We love this story so much we made it our Fiction Book of the Month for May. Discover why we couldn’t resist naming it our must-read fiction pick for the month in our Q&A with Steve Toltz and an extract from the book!
A good portion of Here Goes Nothing is set in the afterlife after protagonist Angus Mooney is murdered - where did your idea come from?
ST: There are several answers to that question and I’ll give you one: I always start writing with a simple premise, in this case: ‘a strange man comes to the door of a couple’s house and asks if he could please die there.’ When the narrator was murdered, I didn’t want the story to end there, so I just let it go on by following him into the afterlife. For me, creating a story is a process of evolution. I’m as surprised as anyone by the crazy directions the stories take.
Photo by Nigel Bluck
Tell us more about Angus Mooney – is he someone you’d like to spend time with?
ST: Angus Mooney is a petty criminal in awe of his wife, who promotes the virtues of ignorance and of not understanding the world. He is a confirmed atheist who is about to get a huge surprise when he wakes up dead. I’ve already spent a lot of time with him of course, in that weird process of sketching out a character and writing him into existence, into someone you can believe in. That’s the irony of writing about someone who believes nothing—I’ve made an imaginary character feel incredibly real, at least to me.
In your imagination what’s the worst part of life after death, and what’s the best?
ST: Life goes on, that’s both the worst and the best of it, the blessing and the curse. There are no concrete answers, the mysteries multiply. I’ve created an afterlife from which you can die and you don’t know what happens when you die in death. Whether or not this is terrible or wonderful place pretty much depends on how you feel about this life, right here, right now.
You’ve spent the last few years in Hollywood working on screen projects – tell us about some of these projects, and has it changed the way you write?
ST: The boring and perhaps unexpected answer to this question is that writing screen projects is a day job completely unrelated to writing fiction, and one that has no creative impact on the fiction writing whatsoever, the skills required are so different. My experience of television writing thus far is that it is mostly a brainstorming job, one that is done verbally, whereas fiction writing in my case is about the visceral connection to the written word, a process that takes place when pen hits paper.
Here Goes Nothing is available online or at your local Dymocks store.