Let's get to know Ian Willis! Ian is a fellow Melbournian, jack of all trades, dabbler, and all round top bloke. Look for his contribution to our upcoming short story compilation MIXTAPE ONE.
What is your favourite comfort food?
Potato, cooked any way you like.
What's your all time favourite short story, and why? Philip K. Dick's. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. A long short story I know, but it asks so many of the hard questions about personhood, and what being a person is, is what most interests me.
Do you brush your teeth in the shower? NO
Who are the three authors who have inspired you the most?Christopher Hitchens, I realise he wrote non fiction, but I love his style. Michael Moorcock, he was prepared to let his imagination fly. William Shakespeare, if only for the wealth of clichés.
Have you released any writing before? Tell us about it, and where can we read it.
My previous incarnations as a writer were technical coaching manuals for the Australian Coaching Council, and I edited and wrote for Motorcycling Victoria's short lived The Motorcyclist Magazine. My fiction appeared first in the form of songs, available from iTunes on the Lounge Detective's album: You're so bad. And an alter ego of mine, Lily Thomas, has a rather confronting novel exploring suburban sex: Spiders and Flies, available on Amazon.
What does your writing space look like?
Any one of several cafes in Elwood, almost always inside, looking out over the passers by through a window. I need to see people, traffic, sky and trees, and the cafe people seem happy for me to monopolise a small table for hours on end, as long as I keep buying coffee. I write long hand, on paper, and only when a story is essentially complete do I digitise it at home. Again sitting next to a window overlooking a courtyard and trees, and with my guitars and my daughters art in the opposite corner.
You're about to sit and write for the day - but first, you need to get a drink. What's your beverage of choice? Long macchiato.
Tell us about your home city. Melbourne? Big enough to have real art, theatre and a diverse population, small enough for someone with writer's pretentions to be able to afford live in. Brighton? A quiet 20th century suburb walking distance from the vibrant 21st Century cosmopolitan beachside of Elwood and St Kilda. An almost magical mix of now and then, here and there, culturally cosmopolitan in the true sense of the word. All sorts of people, cheek by jowl but with sufficient room not to rub each other the wrong way. Rick Deckard's world if written by a rational optimist.
What do you love about writing? Writing allows me to explore ideas. It legitimises putting on someone else's ego and walking around in it. I tend towards tweaking this world that you and I share, rather than trying to create other worlds. This is an amazing world, and the ordinary people and things it is composed of have individual beauty if you take the time to look at them. I have affection for the characters I write, be they people I met from life or people I construct from life. I enjoy visiting their lives, and seeing where they are going.
Usually a brand has a kind of personality about it, and you know what you're messing with when you associate with that brand. Up & Up is interesting, because it is brand new and doesn't really have an established personality yet. How do you feel about it? What do you make of all this?
I love the confidence. The optimism. That someone has taken the time and risk and effort to invest in 'the new' is inspiring. Confidence and optimism seem to be unfashionable these days.
Our motto at Up & Up is "The indie punk label of publishing for the garage bands of writing." What do you make of that? I identify with it strongly. Playing in, managing and writing songs for, a local indie band, albeit lounge/jazz rather punk, is so much like writing fiction. The personality and skill set of the writer is so often so far removed from the personality and skill set of the entrepreneur, that good stories can so easily sink dormant beneath the surface of reader access.
What are your hobbies?
Playing guitar, people watching.
What are your long-term writing plans?
I have a couple of novel structures I would like to complete and two collections of short stories I want to edit and publish. I also want to try my hand at creating audiobooks of my writing. But before committing to finishing any of these I need to develop a credible strategy for getting the end result to an audience. The writing is pleasurable, the marketing is not, but without a real possibility of having stories read, motivation can wane easily. I have experienced individual self publishing, and though it is possible, without marketing it is really just pretence. I am excited by the idea of collaboration with people who have those skills I lack, that is a powerful motivation to investing discipline in my writing.