An Interview with Mike Straker
by Yvette Gilfillan
When Mike Straker came into the office one sunlit afternoon in November, the interns and staff of the South Coast Writers Centre were busily working. The printer was jammed, making an undignified spluttering noise, the radio was whistling a cheery tune, and the finer points of our next literary event were being worked out.
Amidst the chaos and the scrunched-up bits of paper, Mike came through the door proudly holding a copy of his brand new novel, The Global System. After a partial paid manuscript assessment with Rike—our former Director and CEO—Mike went on to have his novel published by Xlibris in September this year.
This is why we do what we do.
Every person who goes through the “system” of the South Coast Writers Centre emerges as a more confident, capable writer than they were before. We grant professional development opportunities to writers from Wollongong, the South Coast and the Southern Highlands. We couldn’t be prouder of Mike for working steadily on his novel for over four decades, polishing it to perfection and experiencing the satisfaction of securing a publisher.
Mike grew up with a keen interest in agriculture, history and the world of newspapers. Whilst The Global System is a fictional novel, it touches upon very real issues of hope, love, and the darker underside of human nature. Every book can help change the world in some way—and Mike hopes The Global System will challenge people to be better.
Can you tell us what The Global System is about? What do you hope readers take away from this novel?
In the beginning of the novel, devastation strikes a young girl. She is kidnapped and caught in the web of the “Global System”. Unfortunately, this web is corrupt and does not represent the true ideals for which it was intended. Madam Belray is the driving force. It takes a while to make up your mind about this woman.
The law closes in to condemn all associated with the System, but on the way discovers a reasonable doubt.
Our young heroine is exposed to another world that could destroy her or offer an opportunity. Through love she takes risks and becomes deeply involved.
Madam Belray, through her very clever lawyer, eliminates corruption. New characters drive the System toward the Holy Grail, offering peace and harmony. Initially, it was intended for a select group of people—but now it offers the world much more.
I hope readers enjoy The Global System. The story is hinged on the hope that one day we can put aside our differences and live in peace and harmony. The book exposes human weaknesses based on greed and emotions. It also shows what human strength can achieve, if used for the right reasons. Nothing is impossible—just limited by our own beliefs.
What inspired you to write the novel in the first place, and how did you keep your motivation going for such a long period of time? What would you say to other writers who need to jump the final hurdle and finish their own creations?
A typewriter. I bought a typewriter, way back in 1974. Through the desire to learn how to type, I started to write a story. This story interested me and it started to grow like a freshly sown plant. My life of writing was interrupted by occupation, family and normal life activities. New technology (the computer) took over from the typewriter.
The characters in the book kept me motivated. They were screaming for their story to be told. The longer I lingered, the louder the screams. It was only when I retired that serious time was allotted to the book. Over that time, many events happened around the world, which added materials and ideas to the book.
My self-belief was not high. I thought I would create something of interest, but that it would be just for me. With a little more courage, I joined the SCWC and talked to Friederike Krishnabhakdi-Vasilakis—better known as Rike. My writing was assessed and constructive feedback was given. I went back over my work maybe three or four times before I was happy.
I had been talking to Xlibris for some two years before they finally decided to publish my manuscript, The Global System. The rest is history: I became an author in 2018.
I am not qualified to offer advice to other writers, but one thing I did learn is that you shouldn’t be restricted by your own thinking. Seek professional advice and make your dream become a reality. You too can do it.
What was it like working with Rike and the team at SCWC for your partial manuscript assessment? Would you recommend the service to other aspiring writers?
I would strongly recommend involvement with the SCWC. My personal experience with Rike motivated me, and the comments I received helped me to improve what I had and to get published.
Thank you to Mike for this interview! Congratulations on producing an intriguing, thought-provoking debut novel. You can buy The Global System from the Xlibris website here.
Mike’s novel is also available through Collins Booksellers Thirroul, Thirroul Newsagency, Thirroul Post Office and by contacting the author directly on 4268 1801. Alternatively, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like to know more about the manuscript assessments offered by the Centre, please give us a call on 4228 0151, or email email@example.com.
Written by SCWC
Posted on December 22, 2018