When we talk about fast pace action and insane adventure, there is really only one name people in Australia and around the world think of when it comes to books. Matthew Reilly.
First published in 1996 and the writer of some amazing books like Contest, Ice station, and Seven Ancient Wonders, Matthew has become a household name in the literary world and with good reason. I have been blessed with the privilege of being able to sit down with the one and only Matthew Reilly during his visit to Brisbane for Brisbane Supanova as he promotes the release of his amazing new book “The Great Zoo of China”
Matthew thank you for talking to me, it is a huge honour to finally meet you in person after all this time. This is now your thirteenth published novel, a huge effort in my mind, and I have to say WOW! What a great book it was. This new book “The Great Zoo of China” is a step away from your previous books. What was the reasoning behind this totally new adventure?
To be fresh. I have to keep it fresh for myself. I never want to be writing a book and feel I’m just doing the same tired old thing. It always is refreshing. That question inside (during his panel) about the tournament (referring to why he stepped away from the guns and mag hooks in the scarecrow and Jack West Jr books) I did the tournament for myself, to be refreshed and new. I’m a big believer with these books, with any book, if the author is enthusiastic, the reader will see the enthusiasm coming off the page. ‘The Great Zoo’ was designed to revitalise me as well.
In researching for this book, did you get to spend some time in China and in the region that “The Great Zoo” was actually set?
I went to China a few years ago, which is probably pretty good because I won’t be allowed back there after they read it. I went through Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing, Xi’an and down the Yangtzi river as well, so got a good grasp of the landscape and just the general environment ,and actually just the way the Chinese work.
Was there anything that you saw that changed your initial planning of the book before you started writing it?
Not really, no. I had one really interesting encounter with a Canadian engineer who worked on the “Three Gorges Dam”. He told me how the Chinese wouldn’t make any decisions. They left all the decisions to the foreign consultants. It was like they were a bit too afraid to make the decisions. And you can always blame the foreign consultant then.
Matthew you come across as a very grounded person. A very typical Australian. Now you are such a huge success internationally, and have been for some time, how do you not let the fame go to your head? Because I often talk to my friends about you and how last year you called me, and we had quite an interesting conversation for almost an hour. To be honest it is something that was important to me and still is to this day. So, how do you stay just so grounded?
You know…. You don’t believe you own press. I mean it can come and go very quickly. And it’s nice to do something that effects a lot of people. You know, what I chose to do with my life effects a lot of people. It gives them a lot of joy. But you know family and friends tend to keep you grounded, and I think if you start believing your own hype you get kind of lost you know. I think people make a bit too big a deal about things and I write books and I entertain people, and as long as you keep a grasp on the reality of what you do, you can stay grounded.
I mean again if you’re an actor or a singer and you think you’re better than everybody else out there. You’re still just a singer and an actor…… same as sports people. hahaha
A lot of people are here for the anime and manga cosplay, is there any recent anime you have seen that you have really enjoyed?
Anime is not my strong suit so I have to confess I don’t really know much about anime. What I do love is that people come up in the costumes. This is what I love about Supanova. It’s a good safe environment, where everybody’s having fun. And I like the fact that they get dressed up and I actually quite like the facet I don’t know who they are dressed up as.
You have a passion for movies, and fiction, and I would assume by now you have had a chance to get around and see some of the amazing costumes here at supanova, is there any particular costume you found outstandingly amazing?
I had a Gamora today from ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’, (Matthew showed me the photo below on his phone so I wanted to share it with you) and she had the trousers, the green body paint, and I had a Star Lord in Adelaide but I think she went to a lot of effort.
Have you seen any costumes that you have had to find out and ask who they actually were?
Yes, yes, I think it’s “Legends of Zelda” but I’m going to have to go find out, I’ve had quite a few people from the legends of Zelda, so I’ll go and research that.
It’s a videogame.
It’s a videogame? Ok. See I can put that into my books, you know, like Hamish stealing the shampoo and the conditioner, put legends of Zelda in there and…. I like to keep up I’m a little behind but I eventually catch up.
You collect a lot of memorabilia and things like that, including an amazing 1982 DeLorean DMC-12. (For those who don’t know is the same car from back to the future.) With that added to your collection and your amazing imagination, is there any chance we could see you donning a costume and coming back to a convention “incognito”. As a Darth Revan mask is certainly a great way to keep the other patrons guessing.
Ahh!! You know… it’s not a bad idea. But I quite like wearing my ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ t-shirt, and last night at the opening I wore my “Nakatomi Corporation” t-shirt, which is the company from “Die Hard” so that’s a great t-shirt because if you don’t know what Nakatomi is then the shirt is meaningless. So I’ll probably be more in my t-shirts than coming in costume. But never say never, I mean I could come as Indiana Jones. I’ve seen some good Indiana Jones, but yeah if I want to come completely incognito, I’d probably just come as a storm trooper or something like that. Old school.
Do you enjoy getting to see your fans in this type of setting or do you find he more quiet book signings in book shops?
Ahh you know, they both have their merits, I like this. I love just seeing people have a good time, and again especially when they come in their cosplay outfits, you get to see another side of them. When they are just at a book signing in the city, they’re in a suit or jeans and a shirt, you get to see another side to a fan, which, I like.
So we’ve seen aliens in Contest, Jack West Jr, with his robotic arm and Shane Schofield, plus the other epic characters we have all enjoyed, what’s on the cards next? Because dragons are going to be a huge thing to top. Should we expect another book next year? Or are we going to see “Matthew Reilly” on the big screen?
I think they (Pan Macmillan) might release “Troll Mountain” as a hard copy next year because it was released online this year. I won’t have a new book next year, because I haven’t written it, so next year is a writing year, so I’ll literally decide over Christmas/new year what I’ll write. Will I do a sequel to great zoo? Maybe a Jack West/ Scarecrow combo book. And meeting fans allow me to weigh it up. So next year I’ll be writing. But there won’t be a movie.
We can only hope we get one soon!
Matthew, thank you so much for talking to me here at Supanova 2014 it’s been a huge honor and I hope the fans of your books enjoy getting to know a slightly different side of you that what was discussed in your panel.
So there you have it readers, even Matthew Reilly will talk to a Sith Lord for a few minutes and give his opinion on cosplay and these types of events.
His following is huge and I honestly believe that Supanova Brisbane underestimated just how popular he actually is. Look at these photos for the book signings. And he wasn’t even there. These people were waiting for him to arrive.
For the people that missed out on the panel he did on the Saturday I say don’t be discouraged, I can almost guarantee next time Matthew comes to a Supanova they will take on board what happened and give him a much bigger room. He deserves it.
For the actual book, I give it a 10/10 and recommend everyone, even those who don’t read books to give it a go. It makes ‘Jurassic Park’ look like a fluffy petting zoo. It simply is a rush to read. And even a few people I spoke to in the line said they bought it Friday and hadn’t put it down till they finished it. The result of an amazing book.
Well done Matthew, and thank you for the cool story. It had enough dragons.