Interview: Aussie Author Guy Bailey Talks Writing, Inspiration and Why Romance is for Real Men
Ask someone to describe a fair dinkum Aussie bloke, and you might hear resourceful, practical, tough, man of few words... Whichever way, it is a safe bet contemporary 'romance author' is not going to make the list. But when he is not working as a farmer, good keen man Guy Bailey can be found penning stories of romance, mystery and thrills. The Australian writer, who lives in Dalby, Queensland, is the author of A Man for Kate: Remains of a local girl (Mystery loves Romance Book 1), a Contemporary romance and crime/mystery, and Conduit of Souls: Bedtime Stories, a light horror short story anthology. Book 2 in his six-part Mystery loves Romance series, A Man for Clair: Secret of the Widow Mulvane, is due for release on February 13th. Today on The Muse, I am delighted to have Guy drop by for a chat.
Welcome to The Muse, Guy, and thank you for being here! Firstly, tell me a bit about how you got into writing fiction. Have you always written stories, or did it come upon you suddenly at some point?
Thanks for having me, Odelia.
My first published work was a cartoon in the primary school magazine when I was about ten years old. It was series of four pictures with no text: A man swimming and a piranha. A skeleton swimming and a fat piranha. A man swimming in an iron suit and a piranha. A man swimming in an iron suit and a piranha with broken teeth. I think with that being published and everyone in the school seeing it meant that I would one day write. I never liked English at school, though. It was more of a hidden-in-the-bedroom kind of thing. I have notebooks with short stories and poetry from my teens and early twenties. Potentially embarrassing stuff that I treasure privately.
To what extant do you think your background, upbringing and life experiences have influenced your writing?
I think as a developing writer, the trick is to somehow break away from your personal experiences and write more professionally, for the market – to be able to become any character (free from your own character). I’m sure there is a similar, even more intense, challenge for actors. I think I’m still developing. There would be a lot of influence from my background, upbringing and life experiences in my current work. At this stage, I’m just trying to get the hang of telling a good story – any story.
An Aussie farmer writing romance – now that is a bit unusual. A lot of blokes think romance is kind of mushy, so what is it that attracts you about writing in this female-dominated genre?
Well, first the ‘blokes thinking romance is mushy’ point: Yes – true. I’ve had this conversation in relation to ballroom dancing: “Come on, man – are you even sure about your sexuality doing that?” or the like… Well, at a typical ballroom dance there are beautifully gowned and perfumed ladies, and if they say yes, you are allowed to hold them close and sweep them into the music (i.e. a Slow Fox Trot to Frank Sinatra’s Witchcraft). This isn’t powerfully hetero?
Romance is like ballroom dancing – powerfully feminine and masculine. The reason I like to write romance is because it’s simply the best. Of all the thrills you can experience – hold your new born baby, drive a V8 supercar, Foxtrot with the gowned and perfumed lady (whom you don’t even know), win the grand final – none of these quite match the feeling of romantic love. To me, it stands alone as the most powerful, wonderful and exhilarating thing you can ever experience. It’s a no-brainer to want to write/read about it.
Tell me about how your fictional characters come into being. Are they partly or wholly inspired by real people, or entirely made up?
Notwithstanding how much I am probably drawing on my life experience, I’ve never deliberately designed a character based on a real person. I’m a little bit mindful of avoiding that. I’d hate for a family member or close friend to see themselves in one of my stories. Public figures are fair game, I suppose, but no – I think I can safely say all of my characters come from inside of my imagination.
It’s interesting as I get into writing the 5th book in a mystery/romance series, trying for diversity in the characters. There are six stories in this series, each with a new romantic couple. I hope I’m creating twelve individuals.
It’s a lot of fun creating eccentric or unusual characters. Getting inside the mind of an angry ghost, a lonely old lady, an intellectually handicapped guy… I think it gets back to letting go of yourself – of who you are – and being like the actor thinking in character. That’s what I try to do, anyway.
What is your biggest source of inspiration?
I’m going to say my biggest source of inspiration is a couple of writers from my childhood and youth: Enid Blyton and Zane Grey. Blyton having sparked my desire to write adventure and Grey with his western romances having added the ‘mushy’ ingredient. I’m sure the passion was always going to be there and these two wonderful authors merely stoked the fire, but their achievements are certainly inspirational.
In the case of Zane Grey, after reading his stories as a youth, I was unable to remain in the city suburbs where I grew up. I absolutely needed to travel into the outback and experience life as a cowboy. I did this at the age of 16 and found exactly what he was talking about. Half a lifetime later, I still can’t live in a city. I’d say that is a case of having been inspired far beyond mere writing, but it is certainly a big factor in the settings for my stories.
Are you an ‘out and proud’ writer who hands out their latest manuscript to anyone willing to look at it, or do you prefer to keep things a bit more under the radar where friends and family are concerned?
No, not out and proud. A friend or family member needs to ask to see any of my work. Mum is an exception. She’s so proud of her children’s achievements. I hand bind one copy of everything I write and give it to Mum.
I guess with everyone else, it’s a matter of not wishing to be presumptuous or any kind of burden. Life is busy. There’s usually a narrow window for entertainment, and everyone has their own taste. I’m more interested in leaving something for future generations. A descendant next century brushing the dust off a package of my books is a nice thought.
Your top tip for newer writers?
There are obviously lots of technical things to learn, so get educated and continue to read and study. My top tip, however, would have to be: be prepared to have your free time and possibly your social life completely overrun. Writing is infectious and limitless. It can take over your life. Good or bad.
Visit Guy Bailey's author page on Amazon to buy these books. I have read A Man for Kate, and really enjoyed it. Check it out if you like a sweet, sexy romance with an Australian setting!