Tell us a little bit about yourself

I was born and bred in Auckland, New Zealand. My time at sea, combined with an innate wanderlust, has meant spending a lot of time in foreign ports around the globe. I am fortunate enough to have experienced fragments of life and culture in over 20 countries.

I have a beautiful wife [Chard is married to YA author

J.L. Pawley] and two insanely gorgeous but cheeky, crazy kids – a girl and a boy. The only thing missing from our family is a dog, which we are in the process of searching for.

My first-ever paid job was as a dog-groomer’s assistant, bathing and blow-drying dogs all day. That was

16 years ago, and I still have my first-ever purchase from my first-ever pay: a rug for my bedroom. I have also worked as a salvage diver and an IT techy, but I’ve spent the bulk of the past 14 years at sea, starting out as a deck cadet, working my way up through the ranks to captain. I’ve worked on container vessels, supply vessels and anchor handling vessels.

When did you begin to write, and what sort of things did you write at first? Has this changed much?

I could never help putting my thoughts and imaginings onto paper when I was a teenager. I still have a toolbox full of journals containing my various convoluted ramblings.

My story-writing was kicked off by a talk given at our school by the Australian YA legend John Marsden. I wrote a lot of short stories in my college years, and studied creative writing at Massey University. At first, most things I wrote were a mix of adventure and mystery, and I guess that hasn’t changed too much.

I’m a typical male in that I love a bit of action and adventure, so this naturally comes out in my writing. And as I have saltwater flowing through my veins, I do love a bit of a nautical flavour. I have always been enthralled by the sea, and too many years working out there has given my imagination plenty of time to concoct all sorts of high-seas adventures. In saying that, I am also intrigued by where we are going as a species, so of late the dystopian future scenario has been a favourite topic to explore.

Which authors influence your writing?

Wilbur Smith has been a huge influence, especially his earlier books such as When the Lion Feeds and the rest of the Courtney series. These are epic stories that span generations, with all the action and conflict you could ask for. They also enticed me into a three-month backpacking stint around South Africa. Other authors lining my bookshelf are Bryce Courtney, Jeffrey Archer, Michael Connelly and … I could go on for a long time.

How did you draw on your experiences at sea in writing Orion Rising?

My own time at sea was definitely a source of inspiration. The action scenes grew from my extended daydreaming whilst bouncing around on the waves. The idea for the sea-rises came from working with the monstrous gas platforms situated off the NW Australian coast. (In Orion Rising, sea-rises are great structures built on the coasts and oceans – autonomous cities on the sea, providing every facet of residential, commercial and industrial living to millions). It astounds me what humans can already engineer and construct in the middle of the ocean, so I don’t think it will be too many years before we start seeing some of the structures I have described in the book.

What are you writing at the moment?

Right now I am halfway through the sequel to Orion Rising. I say sequel loosely, as although it inhabits the same world and has references to the characters and story in the first book, it is set five years on and has a whole new set of protagonists. It also moves away from New Zealand and explores the other side of the dystopian world more, that of life in the Fringes and beyond.

What are the best and worst things about being an independently published author? What are your highs and lows so far?

The best thing about going the indie route is that you can write whatever you want to. The story and the characters are yours, and you aren’t confined by the dictates of a publisher. The worst thing is trying to get your book out there without getting lost in the vastness of it all. The high points for me have been seeing the book in final print, glossy cover and all, and getting feedback from those who have read it. The lows have been having the promises made by publishers broken or forgotten.

What tips would you give to someone thinking of going the indie route?

Be persistent. Keep writing and don’t lose heart. Trawl the internet for advice given by other indie authors who have made it, like Hugh Howey. It is possible, but even his best piece of advice is just to keep writing. And at the end of the day you have to actually enjoy what you’re doing. Just write for the pleasure of it, and let anything extra be a bonus.

Orion Rising, available on Amazon.

Click here to go to Chard’s Amazon page