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Author Q&A with Tobias Madden

As Australia's best-loved book subscription box, at Luxuread we love offering you - our loyal subscribers - the chance to get to know some of our very favourite authors a bit better. The latest guest on our blog is the brilliant Tobias Madden, author of Anything But Fine. Read on to find out everything from what an average writing day looks like for him, to where Tobias finds inspiration for his books.

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Can you tell us a bit about your book, Anything But Fine? 

My book tells the story of Luca Mason, a gifted young ballet dancer who falls down a flight of stairs, shattering not only the bones in his foot, but his dreams of becoming a professional dancer. I spent about ten years performing professionally in Australia and New Zealand, so the story is very close to my heart. It’s about grief and identity and finding your place in the world. I think it blurs the lines between coming-of-age story, rom-com, and family drama, and it’s full of characters I absolutely adore. I can’t wait for everyone to read it!

Where did you find inspiration for your book?

The first line popped into my head one day (‘The second it happens, I know my life is over’) and the rest of the story honestly just fell into place around it. I chose to set the book in Ballarat (where I’m originally from) drawing on my own experiences growing up gay in a country town, as well as my connections with the dance world.

What does an average writing day look like for you?

I work full-time in publishing, so I do all of my writing in my spare time. I usually write for two to three hours a night, and basically all weekend. I should probably try to find a more balanced lifestyle, but I’m keen to work as hard as I can while I have the motivation! An average writing day also involves a lotof coffee.

When writing, do you use people you know for inspiration?

Definitely! I’ve never based any of my characters on a specific person, but there are little bits of people I know (including myself) in all of my characters. Sometimes it’s a physical attribute, or a personality trait, or even a particular event that I can adapt and dramatise for one of my characters.

Do you have a favourite book of all time?

I don’t know if I could ever choose just one, but my favourite book from the last few years is The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert. I don’t read a lot of literary fiction, but this book absolutely blew me away. It’s a sweeping epic – spanning one woman’s entire lifetime – and it’s just utterly brilliant.

What do you love most about reading? 

The escape, I think. I’m one of those people who finds it very hard to switch their brain off, but reading transports me somewhere else entirely. My favourite books are the ones that make me feel lighter and happier and ready to take on the world when I turn the last page.

Which writers have inspired you? 

So many, but in terms of writing in the young adult space, my two biggest inspirations are Becky Albertalli and Jennifer Niven. Both writers have such unique and compelling voices, and their stories are beautiful and honest and heartbreaking and all of the things I love in a book. They’re also both incredibly kind and generous people, which counts for a hell of a lot in my eyes.

How did you become a published author? 

I did it the ‘traditional’ way. I wrote a manuscript, got a literary agent, and then landed a publishing deal. I got back into writing in 2015, after not writing a single word since high school – a hiatus of about 10 years. I started small, working on a bunch of short stories, and then eventually edited and published a collection of young adult short stories for unpublished writers called Underdog. This was a really important stepping stone, and it helped me make lots of brilliant connections in the literary world. I then wrote the manuscript that eventually became Anything But Fine in 2019. It was the second novel-length piece I’d written (the first will most likely never see the light of day), and I still can’t believe it’s now a real book!

What advice do you have for aspiring writers? 

Whatever you’re working on, FINISH IT! You’ll learn so much more from giving one project literally everything you have, than you will from starting (and abandoning) hundreds of projects.

What are you working on at the moment? 

I’m currently working on what I hope will become my second published novel. It’s another contemporary young adult story, this time combining my two favourite things from my teen years: computer games and community theatre!