AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Cameron Macintosh
I recently reviewed one of Cameron Macintosh's fun junior-fiction books, in the Max Booth Future Sleuth series (here is the link), and now I'm thrilled that Cameron agreed to sit down and chat for a Q&A. Read on to find out about this Aussie author's creative process, new series, writing tips and more:
Can you tell us a bit about your series, and the themes/issues it explores?
My pleasure – the series is called Max Booth Future Sleuth, and it follows the adventures of a future street kid, Max, and his robo-dog, Oscar, as they struggle to make a living in the year 2424. Fortunately, Max has a knack for identifying mysterious objects from back in the 20th and 21st centuries – a knack that allows him to make a few dollars from the museum. Unfortunately, his missions to learn about these objects get him into trouble with opportunistic adults who’d like to take the credit – and the cash – for his discoveries.
So far we’ve released two books in the series: Tape Escape and Selfie Search. The first book is about Max’s encounter with a tape (the 1980s cassette kind). Book two deals with a mobile phone that was used more for self-portraiture than for telecommunications (unthinkable In 2017!)
How do you hope readers will connect with these books, and/or what do you want them to take away from the series?
More than anything, I hope these books contribute to kids’ love of reading – hopefully through the stories’ mystery elements, humour and occasional pathos. I’d be particularly happy if they can give reluctant readers confidence to tackle slightly longer texts too. That has been very much in my mind as I’ve written them.
As a bonus, I’d love to think that the series could get kids thinking about the future world we’re all currently creating, and to think about the environmental or social consequences of the decisions we make in our day-to-day lives. The stories touch lightly on class distinctions and injustices – it’d be great if they could get kids thinking about these, and how they could be avoided in future (Vote 1 – Max Booth for Nobel Peace Prize, 2424!)
What do you find helps you to stay creative? When and where are you at your most creative?
I’m quite the introvert, so I find solitude to be essential for idea percolation (not to mention sanity!) – even just a half-hour walk can do the trick, as long as the phone stays at home…
In my more extroverted moments, I try to sponge up inspiration from reading, of course, but also from experiences and forms of creativity that mightn’t seem to have much to do with writing on the surface. I’m always amazed how story ideas can be sparked by wandering through a forest or a gallery, or by going to see a band or a play.
I’m definitely at my most creative after 10 pm (not very convenient!), or at a café with a notebook in front of me. If my writing career flops, I’ll think about opening a string of 24-hour cafés for night-owl creatives – I’m sure there’s a silent army out there who need a place to drag their laptops after sunset!
Do you have any suggestions on some ways parents, teachers, librarians, booksellers and readers can get more out of the book? For example, questions to discuss or ponder, activities to do etc.
That’s a great question. I’ve actually tried to address this directly by writing teaching notes, worksheets and activities to help teachers use the books in class. Parents could use these at home too. They can be found and downloaded on the Big Sky Publishing website, on the page for Tape Escape. The notes include links to the Australian Curriculum, to make things easier for teachers.
Where do you do your writing, and do you have any particular rituals in your creative process?
I do most of my writing at my desk at home, but frequently get restless and crave a change of scene, so I have a few local cafés that I tend to haunt.
The closest thing to a ritual I have is that I usually write my first drafts longhand. It makes the first draft quite a slog, but when I do this – as opposed to typing or using a dictation app – the draft usually needs a lot less rewriting down the track.
Do you have some tips for other creatives?
If you have a really strong vision for your work, trust that vision and follow it wherever it leads. Before you put it out for any kind of commercial consideration, find some trusted co-creatives to ask for feedback. I’m lucky enough to have a long-term writing group that meets each month. No egos – just honest feedback and encouragement. I’d be in big trouble without it.
You can follow Cameron on social media at Twitter, @CamMaci99, and on Facebook, via 'Cameron Macintosh, author'.