I’m delighted to welcome to my blog, Sydney author Martin Rodoreda, whose debut novel, Salvage, is set to take the speculative fiction scene by storm. Salvage is a work of climate fiction utterly relevant to our time, and I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy! Read on, for a fabulous interview.
Tell me a little about yourself, Martin.
I was born and raised in Liverpool, in the south-west suburbs of Sydney. I was blessed with a very stable childhood, if a somewhat sedentary one. Being one of four children in a single income family we didn’t holiday or move around much. My parents still live in the family home I grew up in, and there is something nice about having that consistency.
I had a great childhood though; I enjoyed school, was very active, and found adventure in books. Our Christmas stocking would always have at least one new book in it, and Mum would take us on frequent visits to the library to find new material to read.
After school, I did a communications degree at UTS where I met my beautiful wife, Cara. We got married in 2007 and now live in the Macarthur region with our three boys. So with family, writing and work, life is busy!
At what age did you realise your fascination with books?
As I mentioned, from an early age I found books to be a source of adventure. Reading was encouraged in our household and all my siblings read a lot. We used to read books together as a family, sitting around the dinner table taking turns reading out loud. Roald Dahl was my favourite author whilst in primary school and I would read and re-read his books every time the annual MS Read-a-thon came about at school.
In year six at school, our teacher got the entire class to enter into a short story writing competition. I and one other student in the grade made it through to the finals group and a two-day workshop. I didn’t go on to win the final prize, but it was a good experience.
Perhaps discouraged for not taking out the ultimate prize in the competition, or perhaps just busy with other things, it would be another twelve or thirteen years before I started writing again. But I remained both active and creative through this time, with a fairly eclectic mix of hobbies, from role-playing games to playing AFL, from miniature painting and table-top gaming, to listening to grunge and alternate music. I think my nerdy pursuits were counter-balanced enough to earn the label of cool nerd.
I never properly considered writing as a career option. Sitting through my careers class at high school, trying to pick a degree to do at university, looking for jobs post study; I could never quite pin down what I wanted to do. Even five or six years into the workforce and a career I still had that feeling. I think I had this trouble because deep down, I knew what I wanted to do, but did not see writing as a legitimate career option. I think this is probably shared by many authors.
So back to the question – when did I start writing? I started writing seriously when my work and home resulted in a lengthy commute to and from the city each day. For those of you that have experienced it, Sydney traffic is something to be avoided at all costs, so the train became my friend. I wanted to use this time productively and, as much as I love reading, I didn’t want to spend it all reading. So I started writing my first book. That was about nine or ten years ago now. I have done virtually all my writing since then on the train. While a long commute can be frustrating, it has afforded me regular time to write, and so rather than eating into my day, it has enhanced my day.
Who inspires you in your writing?
I mentioned Roald Dahl as an early favourite author of mine. I then migrated into Tolkien and the fantasy genre and read a lot of that through my teens. After discovering the Greek Historians in Ancient History at school, I found myself enjoying a lot of writing from this period; Homer, Herodotus, Thucydides and Plutarch. In mid to late high school I also started reading a lot of the late, great Terry Pratchett and have read a book or two of his every year since.
As I’ve gotten older, my reading has slowed a bit (on account of using what spare time I have to write!), but also diversified. I still enjoy the Speculative Fiction genre above others, and like many, I’m still waiting on George RR Martin to release the final book (books?) in the Game of Thrones series. But I enjoy books outside of the genre as well. A couple that stand out are Burial Rights by Hannah Kent and The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. Another book I had low expectations of but really enjoyed was Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I read it for the first time just five years ago and, having been disappointed with a number of other classics, I didn’t have high hopes for it. But I loved the way the book blended intensely dark fantasy scenes with high period drama I would expect out of a Jane Austen book. It was an interesting and utterly enthralling read.
I seem to draw inspiration from most things I read or watch. I can’t help but finish a book or a movie and think of something I could draw from it in my writing, whether it be an alternate take on the themes in the book, character traits that I’d like to explore further or a mood or environment that really resonated with me. I have at least fifty book ideas that I have written a basic outline and plot for and then filed away. I have a strange feeling of excitement and apprehension every time I consider opening the file!
Tell me a little about Salvage.
It is set in Sydney about one hundred years in the future. The world has been devastated by pollution, excessive mining and war, and a dome built over the city protects what is possibly the last bastion of human civilization from the caustic elements. Inside the dome, its citizens are ruled by the dictator Silmac, who holds a monopoly over the energy supply of the city. Outside, in what was once Greater Sydney, savage sub-human’s known as mutes scratch out a brutal existence in the unforgiving elements, posing a deadly threat to those what would venture beyond the protective barrier of the dome.
The main character, Silver, is a member of a Salvage crew; heading outside the dome in search of metals and other items of value. When she is abandoned in the Badlands one day by her crew, Silver faces a hike back to the dome on foot with very little chance of survival. On the way, she uncovers a relic from the past that holds the secret to break Silmac’s hold over the dome. The discovery ultimately leads her into direct conflict with the dictator.
In the early stages of the book, Silver’s primary motivation is personal survival; from dangers both outside and within the dome. Living in constant fear, she craves change but feels helpless to effect it. She must face these fears in order to realize that she is more powerful than she thinks, and not alone in her desire for change.
how long did it take you to write?
It took me roughly two years to write and edit Salvage, writing almost exclusively on the train on my commute to and from work. The story was constantly in my head over that time. Writing in fifty minute pockets on the train meant that I’d often have to stop part way through a scene and not be able to get back to it till that afternoon, or the next morning. While this could be frustrating, it afforded me the time to reflect on each scene as I wrote it, and helped maintain a clarity of purpose throughout the book.
Thank you Martin, for taking the time to chatting with me today!!
You can find Martin via Facebook
His website: martinrodoreda.com
And purchase a copy of Salvage via the publisher, Odyssey Books.