Geoff Vause (aka Jack Eden) has worked with words for most of his life: after a long career producing and editing daily and community newspapers, he served as private secretary to New Zealand Minister of Civil Defence John Carter, then as editor of the New Zealand Education Gazette and the New Zealand Education Review.
Vause has said he has met many colourful characters throughout his life, particularly when working as a journalist and covering the courts and local body politics. Real-life encounters have inspired some of his novels, including FURT BENT FROM ALDAHEIT (inspired by a story he did as a cadet journalist about a farmer perhaps wrongly convicted of murder, Arthur Allan Thomas, and a subsequent visit from the Police – Thomas eventually received a Royal Pardon) and JETSAM’S CARESS (inspired by encounters with ‘Vietnam War draft dodgers’ in the Far North). Along with writing novels, Vause is currently a sub-editor with Fairfax Media, one of the largest media companies in this part of the world.
In an article for The Rap Sheet, Vause said of his crime writing:
“When I am writing crime stories, I allow the characters to drive the tale through the settings and events. In short, the crime genre usually has the crime(s) central to the idea, and the characters react to the crime and take their shape largely in response to it. Solving the crime is almost irrelevant to me. In my fiction I am looking for solutions, resolution, perhaps redemption, in the character interaction.”
You can read the full piece in The Rap Sheet here. In the meantime, however, Geoff Vause stares down the barrel of 9mm.
1. Who is your favourite recurring crime fiction hero/detective?
Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer.
2. What was the very first book you remember reading and really loving, and why?
Swallows and Amazons, by Arthur Ransom. It was read to me by my mother and captured my imagination through what appeared to be almost unbridled freedom the young characters had. Adults made brief cameo appearances – it was a world of the children’s making.
3. Before your debut crime novel, what else had you written (if anything): unpublished manuscripts, short stories, articles?
Trade Me-The Novel (trashy but funny novella, optioned for a TV series, published in 2006); Blackhat (online scammers, sequel to TM-The Novel, unpublished); Jetsam’s Caress (novel, based on Vietnam War draft dodgers hiding in the Hokianga, accepted by Lorain Day at HarperCollins but turned down by their marketing people, published as e-book 2010); 36 Questions (twin self-help books published 2008, features Frank Habicht photography); 36 Questions (as a novel, set in London, unpublished); Vagabond Skies (drama, NZ setting, unpublished); Nangala (novel, drama, set in Hobart, unpublished).
I have had many articles on education published, and a number of opinion columns on inquisitorial justice. My short stories include Make Me Over (a TV makeover show comedy); Dork and Dirk (a supernatural drama) and Psychobabble (a comedy). I have had a number of songs recorded including Lazy Boy (Drekster); Empty Buildings, Golden Boy, Limousine (Sample Roast).
4. Outside of writing, and touring and promotional commitments, what do you really like to do, leisure and activity-wise?
My first passion is writing. Long distance and coastal sailing is also a favourite, and I am one of those strange men who loves to shop with his woman. I also enjoy playing drums, bass and guitar, especially with underground musicians.
5. What is one thing that visitors to your hometown should do, that isn't in the tourist brochures, or perhaps they wouldn’t initially consider?
Summer golf at Wellington’s peculiar Makara nine-hole golf course. It’s a strange and quirky experience.
6. If your life was a movie, which actor could you see playing you?
A young Albert Finney.
7. Of your books, which is your favourite, and why?
Nangala. It’s the closest I’ve come to feeling deeply satisfied with the work.
8. What was your initial reaction, and how did you celebrate, when you were first accepted for publication? Or when you first saw your debut story in book form on a bookseller’s shelf?
I was excited when Sensing Murder director Geoff Husson approached me for the option to make a TV series of Trade Me-The Novel, because I seek a ‘filmic’ experience for my readers through pace, characterisation and imagery. Unexpectedly seeing Furt Bent from Aldaheit on the new release table at Whitcoulls in Queen Street was also a buzz, seeing Jack Eden sitting there with Jodi Picoult and Lee Child.
9. What is the strangest or most unusual experience you have had at a book signing, author event, or literary festival?
Having a reader ask me if I was Collier, the industrial spy lead character in Trade Me-The Novel. That was most odd.
Thank you Geoff Vause. We appreciate you taking the time to talk with Crime Watch.
Have you read any of Vause/Eden's work? Does the story of FURT BENT FROM ALDAHEIT intrigue you? Are you a fan of 'ripped from the headlines' novels? Comments welcome.