Date Published: 6 March 2015
Available in: ebook / print / audio
Other forms coming: Not at this moment
When did you start writing this book? February 2014
What gave you the inspiration for the story? You may’ve guessed it, but I’m one of these people who always looks at the funny side of things, or tries to put a good spin on it. Yes, I swing to the depths of despair and predict that the sky is falling, but it never lasts more than 30 minutes.
If you read the interview from last week about Safe in His Arms, you will find that I tried to “tone things down” when writing that one. It was hard. After finishing it, I really needed a pick-me-up. I’d read TJ Klune’s Tell Me It’s Real and wanted funny like that.
Then an evil, evil, wonderful thought hit me. I know how hysterical some people can get over the (so called deadly) wildlife in Australia, so I thought, “Why not show them? I wonder how many native animals I can have attack my hero before the end of the book?”
What was the working title? This one was always titled “Shawn’s Law.”
Where did the title of the book come from? The title is obviously a play on “Murphy’s Law.” I had an idea of a character where everything went wrong for him, so much so that they named a law after him.
I have a “thing” about the way that words look on the page. My character’s names and often the words I use in sentences are chosen for their sight value. I wanted something that “looked” good with the word “Law”. Some people asked me why I spelled Shawn like I did, but consider the words “Sean’s Law” and “Shaun’s Law” – they just don’t look as good.
What challenges did you face with writing this? There’s always the research. I had to look into the consequences of being bitten by snakes, ants, spiders, jellyfish, etc.
And as an author, I knew I was walking a thin line with the physical description of Shawn. I knew there would be readers out there who didn’t like the fact that Shawn wasn’t buff or good looking. I knew there would be those who disliked him because I described him as rounded and meaty, but I wanted to have someone real. It was a challenge to me to write him in a way that I hoped people would fall in love with him, warts and all, but be realistic about his appearance.
The hardest part of this book was the bleak outlook of Shawn’s mother. As a sufferer of Alzheimer’s she was never going to get better. I did a lot of research on the disease, and each zany thing Estelle did was backed up by a site that explained the results and progression of Alzheimer’s. That our parent is going to die is something that we may wish to shy away from, but it’s real life. I’ve faced it and lived through it. It’s not nice. But it happens.
Tell us about MC1 – where did the inspiration come for him? **laughs nervously** Oh, okay. The guy at my local pools. I don’t know his name, but I was watching my kids’ swimming lessons one day and he was on duty. He was short, rounded and curvy. But I could see from his attitude he wasn’t standing there all day apologising for his physical appearance. He was interacting with his workmates in a way that I could tell he was well liked and respected. He did his job without once losing the smile on his face. He just drew me. I wanted to capture that in Shawn.
Tell us about MC2 – where did the inspiration come for him? The day after I saw the guy who I knew would be perfect to model Shawn on, I was driving along a suburban street and spotted Harley. I only saw him from the back, but he was walking his two dogs down the path (or rather they were walking him!) and I could see he had this long blond plait down his back. He was wearing a black shirt and jeans (which Harley would never wear!) but I looked at him and wondered about the hair.
From there the story of a promise to his father grew, and before I knew it Harley had emerged as Shawn’s perfect match.
Shawn O’Hara and Harley Lawson.
To fit with the look of a name, I chose Lawson as Harley’s surname. It mimics the form of Shawn and contains the word Law. And to mirror that back, Shawn’s surname has “Har” in it to mimic Harley’s name.
I also snuck in a reference to another book. In the last chapters, Harley meets a male nurse at the hospital he calls “Steroidal Man.” You met him in Safe in His Arms. It’s Paul, Lon’s friend.
Paul’s story will be released in a couple of months. (The countdown is on!)
What is the best thing that has happened about this story, post-publication? I had no illusions about the release of this book. It’s funny in a way that has been described as slap-stick. If that’s not your thing, I’m not offended.
But I have had an amazing response to the book. People who obviously share my sense of humour. Every time someone writes to me and tells me they nearly peed themselves laughing, or that they laughed out loud on the bus, I give them a mental thumbs up. Welcome to the club! You share my humour.
Do you plan a follow up story? Not at this moment. Shawn has a friend called Kris who briefly knocked on my inspiration nerves. I started his story. But I didn’t get very far with it. I have enough stories I want to write that will last me for years. Maybe I will bash away at Kris’s story every now and then, but for now, I don’t have any further plans for Shawn and Harley.