Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Interview: Sam de Brito

Hi Sam, thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions for us. 

Let's start with an easy one, what are you reading at the moment?
A Small Book About Drugs by Lisa Pryor. A great little book attempting to reignite the discussion over legalisation of drugs.

Hello Darkness is especially topical in the light of the scandal that's currently engulfing News Corp. What's your take on recent events and what they mean for the future of journalism?
I think stuff like this has gone on ever since time began. As the character Ned says in Hello Darkness, "news = things people don't want you to know". Phone hacking is just a modern take on it.

Ned misrepresents himself, harasses grieving family members, and a range of other ethically dubious acts in his professional life. Is this a fair representation of the daily grind of journalism now?
It's what some journos do and what some newsdesks expect. You can't put all of us under one greasy blanket. I wanted to show readers that essentially good people can be forced into doing questionable things by the pressure to produce in their job. It doesn't just happen in the media.

And while we're talking about journalism I have to ask, did you really dig through Bill Cosby's garbage, and what did you find there?
Yes, however, I only did it because the Australian Today Show asked me to do it, to showcase what tabloid journos supposedly do - way back in 1994 when I was living in New York, working for America's Star Magazine. Steve Leibmann and Liz Hayes (then hosts of the Today Show) castigated me on-screen for being a sleazy tabloid journo when their producers had set me up. Such is the media.

What prompted you to revisit the character of Ned Jelli in Hello Darkness?
I felt my first novel, The Lost Boys, had left little hope for the character and I wanted to give the readers something more, to show that the hopeless can find the light, a way forward.

The theme of insecurity and depression in men leaps off the pages in this novel, did you have to get into a fairly dark headspace to write it?

One of the major characters in the book is Sydney, specifically places such as Bondi. Even though Ned doesn't venture too far from home most of the time, the presence of the rest of the city is always felt. How did you go about capturing the essence of the city?
I just tried to write about the places I love - and do it punchily. I hate descriptions of leaves or clouds or building that take two pages - they bore me. Sydney is a punchy place, so I wanted to describe it quickly, economically, in bursts.

I read in an article once that The Lost Boys was going to be turned into a film. What stage is that project in?
The never-going-to-be-made-into-a-movie stage.

What are you working on next?
A genre crime novel. Weird and wonderful.

Shearer's is hosting an event with Sam de Brito on Monday August 8, details here

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