I don't think we could pick a better place than the adrenaline capital of the world to play host to Jack Silkstone, a full-time action-thriller novelist. He is the author of the popular PRIMAL book series. Former Military man, Jack moved to Queenstown three years ago to pursue a career as a full-time writer. Getting his kicks and inspirations from the outdoor lifestyle Queenstown has to offer he managed to squeeze us into his action-packed schedule for a little interview.
Jack Silkstone, Author Moves to Queenstown
Who is Jack Silkstone?
I spent twelve years as a soldier working primarily in Intelligence and Special Operations. I joined the military straight out of school, so it’s played a significant role in shaping what I write about and my perspective on the world.
What made you move to Queenstown NZ?
An international airport, fantastic landscapes, and super chilled people. I visited Queenstown in 2006, and I fell in love. I always knew that if I got the chance to work from home, this is where I wanted to do it.
What would your dream day in Queenstown look like?
Up at the crack of dawn, coffee on my balcony while I check the weather, then its bike and dog into the truck and out to 7 Mile for a cheeky shred of my favourite trails. Hit Atlas for a lunchtime steak with the hound and then it’s back home for a little writing and messing about in the shed. Somewhere in here, I’ll update my social media, reply to messages and hit the gym. The bulk of my writing happens at the back end of the day. Bishop, my dog, will curl up next to my desk and I’ll lose myself in the scenes of my next book. Off to bed by 1 am and then it’s sleeping, eat, repeat.
If you didn’t write what would you do for work?
That’s a hard question. Writing has always been such an important part of my life that it was inevitable that it would eventually become my profession. I guess that if I didn’t take that path, I would still be serving in the military.
What genre do you most enjoying writing? Do you experiment with other styles?
I primarily write fast-paced action thrillers. However, recently I’ve been branching out into different genres including romantic comedy. Although, I have to admit that my latest novel, SEAL of Approval, still has a lot of action in it…and not just between the sheets.
What is the most challenging part of your artistic process?
Editing! I hate editing. I love coming up with new ideas, really enjoy getting them on paper, loath having to go back and fix all the grammatical errors. Seriously, it is the hardest thing in the world.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
That depends on the size of the novel. A short 45K word action driven story can take me as little as a month. A longer, 110K, more complex thriller may take as long as nine months to a year.
Do you read for pleasure? If so what do you enjoy reading?
I don’t read anywhere near as much as I would like to. I spend most of my hours writing so time away from the computer is usually devoted to biking, the gym or walking my dog. However, when I do pickup, a book I tend to read what I write. Action thrillers, action adventures, and spy thrillers fill my Kindle.
What was your favourite book as a child?
That’s a hard one. I was a prolific reader who always had a book in hand. I still remember reading my first Tom Clancy novel at a very young age. Clear and Present Danger will probably remain my all time favourite.
Where do you write?
I’ve got a little cubbyhole in my house that looks out over Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables mountain range in New Zealand. It’s a great place to work. Although, sometimes the call of the mountain is a little strong and I find myself packing gear in my truck instead of writing.
Tell us about your process, (What research do you do?)
With eleven books under my belt, my process is pretty slick. First things first I develop an underlying theme for the book. Then I sketch out a rough outline of the scenes that will drive the plot. Next, comes research on people, placed, technology, weapons, vehicles, etc. Finally, when the plan is fully developed, I start writing…and, like all good plans often it all gets thrown out the window.
How do you get into the creative zone?
Coffee, heaps of Octane coffee.
What are some of your favourite NZ authors?
My all time favourite Kiwi storyteller would have to be Murray Ball. I loved the Footrot Flats comics as a kid.
Advice for digital nomads and other creative that would like travel/work in Queenstown?
Don’t deny the mountain her dues. The landscape is the reason we live here, get out there and enjoy it.
Are you dreaming of moving to New Zealand? be sure to read our extensive guide to a Working Holiday Here.