Tell us about yourself.
I’m a USA Today bestselling author from Melbourne, Australia who lives a little too similarly to the characters in my technothriller 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.
Following my army training, I worked as a video editor and writer of lesbian pornography that portrayed women naturally. 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. My novella, Zero, headlined the Murder and Mayhem collection of mysteries and thrillers, which sold 32,921 copies on release week, enough to hit the top five on the New York Times bestseller list.
After Pan Macmillan shut down my imprint, I took my rights back and moved into self-publishing.
What are your books about?
I write the Helix and The Fifth Column series of science fiction thriller novels. They feature a ragtag team of genetically enhanced former operatives led by Sophia, and a team of Russian operative hunters led by Olesya. Both are pitted against the Fifth Column—a powerful, clandestine agency—and Purity, a radical anti-genetics political party sweeping Europe. They call Sophia and Olesya the Night Witches, and are hellbent on hunting them down and destroying them.
I’m a bookstore or library, can I order your books?
You can order my books from Ingram.
How do I read your books?
You can read them in ebook or print formats (and soon, audio).
You can read ebooks on any Kindle device, iOS or Android device, PC or Mac.
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.
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.
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?
Genetics and psychopathology feature strongly in your books. Why did you choose to focus on these in particular?
My thrillers focus on some pretty outlandish things, from meteor-borne viruses to cutting-edge genetic engineering, and even an alternative theory on psychopathy where psychopath genes are passed through the X chromosome, resulting in more than six percent of the human race being born without a conscience.
That theory came out of Eastern Europe in the 1970s and we’re still catching up. It’s a dangerous study to explore though, because what you’re doing is essentially exposing our deadliest predator in their pursuit for power and control on a macrosocial scale. I enjoy writing about psychopaths because I’m free to do so in fiction, and predators like the little-understood psychopath are, to me, the purest of evil. What we’re looking at here is how a human might function when stripped of their conscience, and stripped of their empathy, remorse and guilt.
What was the most challenging part of writing your books?
During the Cold War era, the thriller genre was nurtured and bankrolled by the US State Department and various CIA fronts to cultivate anti-Communist paranoia, xenophobia and American exceptionalism. Over the decades, this has flourished to become the modern-day espionage thriller. With that in mind, I made an effort to step outside the comfort of Western propaganda and tell a different story.
The Helix series chronicles the journey of an American team of operatives as they clash with an opposing Russian team. We see the world through both sides, but as the story progresses they begin working together to stop the real threat: Purity, a radical anti-genetics movement sweeping Europe, and the covert agency that controls it … and loses that control.
What can readers hope to learn from your books?
In my books, Sophia, Olesya and their colleagues are outcasts. They don’t really belong to the world, but they find their way in it, and they mean a lot to each other because they have a shared understanding of the world and each other. They’re all they have.
If these characters—who are villainized and blamed for the very things they’re trying to stop, have death and tragedy always looming over them, and all the odds stacked against them—can find laughter, happiness and hope, then I think we can too.
Are you a feminist?
No. Today’s feminism is part of a larger pathological ideology.
Under the thin veneer of equality, feminism patronizes women, convincing them they are infantilized victims. Feminism also shames men, convincing them they are complicit in a mythical patriarchy. The key to feminism’s success is how it exploits men’s empathy for women, and women’s sense of fighting injustice. The unfortunate result is a new generation of miserable women and brittle men.
Like many radical ideologies, feminism seems to have fallen victim to the process of ponerization. The late Dr Andrzej M. Łobaczewski, a clinical psychologist and survivor of both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, describes ponerization as the process by which characteropaths and schizoidal psychopaths construct or hijack an ideology. They accomplish this by corrupting it with their depraved psychological worldview and introducing newspeak such as microaggressions and paramoralisms such as toxic masculinity.
The result is a spellbound population that fails to notice the corruption of their beliefs into something dark and insidious.
How do I become a writer?
I wrote a rather unorthodox mini-guide here: https://tablo.io/nathanmfarrugia/beyond-your-first-draft
In summary: write an outline of your story and a few chapters.
Then hire a reputable, experienced editor to edit those. I highly recommend Pete Kempshall at https://www.petekempshall.com/
Do the work and resubmit to these editors. Keeping doing that until you learn all their lessons.
You’ll spend less and learn more from a few months of this than you will from a decade of creative writing degrees, writing workshops and beta reader feedback.