BookView Interview with Author Keith Costelloe

Welcome to BookView Interview, a conversation series where BookView talks to authors.

Recently, we interviewed author Keith Costelloe about his writing and his soon-to-be released novel, Starship Malaysia, a solid, compelling YA thriller that beautifully explores violence, trauma, love, and friendship. (Read the review here.)


I’m originally from the UK but have mostly worked abroad. I’ve always written stories and kept diaries but never tried composing a novel. On retiring, I was able to devote myself full-time to writing and being in lockdown for a couple of years certainly gave me time.       

I live with my dog in a relaxed Canadian seaside city on the northwest coast of Canada hunkered up against the border.

My wife and I  have worked in many different countries and I have always considered myself a traveller, not only geographically but also through life itself.

Drawn into Danger, my first full-length book, is a story set in Algeria in 1980. It is an incredible country with wonderful places and generous and friendly people. We lived and worked there for 3 years, from 1979 to 1981. I used my experiences to describe places and situations and created a fictional counter-espionage plot with a bisexual element because I feel that aspects of sex are left out of stories.

My next book, set in Malaysia, is another country where we lived and worked. It has a teen protagonist who befriends a group of Malaysian boys, and they become involved in trying to rescue a girl that has been kidnapped. It’ll be out before the end of the year.

Social media accounts


How often do you base your characters on real people?

To an extent. My first two books had aspects of real people or told some of their stories which added colour and reality to the characters, but I changed the actions and roles they played in the book.

My third book is about vampires, and as I don’t know any vampires, the characters had to be made up. However, there are elements of people I’ve met but I’ve put them into unusual situations like becoming a vampire.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I start a book, and the writing and characters take over. Situations arise where I have to check facts and do research. With the internet nowadays, it’s much easier as you are already sitting at your computer writing, so it’s far easier to check things and read, which can take you in another direction. Then I start the real down to earth such as reading books around the areas I’ve started writing about. It helps me to have a goal for my research and answers to particular questions I’ve got.

Does a big ego help or hurt writers?

We’re all different. An oversized ego might help some as long as it doesn’t get in the way of writing, and it blinds you to your mistakes when you are criticized. Being too introverted is also a problem, as writing is about selling and marketing.

Is writer’s block real?

For me, yes. Burnout may be a better word! But maybe it’s just recovery time. Maybe we all need time out to do something completely different for a while and not worry about things too much.

After the writing’s finished, how do you judge the quality of your work?

I have joined a couple of writing circles where with fellow writers we read a section of a book and comment on the writing. It helps a lot having different people commenting on your writing and pointing out flaws, and then there are professional editors who take on a very demanding role. How do I judge the quality of my own work? I think that judging your own work is very difficult. It’s better to get opinions from people who read the book and tell you straight to your face what they thought about it.

Would you rather read a book or watch television?

I enjoy both. Television gives me chillout time but also learning time, as it depends on what you watch. Reading takes you and your imagination into different worlds and is a totally different experience. It engages parts of your mind other media can’t reach.

Are you a feeler or a thinker?

Does there have to be a choice? Don’t we all feel and think about things. Maybe not always at the same time, but if we don’t feel or think, then do we exist?

Tell us some more about your book.

It’s set in Malaysia, where my wife and I lived and worked. It gives the settings and, in a very broad sense, the characters. The colour of the book comes from places we visited, including Thailand. But the idea gradually developed as I was writing it. I’m not someone who can plan the chapters of the book beforehand. I’m more organic and let the story develop and then see where it goes and if it can deviate along the way or develop even further. I find that the characters come first, and then they tend to direct the story as it develops.

It’s an adventure thriller but with a very serious topic, the kidnapping and sale of young people into the sex trade. I didn’t want to lecture about it but wanted people to become more aware of this now billion-dollar business. The book is also about a teen discovering himself and explores how he copes with his anger and discovers his parent’s past.

What life experiences have shaped your writing most?


Meeting and working with a wide range of people from different countries and cultures.

The ability to access the internet when you’re writing.

Watching movies.

Reading lots of books of many different genres, to expose myself to different styles and writing.

How crucial is it to have a working title before you begin a project?

The working title, for me, gives a focus, and it needs to be wide enough to cover the book but also restricting so you don’t wander too far off course.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s