K.A. Bedford is an Australian writer of science fiction/crime novels. He has twice won the prestigious Aurealis Award for Best Australian Science Fiction Novel, including for his recent book, TIME MACHINES REPAIRED WHILE-U-WAIT. He lives in Perth, Western Australia, with his wife Michelle. He was born in 1963. His most recent published work is PARADOX RESOLUTION, a sequel to TIME MACHINES. Find out much more than you ever wanted to know about Bedford at littleknownauthor.com, and be sure to read the FAQ.
What is the name of your book and if you had to sum up a description in 40 words or less, what would you say? My latest book is PARADOX RESOLUTION, a sequel to my previous book, TIME MACHINES REPAIRED WHILE-U-WAIT, which features ex-cop and put-upon time machine repairman Aloysius “Spider” Webb. In the new book he has his hands full trying to locate the stolen, and highly illegal, “hotrod” time machine his new employer has built, and which could now be anywhere in space and time.
Where did you get your idea for your book? One day I sat down to work on some initial notes, and I had this idea for a Spider story in which a customer accidentally leaves a briefcase in their time machine, containing some kind of fabulous thing (or possibly just cash), and hijinks would ensue. Flash-forward many months, and that idea is nowhere to be seen, and I wound up writing about Spider’s new boss, Mr Patel, whose illegal time machine has been stolen. The idea just turned up in the course of writing out notes over a period of months. Sorry, not very glamorous, but there it is.
When did you publish this book? My publisher, EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing, released the book in August of 2012.
Is your book part of a series? It’s the second book in the Spider Webb series of sf/crime novels.
What is the most important thing about your book you would like to share with potential readers? It has great characters who are truly up against it, and actual human drama. In this book Spider is forced to deal with the end of his marriage to his wife, Molly, and confronts the fact that he does actually have feelings for his colleague, Detective Inspector Iris Street. The book is set here in Perth, Western Australia, in the near future, too. There’s a Coffee Droid, a robot that makes coffee and brings it to you when you’re working, and is funny. There’s a severed head hidden in a fridge–and the head is still, just barely, alive, with a message for Spider. It’s funny, and it’s sad, sometimes both at once. Oh, and there’s a truly crazy bad guy. What more could you want?
What was the hardest part of writing your book? All of it. It took ages to work out all the details in the preliminary notes. Then it took ages to actually write the book, and there was extensive rewriting. The key thing was that it had to be as good, at least to me, as the first Spider book, and that took some doing.
What is your next writing project? I’m just wrapping up a fantasy novel, BLACK LIGHT, something different for me. So far my published books have all been science fiction, though often with a crime story element. This new book is a fantasy/supernatural detective story, again set here in Western Australia, but in a sort-of 1920s world. Protagonist is an Englishwoman, a widow, who writes science fiction novels, but who gets drawn into a supernatural mystery concerning the death, or not, of her husband, and much else.
What formats are your book available in: eBooks, Paperbacks? My books are all in trade paperback, and on Kindle and Kobo as ebooks. You can find them on Amazon, The Book Depository, etc, and of course you can buy them from the publisher, or special-order them from your local bookshop.
What is your name and where are you located? My name is Adrian Bedford, but I write under the name K.A. Bedford.
What books have influenced your writing? Too many to list. I’ve been reading books a long time. Right off the top of my head, though, I’d include William Gibson’s work, both his early hard sf as well as his more recent mainstream books; and my favourite book of all time, Leo Tolstoy’s WAR AND PEACE, which I read a couple of years ago, and (much to my surprise) found it was wonderfully accessible and enormously engrossing. Tolstoy also taught me the value of treating your characters with generosity. I had a tendency to write certain characters in a “this guy’s an idiot” sort of manner, even a patronising manner. Tolstoy showed me that it’s important, even with minor characters, to make people of even those minor figures, rather than two-dimensional foils for the protagonist to chew on. Similarly, last year I read John Steinbeck’s THE GRAPES OF WRATH, which was, even when it was hard to read about these people suffering so, the most deeply satisfying book I’ve read in a very long time, and I found the book haunting me for ages after I’d finished it, thinking about that family, what they’d gone through. That taught me a few things, too, about making your characters suffer. I’d always been pretty good at making my characters have a bad time in my books, but Steinbeck showed me that I was a rank amateur.
What inspired you to first write? I have no clear recollection. I remember starting to write stories down when I was a tiny little kid, about six years old, possibly earlier. At first these stories were retellings of things I’d seen on telly the day before, but eventually they turned into reasonably original, though very derivative, stories.
What have you learned the most about being a writer/author? That 95% of what you might call “success” is sheer, bloody-minded, never-give-up, perseverance. Hanging in there, even when things are truly awful. You have to finish the stories you set out to write. You have to send them out. And when they get rejected, you send them out again, and again, over and over. You keep trying. There are days, sometimes many, many days, when writing is the worst thing you could ever imagine doing (which is nonsense, but that’s how you feel), but you have to hang in there, and keep at it. Discipline, turning up for work on a regular basis, is the way to get things done. Of that other five percent: 4% is talent, and the last 1% is simple luck.
Do you see writing as a career? It’s more of a vocation. It’s the thing that I do. It doesn’t pay the bills, but it does keep me off the streets.
Is there an Author that you would really like to meet? No, not really. I’ve been very fortunate to meet a great many authors, particularly when my wife and I go overseas to conventions. The thing is I never know how to talk to them. Most authors I’ve met are people who I hold in great esteem, so meeting them I find myself tongue-tied or reduced to fanboy babbling. The time I met Connie Willis, one of my favourite writers, I embarrassed myself no end. <chagrin>
Do you have any advice for other writers? Read! Most particularly, read the classics, the old stuff, the stuff you think is boring. Read everything in sight, not just stuff in your own sub-genre. Read in depth as well as breadth. Find out what came before you, and how they did it. Why are classics *classic*? Why are they still selling? Is it just because they’re in the public domain so it’s cheap to publish them, or is it more complicated than that? Is it maybe that they tell us what people were like in other times, and how they thought and felt–and maybe those people were, deep inside, just like people today, only with a lot less gadgetry? I hated reading classic literature when I was younger. I only really started reading it in the past few years, after reading Francine Prose’s brilliant book, READING LIKE A WRITER, which is one of the best writing books I’ve ever read. She takes works of classic lit, and breaks them down and looks at how their authors worked at all the different levels, from individual word-choice, to sentence structure, to paragraphs and scenes, showing how it all works. From her I acquired an interest in reading this material, and I found, much to my surprise, that I really loved it, much more, in *many* cases, than science fiction. For a long time I hardly read any sf, because when I did, the writing was a bit ordinary, the characters were flat, and there’d be some pretty neat ideas, but without interesting characters it made no real impact. In the classics, by contrast, you’ve got characters that practically leap off the page at you; you can’t help but care about them and what they go through.
What is the one most important thing others should know about you? Like the entry for Planet Earth in the HITCH-HIKERS GUIDE TO THE GALAXY, I’m “mostly harmless”.