LL: Lace and Lavender (Me)
MD: Michael Diack
LL:Tell us a bit about yourself.
MD: Hi, my name is Michael Diack and I’m 26. I studied geology at theUniversity of Manchester and, after graduating, I was lucky to find a job in Oman working for a geophysical company. I enjoy table tennis, music, films, football, sailing and writing about magical potatoes with a taste for adventure and humour. I’m also a proud geek and I enjoy computer games and playing a four hour game of Risk with my friends. I always wanted to be a volcanologist, likePierce Brosnan in Dante’s Peak, but I enjoy my current job and lifestyle. I released my debut novel back in April 2012as a paperback and e-book for Kindle.
LL:Why did you decide to become a writer?
MD: I can’t say I decided to become a writer, the Super Spuds was justsomething I had in my head and I knew I needed to write the story. Writing makes me happy and I’m always writing, whether its short stories, Super Spud adventures or just plans forother novels, ideas are constantly flowing. I’d need to sell a few more copies first before I’d consider myself a writer properly, for now I’m just a debut author trying to stand out from thecrowd.
LL:How long did it take you to write The Super Spud?
MD: I wrote the novel at university and it took me about a month. I knew what I wanted to write and the idea sjust flowed out easily, especially because I was referencing and paying tributeto lots of films and television shows. Drawing comparisons between the human world and the Super Spud world isone of the most enjoyable aspects of writing these stories. The editing phase was much harder and took along time, I had to fully nail down the magic rules and ensure that the concept of walking, talking crisp packets didn’t come across as too unbelievable.
LL:What inspired you to write a novel about potato chips?
MD: I wrote the book at university when I was 19. I guess the target audience at the time ofwriting were fellow students with the same kind of humour as me. Initially, there were lots more sexualinnuendos and some mild swearing, in time I took these out and tried to makethe book much more approachable for all age groups. Now there are no swear words, the Super Spudequivalent version of sex is holding hands, and the graphic violence is comicin its depiction. My gut tells me thecore target audience it will appeal to is still the student generation (18-25),and the best reviews have been from reviewers of this age range, but I honestlyhope adults will find it enjoyable and younger readers, too. It came about after I remembered a shortstory I had written at primary school: Colin and Lucy are crisp packets whocome to life after their use-by date and try to find the rubbish tip. At university, bored during a lecture onrocks, I remembered the story and wrote it when I got back to my house.
LL:In your book the characters travel all over the world, where is your favouriteplace to travel?
MD: I’ve been fortunate to have travelled a bit with friends and family, andon geology field trips to some amazing places. I’d love to go to New Zealand one day, to Hong Kong and I’d also like totravel around Europe by train. I work inOman and it would be great to travel this country with my friends, I think ithas a great tourist potential because it has retained its Middle Eastern culturea lot more than Abu Dhabi or Dubai, who have just built skyscrapersgalore. Oman is still untouched, and isa beautiful landscape of dunes, canyons and wildlife.
LL:What is your all-time favourite book and why?
MD: The Hobbit. I love everything byTolkien and I always re-read The Hobbit every year. For me, it’s the perfect adventure story andit’s a credit to Tolkien’s skill that the book isn’t even that long. Everything is described so well without theneed for a 1,000 pages and every page is exciting to read. I also love The Silmarillion.
LL:What were your main challenges when writing Super Spud?
MD: Obviously,the book is about magical crisp packets so there has to be a sentient amount ofdisbelief, but I was always worried the reader wouldn’t be drawn in by th econcept, or overly scrutinize a certain aspect of the magic rules. This was the biggest challenge for me, butonce I had nailed down the strict rules and stipulations regarding the Super Spuds, the whole book was enjoyable to write. I knew what I wanted to write and the book was finished in first draft in about a month. The editing phase took much longer and involved large re-writes, and major changes. Another challenge was trying to find thebalance between what I personally found funny. I enjoy the process of writing about Super Spuds so much, sometimes I’ll write something just for my own amusement, then go back, read it, and realise only I would laugh and promptly delete it. I’m sure now there are bits I wrote I didn’t mean to be funny, and other parts I wrote thinking it was funny but no-one cares. Feedback from the story would be great though, what readers liked and what they didn’t like, so I could make the next set of adventures even more fun.
LL:What is your advice to new authors and aspiring writers?
MD: If you truly believe in your work then never give up on it. I’d think about an editor as well, not justfor the proofreading but the professionalism they bring to the story as awhole, noticing plot flaws and being truly honest with you. Everything my editor did was to make thestory better so take all feedback as positive and don’t be down if the editorsays some things they don’t like about the story. If something doesn’t work in your book, insteadof trying to write around it and forcing it in, just delete it. As for new authors, you’re probably busymarketing like me on various forums and contacting book bloggers – so eventhough you’re my competition, good luck and hope your book sells well.
LL:What do you do in your spare-time when you’re not writing?
MD: Most of my time is spent working in Oman, but on my leave I pretty much just hang out with friends and play board games, do sport or go out at nightand have fun. I work for 6 weeks and then get 3 weeks off, so I have a lot of time off to pretty much be a studentagain and just sleep in and relax.
LL:Is there anything else you would like to say to your fans and readers?
MD: I’d like to say amassive thank you to anyone who has bought the book and enjoyed thestories. Reading the reviews and thefeedback is amazing and I’d be more than happy to discuss the book with readers,or take suggestions for new flavour types they’d like to see in the forthcomingnew set of adventures. For now, I needto keep busy marketing and get the book out there to build up the fan base. I’m working on a new set of Super Spudstories, which will bring back the same characters (and some you thought died)and see more wacky humour and crazy adventures. The next story will have less characters overall and an emphasis on onebig plot, rather than each chapter being a different adventure.