I’m pleased to say that, just as I thought we were finished, I received a post from Rob Porteous, the newest writer in the anthology, with only a couple of sales so far, but one with a terrific future ahead, if this is any example of his work! Since Simon has already had his say on this piece, let me add my own. I started reading it and thought, "Yes, but what’s going on here? And why does it jump around so much?" And then I realised why all the leaping from place to place and thought, “How clever!” After that, I loved it. No other detective I’ve come across has quite the advantage of this one.
Rob sent his post in the form of an interview. I’m happy to have the author create his own interview questions, so take it away, Rob!
Q: How did you get your inspiration from the theme of Light Touchpaper?
Rob: The image I got was of a burning match and the smoke. For me, that felt a bit retro so it drew me towards something with a seedy, thirties feel – I love Raymond Chandler's writing so, from there, I suppose a detective noir story was almost inevitable! Anyway, smoke pervades this story – it inspired the paranormal ability of the detective character at the beginning and it's there on the lips of the Lauren Bacall moment at the very end.
Q: Melbourne provides a perfect setting for this story – is that where you're from?
Rob: No! I'm originally from the windswept plains of Perth. But I needed a big-city canvas for the story and I really like the different boroughs of Melbourne's inner city. Plus, there's the great story of how the world's tallest tower almost got built there in the 90s (originally designed by Harry Seidler); in my story it's actually under construction in the heart of the city and that becomes a crucial element.
However, I have to admit that, before the detective turned out to be paranormal, I was thinking of a straight, hard sci-fi setting off-world. Bringing it back home let me work in some Australian themes that added a bit of interesting texture.
Q: Some of the other characters have a lot of personality and you hint at their history with the detective. Did you plan out a prequel?
Rob: No, I've only been writing for a little over a year so everything I write is sort of first-of-kind and a bit unplanned. I wrote this story pretty fast (for me) over a couple of weeks, but I ended up developing a lot of affection for the characters. Though, now you mention it, I have some other 'perfect murder' plots I wouldn't mind trying out (don't ever cross me!) so, maybe, there could be a sequel.
Rob Porteous lives in Canberra, Australia and has been fortunate enough to have careered through a curriculum of interesting jobs, including stints as a speechwriter and a research physicist. Although he has only started writing fiction in the last year or so, he is an active member of the Canberra Spec Fiction Guild. Between writing lots of short stories, he is planning a novel and is co-editing the next CSFG anthology (scheduled to be launched at Conflux 2013), which is called... 'next'!