"Did you know I spent the whole of my fifteenth year in my room?"
Briar’s impromptu, mid-afternoon confession stirs up distant memories of the lonely time she spent trapped in her home; suffering agoraphobia — fear of open spaces.
Now it’s six years later.
She’s free, but the year's isolation has left serious personality disorders; disorders which will resurface as she relates her own story, and that of those in her orbit; Melodie, a pretty valley girl who Briar desires to be, Justine, her oldest friend, who has her own dark secret, and Dermot, a man who thinks he's the reincarnation of Robin Hood — stealing from the rich to give to the poor.
Slowly Dermot begins to draw Briar into his ever-so-exciting world, but who is leading whom on their slow descent into crime? Duel periods of Briar’s life intertwine like a rope around her neck as her lost year begins to overtake the present. It leads her to the answer to one very simple question:
“Is it what I always feared — am I losing my mind?”
PAPERBACK AND EBOOK
Author Interview Video
Q) What inspired you to write this book?
A crush on Drew Barrymore. An image of a hand pressed to a window pane. Many things. An article about a woman in Scotland who spent 30 years inside her home because of agoraphobia. She was discovered after her husband died of natural causes. After a few days his employers sent people to see why he hadn’t shown up for work. Inside they found his wife trapped, unable to leave to get help or even pick up the phone.
I had tried for some time to get writing and creative projects published in my own country, New Zealand, and eventually simply gave up writing about this country. I had been to the USA and was inspired by its vastness, its culture and people. I knew the idea for EXIT would work set there. It all just seemed right. It touches on some topics and themes quite close to me and yet far away too. EXIT became the novel I had to write, and write well. No one else would have written it.
Q) What is your favorite thing about writing?
A friend once said to me that I don’t have children because I can make people up in stories, so there is no need to create real people here on Earth. There is perhaps some truth to that. We do actually have over enough humans on Earth, so I don’t need to add to that. The truth is when you are writing a novel, and the characters come to life, they not only take over the book, but also your thoughts and while you are living with them, your life. So you are never alone when you have imaginary people in your head. Hopefully that doesn’t sound too schizophrenic.
Q) What is your favorite candy?
Q) What is your favorite cartoon?
Watership Down. Well, technically it’s a novel, but I remember seeing the1978 animated film adaption first as a child and being absorbed by the characters and the story. Richard Adams wrote a book, for children, that didn’t talk down to them, and showed the natural world (and life) as it is – often filled with sadness, pain and death. The film to its credit retains this tone. This is no Disney cartoon, its anti-Disney and it’s sadly a film that would never be made today. Today we would get a sanitized, dumbed down version, turned into an anemic safe product that a corporation could make money off. Luckily director Martin Rosen beat them to it. If you want to see just how good a children’s animated film can be, this is it.
Q) When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
From quite a young age. I wouldn’t say from birth, but I pretty much had an interest in books from birth. My mother would read me stories at night, to the point where I had memorized many of them and could repeat them back to her. So the interest in stories came from there. I discovered comics too. When I was a child there were comics everywhere, at news-stands, diaries in New Zealand, and in bookstores. War comics, sci-fi, adventure, horror and I guess superheroes, but men dressing up in tights didn’t make much sense to my 6 year old self. I gained an interest in drawing and art first. I would draw little comics, but of course found I had to write a story to draw. For a while I really wanted to be a comic book writer/artist, but I just found writing, and novels in particular interested me too much.
Q) What can readers expect from you in the future?
Ironically after I sold the novel, I also had some comic book stories accepted by a large UK publisher - that are due out soon. I will post release dates on my Facebook page. I want to work more in comics, because it’s a medium I have some affection for, although it’s a matter of finding the right (good) material to work on. Despite my misgivings about super-heroes, I would like to write an American comic, although I don’t know if Marvel or DC would ever give me free rein to do what I would really like to do. I’d like to write Wonder Woman, because despite an well-executed effort in the late 80s by writer/artist George Perez, this is an iconic character that no one else seems to have known what to do with. Hint: DC Comics- hire me!
A second novel is close to completion. What’s it about? Well it continues themes from EXIT but in a greater, grander way: A man finds he can change his physical appearance by sheer force of will, but as he changes his looks, his personality begins to alter to suit the new personas. He becomes more perfect, people treat him differently, and so he becomes different people, changes his habits, identity and even sexual preferences, eventually losing any sense of his own identity.
Shane grew up in provincial New Zealand, a small place where options are small, were people wear PJs to the mall, a small place where dreams of being a writer or artist are not only actively discouraged, they are actively quashed. Nevertheless he fell in love with books, comics and writing at a young age and his early influences include Oscar Wilde, Alan Moore and Dr Seuss.
After many years of trying to get books, documentaries and films accepted in his own country, Shane gave up and settled for working in the fairly creative world of video-making and advertising.
A trip to Europe and the USA rekindled his love of writing, and he wrote the American-based novel ‘Exit,’ submitted it this time to American publishers and immediately, received several offers for the work. He chose one and ‘Exit’ will be released December 2nd 2013 in the USA as his first novel from Biblio Publishing.
It is the story of Briar Averill who spent a year trapped in her room, suffering from agophobia. Six years on, she’s free, yet ripples from the year's isolation still lap at the edges of her life, and that of her friends: Melodie, a pretty valley girl who she wishes she could be… Justine, her oldest friend, who has her own dark secret and Dermot who thinks he's the reincarnation of Robin Hood — stealing from the rich to give to the poor. Ripples echo down through the years, leading her to the answer to one very simple question: Is it what she always feared — is she losing her mind?
Shane has since had comic book scripts accepted in the UK by DC Thompson, publisher of the long-running ‘Commando’ comic, fulfilling yet another dream for his child-self.
He lives with a very old and very vocal Tonkinese cat, and they both dream of eloping together to the USA or Europe.
He likes oranges, orange juice, and orange furniture — in fact even the color orange. Why? Well, because it's the best color, of course. While he believes that being a grown up is not all it's cracked up to be, he still enjoys ruining his appetite before dinner, and staying up past his bed time.
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