A few weeks ago I hosted a small bookstore at a local cafe.
Selling signed paperback copies of my novel Charlie Walks to whoever was walking by.
One of those people was a local photographer.
He takes photos for the Sandgate Guide (my home suburb's local magazine).
I love reading the Sandgate Guide.
Once per month it hits the shelves of local businesses.
And you get to see what's going on around town.
Sure, the internet is cool, seeing what's happening around the world.
But there's something special about seeing what's going on in your community.
It fuels the conversations at the cafes, the barbershops, passing by locals in the street.
"Did you see what's happening at the lagoon next week?"
"No I didn't."
"Oh well there's a few market stalls with some local artists showcasing their work."
The photographer stopped to buy a book and took some photos.
He said he'd pass them on to the editors of the Sandgate Guide.
Then an editor from the Guide reached out to me asking questions about the book so she could write an article about me.
I've often joked how one day I'd appear in the Guide for something.
Turns out this is it.
Every time I see the article it brings the biggest smile to my face and a little laugh comes out of my nose.
I've copied the editor's questions and my answers below.
Availability of physical copies
For now, I'm selling the physical copies of my book in small quantities locally.
Many of them I've even hand-delivered by walking straight to people's homes (just like the title of the book).
They'll be available online and internationally soon, I'm working with a printer and distributor now.
Q&A with Sandgate Guide
1) Background info – full name, where did you grow up, how old are you (we won't publish this, but likely will refer to this broadly), which suburb are you in now if different from where you grew up?
- Full name: Daniel Bourke
- Where did I grow up: Brisbane, Albion for the first ~2 years then Sandgate for the past ~26 years (I’m 28 now).
- Where do I live: Sandgate, Brisbane, Australia. I love it here.
2) Have you always loved writing? If so, has what you've enjoyed writing about evolved over the years? What are your favourite topics/ subjects/ genres to write about?
Not always. School beat the love for writing out of me. I never understood the concept of writing to a criteria.
You’d create something you thought was good and then get your marks back to find it wasn’t as good as you thought. Because of course you wrote the thing you’d like to read rather than fulfilling the criteria.
I received a C- as my final high school English grade.
Which confused me because I was captain of debating and could write speeches on a whim that people seemed to enjoy.
I started to love writing again when I realised you can write about whatever you want however you want.
My favourite topic to write about is whatever’s on my mind.
I get lost in thoughts but found in words.
If I want to understand something more, I write about it.
I started a website (mrdbourke.com) in 2016 and have been writing basically every day since then.
I had a streak of publishing 527 blog posts in a row, one per day, on various topics from health to computer programming to stories to poems to business ideas.
Most of them are junk. But some were good. One or two are great.
3) What is the title of your new book? Where can people find it? When did it get published? What was the publishing process like for you?
My book is called Charlie Walks: A Novel or just Charlie Walks for short.
Everything about the book is available on the book’s website, charliewalks.com.
The website is kept simple on purpose. As a tech nerd, I feel like too many websites have too much going on these days. From cookies to pop ups to ads. What happened to just showing the thing you’re offering?
I published the digital version on September 1st 2021, my 28th birthday. I started writing the book at the end of 2017 and in my head, the main character, Charlie was 27 at the time. So I thought it fitting to release it right after my last day of being 27.
As for the publishing process, since the book is self-published, it involved setting up a website for the book, making a video on my YouTube channel of reading the first 42 pages out loud, making the book digitally available to purchase through a website called Gumroad (a fantastic site for people looking to create and sell their creations).
For the print version, I needed to find a printer.
I found many book printers don’t want to talk to you unless you’re ordering 10,000+ copies.
And ideally, I wanted it to be printed in Australia but the couple of printers I tried weren’t up to my standard. I ended up going with Lulu.com, a website for printing on demand.
The first copies arrived towards the end of November 2021 and I loved them. So I ordered 150 more for family and friends as Christmas presents. But now I’m nearly out of those so I’ll have to order more.
I’m also working with a sensational independent publisher in the US about getting some hard copies of the book ordered (and more paperbacks) for mid-late 2022.
I’m going to keep self-publishing for the next year or so before going to places like Amazon or larger bookstores. Amazon makes it easy but figuring out how to self-publish is fun.
4) Can you describe in one or two sentences what the book is about? Genre, target audience, etc?
The book is a science fiction novel but not too outlandish, most of the science fiction stuff is fairly close to what’s possible today.
Charlie is the protagonist and antagonist at the same time, he’s a machine learning engineer (a computer programmer who teaches computers how to learn) at the largest technology company in the world but wants to be a writer.
So during the day he writes computer code and at night he writes letters to his nephew Pauly.
I originally thought the target audience would be like me, young males, somewhere between 15 and 30. But so far the audience has been mostly females of all different ages.
Though I never really had a target audience in mind when writing it.
My only criteria was to write a book I’d like to read.
5) Are you going to school at the moment? Or do you have another job? How do you spend your time when you're not writing?
I graduated from university with a nutrition and food science degree in 2015.
But now I’m a writer, fighter, video maker and computer programmer.
I make videos online about technology and health. I’m also the lead machine learning instructor for Zero to Mastery, an online learning platform. As of writing, over 80,000 students worldwide have gone through my courses.
The fighter part comes from Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. It’s very fun. Wrestling your friends, practicing techniques, getting beaten up and stronger at the same time.
Otherwise my top three favourite activities are walking, cooking and eating with family and friends.
6) Best contact for people to either find the book for sale or get more information on the book? Website? Email address?
You can find the digital version of the book for sale at charliewalks.com, paperbacks will be there soon too.
For now, I’m having fun selling them in person and doing secret deliveries to local street libraries and performing reverse heists to large bookstores (instead of stealing books, I leave copies of my own there).
If you’d like one, feel free to email me at [email protected], they’re a good price, $20 each.
7) Did you have someone who inspired you to start writing? Or who really encouraged you along the way?
Many of the people I look up to are writers. And so I figured, well, I’d like to be like them.
I remember reading books like Post Office by Charles Bukowski and others by John Fante, Hunter S. Thompson, Amy Hempel, Milan Kundera, James Frey, Henry Miller, Alan Watts, Nassim Taleb, Kurt Vonnegut, James Altucher, Scott Adams, Derek Sivers and thinking these are my people.
And so it ended up being monkey see, monkey do.
8) What were the biggest challenges you faced throughout the process of writing this book and getting it published?
Writing is easy.
Once you sit down to write, the words flow.
I’ve never had writer’s block.
The real writer’s block is the trivial getting in the way of the magical. I’d fool myself into saying yes to things I didn’t really care about rather than the thing I really did care about: my book.
I owe my friend Dave $500 because I bet him the book would come out two years earlier than it did.
As for publishing, there’s no issue there. I knew I’d self-publish from the start. I don’t like the idea of there being some gatekeeper deciding whether the book hits the shelves or makes it to some list. I avoid reading books on bestseller lists.
9) What are you most looking forward to in the future and what advice would you give to other young writers?
I’m looking forward to designing the hardcover copies of Charlie Walks, they’re going to be something special. They’ll come later in 2022.
And of course, writing the next book. The fun part is I’ve got no idea what it’ll be.
My advice for young writers is simple: write something you’d like to read. Chances are, others will too.