A Wolf in Writer’s Clothing: The Tobias Madden Interview

Today we’re interviewing someone special. Former feature author Tobias Madden has been instrumental in bringing WOLVES together. A fantastic author in his own right, he’s also played the part of editor, project manager and master cat herder (or should that be wolf herder) for the whole endeavour. So without further ado, let’s get started. Hello Tobias.

Hi

For those who don’t already know, who are you?

My name is Tobias Madden, I’m a professional music theatre performer, dance teacher, remedial massage therapist and whatever else I need to be on a day-to-day basis to make life work as a performer!

I was born in Ballarat, Victoria, where I lived in the same house until I finished high school and moved to Sydney. Since then, I’ve lived in almost all of the capital cities in Australia (and London for a bit, too) but I will always be a country boy at heart. These days I’m based in Melbourne.

What inspires you to write stories?

I’ve always love words. I think they’re beautiful and magical and incredibly powerful. I write in the hope that I’ll one day pen something that affects teen readers in the same way that my favourite books affected me as a child. And all that aside, I write because it’s really, really fun. Sitting at my desk with a coffee and my laptop is my absolute happy place!

You’re one of the editors on WOLVES, but you’re also one of the authors. Tell us a little bit about your story, Wolf Pack

Wolf Pack is about how hard it is being a teenager. It’s
a time when everything feels like life or death. The stakes are always incredibly high. It’s survival of the fittest. We all do a lot of things we’re not exactly proud of when we’re teenagers, but the choices you make during those formative years really do shape the type of person you become later in life.
Wolf Pack is about those kinds of choices.

Was there any particular inspiration for Wolf Pack?

The brief for the original WOLVES competition was the main inspiration for Wolf Pack. It spoke of loners and packs, and territorial lines. I knew I didn’t want to write about actual wolves, and the first thing that came to mind when I thought about those things was high school. The story draws on clichés found in most teen dramas – popular girls, nerds, school bus dramas – but I tried to skew it all, twist the tropes, to make the story a bit unpredictable.

Where does Wolf Pack draw it’s influence?

Working on the collab was an awesome learning experience. For someone who hasn’t formally studied writing, this kind of peer learning situation is vital for my development. Not only did I learn a ton from the feedback of others, I gained so much from having to critique their work, too.

I was also lucky enough to be the editor for the print and ebook versions of WOLVES, which is an entirely new string I’ve been able to add to my bow. I’m so thankful for the opportunity, and hope to do lots more editing in the future!

What about more generally, any stories you really love?

Cloud Atlas – This book brought me out of a very long ‘reading hiatus’. I stopped reading novels while I was at uni, because when you study the performing arts, all you do is read plays and scripts and librettos and song lyrics; I had no mental energy left for recreational reading.

So, a couple of years after uni, I forced myself to pick up Cloud Atlas (because it had a beautiful cover) and was just blown away by what I found inside. A journey through time, cleverly woven plot lines, intriguing characters and engrossing worlds – I loved everything about this book.

I’ve since read most of David Mitchell’s other books, and they are all just so wonderful, his writing is masterful!

So you think there was an impact on the way you write as well?

It really changed the way I thought about storytelling. This book is told from multiple perspectives that span centuries of time, but it still feels like one narrative. It’s themes and subtext are so delicate and subtle that you don’t really think about them until the whole story is coming together and then suddenly your mind is blown! I think the main thing I learnt is that you can tell a story however the hell you want. If it’s a good story, it will shine regardless of the form.

Anyone in particular you think would enjoy Cloud Atlas?

I think any fantasy/sci-fi fan would love Cloud Atlas. Especially if they don’t mind not really having a clue what the book is about for a good deal of time. It’s a great read for thinkers!

Thanks Tobias for taking the time to speak with us, and for all your hard work putting together the WOLVES collaboration. If you’d like to see what all the fuss is about, go check out our Indiegogo page and show Tobias and the other authors some love.