MATTHEW Reilly is a very simple bloke, despite being one of the world’s leading action writers whose books have been published in 20 countries and sold more than four million copies.
Unexpectedly, he accepted an invitation to speak at Singleton Library last Friday night.
“I got a very nice invitation and, to their evident surprise, I said yes,” he told The Argus.
So, the 38-year-old simply jumped in his car, drove down the highway from Sydney, spoke and jumped back into it and drove home.
“I’ve come to talk a bit about my books, how I write, why I write them and the environment in which I write,” he said.
He said he wrote action thrillers simply “to entertain”.
“I want people to get on a roller-coaster, strap themselves in and go on a wild ride from page 1 to 501,” he said. “It’s solely about entertainment - escapism.”
He said that when he started he thought it was for adult consumption, but an “unintended consequence” has been the interest teenagers have shown in his novels.
“My stuff has lots of action, explosions and swearing, so what teenage boy wouldn’t want to read that?” he said.
Ironically, he disliked reading in his early high school years and it wasn’t until he read To Kill a Mockingbird and Lord of the Flies that he realised reading could transport people to another world.
And his foray into writing had humble beginnings.
His first book was self-published in 1996 after being rejected by every major Sydney publisher.
Then one day it was picked up by the head of a major company’s mass-market fiction division who loved it and, as the saying goes, the rest is history.
Although Hollywood movie houses bought the rights to three books, none have become a movie as yet.
“My stuff is sort of big, you know, blowing up aircraft carriers and things, so it would cost $150 million to make one movie,” he said.
“If they do I’d be thrilled, but in the end I’m happy writing books.”
And what’s on the horizon?
“I’ve just finished revision of a new book, it’s a new hero and a new story,” he said. “It’s still a fast-paced murder thriller, just not set in the present, it’s set in 1546.
“It’s due to come out at about this time next year.”