11 Nov 2020

Introducing... Damien Linnane

Damien Linnane is a former Australian soldier and a former prisoner. In November 2015 he was sentenced to 10 months in prison for a series of crimes that the sentencing magistrate described as “vigilante action”. He spent the first five months of his sentence writing the first draft of his debut novel, a psychological thriller entitled 'Scarred'.

Damien Linnane

Damien was kind enough to have a chat with Nelson Public Libraries so we could all get to know him and his story...

Getting to know... author DAMIEN LINNANE

Nelson Public Libraries: Kia ora Damien, thanks for taking the time out answer some questions for us. We have a set of quick-fire questions for you so let's start with and oldie but a good-y;

What’s the first book you remember absolutely loving, the big impact one??

Damien Linnane: For me, ironically, that would be Letters From the Inside by John Marsden which is a prison story that I first read when I was thirteen. And I never thought I’d go to prison myself, but that was definitely the first book that I remember reading where at the end I had to put it down and seriously think about what I’d just read, what had just happened. I haven’t read it in a long time but I should probably read it again now!

NPL: What’s a book that you go back to again and again to re-read??

DL: Normally I, and this might be a bit funny but, I feel like I’m wasting time a bit if I read a book again, I’m like “I’ve already read this and there’s so much out there”. But one book that I have read several times, and there aren’t many, is Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham, (he’s) definitely my favourite Sci-Fi author!

NPL: What’s a recent book that blew your mind??

DL: Ah, that’d be Direct Action by J.D. Svenson, she's actually a friend of mine and you know, when a friend writes a book you kind of read it to be polite, and then really I couldn’t believe how good it was. It’s about a group of environmental “terrorists” who blow up a coal-fired power station, and yeah really relevant for today’s current climate. The ending knocked me off my feet, I never saw it coming, and that’s about all I’ll give away!

NPL: What book from recent years do you talk about most with friends??

DL: That would definitely be Marching Powder by Rusty Young. Another prison book and this one I actually did read in prison. I read sixty-three books during my ten-month sentence and that one was probably my second-favourite – my favourite would’ve been the autobiography of Malcolm X but definitely more talking points in Marching Powder, I think.

NPL: What’s a book that actually made you LOL??

DL: Ah, that’s a great question. The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster! I had a pretty religious upbringing, which I didn’t enjoy very much, and it’s a bit of a satirical take on the traditional story of creation, yeah and absolutely hilarious. I don’t normally read a lot of comedy but that one comes to mind, and that’s actually the answer to the next question which is…

NPL: Do you have a favourite book that you gift to others??

DL: I don’t normally gift a lot of books but that’s the one I’ve given to a couple of friends. I only give it to people that I think will like it, I try not to be a hypocrite and turn into a preachy person and try and give this to religious people, so I only give it to like-minded people. 

NPL: What’s a book that wish you had read during your teenage years??

DL: That’s a great question. For me that’s Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. I had a couple of… most of my relationships have been pretty good – I’m friends with most of my exes – but I’ve had a couple that were terrible break-ups. The last one was about six years ago and as soon as that relationship imploded I read that book and I was like “why didn’t I read this years ago?” I could’ve avoided so many arguments, even with exes I’m still on great terms with. That should be mandatory reading in schools as far as I’m concerned.

NPL: What’s a classic book that you absolutely hated??

DL: Sci-Fi is one of my favourite genres and for years everyone told me “you gotta read Dune, you gotta read it, it’s the greatest Sci-Fi novel of all time”. Not sure if that’s “classic” for what this question had in mind but that’s the first thing that comes to mind because everybody told me I had to read it. And maybe it was just because they built it up so much, but I thought it was boring! I wanted to electrocute myself while I was reading it just so I could feel anything! You know, I was just bored to death!

NPL: And conversely, what’s a classic book that you enjoyed??

DL: Ironically, probably Moby Dick which other people tell me was boring but I couldn’t get enough of that. I wish it had have gone for a lot longer!

NPL: Do you have a favourite book-ish podcast or show??

DL: Bare Books from the UK, which is a podcast. I’m a little bit biased as I just did an interview with them, but I actually really loved their show before they chose to interview me.

NPL: What’s the best book of the 21st century, for you??

DL: It’s a toss-up between Why I’m no Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge which I think is a better book for society, but the most important book for me is So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by John Ronson.

There was some very biased and slightly inaccurate media coverage of my crime when it first came out. The reporters didn’t give any context about it, and it was hard for me to deal with that. The advice I got in that book really helped me cope, and one of the things they said, indirectly but implied, was that you’ve got to create positive publicity about yourself to try and counter-it-out. That’s not the main reason I’m promoting my book (Scarred) but I am happy that I’m creating some positive publicity about myself now.

NPL: What’s your favourite Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror book??

DL: Now I assumed you wanted one of each so I’m going to go with Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein for Sci-Fi, The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss for Fantasy, and IT by Stephen King for Horror – and that’s actually going to be the answer for the next question which is;

NPL: What’s the best book adaptation to film??

DL: Yep, IT chapter one by Stephen King. I did really love the original IT but um, IT chapter one was a LOT better, in my opinion.

NPL: What are you reading right now??

DL: Everything’s Eventual by Stephen King, he’s my favourite author. I also just finished Hades by Candice Fox which I can’t recommend enough, a great Australian crime writer.

NPL: Did you have a favourite book during childhood??

DL: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. It’s the only one I really remember re-reading as a child. I’ve always been the same, I generally read a book once and I put it away, like I haven’t read Treasure Island since I was a kid. I probably should, I remember really loving that, but obviously not enough to re-read!

NPL: What’s the one book or series you wish would be adapted to film or television??

DL: Yeah, good question. The answer to that is that typically that I don’t want to see anything I’ve enjoyed reading adapted because normally they murder it! There are exceptions but two-out-of-three, maybe even three-out-of-four times that I see a book adaptation I’ve hated it.

I got put off watching Ender’s Game for years because that is one of my favourite books, and it took me about four year to summon up the courage to watch it haha... And actually I thought, as far as condensing a really big book, they actually did a decent job of that one.

Typically I don’t want to see my favourite books adapted, so I’m going to go with an easy answer here , maybe a bit of a cop-out but I’d love to see my book adapted into… definitely it’d be better off as television rather than film.

NPL: And if you could get one person to read your book who would that be??

DL: And I’m going to have to go with my favourite author, Stephen King. I read his book On Writing, I kind of used it as a bit of a guide for how to write my own book, so maybe if you don’t like my book you can blame him haha... I would love to know what he thinks about my book, even if he hated it I would love to hear his constructive criticism about what I did wrong.

NPL: Thanks Damien, good luck with the book, and mā te wā.

Scarred is published by Tenth Street Press and was released on November 28, 2019.  You can find a copy in our library catalogue at nelsonpubliclibraries.co.nz