Action thriller writer; age 46; lived in Sydney’s Mosman and Willoughby before moving in 2015 to Los Angeles. Biggest achievement is “still being around”, writing best-sellers 22 years after his first novel was published.
First job was operating a lift at Grace Bros department store; yearned to be an action movie director and built sets using Star Wars figurines. His parents enticed him to save by paying half of the cost of a Millennium Falcon toy. Motivation is to make each novel faster,more relentless and visceral than the last.
Best money advice was “cash is king”, especially if computer systems were to crash.
His research takes him to plenty of exotic places – the pyramids in Egypt, Easter Island and the ancient Mayan city of Chichen Itza in Mexico. No matter what evil is pursuing his heroes – and there is always plenty lurking – his plots captivate the reader’s imagination in part because of their ancient and evocative settings.
Right from the opening pages, his latest book, The Two Lost Mountains, dumps readers into a life-and-death fight against evil in a sacrificial ceremonial chamber cut into the Rock of Gibraltar. Before we can draw breath, we’re swept up into a new theatre of action, as the younger brother of the King of the Underworld is rescued from an abandoned royal prison in Algeria. Capping it all, an order of nuns in Moscow’s Red Square become victims of a dreadful atrocity. All this in the first 12 pages. If you’re not instantly gripped, you never will be.
One favourite Reilly location is featured in his apocalyptic The Secret Runners of New York.
“[As a writer] you can put the head of the Statue of Liberty in the water,” he says. “You can make the city crumble. New York is the world city, which is why in alien movies they are always trying to destroy it.
“I tell people who want to be writers, Tolkien could not have written The Lord of the Rings growing up in Australia. He could only write that growing up in England, with all those castles and henges and the rolling hills. So I go and see a place and immerse myself in it.”
Reilly also devours non-fiction. Think books on physics, astronomy, and history.
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