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Gary Kemble, author of Skin Deep – Interview & Book Giveaway

Today we welcome Gary Kemble, author of Skin Deep to Booklover Book Reviews.

Skin Deep by Gary Kemble Interview

Skin Deep Synopsis

‘With an intense and immediate sense of place, a cracking pace and a great everyman hero, Skin Deep is by turns thrilling and haunting, and will keep readers glued to the page.’ – Angela Slatter

When washed-up journalist Harry Hendrick wakes with a hangover and a strange symbol tattooed on his neck, he shrugs it off as a bad night out. When more tattoos appear — accompanied by visions of war-torn Afghanistan, bikies, boat people, murder, bar fights and a mysterious woman — he begins to dig a little deeper. Harry’s search leads him to Jess McGrath. She’s successful, married; they are drawn to each other though they have nothing in common but unwanted tattoos and high definition nightmares. Together, they edge closer to unearthing the truth behind the sinister disappearance of an SAS hero and his girlfriend Kyla.

Skin Deep is the thrilling, layered, genre-bending debut novel of Brisbane author and journalist Gary Kemble.

Gary Kemble’s award-winning short fiction has been published in magazines and anthologies in Australia and abroad, and several of his stories have been republished in ‘best of’ collections including Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror.

(Echo Publishing)

Congratulations on the publication of your debut novel.

What inspired you to write Skin Deep ?

It was a combination of things. I’ve always wanted to write a series of books about a journalist investigating paranormal events. I’m fascinated by people who live lives so different to my own (for example, special forces soldiers, members of outlaw motorcycle gangs). It all crystallized with the idea of a ghost story where the ghost manifests as tattoos.

Would you say it is plot or character-driven?

Skin Deep is a real page-turner so I guess that means it’s plot driven. But I think readers will really connect with the protagonist, Harry Hendrick, and want to see how things turn out for him.

Tell us a little bit about your main character?

When Skin Deep opens, Harry is a bit of a lost soul, at a turning point in his life. Despite showing promise in his uni years, he’s been working for a local newspaper for 20 or so years. Not because he finds it rewarding or challenging, but because it’s ‘safe’. His inability to break out of the rut contributes, in part, to the breakdown of a six-year relationship. The events of Skin Deep force him to re-evaluate who he really is and what he wants out of life.

What type of reader do you think would most enjoy Skin Deep?

Skin Deep has been described as a ‘genre-bending’. People who enjoy crime/investigative/thrillers will get a kick out of it. It also has a supernatural element, so those who enjoy a good ghost story will get something out of it too.

Given the setting of your novel, did you give much thought to the use of colloquialisms and their potential impact on audience reach?

It was a consideration but I tried to stay true to the story. Skin Deep is set in Brisbane in summer, and anyone who has lived in or visited Brisbane will enjoy the local references/locations. But the underlying themes and the struggles that Harry has to survive are universal.

Gary Kemble author of Skin DeepCan you tell us a bit about your writing process?

I applied for, and was overjoyed to receive, an Australia Council New Work grant, which allowed me to take a little bit of time off (1-2 days a week, over the course of a year) my full-time job. This allowed me to spend a bit more time researching. I visited a couple of tattoo studios to see how tattooists work, as tattoos play an important role in Skin Deep. I read numerous books about the SAS and outlaw motorcycle books, as well as trawling through newspaper archives. Generally my approach when working out different aspects of the plot was to see if something similar had happened in real life, and then use that information to make Skin Deep as realistic as possible.

Like any writer who has kids and a day job, my ‘best time to write’ is whenever I can find a few spare minutes to write (although, obviously the OzCo grant helped in this respect). I write mostly in the evenings, after the kids are in bed, and then try and carve out some time most weekends. Parts of Skin Deep were written sitting on one of my kids’ beds, writing while I tried to get them off to sleep!

What do you do when you’re not writing?

My background is in journalism, and I am currently a social media specialist with ABC News. I moved to Scotland last year so any spare time I have is consumed by exploring.

Do you have any other titles in the pipeline?

I am working on a follow-up to Skin Deep. It has been fun putting Harry through hell (again)… {smiles}.

Do you have any tips or advice for aspiring writers?

Write and read every day. That’s advice that I struggle to follow myself at times, but it’s crucial. Even if it’s 50 words, it keeps your head in your story. If you can’t put actual words to paper, jot down notes about characters/plot developments so when you do have time to write, you’re not sitting there wondering what to write.

Be kind to yourself. Life throws curveballs at you. It’s not realistic that these curveballs won’t impact on your life in some way. But beating yourself up about that isn’t going to help.

Don’t give up! The one thing that unites all published writers is that they didn’t give up.

Skin Deep is available from:
Booktopia | Amazon | Bookworld | Kobobooks

Disclosure: If you click a link in this post and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission.

Book Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Aussie author Gary Kemble’s debut novel Skin DeepEcho Publishing have generously offered 2 paperback copies for giveaway:

  • Australian / New Zealand mailing addresses only
  • extra entries for spreading the word via Twitter and Facebook/Google+/Webpage
  • Aussie Author Challenge 2015extra entries for registered participants of the Aussie Author Challenge 2015 – there’s still plenty of time to sign-up!
  • entries close midnight 20 July 2015
  • the winners will be randomly selected and must respond to my email requesting their mailing address within 5 days otherwise their prize will be forfeited and another winner selected

SORRY, ENTRIES CLOSED – The winners are Lawrie and Carol @ Reading, Writing & Riesling.