Somewhere... someone had an issue about to pop. Someone was about to need perception management. An issue needed fixing, and I was to be the fixer.
At university Josh had dreamed of investigative journalism, exposing corruption and changing the world for the better. After a romance and friendship fail simultaneously he packs it in and heads to London where he works as a fixer.
Back in Brisbane and in need of some quick cash, Josh whores himself to his brother's PR firm. He takes on a job for law firm Randall Hood Beckett getting coverage for one of their employees who is to be awarded the Star of Courage after an office siege.
That employee happens to be university mate and girlfriend-stealer Ben Harkin. As details of the siege transpire, all is not as it seems and Josh tries to determine fact from fiction. Is he still holding a grudge, or is Ben keeping something from him?
Will three days on the Gold Coast with Ben and law-student/stripper Hayley/Jett restore old friendships, begin new romances and improve their putting, or, reveal details to change all their lives?
Written with the warmth and humour synonymous with all of Nick Earls' work and a new touch of the detective.
Nick Earls is the author of fourteen books, including bestselling novels Zigzag Street, Bachelor Kisses and Perfect Skin. His work has been published internationally in English and in translation. Zigzag Street won a Betty Trask Award in the UK in 1998, and Perfect Skin was the only novel nominated for an Australian Comedy Award in 2003. 48 Shades of Brown was awarded Book of the Year (older readers) by the Children's Book Council of Australia in 2000, and in the US it was a Kirkus Reviews selection in its books of the year for 2004. 48 Shades of Brown and Perfect Skin have been adapted into feature films. 48 Shades of Brown, Zigzag Street and Perfect Skin have also been successfully adapted for theatre. The True Story of Butterfish, Nick's last novel, was also performed as a play.
Random House Australia
Author: Nick Earls
Question: What inspired the story of The Fix?
Nick Earls: Well it came together with a few different ideas. The first idea, which came to me quite recently, was to write about a character who is a private person, doing a non-public job but the big secret, or the thing he'd like to be secret, in his past and present are both out in the public domain; the past secret being his dodgy businessman father and the present being that he is going to win a bravery award.
I was thinking 'how can I get into this character's head?' and I spent a while working back through and not getting anywhere with it. I then decided that it would be more interesting if he wasn't the central character so he could remain a little bit illusive and enigmatic and I have someone else who is the central character and is giving us his view of the private person and that's how we get the story.
In the process of working out who the narrative character would be and what his relationship would be with the character (Ben), I got myself two characters and good idea of what the story would be. From there I began to work out what the other details would be and in the processes of doing that I realised that Josh would be the publicist when Ben won his bravery award and that Josh would have to try and get Ben to tell his story. Josh therefore would have to look closely at Ben's story and the closer he looked the more the cracks start to show in the story.
Ben had a very different story to the one that I had been expecting to tell but one that I found a lot more interesting.
Question: How much of your inspiration comes from real life and real people?
Nick Earls: Lots of small bits of real people and real life have ended up in my stories. I only realised recently, when I was thinking through the book and thinking where ideas came from, how much of it came from newspaper articles. I used to try and store things in the back of my mind, but that is an unreliable source so I try and write things down and end up with torn out bits of newspaper or I write down bits that I have seen on television, or on websites or heard on radio or even seen myself or said myself. Anything that I think has some type of story potential, I try not to lose. Often, over the years when I am trying to put a story together one of the fragments comes along and it is suddenly useful for me.
For example, in The Fix, when I was setting Josh up to be a blogger I had lots of ideas that I had taken from newspapers or other ideas that could be blog topics and I could give them to Josh to blog about. For example I discovered that December is the busiest month of the year for Photocopy Repairman because far too many people, after the office Christmas party, think it's the perfect time to photocopy their buttocks. The glass on the photocopier has a breaking strain of 55kg and the light temperature is 170 degrees - it's not a wise thing to do and in December Photocopy Repairman are driving around with a lot of replacement glass for Photocopy machines.
There are many things in real life, not my life, but what I had read about that suddenly had a place in The Fix. I have had pieces for many years and they are too interesting to lose and I know that one day they will all fit in nicely.
When it came to developing the character of Hayley, I knew I wanted a strong interesting female character and I wanted to do interesting things with her in the novel and I also wanted to find her in an interesting place. Another bit of a newspaper I had ripped out years ago explained that since the introduction of HECS in the 1980's students had to earn more money to pay for their education and therefore 30-40% of strippers were University students trying to pay for University. Therefore Hayley the law student/stripper suddenly came into being and I was interested in her and what she would bring to the story.
I want to bring characters in from interesting places and find characters with interesting stories attached.
Question: Can you talk about the research that went into The Fix?
Nick Earls: I had to work out how Josh and Ben would go to the strip club to meet with Hayley. I also had to work out how to research strip clubs... There is mini golf in the novel and I was very prepared to go and play quite a lot of mini golf as research but I thought it would be unwise to turn up at strip clubs a lot, with a notebook in my hand especially because the moment you say 'I'm only going to strip clubs for research', it just sounds like you're not telling the truth.
Instead I went online, to research, which was useful because I found forums where guys who regularly went to strip clubs talked about what it was like, I also found a website where strippers would discuss music to strip too, that was very useful (and it was a very solid 1980's playlist). I could also find out the bewildering array of services the strip club would offer which was quite something. Interestingly on the same website was the employee recruitment page, which looked like a completely different website - the page talked about family concern, the ability to have flexible shifts and the fact that they help you setup your own ABN and find you an accountant!
The employee recruitment page got me interested in that section of the strip club and that helped me put Josh behind the scenes. Josh meets the manager as he is about to send Vixon the new stripper out and he is checking that she has made the right choices with her Superannuation. The idea of those two kinds of things existing in the one business amused me too much to ignore.
Interview by Brooke Hunter