Author: Matthew Reilly

Born July 2nd, 1974, Matthew Reilly is the international bestselling author of the following action/thriller novels:

  •  Contest
  • Ice Station
  • Temple
  • Area 7
  • Scarecrow
  • Hover Car Racer
  • Seven Ancient Wonders
  • Hell Island
  • The Six Sacred Stones
  • The Five Greatest Warriors

Published in over 20 countries and known for their highly visual style, fast pace and large-scale action scenes, over 3.5 million copies of his books have been sold around the world, more than a million copies apiece between Australia, the UK and the USA.

Some of his works have been optioned by film studios for series or feature production, and he continues to create works of fiction across all major media platforms, from short stories, through to novellas and screenplays.

Describe yourself in 3 words:
Driven, determined, loyal.

What is your life motto? Always do your best.

When did you start pursuing your career and how long did it take to become successful? You could say back in 1996 when I self-published my first book Contest. I self-published after it had been rejected after the major publishers in Sydney. I took matters into my own hands and self-published it and that was me pursuing a career as an author. It was the pivotal point, as it was discovered through that avenue and picked up by a major publisher. When [Pan] Macmillan made contact it was a great moment and I’m still with them.

How many hours did you dedicate to pursuing your dream? Countless. If each book was a year’s work…I couldn’t even add them up – thousands. Thousands.

Describe how difficult the business really is? Professional writing is a bit like professional sports and acting, there is a very small percentage of people at the top who earn a lot of money (and I’m fortunate to be one of those)…and then there’s the 99% who really struggle. It’s a real winners take all industry, even now in these economic times being a well-known author is an advantage. To be a new author at a time when the public are being a bit more circumspect with their budgets, people aren’t venturing out; they’re not trying a new author so it can be a tough time.

What is the mistake that taught you an extremely valuable lesson? The very first thing I tried to write, I didn’t know the ending when I started it. I got to page 40 and I didn’t know what happened next and so that worked as it was screenplay and I finished it, but then I sat down and thought how do I rectify this? When I sat down to write Contest, I figured out the whole story and sat down for a year and wrote the book – and now, 11 books later I still do it! [Do you think that it works for every writer?] That’s specifically my process but it may not work for everybody.

What is the best piece of advice you have been given to date? It was by a movie producer when I was 18, if you want to get into the entertainment industry (movies or books), go to university first and get a degree. So I did. I got a Law degree and Arts degree. While I haven’t practiced as a lawyer, the discipline and discipline of thought that I learnt at university has been invaluable for me as a writer and ultimately as a business person, because not only do I write books, I sell movie rights to the books and do contracts and have agents, so had I not gone to uni, I wouldn’t have any of that.

In your mind, is formal training essential? Formal training as writer is not essential, you should just know the kind of books you want to write, whether it’s a thriller or an examination of the human condition; but getting that breadth of tertiary education as a discipline I think is very beneficial.

Do you think having a mentor is important? How would you go about getting one for this industry? You know maybe it’s my own self-driven personality but I don’t think having a mentor is the be all and end all. I think it can be handy and certainly I’m a believer that life experience does help but I don’t think it’s mandatory. Sometimes it’s hard, in the field of sports and/or writing, sometimes it’s something you have to experience for yourself. 

What are some steps emerging talent can take to start/further their career? The single greatest piece of advice I could give is: do EVERY piece of media that comes their way. If it’s an interview with the local media or local radio station – do it! Say YES to everything. As an author, if you don’t tell the world that you book is out there to be found, then you are just at the mercy of people finding your book as they browse and you want your book to be read. If it doesn’t come your way, call your local paper and tell them you live in the local area and you’ve written a new book and they should send a journalist your way.

What kept you going when you felt like giving up? Youthful self-confidence. I was young, I was bulletproof and I honestly didn’t think I could fail. Sometimes the best advantage you have is being young. A lot of people don’t sit down to write a book until after they have a career. A lot of people think it’s [writing a book] not something you do until your older. I was young and I said, why not? In terms of where that self-confidence, I have no idea where that comes from; it’s a real X-Factor.

Do you believe that ‘making it’ is about luck and being in the right place at the right time? Short answer, yes. You can have all the talent in the world, but if you are out of luck with the timing then success might elude you. I think luck plays a part.

For more information on Matthew Reilly’s appearances go to and be sure to check out his next blockbuster novel “Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves.” 

A big Thank You to Tracey Cheetham.

Twitter: @Matthew_Reilly

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