Today I have the pleasure of interviewing Michael Costello, author of Season of Hate.
Hi Michael, thank you for agreeing to this interview. 5 minutes with.. is a short interview with our authors so their audience can get to know them a little better and for aspiring writers to learn more about the writing process.
When did you decide to become a writer?
I used to write as a child, and then gave it away when I joined the Public Service. Then at one stage I said to myself that I wasn’t going to get to 70 and regret not pursuing my writing. I went on part time work, did courses, got my skills up and went for it. I have had some success and no regrets.
Do you write full-time or part-time? How often?
I now write full-time, usually every day. When I finish a project I take a break, trying not to think of anything, just switch off for a month at least and recharge.
Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand?
My first draft is always in longhand. There is something very tactile in this process that connects the thoughts to the page. It is something hard to explain, illusive, but it seems to summon up the creativity, is the best I could say.
I then put this draft into the computer then print out a hard copy and make my changes then input again and repeat the process.
What is your favourite book and why?
Oh that is a terrible question. I have heaps of books gradually taking over the house. I never throw any out. You may as well be asking me which is my favourite child. If pushed, like Pat in “Season of Hate”, I have a soft spot for Dickens. His “David Copperfield” and “A Tale of Two Cities” captivated me as a child. Those vivid characters and narratives that kept you reading on and on, never wanting them to finish. Also a book that I read at school and funnily enough just reread, Carson McCullers’ “The Member Of The Wedding” Mine was a childhood where I was different, where I didn’t fit in, never asked to join a group. The longing of Frankie to belong to a group, something, anything resonated deeply with me. I can never forget her agonising hope of wanting to be “the we of me” at the wedding of her brother, thinking they will take her away with them and finally belong to a group.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Before you start, have a rough idea of the beginning, middle, climax and end. Get the first draft down. Keep going until you do. The craft and joy is in the rewriting. Get your novel in the best shape you can by as many new drafts as necessary, editing and polishing before you send it out. Get a good independent assessment, irrespective of cost. Friends and family won’t/can’t tell you about the smallest of faults. Someone with no fear or favour will. Be kind to yourself. If something isn’t coming, let the world turn a bit then come back to the problem.
How long did it take you to write Season of Hate?
Over five years on and off. I work on a number of projects. When I know something is not working in one or there is a problem, I let it filter through the brain and take up another writing project. Then I’ll return to the first project later with hopefully the issues are resolved. I left another novel that was quite far along but needed a major reworking to do “Season of Hate”.
Give us an insight into your main character, Pat. What does he do that is so special?
In “Season of Hate” Pat is the 8-10 year old observer taking in all the good and bad aspects of his town. He is also the 38 year old narrator giving insights into his younger self’s experiences. Pat listens to the wisdom of the adults around him - Dad, Miss Kitty and Nan. His maturing character allows him to stand up to the bullying and discrimination in the town, most represented by Bob Wood and his son Steve.
How much research did you do?
Hours on the computer and in the library to make sure the story was grounded in the truth of the time.
Will there be a sequel?
Who knows, I’m working on something else at the moment, but it could be interesting to revisit the town with Pat’s children grown up.
What are you working on now?
Two novels. The original project I put aside for “Season of Hate”, a sea adventure and the other, a love story - strangely enough about a hired assassin. There is also a play wanting to be written but I’m letting it cook a bit more before I start on it.
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Thank you for your time Michael and good luck with Season of Hate.