Introduction of George Ivanoff – Author
1) Who were you and what problem did you have when you started out?
When I had my first book published and started to pursue writing in earnest, I was a thirty-something web development/project management consultant. Problem: That first book did not set the literary world aflame, and I was not making anywhere near enough money from my writing to make a living from it.
2) How did you solve it?
With persistence. Just because that first book didn’t do well, didn’t mean I stopped writing. I persevered. I wrote lots of books and articles and stories for the education market, which got my name out there and gave me lots of practice. So when I eventually had my Gamers trilogy published by Ford Street Publishing, people knew who I was. These books did much better than my first, and I continued to build on them until finally getting to where I am now – a full-time writer.
3) What was the one thing that impressed you the most about following your passion?
The fact that it could, and did, eventually, lead to a career.
4) How is sharing your story making a difference for you right now?
It helps me to appreciate where I am. It’s really easy to forget about the earlier struggles and take your current position for granted. I’d rather not do that. I want to never forget how lucky and privileged I am to make a living as an author.
5) As a child, what was your relationship with books?
I spent a big chunk of primary school being a reluctant reader. I was really slow at reading and found it difficult. I didn’t like the readers we were being told to read at school. And my relatives kept giving me classic kids books that held no interest for me. So reading was not fun and I avoided it if I could. I didn’t discover that reading could be enjoyable until grade 4 (I think) when, thanks to a new reading program at school, I picked up a copy of The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet by Eleanor Cameron. Imagine my surprise when I actually liked reading it. In fact, I loved it. It tapped into all sorts of things that interested me. It was the first time I had read a science fiction story. It got the ball rolling and I started to read voluntarily. It still wasn’t much or often… but it was a start. Then I discovered a tv series call Doctor Who. I loved it so much, I became a little obsessed with it (still am). This was the 1970s, before the time of video recorders, so you could only watch the series when it was actually being broadcast, which wasn’t often enough for me. But there were Doctor Who books – dozens and dozens of them. Being obsessive, I of course, had to read them all. It is what tipped the balance and turned me into an avid reader.
6) What is the most important thing about your latest publication?
My latest books are actually new editions of the Gamers trilogy I mentioned earlier. These new editions were released in March, with new individual titles (Game On!, Level Up! and Game Over!), really cool new covers (by Matthew Lin – http://www.matthewlin.com.au) and new marketing. These books, about two computer game characters who think that they’re real people, hold a very special place in my heart. The most important thing about them for me, is that they are the books I wrote for 13-year-old me – the nerdy, video game playing, sci-fi obsessed teen. They also accommodate my Doctor Who obsession with hidden references in each of them. So I am very pleased to have them back out in the world and on bookshop shelves..
7) Do you believe books can change the world?
Yes. Aside from being a source of information and intellectual stimulation, books (fiction especially) can teach/encourage empathy and understanding in people. Applying that empathy and understanding in life is what changes the world for the better.
But books can also change individual lives. My life was changed in a positive way by reading The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet. If not for that book I wouldn’t have become a reader. And if I hadn’t become a reader, I would never have become an author. I try to keep that in mind as I write. Every time I write a school reader, I remember how much I hated the school readers I was given as a kid, and I try to make mine something that I would actually have enjoyed reading. I’ve had parents tell me that my Gamers books have enticed their video game-playing kids away from their screens and into reading. And hearing that is pretty awesome for me as an author.
8) What is your ultimate goal?
To live a happy life. And part of that is to continue writing. I don’t have any grand ambition to become a worldwide bestseller (although, I wouldn’t knock it back if it did happen), I just want to be able to make a living from my writing so that I never have to have an ‘ordinary’ job again. (I used to work in web development and project management, and I DO NOT miss it. I am a much happier person as an author.)
9) If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
Can I be greedy and have two? End bigotry and poverty.