Author Interview: Asphyxia


The first of the Grimstones series first arrived on my desk earlier this year. I still remember the first time I opened the front cover of Hatched – I knew this was something special. The images are striking, imaginative and full of creativity. The words? Wonderfully descriptive.

I really enjoyed Asphyxia’s answer to our questions, they provide a great insight in to this wonderfully talented creator.

Tell us about you in 25 words or less.

I have been a ballerina, software engineer, circus performer, puppeteer, and now I’m a writer. I also grow most of my family’s food.

What makes you happy?

Making things.  Nothing gives me more pleasure than that.  If I haven’t done anything creative for a while, I get grumpy.  When I can spend all day immersed in a project of my own inspiration I am in heaven.  Making the Grimstones was among the happiest periods of my life.

Where have you always wanted to visit, but haven’t made it to … yet? 

I’ve done so much touring for The Grimstones, and spent so much time away, that the place I most want to go and be is HOME.  I love my home – it’s my sanctuary.  It’s a tiny mudbrick cottage I built myself (one of my bigger creative art projects), is powered by the sun, has a composting toilet and enormous food garden.  The garden is just how I imagine Eden to look – lush and green and glorious.  It feeds my soul, and I have never seen a garden I find as beautiful.  Even better – it’s chock full of food, and the food tastes better than anything I can buy on the road.  Home is IT for me.  Left to my own devices, I’d hardly ever leave the property.

Where is your favourite place to write?

In bed in my pyjamas.  One thing I love about being a writer, as opposed to a performer, is that I don’t have to get dressed and I don’t have to try and seem presentable to the world.  My favourite way to write: overnight I dream, scheme and plan for the book.  I wake up, pull my laptop out from under my bed, and get to work.  My partner delivers me breakfast in bed and a drink.  I work until midday or beyond, then get up to wander around my garden in bare feet and see the sun.  I’m lucky – I often do work like that, but I also have some troubles with my back, which mean that these days I try to be more conventional: get up, stretch, sit with perfect posture in ergonomic chair at desk the correct height, write for a couple of hours, stretch… blah blah.  It’s tedious.  But in truth when I do that my back lasts as long as it takes me to write the whole book and I end up less bleary.

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?

Where to start?  First up, urgently, we need to politely decline our unprecedented opportunity to use up all the world’s resources at once.  (I stole those words from John Naish’s book, Enough.)  Once we’ve cut back on the consumption and pollution of our planet, the next thing I want to change is the way we Westerner’s eat, which I believe is making me sick.  And then… ok I could be here all day. I’d love to run the country but I doubt anyone would vote me in! I’ll leave it at just those two.

What’s the best thing about being a published author?

Seeing the sweet little puppets I made staring at me from the covers of their books.  Hearing from people who have read them how much they like going into the world I created.  Discovering that people have started keeping a journal because they so like Martha Grimstone’s diary.

What’s the strangest question you’ve ever been asked?

One time, at the end of giving a Q&A in which I had covered my deafness, Mortimer Grimstone’s death and much more, a little boy put up his hand to clear up something that was troubling him.  “So, if you are dead, how come you are talking and moving around?”  I had to politely, kindly, explain that I wasn’t actually dead, I was deaf, but that his mixing up of words was exactly the kind of thing that I always do, due to being deaf!  You’d be surprised how often I am mistaken for dead, actually.

Who or what inspires you?

Other artists.  I collect my inspiration in a very organised way.  I keep photo albums with different kinds of inspiration, and regularly flip through them.  I jot down things people say and things I’ve read that have struck me.  Right now the most inspiring artists in my life are Suzi Blu, the teacher of the online art course I’m studying, and Jenine Davidson, my friend and co-illustrator for The Grimstones books.  Jenine lives in the Middle East but every week we Skype and show each other our creations for that week.  It’s so inspiring seeing her progress and she often inspires me to make something new, better, differently…

What is your worst habit?

Taking on too many enormously ambitious projects.  I’ve promised my partner that for one whole year I will bring nothing big, new and scary into our lives.  I’ve almost kept it, which is a record for me.  One more month to go and I’ll be home free.  But I admit my diary has some secret pockets in it where I slipped some ideas… I haven’t made any promises about NEXT year!

Your favourite word(s)?

The phrase: “Just do it.”  Which I say to everyone who tells me they want to build a house like mine, or create a puppet show, or write a book…  and I often say it to myself when I’m feeling a bit daunted by something I’m dreaming up.

What has been the most exciting element of turning your theatre production in to a chapter book?

I loved getting to really flesh out the Grimstones’ world and characters, with much more detail than we can possibly cover with a one hour theatre production.  Slipping into Martha’s head and writing from her perspective is incredibly fun.

Tell us about your next project.

I’ve got two in the works: the fourth book of The Grimstones series, which will come out in December 2013, and another book, a non-Grimstone book, that will be set in the future.  I’m dividing my headspace between these two projects and really enjoying the inventing of new characters and worlds – both books require that and it’s what I love creating the most.

Just for fun

Tea or coffee?    Neither – weird homemade fermented brews.

Paper books or e-books?    PAPER PAPER PAPER!!!!!

Vegemite or Marmite?    Yuck to both.

Write or type?    Ahhh you can’t beat typing 100 words a minute.

Poetry or prose?    For me, prose.

Beach or bush?    Beach… other than home, my second favourite place in the world is Point Roadknight Beach, at Anglesea.

Hot or cold?    Hot! Warm!  Take me away from the hideous Melbourne winter.


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