Book Nerd Interview
Rob Kaay is an Australian author and musician.
During his entire twenties, Rob toured Australia and America in a major-label signed rock band. On the road he would read books by incredible writers such as Chuck Palahniuk, Hunter S. Thompson and Bret Easton Ellis.
Eventually wanting to get off the road in his early thirties, Rob chose to base himself where he originally started; Perth, Western Australia. It was here he used his decade-long traveling experience to begin writing his own stories.
Rob's first urban fantasy novel is called, Silverbirch; A Tear in the Fabric of the Night Sky and is available now in Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle and iBooks format.
Currently, Rob is releasing spoken word podcasts of Silverbirch for free, where he narrates and writes most of the music himself. Some chapters also feature the voice of a Los Angeles based actress named Mem Kennedy and music with permission by Nine Inch Nails and Moby.
Rob is gearing up to release the sequel to Silverbirch in 2012, recently returning from a ten-month research expedition covering thirty countries.
I was born in Perth, Western Australia, which is a beautiful coastal city where it hardly ever rains. Growing up I always put my energy into creative pursuits, particularly using music and writing to tell stories. At school, I did both English and English Literature and also studied Music Theory. My mother made me take a typing class using real-McCoy old-school typewriters. I was teased for being the only boy in a class with twenty-nine girls. It was worth it though, because now it helps me type my novels mega-quickly.
From the day I turned twenty I found myself living the life of a professional musician and about five years later I was signed to Columbia Records in New York and got to live in L.A. for a few years and tour the United States a few times around in an old tour bus. I spent many nights sleeping on the floor of the van, visiting a different city every night, meeting all kinds of interesting people and generally experiencing life on a roller coaster. I kept a daily journal of the entire journey, allowing me to reflect on what was happening.
I turned thirty live on stage at a sold-out gig in San Francisco. On that particular day I realised the last ten years had been awesome fun, but pretty blurry and I thought about getting off the road to concentrate on writing full time.
I released two journal-type muso books called the Robkaay Journals to get me started and then thought hard about what I wanted to write for my first real novel.
I’ve always been interested in what causes people to do crazy things when they’re not in control of themselves, like when they’re drunk, on drugs, angry or sleep deprived. Obviously in a touring rock band, I saw a lot of people doing crazy things they couldn’t remember, so I decided to create a race of people called Silvers who were influencing our decisions. That’s pretty much how Silverbirch; A Tear in the Fabric of the Night Sky was born.
As of this moment, I'm back where I started, based in Perth, Western Australia, living with my fiancé, by the beach and writing two more novels.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I'd have to say Chuck Palahniuk and Hunter S. Thompson. I like their no-bullshit approach to writing and the way they convey their characters' feelings through clever sub-text.
How long have you been writing?
I've been writing journals ever since I was a boy. In terms of serious writing though, I'd say I started in 2007 when I wrote the first chapter of Silverbirch. I no longer write journals, but I write a few pages pretty much every day toward my next book.
What genre are you most comfortable writing?
Well, Silverbirch is urban fantasy or I guess you could call it speculative fiction. I'm currently writing the second book, which is in the same genre. I'm pretty comfortable writing in this vein, however I’m also trying my hand at a suburban drama/mystery story.
How many books have you written?
I've got the two Robkaay Journals books out that young musicians seem to find interesting. They're about what it's really like being in a band. I found writing them to be useful to flesh out my writing and story telling skills. And of course I've released Silverbirch; A Tear in the Fabric of the Night Sky, which will soon be matched with a sequel that is drawing closer to being finished as we speak and has been the greatest fun to write.
Where did you get your information or ideas for Silverbirch?
I’ve always been interested in the similarities and differences between what people believe about the universe and the afterlife. I've always been interested in what people see when they take psychedelics and the stories they swear are true. I find myself constantly searching for the answer to the Human condition; why we're here, what happens to us after we die, is there life on other planets, can our souls and spirits astral-travel in our dreams? My imagination likes to run wild with all this stuff and it’s how I can write something like Silverbirch.
What chapter was the most memorable to write and why?
I guess the sixteenth chapter because it was the first one I wrote. I was on the verge of leaving my band, reflecting on my life up to that point in Mexico in the Baja Peninsula. I just started wondering what would happen if outside forces could control weak humans who weren't in control themselves on Earth. Then I wrote it all down. It became the Silverbirch Pages the children find in the abandoned house at the beginning of the book.
Chapter thirteen was also fun to write because Nudge is sick of "remaining calm" and controlling his temper and he just lets loose. Sometimes it feels so invigorating to just let go of all control over yourself and see what you're really made of.
Can you see yourself in any of your characters?
Haha, yeah, I'd say Nudge has about 33% of myself in him. He has another 33% of a cool guy I used to hang out with and then 33% of him is what was created as he came into being. Most of my characters are two-thirds a mixture of two real people I know and one-third original.
Silverbirch is a fast-paced fantasy action adventure, will there be any upcoming projects?
Hell yes! I specifically went traveling last year to the Lake District and London in England and Jordan in the Middle-East and Egypt and visited the Mayan Ruins in Mexico to write the sequel. I learned as much as I could about what the Egyptians and Mayans believed and wrote most of the next Silverbirch on the road. As I said earlier, I've just about finished it and am preparing to go into edit mode in the new year.
Off to the side I'm writing that drama/mystery I mentioned. It involves two brothers who misunderstand each other for most of their lives and haven't seen each other for over a decade but are drawn together when one of their houses is threatened to be burned down by a bikie gang.
What’s one thing that readers would be surprised to find out about Silverbirch?
That the story is told by two different narrators. One in first person. One in third person omniscient. Also that I write most of the music myself for the free podcasts on iTunes.
If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I'd introduce Nudge in Silverbirch to Tyler Durden in Fight Club. They could live off the land, way out in the bush somewhere, and give classes on how to get in touch with your true-self without the need for religion, politics, money or materialism. The classes would be free to attend, but there would be a quality filter on the types of people allowed to participate. Quality, in terms of personality and charisma. I think Nudge would win in a fist fight though because Tyler’s mostly used to fighting imaginary people.
Is there anything additional you would like to share with your readers?
I guess that I'd like to tell anyone who reads one of my novels that I respect our time together.
Has a review or profile ever changed your perspective on your work?
I've been lucky enough to receive mostly positive responses to Silverbirch so far, but I'm always up for reading constructive criticism. Obviously people have different tastes but I don't think someone else's opinion on my work could change my own perspective on what I've created. We all have a voice, we all have no idea why we're here and we're all trying to figure it out. Art is a great way to convey how you feel about your existence and writing is an important form of art.
If you could have written one book in history, what book would that be?
There are so many amazing novels written in history which have helped teach me what a good story is and have helped me shape my own skills, but for me, writing is a way to tell my own stories, so I guess there are none in particular.
What question are you never asked in interviews but wish you were?
Jean - I never had this answer before Rob!
Which author would you love to co-author a book with?
Well, it's too late for Hunter Thompson, may his soul be partying in his new environment, but Chuck Palahniuk would be rad.
Favorite places to travel?
I have so many, but I'll give it a go...
Although Los Angeles can be a lonely place full of shallow people shamelessly networking to advance their own careers to make cold hard cash, there's still a good reason why many talented people from around the world group together in that location. Creative energy. I experienced some of that energy when I was living there and can understand how it can aid you in your work. I think it's easy though to get caught up in the partying side of things there and lose track of your work ethic.
New York is an amazing place. I feel so alive and on a mission the entire time I'm there. So many talented people with something to say living in one densely populated location gives you incredible motivation.
I lived in Austin, Texas, for six months and if you're a creative person, I highly recommend spending time there. Many amazing musicians and artists frequent the area and the collective creative energy is contagious.
Not dissing Perth by any means, but I will always have a soft spot for Melbourne in Australia. To me it seems to be Australia's creative and cultural wonderland.
Turkey is a magical place to visit. In Olympos they have tree-house colonies where you can visit the fires of Chimaera. To this day non-stop fire shoots out of Mount Chimaera and no one can explain why. For Australians, it's also a great place to pay respect to the fallen Aussies that fought at Gallipoli. I wrote about my experience there on my traveling blog.
You have to visit Egypt at least once in your life to visit the Pyramids of Giza and the Temple of Karnak. How the hell did Humans pile thousands of four-tonne rocks on top of each other up to 42 stories high and ten football fields wide? How the hell did Humans chisel 100 foot obelisks weighing 450 tonnes and cart them for miles and raise them into the air without machines?
Jordan in the Middle-East is an incredible place to visit. The Dead Sea, Petra, Wadi Rum… We don't have the time, but I wrote about these places over at my traveling blog.
Visiting the Mayan ruins in Mexico was important for me. The amount of history in England, Italy and Europe is also mind blowing and needs to be explored. History in general is important. Today we act like we know it all, but thousands of years of Human generations have lived alternate lives. It's worth comparing the way we used to live, as opposed to how we do it today.
Traveling changes everything about your life. There's a good reason authors aren't teenagers. You need to get out there and discover the world for a while and meet all kinds of different people and have some amazing life experiences before you've truly got something to say and be taken seriously.
Okay, I'll stop now. But if you want to read more about my traveling I write a blog over at www.aussieontour.com every time I find a new place of interest.
What book are you reading now?
The Dice Man by Luke Rhinehart
Chicken. Anything with Chicken. Chicken breast. Chicken parmigiana. Chicken pasta. Chicken balls. Chicken on a stick. Preferably with golden-crispy chips and broccoli on the side.
List 3 of your all time favorite books?
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson.
Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk.
An Experiment with Time by J.W. Dunne.
What are 3 things you never leave home without?
My Macbook Air, to write with. My credit card to buy chicken sandwiches and coffee while I'm writing. I guess I only need two.
Battle of the Planets.
Where can your readers stalk you?
My Facebook fan page (www.facebook.com/robkaaypub) or Twitter (www.twitter.com/robkaay) or my web page (www.robkaay.com).
You can purchase Silverbirch at these following retailers.
Click LINKS below:
And now, The Giveaway.
Thank you Rob Kaay for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Signed Hardcopy of Silverbirch - Melissa Sanchez
2 Winners will receive 1 Paperback Copy of Silverbirch - Adeeb Nami & Amy Bailey
3 Winners will receive 1 e-book copy of Silverbirch - Ifrah, Maghon Thomas & Bindi Mysti
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