Canberra author, Craig Cormick, has been writing since he could make up stories and has forged a career in words with stints in journalism, education and science writing. What really floats his boat, though, is history and adventure.
The latter is something Craig Cormick has had plenty of experience with, having visited every continent, and he is now on a mission to ‘sail the seven seas’. The former, history, is a subject that fascinates and holds untold opportunities for storytelling as well as factual writing – both explored by Craig Cormick throughout his impressive list of publications.
So, what is it about writing, and history in particular, that inspires Craig Cormick?
Where do you get your ideas for your books?
Ideas just come from everywhere – often from where you least expect them, and sometimes they arrive in those ‘between times’ when your brain is catching up with the business of the day. I might be walking the dogs or driving somewhere or in the shower (inconvenient with no pen and paper) and an idea pops into my head.
Other times, I might be reading something and a single line just pops out at me, demanding to be taken away and explored and made into a story.
What are your tips for students and adults whose minds go blank when they’re faced with an empty page?
I think this is a very common occurrence and not just for young people. My best advice is to just start writing anything, such as what you had for breakfast or what you got for Christmas or where you would most love to travel. Once you get the pen (or keyboard) and brain humming together, other ideas just start emerging.
In short, just write and ideas will come. Trust the process.
Which of your books holds a special place in your heart? Why?
Books are like children – they can be very different but they all hold a special place in their creator’s heart. Generally whichever book I am writing, or just finished writing feels the most special to me as I am still filled with the buzz of creative energy of writing it. My alternative retelling of Captain Cook’s story, On A Barbarous Coast, was co-written with First Nations author, Harold Ludwick. It will always be pretty special to me because of that collaboration.
Which topic do you most enjoy writing about and why?
I love writing about history, but I really like messing with history and changing it around. For instance, in 2022 I have the first of my What If Histories of Australia coming out.
The books imagine what our history would have been like if the French had settled here first and the British came later. Then I have both King Louis 16th of France and Napoleon exiled to the French settlement. While they are fighting amongst themselves, they want to invade the British settlement.
It was a lot of fun to write and makes the reader think about the many moments in history when things could have changed if just one tiny incident was different.
When you think about people reading your books, how does this make you feel?
I really, really love seeing people in public reading my books. It’s about the best thrill you can get. More so when they are kids and they are reading them and laughing.
What do you want people to gain from your books?
I want young people to have fun in reading my books, but also to have a serious think about the topics I am writing about in a funny way.
Final thoughts from Craig Cormick …
When I was at school, I was a really terrible speller. Atrocious! But in Year 5 I had the luck to have a teacher who told me, “Don’t worry about your spelling, that will come later, as long as you keep writing.”
She was sertainly right. (Oops – certainly.)
If I stop to think about the spelling all the time, it hampers my writing and takes all the fun out of it.
Who said history has to be boring?