Tell us about yourself.
I’m an author from Melbourne, Australia who lives a little too similarly to the characters in my thriller novels. I’ve been waterboarded and shocked with electric currents and hunted through the streets of Houston. I’ve explored abandoned New York subway stations, hung precariously off rooftops in Russia, studied rare forms of unarmed combat and trained under SEAL, Spetsnaz and Defense Intelligence instructors.
I’ve worked in a variety of careers from a reconnaissance soldier in the Australian Army to a video editor and writer of feminist lesbian pornography. I was the first published author of one of the world’s first digital imprints, Momentum, and Apple awarded my debut novel the iBooks Thriller of the Year in 2012. I established myself as a traditionally published author before making the move to self-publishing.
What are your books about?
I write the Helix and The Fifth Column series of techno-thriller novels. Both are action-packed blends of thriller and science fiction. The books are told from the perspective of a ragtag international team of former black operatives led by Sophia, and also a team of Russian operative hunters, led by Olesya. Both were raised and groomed by the Fifth Column, a powerful, clandestine agency with influence over governments, armed forces and terrorist organizations.
I’m a bookstore or library, can I order your books?
You can order my books from Ingram.
But they are only available with a 20% discount and are not returnable.
I’m sorry that I can no longer accommodate bookstores with higher discounts. Given that more than 85% of US books are now purchased online, bookstores are no longer a viable business model for me.
How do I read your books?
You can read them in ebook or print formats (and soon, audio).
You can read ebooks on any device from a Kindle to a tablet, phone or computer.
If you’re an iPhone or iPad user, you can read on the iBooks or Kindle app.
If you’re an Android user, you can read on the Google Play Books or Kindle app.
You can also read ebooks on a computer, but that isn’t much fun.
The most popular platforms to buy Helix: Episode 1 on is Amazon, iBooks, Google Play, Kobo and Nook.
And you can read them in print too, available from all online retailers and by manually ordering through bookstores.
(Hot tip: if you’re Australian, you can order from Amazon’s Book Depository website with free shipping.)
Do I need to read any other books before starting Helix?
Nope! This is a new series written for all readers.
How many episodes are there in the Helix series?
There are nine episodes.
Should I wait until you have combined all the episodes into one book?
You know that would be a 1,700-page book, right? That’s crazy talk.
Are there plans for more after the Helix series?
You bet there is.
Why are your episodes only $2.99?
Because I enjoy not ripping people off.
No seriously, I insist on keeping a low price for all my books! Even if it kills me. But hopefully not.
My episodes are between 150 and 300 pages long, so $2.99 is a pretty good price for that. This way I hook you in and then you’re an addict and you can’t stop.
Most traditionally published ebooks are $12 to $18, if you’re wondering why the industry is collapsing.
Can I get your books in audiobook format?
Not yet, but this is my next priority! You can subscribe to my newsletter for future updates. You know you want to.
Are your books available in languages other than English?
Not yet, but the first language planned for translation is Simplified Chinese.
Why did you write Helix?
I love thrillers and I love them with a bit of science fiction too. On the silver screen, I’m a big fan of the Mission: Impossible and Jason Bourne series (except the last Bourne, that was terrible). In fiction, I’m a big fan of Greg Bear, Ian McDonald, Matthew Reilly and Andy McNab’s ghostwriter.
The thriller genre is one that I adore, but it has its fair share of problems. Corny dialogue and clunky action, flag-waving heroes and docile housewives, and villains that seem to bounce between Soviet spies and Middle Eastern extremists.
When I started writing techno-thrillers, I wanted to tell a very different story. Sophia and her team of former operatives aren’t armed to the teeth or funded by a powerful agency. Instead, the agency hunts them and they’re barely able to keep a step ahead. But they have their training and they’re resourceful. And they have each other.
How did you get published?
I spent ten years trying to get published. It happened by accident when an editor I stalked on Twitter turned out to be a publisher for one of the Big Five. In 2011, I hired him to edit my novel and instead he offered me a publishing deal with Momentum, Pan Macmillan’s digital imprint.
The success of my books led to Pan Macmillan printing my first novel and soon it was on bookshelves around the country. It was a wonderful moment, but it was also the moment where the industry began falling apart. Over the past decade, the publishing industry had ignored the digital revolution and now they were paying a heavy price.
Some publishers shut down, while others closed imprints and fired staff. Even Momentum—despite being able to successfully compete against self-publishing authors in the digital space—couldn’t survive the cull. Over 100 authors were cut loose, including myself.
Since then, publishers have become increasingly reliant on mega-bestselling authors and non-fiction, which also meant shedding their entire midlist of authors. This solves a short-term crisis but it places publishers in a precarious position, putting all their chips on their mega-bestselling authors, many of whom are beyond retirement age, while having no midlist to replace them. The midlist are self-publishing now, and the more successful they are, the less likely they will be to hand over most of their income to a publisher.
Once Momentum was shut down, I took my rights back for The Fifth Column series and self-published all my books.
(You can read more about the recent collapse and revolution of the publishing industry in this excellent piece by fellow Australian thriller and SF author John Birmingham.)
Are publishing rights available?
Print rights are available for all titles. You’re welcome to contact my literary agent, Xavier Waterkeyn.
Are film or television rights available?
Netflix, if you’re reading this: triple yes.
Other producers: Would also love to hear from you.
Screenwriters: thank you, but I already have some industry pals helping me on that front.
How do I become a writer?
I wrote a mini-guide here: https://tablo.io/nathanmfarrugia/beyond-your-first-draft
Read the Author Q & A here.