This is a quirky and fun adventure book about the life-after-expiry-date of packets of crisps!
Hi, my name is Michael Diack and I’m 26. I studied geology at the University of Manchester and, after graduating, I was lucky to find a job in Oman working for a geophysical company. I enjoy table tennis, music, films, football, sailing and writing about magical potatoes with a taste for adventure and humour. I’m also a proud geek and I enjoy computer games and playing a four hour game of Risk with my friends. I always wanted to be a volcanologist, like Pierce Brosnan in Dante’s Peak, but I enjoy my current job and lifestyle. I released my debut novel back in April 2012 as a paperback and e-book available on Amazon UK and Amazon US.
2. Tell us a little bit about The Super Spud Trilogy
I wrote the book at university when I was 19. I guess the target audience at the time of writing were fellow students with the same kind of humour as me. Initially, there were more sexual innuendos and some mild swearing, in time I took these out and tried to make the book much more approachable for all age groups. Now there are no swear words, the Super Spud equivalent version of sex is holding hands, and the graphic violence is comic in its depiction. My gut tells me the core target audience it will appeal to is still the student generation (18-22), and the best reviews have been from reviewers of this age range, but I honestly hope adults will find it enjoyable and younger readers, too. It came about after I remembered a short story I had written at primary school: Colin and Lucy are crisp packets who come to life after their use-by date and try to find the rubbish tip. At university, bored during a lecture on rocks, I remembered the story and the whole novel I finished in about a month. The book is 3 stories in one and is about magical potatoes, called Super Spuds, who once placed in crisp packets come alive if they are not eaten when their use-by date expires. The personality of the Super Spud is determined by their flavour: tuna flavours are smart, steak and spinach flavours strong, salt and vinegar flavours are arrogant. The book references many films and it is ultimately a tale of friendship, good versus evil and heroic acts of bravery.
3. What are you working on at the moment?
I’m currently writing another set of Super Spud adventures. The first book was a trilogy in the sense it revolved around three adventures: Colin, Cougar and King Martin, but I never intended for the story to end as it did. I was told by my editor to shorten the story, so I took out the last three chapters - the ending was still the same, though, with G-Boa on the run - and the story set up to be concluded. Truthfully, when it came to publishing the book, I didn’t know what to call it: The Super Spuds, The Super Spud Adventures, The Chronicles of the Super Spuds…The Super Spud Trilogy was a neat title and flowed off the tongue better – I didn’t mean to deceive anybody. So yes, there will be another adventure (book four) that I’m writing now, bringing back characters who didn’t die (and some you thought did) and introducing some new flavour personalities. I’m learning from the feedback from the first novel, what people liked and what they didn’t. The book will still have the same wacky humour, but will revolve around the same core four characters and their adventures (i.e. there will be fewer characters plot-lines this time, so the reader should feel more connected with the story and main characters). This story is more conventional and is one big adventure where everything leads up to a final confrontation between good and evil. It sees the Super Spuds travel to China, America, sailing the Atlantic and fighting pirates. After that, I have some short stories and a few more ideas for novels. I probably won't write any more Super Spud stories unless there is demand for it.
4. Have you always considered yourself a creative person?
Artistically I am rubbish and my attempts at drawing Super Spuds were destroyed a long time ago. I’d love for the story to be illustrated, though, as the concept could suit animation quite well – each chapter being a short animation. I take pride in the fact I have created something original but aside from writing, that’s where my creative side stops.
|Michael at work!|
My day job is working in Oman on a 6 week on and 3 week off basis. When I'm working I work 12 hours a day 7 days a week, so that gives me plenty of time to write. It’s camp-based work in a remote desert and totally isolated, except for invading camels, snakes and scorpions. It’s hard to be away from friends and family, but the flip side is when I’m on leave I have 3 weeks just to do nothing and relax, so there is always time to write (and have fun catching up with my friends and family). I’d always want a day job, even if I made it as a writer, as it would keep me motivated and I enjoy being part of a team, managing people and finding solutions to problems.
6. How do you write?
The first novel I wrote in huge chunks but my second novel I started out by scribbling initial ideas and writing paragraphs. I usually write a chapter at a time, but I love writing and if I’m in the writing mood I’ll keep going. Usually I write with my laptop on my lap and listening to music. Television is too distracting but music is perfect. I had a large gap between writing the first book and beginning the second, I realise now that was a mistake, and I’m aiming to always write every day just to keep my creative side open and active.
7. What, if anything, influences your writing?
The Super Spud Trilogy is basically a tribute to my childhood and growing up with the films and their heroic characters I idolized – Indiana Jones, Hansolo, Jack Bauer, Robin Hood, James Bond. Most of the character names I changed for comic effect and to prevent lawsuits; while the place names are from field prospect locations I have been working in at my workplace in Oman – Hiba, Birba, Harweel. I don’t base the Super Spuds on anyone I know in real-life, I don’t think that’s professional to do and it’s far more fun making up names and drawing parallels between our world and the Super Spud world.
8. Who, if anyone, has influenced your writing?
I read a lot and I’ll read any genre, although fantasy is probably the genre which features the most on my bookshelf. I can’t say I’m influenced by anybody, though, and I don’t want that to sound arrogant. I respect Tolkien because he can describe things so well without having to write a huge novel or waffle on – The Hobbit is the perfect adventure story for me. I like Bret Easton Ellis, Niccolo Ammaniti and their style of writing as well.
9. Can you name three things you’d like to achieve in life?
I’d like to see my book in Waterstones or another chain of bookstores. Presently, despite positive reviews, I’m still working hard to convince the book stores to stock it as they are reluctant to stock such a quirky and alternative themed book. Hopefully, if the good reviews keep coming in and a cult following develps, the book will receive more attention. I’m pretty basic in my aspirations, all I want someday is a house with a garden so I can grow my own vegetables and maybe keep some chickens. I used to play guitar quite well, so another dream would be to get on stage in one of my local pubs and play/sing a song by my favourite band Coheed and Cambria (I’d have to be quite drunk to pluck up the courage, though).
10. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
If you truly believe in your story, don’t give up on it and follow your dream. I think it’s very important to get an editor, as well, not just for the proofreading but for the development of the story and having a fresh pair of eyes to spot possible plot holes or conflicts in the story. My editor was invaluable and I’m very grateful for her hard work. Also, be prepared to change your story or delete parts that don’t work (instead of trying to write your way around it) – it takes courage to realise something doesn’t fit in and must be changed for the good of the book.
Thank you to Laura for reviewing my book and posting about it on your blog!