It may seem strange to start an article about an author called Joe Ducie with a title of 'The Mighty Ducks', but firstly, as anyone who reads my nonsense knows, I never have straightforward titles; and secondly, this time, it really does make logical sense.
Well, semi-logical anyway. Which, in many ways, is much like Mr Ducks - er, Ducie and myself, when we indulge in a glass or two of red wine.
I first met Joe when he was on a panel at the WA Writers Festival a while back with the awesome Chris Allen, another of my favourite people, and who will also be under the microscope on the Writer's Block. I am fairly certain it was his first ever litfest, and he looked incredibly - what's the word? Oh yes.
This may have been due to a few factors, and I will add that I don't blame him in the slightest. Firstly, the panel moderator was not at all moderate. Secondly, he and Chris were there to talk about their books, not their lives, and as you will understand in a moment, that is a case for Joe where never the twain shall meet. As a result, when there was a very belligerent audience member who decided to go very much off-piste with the discussion, it didn't really sit well.
Thankfully, this hasn't permanently coloured his perception of writers, festivals, or audiences, because he is invited to quite a few. He even met Stephen Fry at one, and distinguished himself by talking about absolutely nothing of significance whatsoever.
I am certain this relieved Mr Fry's mind greatly, as every other person on the planet who has five seconds in his presence undoubtedly asks him to do or say something hilarious or meaningful. Exhausting.
Joe's day job sits slightly outside the norm for an author. He works, not as his website claims, as a fish batterer and purveyor of gin-related beverages, but somewhere in a shadowy realm he tactfully refers to as 'A security kind of thingy. You know. Stuff. Um. Yes.' You will be pleased to know his his grasp of oral communications is not reflected in his writing. It also explains the reluctance to engage with an audience member who insisted on probing into Australia's international methodology on surveillance.
Joe is not a writer whose current work - and international claim to fame - I would ordinarily have come across. This is not because he writes secretly under the name of Josephine Ducetta and is pumping out trashy Regency romances, because if that were the case, I would definitely have his entire library on Kindle. No, he writes YA - and yes, I love YA, within specific parameters. But The Rig, and its sequel Crystal Force, were not within said parameters - or so I would have thought. It wasn't until I read The Rig after our first meeting that I realised what a very good writer he is, and also that I needed to expand my YA mindset to include more male protagonists.
The Rig and Crystal Force follow Will Drake, a young man with some serious behavioural issues who is sent to juvenile prison. They are set in the not too distant future, when the prison systems of various nations are centralised and run as an incorporated entity. Will ends up on 'The Rig' - an electrified oil rig set up to hold the worst members of the criminal juvie element from across the planet. I don't really want to spoil the storyline, but suffice to say Drake, his partners in (literal) crime Irene and Tristan, and their subsequent adventures both on and off The Rig, involving alien forces, magic, evil consortiums, and a fight for freedom will hold your attention whether you are a 14 year old boy or a 43 year old woman. Age and gender are irrelevant; they are good, well-written and plotted stories, and they speak to Joe's ability and clarity as an author.
I should also mention that he wrote The Rig in eleven days. Eleven. Days. Oh - and he's 28. There are a lot of 'writers' out there who sit, and ponder, and scribble, and say 'oh, but I am crafting' - and never put a word out into the world. Whether that's out of fear, or laziness, or because their work is just crap, is a mystery, because we don't ever get to see it. Even worse are those writers who do put work out, and we love it - and then they decide to space out a series for commercial reasons. Double blergh from me on that. But this guy - at 28 years old - loves the written word, understands the way it works, and is willing to shove his creations out of the nest even if he is, like all of us, never truly happy with the finished product. This makes him both brave and in my book, brilliant. Why? Because he is giving readers what they crave - something decent to read, and in a timely fashion.
In many ways, he is an author, and a young guy, older than his years. I admit to a fair degree of immaturity, but when someone can quote me word for word on my favourite books it's hard to see them by age. I will say that his female characters need development, but that will come with time. His writing style, on the other hand, needs no assistance. It's easy to see why The Rig won the 2012 Young Writer's Prize in the UK.
Joe kindly answered my patented 'My Booky Wooky' Q& A for me. I was smug enough to pre-fill in some of the answers, and feel even more smug because I got them right.
joe ducie's 'my booky wooky'
FAVE BOOK OF ALL TIME:
John Dies At The End
by David Wong (this fluctuates a lot)
Another fluctuating -
Stephen King/Patrick Rothfuss
AUTHOR YOU HAVE RECENTLY DISCOVERED,
AND LIKE LOTS:
LAST BOOK READ:
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
BOOK YOU HAVE NEVER BEEN ABLE TO FINISH:
J R R Tolkien's Silmarillion!
IN QUOTATION MARKS:
'Could have finished faster, but I figured caution’s best when setting fire to rocket fuel in an enclosed space.'
― Andy Weir, The Martian
"That's a life lesson, right there."
MY OWN NEXT BOOK IS OUT...
Hopefully around August - but from Hot Key in April, 2016 for sure!
There are two more things I want to mention when it comes to Joe Ducie, and one of them isn't his penchant for waistcoats and incredibly good gin. Okay, three. One is that he is very good at accepting constructive criticism, which is not your typical author. The second is that he has some massively exciting projects related to The Rig and Crystal Force, including the third book in the series, coming up, so stay tuned.
Oh - and the Ducks reference. Ahem. A while ago now, Joe shared on Facebook his best review ever for The Rig. It was a rave - best young writer since, five stars, can't say enough about the promise of Joe... Ducks.
Yes. Joe Ducks. The best review since someone picked up a copy of Pride and Prejudice and said 'I like this Austen fellow, what else d'you think he's written?' - and they got his name wrong. As a joke, he decided to change his name to match on Facebook, not realising that said platform's policy is clear; no changing back again for 60 days.
So - meet Joe Ducks. Purveyor of gin-related beverages (officially) - and wonderful writer. Read him now. And from me to you, Joe Ducks, in your new journey, I wish you this:
Long days, and pleasant nights.
I know that you will always wish me twice the number.