Today I am delighted to introduce George Ivanoff who modestly describes himself as an author and stay-at-home dad residing in Melbourne, Australia. I’ve recently read his Gamers’ Quest series and as a great fan of YA’s and Scifi loved the books and the involved plot. This is an insightful interview with this techno whiz actor, author whom I admire greatly. For more about George check out his website. http://georgeivanoff.com.au/about-george/
I first developed an interest in writing during early high school. Our English class spent a whole term doing creative writing… and I discovered that I liked making stuff up.
Q2 How many books have you had published to date?
86 books so far. But don’t get over excited — that’s not 86 novels. 🙂 I do a lot of writing for the education market, which includes school readers and short non-fic books aimed at primary school kids.
Q3 You have a fantastic website. Do you work on it yourself or do you have help?
I look after my own website. I used to work in web development in a past life. I’ve taken a basic WordPress template and made a few modifications. Then my wife, who’s a graphic designer, put together the graphics. http://georgeivanoff.com.au/
Q4 The book trailers are tantalizing, did you go to a professional company to these?
The three Gamers trailers were made by a good friend of mine, Henry Gibbens (http://www.hjgibbens.com/). He’s a vet by day, but moonlights as a CGI pixel-pusher. And the music was composed and performed by my brother-in-law, Marc Valko.
My love of acting and writing happened side-by-side, but quite separately. The acting has certainly been useful to my writing career, in that it has made me very comfortable in front of an audience. I do a lot of school visits and library talks, and I’m told I’m quite the ham.
I haven’t been in all that much. I had three lines in Neighbours back in the 1990s. There were some other small parts and voice-overs in a few films and TV shows, as well as larger roles in some short films. I also did several educational training videos. I was never well-known, so I could never be choosey. Back when I was in drama school and pursuing acting more seriously, I would take whatever I could get (good or bad)!
These days I look at writing as my career and acting as an occasional hobby.
Q8 I can tell you are a huge Doctor Who fan, you attended Supernova in Melbourne recently. Do you find attending these kinds of events inspirational as well as promotion for your books.
Yes, I’m a HUGE Doctor Who fan. And I love going along to the expos and conventions. It is more than just promotion. They are a lot of FUN! I’m a regular attendee at Melbourne’s annual Continuum convention (http://continuum.org.au).
Q9 What are you currently reading?
I’m currently reading a bunch of old Choose Your Own Adventure books that I bought on eBay.
Q10 Your short stories list on your website covers a diverse range of genres. Do you find writing short stories easier than writing a book?
Not easier, just different. In a novel you have the time to go into backstory and details of setting. In a short story a lot of that has to be implied. A short story will often deal with a specific event/incident, while a novel can look at the bigger picture. So yeah, different rather than easier.
Q11 Clearly you story board your books and pre-plan where you are going, I saw your recent facebook post saying ‘Now I have to write it’. Is the planning stage for you vital? Or, have you ever written a book that just flowed without pre-planning?
Oh yes, planning is important. I’m not the sort of writer who can just sit down and write a story without knowing where it’s going. If I did that, I would risk meandering on endlessly. It’s even more important in the writing of the You Choose books. They are multiple-path, interactive books, where the reader makes choices that influence the outcome of the stories. With multiple story paths that criss-cross over each other, I have to plan them carefully. There are 49 paths in The Haunting of Spook House, which I plotted out on whiteboard. It can be a bit confusing, but it is lots of fun!
Q13 What are your favorite books?
My favourite books over the years have been science fiction, fantasy and adventure based ones. The Tripods trilogy by John Christopher was a much re-read favourite from my teenage years. I loved the old Target Doctor Who books. I collected them and re-read them often when I was younger. I still have them all, and I still pull one off the shelf every now and then to enjoy all over again. More recently, I’ve loved Michael Pryor’s Laws of Magic series, Carole Wilkinson’s DragonKeeper series and Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan trilogy.
John Christopher, Robert A Heinlein (his teen books, not his grown-up ones), Carole Wilkinson, Richard Harland, Terry Dowling, Michael Pryor. These are the ones that jump to mind at the moment, but there are many others.
Q15 You write reviews of DVD’s and books, again listed on your website and many published. Do you find every area is an opportunity to be published? (I say this because I love reading and reviewing books and have rarely been paid to do this.)
There are all sorts of writing/publishing opportunities out there. And it’s not always about the money. I don’t get paid for writing DVD reviews, but these reviews are published on my website. They bring new readers to my website and they are fun to write — I enjoy inflicting my biased opinions on unsuspecting readers. 🙂
I also occasionally write for other publications without being paid. I’ve written essays about Doctor Who and Star Trek for a number of pop culture books, such as Doctor Who and Race (Intellect Books, 2013) and Outside In (ATB Publishing, 2012). And with each of these books, royalties have gone to charity rather than the authors/editors.
Q16 What is your favorite genre to write in?
Q17 Do you write with a visual image in mind?
Yes. I need to have a clear image in my mind in order to write about it. So I will sometimes draw pictures in my note books to help me with that — particularly maps. I need to draw maps so I can clearly picture the locations that I’m using in my stories. Of course, this is all hampered somewhat by my rather poor drawing skills. But I am comforted by the fact that no one will ever have to see my drawings!
I’m working on the next two books in the You Choose series. Book 5 (Night of the Creepy Carnival) is currently in the editing stage. And I’m in the plotting stage for Book 6 (working title: Alien Invasion from Beyond the Stars). I’m having a lot of fun with these two.
For more about George check out his website. http://georgeivanoff.com.au/about-george/
I’m into the fourth month of the year before being able to share an interview with my readers. I’ve started a Interviews 2014 tab where you can read the whole article.
Breaking into a market covered by such literary professional magazines like ABR (Australian Book Review), and ‘Goodreading’ for shorter reviews, is no mean feat. I’m delighted that Kelly is creating a new publication to enter this market, and excited she has me along for the inception of this publication, so for some insight into her life, here we go.
Q1. When did you start reading and writing reviews?
- It’s a long story but basically I was looking for a really good book to read and I specifically wanted to read one by an Australian Author. I went to the local library and had to look through hundreds of books to find one. I took several books home and the one I read immediately was Bluey’s War by Herb Hamlet. It was one of the best books I have read and still the book that I considered started it all. I sat at the computer and wrote a book review. I started a group called Australian Writers Rock and posted the Book Review, that was 5 years ago.
- I have always written. I have had Poetry published at High School and have published book reviews, blogs and websites for the past 5 years.
Q4. You told me you started AWR on facebook and developed a blog as a result. Did you find you met many writing friends through this medium and then entered the world as a Literary Agent as a result?
- Yes, I met publishers, writers, book reviewers, authors, book sellers, book store owners, self-published writers and many more people associated with the publishing industry and it was at the suggestion of a publisher that I may have access to some great work that had not been published main stream that I became a Literary Agent.
Q5. When you began AWR you were surprised by the response, can you share with my readers the beginnings of this site from FB to website?
- I found the reaction to the Facebook group exceptional, my couple of reviews attracted a wealth of writers and even book sellers but I also found the group limiting. I started a website called Australian Writers Rock, publishing my reviews and attempting to make an A-Z listing of Australian Writers. The aim though was to make it easy for readers of Australian work to buy the novel/work so each listing was accompanied by a live buying link. Sales went up for those with books listed and I began to get many requests for listings. Novels were sent to me by self-published authors, publishers and even publicists for me to review. In AWR’s second year, I revamped and republished the website and it got over 100000 page views in one day! For something that started as a little bit of fun, it was going okay.
- I loved it, my creativity found a voice and I really felt like I was bringing Australian Talent to the attention of a worldwide audience. At one stage I was getting daily emails from America, Europe and Asia on a daily basis telling me how much they loved what I was doing and how authentically Australian I was.
Q8 You told me you began to get 20 books a week to read and review, and now you buy the books you want to read and review. Do you find the quality of the works sent to you is matched by the quantity? If not why?
- The quality of the books did not match the quantity. A lot of them were from self-published authors. I began to find that there was a reason a lot of authors are self-published and that is they are just not ready to be published. I could see promise and talent in the writing, but more work should have been done before publishing. However, I now have a great connection with DMCPR Media and several publishers who send me novels to review before they are published and invite me to interview and talk to their author’s which I totally enjoy.
Q.9 Do you believe social media and the likes of “Goodreads” has increased people’s interest in books and reading?
- I think you have to get hooked on reading first. There has to be that novel that you just love that gets you in and reading first and then yes Social Media and Good Reads and authors being more accessible on facebook definitely makes a difference. I only buy a book if I like a review. These sorts of pages, clubs are a great source to finding your next great reading experience.
Q10 One day you hope to have a bookshop. Do you lament the passing of many book shops due to the on-line market.
- I honestly believe that bookshops will never totally disappear as long as they remain true to their local community. I am going to the fabulous “Black Cat Books” at Paddington for the Launch of Helene Young’s new novel SafeHarbour Thursday 4th April 2014. This little bookshop caters for Book Launches, supports Australian authors and finds strength in its authenticity. Black Cat Books have also embraced the internet and facebook as mediums for sales. These lovely little local bookstores will survive.
Q11 What are you currently reading?
- I am currently writing and editing and preparing for the launch of Aussie Book Reviews Magazine. In spare moments I am reading Burial Rights by Hannah Kent.
Q13 What is your favourite Genre and Authors?
- Before starting on my Australian author journey I was an absolute Anne McCaffrey Science Fiction Fantasy junkie. Once starting on the journey, LisaHeidke, Helene Young, TM Clark, Fiona Palmer and newcomer Jack Ellis amongst others. Do I have a favourite genre? Not really, but I do enjoy the new Australian farm literature.
Q14 Have you travelled widely?
- No, I have seen a lot of Australia and I did a cruise around Noumea, Fiji and Vanuata for 12 days last year. I let the novels that I read take me on a journey through different lives, countries and cultures.
- It should and it will. I am one of those when nose is deep in a novel that I can’t put down, sometimes I won’t sleep, usually on my long weekend. However, my creative gene only triggers late at night and that can be a problem at times, retail and writing/publishing can be a nasty combination.
Q16 Do you have a favourite writing spot?
- At my desk and at the beach which is only 800metres away from my house.
Q17. Have you been paid to write reviews?
- No, but I believe that reviewers should be paid for their work. There is great value to publishers and authors to a review of their work. A lot of readers, me included do not read a book without prior recommendation.
Q18 Lastly, where do you hope to be in your writing career in five years time?
- Travelling the world, interviewing Australian Authors, with a very successful book review magazine, my own published novel and a quaint little book store on Bribie Island dedicated to Australian Writers and publishers.
I have always been a huge fan of Anne McCaffrey and believe her books ignited my desire to read and to write. The production of the forthcoming magazine could easily be a perfect opportunity for us both. I’m extremely excited about the possibilities.