Phil Advice

With the AUS/NZ release of my new novel a mere four weeks away, here’s a little insight into the wondering that produced the tale.

Exchange of Heart / Munro vs. the Coyote grew from two story seeds.

The first was Fair Go, the fictional assisted-living residence in Brisbane’s west. Fans of my previous novel Are You Seeing Me? would recognize this as Perry Richter’s intended destination following his Pacific Northwest adventure with twin sister, Justine. Fair Go emerged as a source of inspiration post-AYSM, not only due to its narrative potential, but because of its nod towards real life. With my teenage ASD son progressing through high school, consideration of his future living circumstance began ekeing into my thoughts, and in turn segued with questions fuelling the fictional construct of Fair Go. What sort of place would it be? What values and beliefs would it display? If it was my son’s home, how would I want him treated? The answers were easy. Fair Go would be a generous, supportive environment where the residents had a say in their lives and possessed agency in their journeys. The care-giving it provided would go both ways. And a hurting protagonist — Munro Maddux, as he became — could find some healing within its warm embrace.

The second seed was the notion of the broken heart, both literal and metaphorical. A memory and a question, each from my special ed HPE teaching days, got me started on this theme. The memory was of a student, a cheerful male teen with Down Syndrome, whose lips were constantly shaded blue due to an inoperable heart defect. His indelible image set the foundation for the character of Evie Maddux. The question concerned cardio-pulmonary resuscitation — a practice I regularly trained for but thankfully was never required to perform. I wondered then (and sometimes still do now): what would be the personal fallout from performing this life or death first-aid? True to the cruel streak on the belly of every fiction writer, I put my protagonist through the terrible ordeal in order to find an answer.

So, there you have it. A couple of wispy threads in my cavernous noggin that somehow became a book.

Wonders never cease, eh?

If you’re in Australia and wish to pre-order Exchange of Heart, you can do so here.

If you’re in Canada/US and wish to pre-order Munro vs. the Coyote, you can do so here.