Author on the Grill: The all 'round awesome, Michael Adams

Both The Last Girl and The Last Shot are available now.
Thank you to the incredible Lara at Allen and Unwin
Check out my review of The Last Girl and The Last Shot.

It's no secret that I love me some post apocalyptic dystopian, mix in an Australian author that I believe is the next John Marsden, and you've got a brilliantly creepy, edgy and incredibly written series that will blow the socks clean off your feet. Finally we have a young female heroine who isn't a love struck idiot, a villain that has the potential to rip your heart out and a population of catatonic citizens that are one step away from death. It's explosive, so when I heard that author Michael Adams was available to interview, I jumped at the chance to put him on the grill.

The end of the world as Danby knows it, can be traced back to pair of novelty socks. What's the worse Christmas present you've ever received?


Ha! Good question because it's such an uncomfortable question, isn't it? When you get a horrible Christmas or birthday present, you plaster on a big smile and say, 'Oh, that's exactly what I wanted!' and hope you sound convincing. It was the reason I started The Last Girl that way - because we all know what it's like, that we're lying but that we're doing it to protect the other person's feelings. But we also think, 'Wow, don't you know me at all?' while wondering what’d happen if we told the truth. Even now, I worry I'll insult someone by answering this question... but here goes: it was a set of men's lotions and fragrances that still had the "Sample product - not for resale" stickers on them! And I’m pretty sure one of the tubes had already been sampled by someone else. Cheers, asshole!
If you could hear the thoughts of anyone around you, who would you want to mentally eavesdrop on, and why?


That's it - I really don't think I’d like to hear what people think. Not so much for what I’d discover as much as how it’d mess with my own head. I reckon we're all very similar in our thoughts and feelings, but I also reckon being in someone else's head would be like being inside an alien's brain and being forced to perceive the world through an entirely different set of eyes. It could undermine your own consciousness . I know how I see the colour red, but after I see it your way, how can I ever trust my own perception of red again?

But, that said, I'm totally intrigued by True Detective, so I guess if I could hop into writer-creator Nic Pizzolatto's mind then I’d be able to tell everyone “my theories” about the outcome before the finale screens and I’d seem like a genius. As it is I have to take a guess like everyone else: it’s Hart.
Danby has incredible survival skills, not to mention strength and determination. What or who was the inspiration behind her character?


Danby hasn't got much choice. It's literally do or die. She is strong and resourceful because she’s shit scared. But as smart and determined as she is, not everything works out her way. In the first book, she was unable to save many of the people she loved and her limitations led to dire consequences. In The Last Shot, having faced some terrifying stuff, Danby is forced to become more kick ass. She has to kill. But can she do it? Could you? What would it take for you to pull a trigger or wield a knife? I wanted that dilemma to be as realistic as possible because it annoys me that so often in books and films and shows it’s no big deal for a fairly ordinary person to end another person’s life. Danby thinks she has to kill because the fate of her little part of the world depends on her. Thing is, she still can't see the whole picture - and that might come back to kick her ass.

As for the inspirations for Danby, she's more character I'd like my daughter Ava - who's now eight - to enjoy reading when she's older. A girl hero who defines herself and who’s independent and smart and brave but also flawed and vulnerable and lost. She's not swooning like a dope at the sight of her vampire boyfriend. But she's also not an archery expert who's already equipped for war. Ordinary person. Extraordinary circumstances.
Both The Last Girl and The Last Shot paint a very vivid picture of Sydney and it's surrounds. Did you choose specific locations through research or personal experience?


I've lived in Sydney for most of my life and know it pretty well, particularly the western suburbs and Blue Mountains. So I wanted to use those locations, rather than opt for a story that's set mostly in the places we see more often in local literature, film and TV. We have Bondi Rescue and Bondi Vet. I don’t reckon we need Bondi Apocalypse, too. While there is a big landmark destroyed in book one, it’s seen at a distance and the real action over the three books takes place in smaller cities and towns, suburban streets and shopping centres, on regional rivers and in bush valleys. These are the places where the majority of Australians live - and, in my trilogy, die. The locations are a mixture of fact and fiction. In the case of large places, I used their real names and geography because they're big enough that people won't be reading the books and think, 'Hey, that's my house the bastard just burned down!' In the case of small towns that could be a problem, so they're fictionalised to prevent scenes being too close for comfort. I visited all the actual locations. Being on the ground inspires so many new story and character ideas. So, if you saw a dude traipsing up and down streets in Penrith, sweating like a mofo while taking notes and photos, that was probably me. Or maybe a parking officer.
The Last Girl series reminds me of the Tomorrow series by John Marsden, but far more entertaining, intelligent and a storyline readers will invest in. Who are your literary inspirations and what first drove you to becoming an author?


That's very high praise indeed, especially as Mr Marsden's books have been so beloved for so long and by so many. If The Last trilogy comes anywhere near his critical and commercial success, I'll be very grateful and lucky indeed. I read the first three of the Tomorrow books back when they were published and I enjoyed them a lot. They reminded me of Red Dawn, one of my guilty-pleasure films from the 1980s. But, as for my influences, I'd say Stephen King, whose The Stand and The Dead Zone blew me away when I was a kid - and on re-reading since. I love the beauty of Nabokov's language and Phillip K. Dick's mind-bending plots and characters. Other authors I’ve enjoyed a lot are Bret Easton Ellis, Michael Connolly, Gillian Flynn, Kurt Vonnegut, Theodore Roszak. I guess you absorb all of them in some way. But I think I’m as influenced by cinema and TV and music. David Fincher's obsessive attention to detail in Zodiac or Vince Gilligan's fiendish twists in Breaking Bad or Brian Eno and David Byrne inventing sampling on My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts: they're all in the mix. There are a lot of strategic shout-outs to these favourites in the books, from Joseph Conrad to Teilhard de Chardin, from Repo Man to The Searchers, from The Doors to Johnny Cash. They're all in there to further the story or character or themes. If you can figure 'em out, it unlocks another level. There's also an Easter Egg hidden in both books. They’re linked and there will be a third one. No-one’s found them yet.
So, when you're not writing, what would we find you doing in your downtime?


Working day jobs and doing freelance to pay the bills. Other than that, I hang out with my partner and our daughter. Cooking, going to op shops, collecting cheap records and odd books, trying to catch up on reading and movies: this is the stuff I do. Sleep's good, too. And having long overdue beers with mates. Looby, Creighton, O’Farrell: this year for freaking sure.
Without giving anything away, one of your characters could be considered a modern day, mentally unstable god like figure, do you have any aspirations yourself to take over the world?


Haha! I'd settle for a year in which I could just write and get to my to-be-read / to-be-watched pile. World domination sounds like too much trouble. But if I had such power, I’d instigate reforms like you’ve never seen. First edict: state-sponsored yum-cha trolleys would patrol the streets, dispensing spicy goodness for free. Who’s with me? Revolution!
and lastly, What can we expect from The Last Place, the final book in the series?


The first book was past tense. The second was present. The third will be both. It's set both immediately after The Last Shot and several months down the track. It's not just a matter of whether Danby can survive the end of the world, it's a matter of whether she can survive who she's become. Just gotta finishing writing it now…

About the author

Michael Adams has been a restaurant dishwasher, television host, ice-cream scooper, toilet scrubber,magazine journalist, ecohouse lab rat, film reviewer, social media curator, telemarketing jerk, reality TV scribe and B-movie zombie. This one time, he watched bad movies at the rate of one per day for an entire year and wrote a book about the traumatic experience, which is called Showgirls, Teen Wolves and Astro Zombies. Michael lives in the Blue Mountains, NSW, with his partner, daughter, one dog, two cats and an average of three supersized spiders. The Last Girl is his first novel. You can stalk Michael and pester him about novelty socks via Twitter. The best username. Ever.

Thank you to Michael and Allen and Unwin


  1. Vive le Revolution!! Spicy goodness for everyone! This is a truly brilliant interview. I feel for you about the dorky christmas presents. It's really that horrible moment when you want to say, "Don't you know ME?!" I've gotten perfume/soaps/fragrances for birthdays/christmas. I. am. allergic. Merry xmas to moi. BUT STILL. I hadn't heard of this series, but I'm totally digging it out now, because I LOVED Red Dawn (the, er, movie, cough) and I thought the concept of Tomorrow, when the War Began was brilliant.

    1. Ohh It's super awkward. I think when your young, people think that all your interested in is smelling like a Poodle fresh back from the salon. For years I received bath packs too, it got to the point where I was 25 and couldn't carry on thanking family for glitter infused strawberry bath salts. Honestly.

      Ooh, Red Dawn, the original or the remake?


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