can't wait to see Contest at the movies, it is my personal favourite of your books, though it very nearly got toppled by the Tournament. Do you ever plan on delving into sci-fi like Contest again?
As I said above, getting the ending in your head is all-important. You need to know where your story is going. Otherwise, just write what you would read yourself.
TROLL MOUNTAIN is a bit of epic fantasy. And I like scifi, so maybe.
Hi Matt, Massive fan like all of us! Just a massive thank you for writing books that keep be up until ungodly hours of the morning :) I'm a police officer and I can tell you, you are my companion on nightshift!! when time stands still I pull one of your books out and BAM! it's home time! My question (if you have time and your fingers haven't fallen off yet) With your ideas for books what would be the oddest/coolest place and/or situation that has started you on a story for a book? I havent had the opportunity to meet you yet (24hr 7/days rotating roster doesnt help) but I will get a book or two signed!
Once again well done and can NOT wait for the next chapter in the Matthew Reilly universe!
One more thing "Never underestimate the power of your encouragement" some great author said that one time.... can't think of who though =P
I've put all the odd places into my books! I don't have any secret ones up my sleeve right now (hell, I've started creating fantasy landscapes like the one in TROLL MOUNTAIN just to find new ones!).
I keep an eye out, though, and find the odd fun place on the Net.
Encouragement is everything. And I know who said that: me.
Hey Matthew Reilly. I am such a massive fan and thanks for coming on here! I doubt you will remember me but I was they guy in Canberra that now has The Tournament signed twice!I am just getting into audio books and I have listened to a few of yours now. Perfect for a Canberra to Queensland trip. I was wondering if you had any say in who narrates them, and if you have any favourite audiobooks of your own or others. Kind regards!
I've enjoyed SEAN MANGAN's readings. When it was time for THE TOURNAMENT to be recorded, since the narrator is a woman, we got a female British actress to do it and she was great.
Readers dig Mangan, though. He's great.
I don't listen to the whole of my books in audio. The last audiobook I listened to was Barack Obama's AUDACITY OF HOPE, which he read himself. It was excellent.
Hey Matthew, you have been my favorite author since the moment I finished Contest, and when I was finally able to meet you you were the nicest, most original bloke, especially when you wanted to talk about my Ghost Busters T-shirt. Anyway, I have a question for you if you wouldn't mind: Do you write your books in order? That is, from first chapter to last, or do you find you jump around a lot in the process? Also, (sorry that's now two questions) do you ever think you'll return to Aloysius Knight?
I do indeed write the books in order. You have to "earn it"...you can't just write the fun action scenes and go back!!
Maybe a short novel featuring AK. I have a good idea for one.
Hi Matthew, I love your books and have just finished reading The Tournament and thoroughly enjoyed the concept of a historical murder mystery. At times, the book felt just as fast paced as your previous work, despite not having the same level of action sequences. My question: I've always loved the small diagrams, layouts and images scattered through most of your books and always find myself going back and referencing them throughout the story. What was your original intention with including these in your books?
The diagrams were always designed to make the reading experience faster. A picture does tell 1000 words! And 1000 words is 3 pages!
There are some cool diagrams in TROLL MOUNTAIN.
Hi Matthew, I've loved all of your books ever since I was recommended Ice Station at a writer's festival several years ago, and you have been a huge inspiration for me.
My questions are:
- Do you ever read your books and think about how you could change/improve them?
- Which of your novels is your personal favourite?
- Any tips for a fellow writer?
Thanks so much for what you do, never ever change how you write.
No, I don't revisit them, with an eye to improving them. I can let them go. They are the best I could do at the time.
Write what you yourself love to read. It's as simple as that!
WHO IS MOTHER BASED ON?!? This has been eating me apart for years. You used to say in you books that you created characters based on who you would like to play the in the movie. Scarecrow was Tom Cruise for example. But who the hell was Mother? The only possible answer I can think of is Sigourney Weaver from Alien 3, but she was too old at the time Ice Station came out.
Mother was my own invention. Queen Latifah is a good mental image, but when I created her, I had no-one person in mind.
Some readers see her as white, others as African-American. I've never stated her skin colour and I don't intend to! She can be whatever skin colour you, the reader, choose.
G'day Matthew, No real question. Just wanted to say thanks for all the great books and just being an all round nice guy when I've met you. I've been reading your stuff since the release of Temple here in Aus and push your books on all I know. Hope you're proud of your body of work. The Tournament especially, as to me it felt like an upwards shift of tone and maturity. Looking forward to your further work. All the best for the future.
Thanks. I had to mature sometime.
Hey Matthew, I just want to thank you so much, your books were the real reason I started to love reading. When I was younger I had the hardest time focusing my attention towards books and reading anything in general but your fast paced action novels taught me the real joy of reading and additionally the joy of history and how it can be made interesting. And as for my question, are you planning on doing any book tours in the US any time soon? Thank you again.
I am due for a US book tour -- I've been twice before.
Keep an eye on matthewreilly.com or the Facebook page. That's where I'll announce it.
Hey Matt, huge fan, I must have read all your books three times! My question is, what are your favourite movies?
Die Hard. Schindler's List. Searching for Bobby Fischer.
Big fan, I've read all your books numerous times and even had the pleasure of meeting you at a few of your book signings.
As for my question, is there any chance of the potential movie adaption of some your books? I know Disney had the rights to Hover car racer but i haven't heard much in a while.
It's all a bit slow right now. Hollywood can be tricky. I just have to wait with everyone else, sadly.
Hi Mr. Reilly! I really enjoy all your work! I haven't quite fit The Tournament into my schedule yet, but over the summer, I plan to get it read!
I wanted to ask a few questions that may have already been asked (this AMA is getting busy): 1. Do you plan to go all the way down to 1 ___ ___ for the Jack West Jr series?
Who is your favorite character to write?
What character do you feel closest to/most alike?
Thanks for all the awesome stories! Keep up the great work! Thanks!
I hope to go down to 1... yes.
Fave character: Mother and Ascham. They are so fun to write. I am the most like Ascham and William Race (race actually looks like me, if you read his description at the start of TEMLE).
Hi Matthew I'm a huge fan. I met you at Supanova in Sydney once and gave you a toy DeLorean. I also asked you if you had watched the series final of Chuck yet and you said no. I was just wondering if you ever watched the ending and what did you think?
I have it on iTunes waiting for me. Someone gave it away (a little) so I must watch it. Sounds sad...
That Supanova event was brutal! Big queues!
Hi there! It's a little past midnight right now and I was seriously excited when I saw that you were doing an AMA! Just wanted to say that I love your books, they are so addictive! Once I pick one up I cannot put it down! My question is: How attached do you get to your characters? Do you feel bad about putting them in danger and proud when they (and you) manage to get out of it? Thank you! :D
Hope you're still up!
I get very attached to them, and I am often pained when I kill them off! It's nice to imagine them reacting to something in the real world (like my above statement about Mother and a shirtless Putin).
Having the moment between the twins in 5GW was a really proud moment. He's not heavy, he's my brother.
Hi, When I first met you a few years ago I asked if you would create any shirts. I was wondering if you are going to make any?
Damn, I forgot. I should do that. I made some caps for HOVER CAR RACER. Still wear mine.
Hi Matt. Huge fan love all your books. Just wondering when you might return back to Jack West Jr. Love that series. Also what happened to the seven ancient wonders TV series. is it still happening?
See above, the TV show looks cactus. Working on a new JW4 idea. If i can crack it, I'll start writing.
Hi Matthew, welcome to Reddit! Thank you for taking the time to do an AmA. I've been to a bunch of your signings in Canberra, it's always a pleasure to go say hi and get the latest book signed. My original trade paperback copy of Ice Station (a Christmas gift I got in 1998, and is now signed!) is one of the most prized books on my shelf at home :)
I'm wondering if you've read anything good lately? Do you have much time to read (outside of research)? I remember taking up a few of the recommendations you made on your blog a while back, and I'm always looking for something good to read!
Canberra signings are HUGE. They are monster queues. Thanks for coming along.
I'm reading a book about astronomy and physics right now, looking for Jack West material. Nate Silver's THE SIGNAL AND THE NOISE has been a great recent non-fiction read.
I'm a brutal reader of fiction -- if it doesn't grab my by page 30, I find something else to read.
Hi Matt, huge fan and local Northern Beaches guy here. Of all the awesome characters you have written about who have yet to be given their own works, like the Black Knight, who do you most want to write about and who could you foresee as having their own dedicated stories?
Knight is a big contender for that.
I enjoyed writing about Roger Ascham and feel i can explore him some more.
Hey Matthew, really huge fan! You're one of the only authors that I can go back and read the same book over and over and still be blown away! My question is, have you had any progress in making any of your novels into movies?
See above. A bit slow right now.
Thank you for being awesome and keeping it all going with your last few years events.
Will your new technothriller and also troll mountain be largely adventure focused like you are more known for or the slower build like in The Tournament?
I loved the change of pacing in The Tournament, really seemed to keep the story fresh and interesting.
Also did you have a massive fanboy moment with Christopher Lloyd and your Delorean? That is truly a pic for the ages.
The new China book is all balls-to-the-wall massive-scale action. It's fast fast fast!
Chris Lloyd was a real gentleman and a great bloke. I love my DeLorean, but I'm not really a fanboy. I like to think I have transcended geekdom with my D and my Han Solo!!
Hi Matthew. Thank for doing this, I've been a massive fan ever since I picked up Scarecrow based on the ICBM on the cover (I know but in this case it turned out great). I was just wondering as there been any movement on making any of your books into movies? and also thanks for the double signed copy of The Tournament that one of my friends got me from your dinner in Melbourne
See above for movie news -- it's pretty slow right now.
And I never mind signing a book again. It proves that I am me!
Hi Matthew, Huge fan of yours, I have read all of your books more than once and love it that you are also from Aus and some of the characters in your books are from Aus (Jack West Jr). Are you ever going to do more side books like Temple??
I'm on a bit of a standalone roll right now: THE TOURNAMENT, TROLL MOUNTAIN and the upcoming "China novel".
Sequels are fun to do, but so are standalones.
TEMPLE, however, with its double-storyline, was bloody hard to write! I don't know if I even could do that again. I must have drinking a lot of coffee then!
Hi Matthew, Massive fan have been reading your books since 11/12 and am now 21. When are we going to see some Black Knight spin offs?
As above, perhaps as a novella in e-book form. Just have to find the time to write it!
Rufus has some good ideas in it...
Hey Matthew, just want to say thanks for all the time I spent reading your work over the years. It's been a real pleasure and I still go back and reread the Schofield books once in a while. Keep it up brother!
Will do! Thanks!
Hey Matthew, I remember hearing that there was talk of a Jack West jr. TV series. Has there been any development in that, if it is happening? Also, is there going to be another one of his books?
Sadly, ABC in the US nixed the show at the final stage! Very disappointing for me. I was keen.
Many fans approached THE TOURNAMENT with trepidation, but I always said it was powered by a Matthew Reilly engine.
I would just like to say how very proud the Murphy family is of you.
If Lurl and Des where here they would just give you some words to you, Congrts and keep the books coming.
But alas they are not, but I am so Congrts. Love The Tournament could not put it down.
look forward to this series too.
What made you decide to do a series like this? Contest I could not put down. It was the first one I read in your collection.
Best wishes for the tour that you will probably do. Tanya
I mentioned Des and Lurleen at my uncle's funeral, actually. They were such lovely people.
THE TOURNAMENT was a challenge for me. It was also the book i felt like writing: something different, but still powered along by the Matthew Reilly engine. Thanks and be well.
Hi Matthew. Love your books! Love your DMC12 as well! Let me take it for a drive?
What has been your favourite book to write? Any chance Scarecrow/Jack West join forces in future?
Ice Station, Hover Car Racer and The Tournament were the "easiest" books to write. The new China novel was simply great fun to write.
As for a combined book: never say never. THE AVENGERS worked well in that regard.
Hey Matthew! Been a huge fan since i first read Ice Station when i was 12. You got my whole group of friends into reading for fun, thankyou!
I remember hearing that you sold the Film options for Contest a while back, any chance of one of your books being adapted to the screen?
Australia needs to see a Schofield mini-series.
Contest is ongoing. Meetin a director shortly. And yes, a TV series would be awesome!
Hi Matt, I met you (through sheer luck, twice that day) at the Williamstown Library a few years ago (year and a half counts as a few years, right?) I wanted to start by thanking you for your time that evening, it was amazing to be able to meet one of my longtime heroes!
Ever since reading Five Greatest Warriors, I've highly respected the way you handled the... portrayal of a certain religious figure (trying to avoid spoilers for those who may not have read it), and I've wondered how you chose to take the path you did with that?
I got a very angry email about that recently, from an irate religious reader.
This is a bit of a spoiler alert for 5GW...
...I felt that religion often has a basis in reality, but we also have to position those religious figures, like Christ, into reality. I see resurrection as a metaphor and that was how I was able to do what I did. Some people think Jesus went to Masada.
Hi Mr. Reilly, I am a massive fan, I started reading your books with Ice Station in eighth grade and I have read every single one since. I always find the way you write to be so thrilling. Like an action movie on paper. I also like your really detailed descriptions of the technology you use in your books, even for fictional objects like the Maghook. I'm looking forward to checking out Troll Mountain and I'm really happy to see you branching out into new territories with Troll Mountain and The Tournament. I'm sure this will be asked multiple times in this AMA, but will you ever return to Jack West Jr. any time soon? I thoroughly enjoyed The Tournament, but The Ancient Wonders series is my all time favourite book series. Also is there any chance you'll be in Brisbane any time soon for signings or something like that? Or have I missed the Queensland leg of your tour?
Thinking of a new JW4 right now. And I'll always swing through Brisbane on a tour (either Dymocks or A&R in the city, and often at Chermside and Indooroopoilly) -- keep an eye on the website and Facebook page.
Hey Matthew Reilly,
Are you any closer in getting one of your books make into a movie?... and can I have a part in it :-)
No closer and sure.
Hey Matthew, love your books, love the human face you show your readers; condolences.
Given the interesting hardware you've thought up over the years, how likely is it for a manufacturer to see your idea and go ".......that'd really be interesting.....I think we can do that!"?
I'd love a Maghook if they made one...
Hi Matt, fucken mega-huge fan here! I've got several questions if you would be so kind:
Me and my mate love your books, especially the Jack West and Scarecrow stories, and we've tossed around the idea of getting tattoos of them, but we want your depiction of them. Is there anywhere we could find pictures of those two characters that you can say "yep, that's the Scarecrow/Jack West"?
Is there any hope for a movie soon? With Contest being optioned again recently, are you hopeful that it will get the Hollywood treatment?
If you were to retire tomorrow, which of your books do you want to be remembered for the most? Which book do you want people to say when they go "Matthew Reilly? Oh, he's that bloke who wrote _____"?
And finally: you said that Natalie was your biggest help and critic when it came to writing; she'd read every scene and offer her thoughts. Did you find that writing The Tournament was a lot more difficult now that you didn't have that voice over your shoulder?
Sorry to bug you with so many, I don't often get a chance to ask you these!
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