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Paul Collin’s, author of many books for kids and young adults says that the secret of his success is persistence.

Paul’s books for young people include The Slightly Skewed Life of Toby Chrysler and series such as The Jelindel Chronicles, The Earthborn Wars, The Quentaris Chronicles and The World of Grrym in collaboration with Danny Willis. His latest book is Mole Hunt, book one in The Maximus Black Files. The trailers are available here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3S-eKDYqpEs and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4tTn_WXCiw He is also the author of over 140 short stories.

Paul has been the recipient of the A Bertram Chandler, Aurealis, William Atheling and Peter McNamara awards and has been shortlisted for many others including the Speech Pathology, Mary Grant Bruce, Ditmar and Chronos awards.

Visit him at www.paulcollins.com.au

Paul talks today about how he wrote his YA novel, Mole Hunt.


I learnt many things while writing The Maximus Black Files. Mole Hunt is book one of a trilogy. I first wrote a very rough draft. Rather than polishing it, I wrote books two and three in first draft, too. I did this because I knew important material in book one might need to be changed to accommodate the other two books as they evolved. I see no point in slogging over a manuscript that might need severe editing or changing due to new ideas materialising further down the track. So this was the lesson in planning.


Here’s how I first started the plot, and this was the outline albeit in a much revised form  that I sent to publishers:

Special Agent Maximus Black excels at everything he attempts. The problem is, most of what he attempts is highly illegal. Recruited by the Regis Imperium Mentatis when he was just fifteen, he is the youngest cadet ever to become a RIM agent. Of course, being a certified sociopath helps. He rises quickly through the ranks, doing whatever it takes to gain promotion. This includes murdering the doctor who has certified him, as well as a RIM colonel who Black deems to be more useful dead than alive. Now seventeen, he is a valuable member of a highly secret task force whose assignment is to unearth a traitorous mole. Unfortunately for RIM he is the mole, a delightful irony that never ceases to amuse him.

In the two years he has been with RIM he has only met his match once. Anneke Longshadow, another RIM agent, who nearly succeeded in exposing him. But nearly wasn’t enough. Now she is dead and he is very much alive to pursue his criminal activities.

Right now, Black has a new problem; one that will challenge him to the max. He has a lot of work to do and little time to do it but as with every facet of his life, he plans each step with meticulous precision.

Maximus needs to find three sets of lost coordinates to rediscover the power of the dreadnoughts a powerful armada of unbeatable power, long since put into mothballs by the sentinels whose job it is to keep peace and harmony in the ever expanding universe.

Sadly for Black, complications arise. It seems Anneke Longshadow isn’t dead after all. Every bit his match, Anneke eludes the traps Black sets for her. Born on Normansk, a planet with 1.9 gravity, Anneke is more than capable of defending herself against Black’s hired help, the insectoid Envoy, and his professional mercenary and hitman, Kilroy.

Power-hungry, Black usurps the throne of Quesada, a powerful crime syndicate. His ultimate aim is to replace the Galaxy gate-keepers, RIM, with his own organisation. Matching him step by step, Anneke collects as her allies all those who Maximus has deposed in his march to becoming ruler of the universe.


Another lesson, one I already knew but this book reinforced it, was that persistence pays off. Mole Hunt’s road to publication was long and arduous. Just about every Australian publisher also knocked Dragonlinks and The Glasshouse back before they finally found a home. Both books are my best-sellers. Many of the world’s classics were rejected for years before someone cluey enough to recognise brilliance accepted them. The first Harry Potter book is an example of this. I find persistence is the best piece of advice I can ever give to writers starting out.


Science fiction isn’t just about the future and spaceships and falling asteroids. There are many different streams of science fiction called sub-genres.

1 Research the following sub-genres of science fiction. Write a sentence that

describes each of the sub-genre and give an example:.


2. Which sub-genre/s do you think Mole Hunt may fall into? Why?

[Helpful tip: Google is a researcher’s best friend. Google Mole Hunt +Paul Collins and read the many reviews for your research.]

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