How did you become a writer? The clichéd answer to this question is that "I've always been a writer," but in my case that's not really true. I've done all sorts of stuff, although I've always felt that writing was something I was good at and something that I should pursue. I didn't become a published writer until my early 20s, when I started writing for a music magazine in Australia. As to how it happened, I basically just rang them up and asked them if I could write reviews for them.
Name your writing influences (writers, books, teachers, etc.) It's difficult to identify individual influences, I think, because I think your writing — as with the rest of life — is the sum total of your experiences, and I think my writing has been influenced in some way or other by pretty much everything I've read and experienced. But stylistically, I like writers who write in a style that's both literate and distinctive, but also accessible and unpretentious. I'm a huge David Foster Wallace fan — Infinite Jest is probably my favorite book of all time — and I also admire the work of Cormac McCarthy, Stephen Donaldson, Ernest Hemingway, Joseph Conrad, Philip K. Dick and innumerable others I can't think of off the top of my head. I wouldn't say I write like any of those people, but I'd like to think aspects of the way they approach their craft has rubbed off on me.
When and where do you write? At the moment, I work from home, although this isn't ideal — for all that it sounds awesome in theory to work from the couch, I've always found it's far preferable to have a separate space to go. I spent a month in Greece earlier this year writing, and found it hugely productive. I'm hoping to get hold of a dedicated studio or workspace sooner rather than later. If I've learned one thing over the last couple of years, it's that to work on fiction, I need to block out a significant amount of time and work all day, every day.
What are you working on now? Apart from my actual work, which consists of freelancing for various publications, I'm working on a novel.
Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? Yes, although it's more generally just a case of things not sounding right or reading well. In this case, just stepping away and going for a walk/making a cup of tea/etc. is enough to get over the hump. I've never really confronted crushing existential writer's block, for which I am hugely grateful.
How has the Internet affected your writing? It's given me more outlets for my writing, I guess, although it's also meant a whole lot less cash, as blogs/websites generally have smaller budgets than print magazines do (or did). I wouldn't say it's affected the writing itself, except for making research much more straightforward than it used to be.
What’s your advice to new writers? I guess it depends on what they're going to write. If it's fiction, then my only real advice is (a) know what you're going to do before you start doing it, (b) stick at it, and (c) understand that unless you're some sort of once-in-a-generation genius, your work is only going to get better with oodles of practice and craft. If it's magazine work, then my advice would be, for the love of god, don't do it for the money. Do it because you want a job that's interesting and diverse and because you honestly can't conceive of wanting to do anything else.
Bio: Tom Hawking is a New York City-based writer. Born in Melbourne, he is a former editor of Australia’s Inpress magazine and also of RAVE, India’s biggest music monthly. He is a contributing editor at Flavorwire and The Vine, and a regular contributor to NME, Australian Rolling Stone, The Quietus, Frankie, Smith Journal and various others. He does his best to maintain a blog about music, pop culture and NYC life at nyconversation.com. He likes Siamese cats, David Lynch, and sleeping.