Thursday, 12 July 2018

Meet our Members: Ian Acheson

Each Thursday in 2018 we will be interviewing one of the members of Christian Writers Downunder – to find out a little bit more about them and their writing/editing goals.
Today's interview is with Ian Acheson

Tell us three things about who you are and where you come from.
Hi all, I’m Ian from Sydney. I’m a strategy consultant and author. I’ve released one supernatural fiction novel, Angelguard, many moons ago. The second in the series, Wrestling with Shadows, is written and ready to be published (I say recognising it will need another round of edits, ideally by an editor from a publishing house).
I’ve also started work on a non-fiction project that explores the topic of ‘Intimacy’ and how there is a genuine lack of it in the modern world starting with our relationships with God who desires it for every one of us.
Tell us about your writing (or editing/illustrating etc).  What do you write and why?
I write fiction to answer questions I have on the Christian walk. So in Angelguard I was led to explore the thin veil that exists between the natural and supernatural as I genuinely believe it exists. Angelguard was a plot-based story and in “Shadows” I wanted to go deeper with Jack Haines, the hero, and how he grapples with his own darkness (ie, his shadows). The third in the series, which I’m researching now, I’m looking to have Jack on “fire for the Lord” and to see what this looks like in a fictional context of good up against some pretty mean bad guys.
Who has read your work? Who would you like to read it?
A bunch of kind of readers who gave up a few hours of their time to meet Jack. I’d like a lot more readers to do similar.
Tell us something about your process. What challenges do you face? What helps you the most?
With Angelguard I started with two words: “It’s time.” That’s it and some vague notion of having angels and demons battling while humans went about their day. I sat and wrote 2,000 words a day (because Stephen King did it) for 9 months and produced a monster of a manuscript of 707 pages. Yes, you guessed it, I didn’t know what to leave out.
Having gone through a laborious process of edits and more edits and some more edits I didn’t want to repeat the process with “Shadows” so I tried a bunch of plotting techniques which just didn’t work. Eventually I gave up and trusted in Jack to take me on a merry ride once again. A dear editor friend of mine helped me re-work the first 50 pages and reviewed my overall story. And I’m planning on doing similar with the third one.
What is your favourite Writing Craft Book and why?
King’s “On Writing” was the only book I read before starting out on Angelguard. I figured I better see if I really do have a story in me before I spend time reading more books.
Since then I’ve found I have a love/hate relationship with craft books. I’ve bought dozens of them, read the first 50 or so pages and then moved on. I think I work better with a coach. My first editor who, yes, read most of the 707 pages of Angelguard, taught me how to write and since then I’ve enjoyed working with two others, the one I mentioned above, and Jan, who my publisher, Lion Fiction, engaged for me. I go in with any editor with the attitude that I have so much to learn and in so doing find it very easy to take on board their recommendations, no matter how gentle or severe they may be.
One craft book I have finished is Story Engineering by Larry Brooks which I found really useful and I still refer back to it. Here’s my review on ACW
If you were to give a shout-out to a CWD author, writer, editor or illustrator – who would they be?
I’d like to shout out to Simon Kennedy on his Safe Harbour success. It was a bit of a treat to hear his name mentioned last week on the Logies. Simon, did you get an invite to the night?
What are your writing goals for 2018? How will you achieve them?
I have two: find a new publisher for the two Angelguard novels. Lion Fiction went through a hard time a year or so back and in the end gave me the rights back to Angelguard. My second goal is to get a wriggle along on book three so I can demonstrate to a prospective publisher that the third one is not too far away.
How will I achieve them? Write, write, write and then contact two agents who I know to see if there is any interest from them to representing me.
How does your faith impact and shape your writing?
I can’t separate it as the premise of my stories is to explore a question I have on the Christian experience. My challenge is to minimise the “telling” in the message.
I think writing great Christian characters is hard. To be able to show the intimacy of a relationship with God in all its facets is challenging without “telling”. It also creates a new layer of challenge in demonstrating the fruits of the Spirit alongside the “story” and all the while showing characters having a vibrant or otherwise relationship with an invisible God. It’s what makes writing Christian fiction so much fun.

Ian Acheson is an author and strategy consultant based in Sydney. Ian's first novel of speculative fiction, Angelguard was recognised with the 2014 Selah Award for Speculative Fiction.You can find more about Angelguard at Ian's website, on his author Facebook pageand Twitter


  1. That’s very cool Ian - a great way to get to know more of your story ;) Hope you find that new publisher soon!

    1. Thanks, Carolyn. I do too, but I realise it's all part of the journey.

  2. Great interview Ian. Love your next two titles - "Wrestling with shadows' and "Intimacy". All the best in finding a new publisher. Jack Haines sounds an interesting character and I'm glad he's soon to be on fire for the Lord. :) Good on you for being open to learning from editors - sounds the right way to go of course and I'm sure your editors are pretty happy with that. All the best with your writing for the rest of 2018. May you achieve all you aspire to!

    1. Thanks for your encouragement, Anusha.

  3. Great for a great interview, Ian. I enjoyed learning more about you process & looking forward to you finding your new publisher so I get to read the next Jack Haines book.

    1. And Jeanette, thanks for inviting me to share a little of myself.

  4. Great interview, thanks Ian. I too look forward to the day we get to read the next instalment in Jack Haines’ journey to faith.

    1. Me too, Catriona. I'm excited for readers to cheer Jack along.

  5. Replies
    1. Cheers, Arthur. Jack sends his regards too.

  6. Hi Ian, I'm a bit late on this post, but congratulations for having a couple of new projects in the pipelines. I'm happy to hear you're writing a non-fiction too, having read many of your thoughtful reviews. Now comes the hard part of getting to publication, hey?