Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Author Spotlight: Matthew Reilly

Thriller fans around the world rave about Australian author Matthew Reilly’s novels because the books never fail to deliver nonstop action and breathtaking cliffhangers from first page to last. And we do mean, never fail. You don’t have to take our word for it—no less an authority than author Brad Thor says, "Matthew Reilly is the king of hard-core action."

In 1996, Reilly exploded on Australia’s bestseller lists after his self-published first book, Contest, caught enough fire to land him a two-book deal with Pan Macmillan. As Contest climbed the Australian charts, Reilly wrote his second thriller, Ice Station, while studying law at the University of New South Wales. Ice Station won attention from publishers in the United States and Europe. Since then, all Reilly’s novels have been mainstays on the bookshelves of thriller readers around the world. His books have sold more than four million copies worldwide, in at least 20 languages. In 2005, 2009, and 2011, Reilly books were the biggest selling fiction titles in Australia for their respective release years. Clearly, Reilly has hit a certain nerve with thriller devotees, and with each new publication he hits that nerve harder.

When he’s not writing, Reilly is an avid fan of blockbuster Hollywood action movies. And when he’s not watching them, he enjoys collecting memorabilia from some of them. His collection includes a DeLorean from "Back to the Future," a golden idol from "Raiders of the Lost Ark," and a full-size statue of Han Solo encased in carbonite from "The Empire Strikes Back."

Reilly’s latest book is Scarecrow Returns (titled Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves in some markets). It marks the highly anticipated return to action of Captain Shane Schofield (call sign "Scarecrow"), a character who would laugh in death’s grisly face were he not more delighted giving it the finger. We’re thinking if Reilly is anything even remotely like his Schofield character, the blistering blaze of white hot light from the Gazalapalooza Author Spotlight’s battalion of klieg lights will have no visible effect on the man. That said, the lights are on, and Reilly’s looking primed, so without further ado we’ll get this Spotlight underway.

Gazala:    In my omnipotence, I've sentenced you to be stranded alone on a desert island for offenses best left unnamed. In my beneficence, I've decided to allow you a limited amount of reading material to make your stay a little less bleak than it would otherwise be. I'll spot you your religious text of preference, and the collected works of William Shakespeare. In addition to those, name the one fiction book, and the one nonfiction book, you'd choose to take with you, and why you choose them.

Reilly:    For fiction, Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card, because it is the only book I can pick up and re-read over and over again, as if it is the first time, and on a desert island, I’d need a book I could read over and over.

As for non-fiction, Moneyball, by Michael Lewis, is a favourite.

Gazala:    Your latest book, titled Scarecrow Returns, is a gripping thriller involving ruthless terrorists who seize control of a forgotten Soviet military base hiding a Cold War doomsday device powerful enough to destroy the world. I've read it. I enjoyed it immensely, and recommend it highly. Shockingly enough, however, from time to time my bare recommendation doesn't always motivate a book's potential reader to become a book's actual reader. Tell us something about Scarecrow Returns, and why its potential reader should make the leap and become its actual reader.

Reilly:    Because it is relentless in its relentlessness. I think a new reader would be blown away by the level of action and pace.

Gazala:    What are books for?

Reilly:    That’s a loaded question. Different books have different purposes...and different intended audiences. Some books, like mine, are designed to entertain. Others to educate and inform us about the human condition. If there is an overall reason, it is to nourish the mind.

Gazala:    W. Somerset Maugham said, "There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are." Do you agree, or disagree, and why?

Reilly:    So far as I know, the only rule is this: write what you love to read yourself. Then you know if you are really breaking new ground and doing something truly original. You’ll also know if what you are writing is any good, since you are an expert in that genre.

Gazala:    There's a politician at my door, inexplicably eager for my endorsement. Ask yourself a question, and answer it.

Reilly:    Huh? How about this? Q: What separates the best writers from the rest? A: Authenticity. Readers can see it a mile away.

There’s no way to argue with that. For your own taste of Reilly’s trademark style of relentless authenticity, courtesy of Scarecrow Returns, all you need do is click here.

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