TW Lawless was born and raised in outback Australia but currently lives in Melbourne. A health professional for many years, he always wanted to write books. During his time in the health field he studied creative writing, screenwriting and film-making. His first book was Homecountry which was published in early 2013. For more information about TW, click here. You can also follow TW on Twitter or Facebook.
Monique: You’ve just released your second novel, Thornydevils, the second in your Peter Clancy series. It’s on my review pile, so can you tell me what I have to look forward to?
TW: A fast-paced thriller with sub-plots, twists, humour and interesting characters to keep you turning the page and wanting more. And a great ending. I hope the reader will feel exhausted after finishing it.
Monique: Do real events inspire your books? What was the inspiration behind Thornydevils?
TW: I’ve always been interested in the criminal history of Melbourne. It has a great criminal past like all great cities of the world. I thought immersing Peter Clancy in the Melbourne underworld circa 1989, would make for an entertaining book. There are no actual events in the book except for the chocolate crackle scene which is inspired by a real event.
Monique: What do you like most about Thornydevils?
TW: Its honesty, rawness and humour. I like that it pulls no punches. Its strengths are its dialogue, quirky characters and action.
Monique: What do you like most about your protagonist Peter Clancy? Is there anything about him that you don’t like?
TW: I like the fact that he won’t give up. I don’t like that he has a chip on his shoulder. I will write that out of him eventually.
Monique: How were you first published? Did you use an agent? Or, did you go direct to a publisher?
TW: I published Homecountry under my own banner, Campanile Publishing. I used neither agent or publisher but I used professionals to do the editing, distribution and graphic design. I really concentrated on looking like a professional publisher.
Monique: You describe your writing as “edgy and sardonic”. What gives your books that “edge”?
TW: As I said, the books pull no punches. I want readers to feel that they are seeing the action unfold in front of them. I also sprinkle my books with humour to break the tension. I think that is different to most thrillers. Peter Clancy is an Australian as you know. He has a larrikin sense of humour which he uses to good effect without sounding bogan.
Monique: You write under a “nom de plume” … how did you choose the name TW Lawless?
TW: My writing name is just a shortened version of my real name; Thomas William Lawless Bell. Lawless is an Irish surname that has been passed on through the family. I think the T.W. Lawless nom de plume sounds like a thriller’s writer name.
Monique: You’ve studied film-making and screenwriting. How has this helped your creative writing process?
TW: The experience of having done screen-writing, has given me the ability to focus on realistic dialogue and tight scenes. Having studied film-making, I can see scenes unfolding in my head as I write them.
Monique: Do you plot everything or go with the flow when you write?
TW: I do an overall treatment, a chapter by chapter synopsis and a character break down but at times gems drop onto the page when I’m writing the book. They get dropped onto the page from somewhere. I love the gems.
Monique: You wake in the middle of the night with a brilliant book-ish idea. What do you do?
TW: I’m awake for hours sometimes running a scene through my head. What I should do is have a notebook by the bed.
Monique: One (or more) of your characters is not behaving, or does something unexpected. How do you handle this?
TW: Let the character write themselves for a while until they run out of steam or resolve their issue. I like the unexpected but when they stop entertaining me I start editing.
Monique: How do you get into the headspace of a villain? Is it hard?
TW: I like villains. They’re appealing but if you go to over the top with their villainous traits, they can become a caricature. I like my villains to sneak up on people and surprise them. Villains can be ordinary, unassuming people not a raging axe-wielding psychopath.
Monique: You’re having trouble writing. What do you do?
TW: Take a break, take a walk and try not to get too stressed. Enjoy a good glass of wine. Sometimes just taking a day off can give you lots of new ideas.
Monique: What do you do when you’re having doubts about your writing?
TW: My wife is also a writer so when I run into plot jams I talk with her. I always find it helpful to have her look at it from another angle.
Monique: What’s the biggest myth about being a writer?
TW: When someone says to you that they could write a book. They think it’s like writing an school essay which it is not. To me writing a book is like someone saying to you that they could run in an Olympic marathon without ever training for it.
Thanks for answering my questions, TW.