Quest for storytelling

Tristan WheelerManjimup-Bridgetown Times

Aaron Hughes’ quest to tell a story floating around in his head led him to leave Perth and his study of genetics and return to Manjimup.

“It could have easily been anything, I think it’s just writing is what I could do,” he said.

“If I could draw it could have been a graphic novel, if I could write poetry it could have been a poem ... I think it’s just sort of what came most conveniently to me.”

His effort paid off, with the release of his new book, Nucleus: The Violent Science on May 12, published by Vivid Publishing.

The story is about the conflict between a young man with a talent for science and a cynical older scientist who recruits him.

“At its core, it’s about a young guy who doesn’t understand his place in the world, but he is quite intelligent and he is brought into contact with a scientist,” Hughes said.

“They are really impressed with each other at first, but this scientist is so old and cynical that he believes people are irredeemable.”

The story is set against the backdrop of a fictionalised rural town, based on Manjimup.

“I was pretty close to making it set in Tasmania, because I wanted the setting to be isolated, but I didn’t feel like I could write genuinely about Tasmania, because I haven’t been there,” Aaron said.

“I feel like growing up, when you are an angsty kid you sort of think that living down here is kind of boring and isolating and there is nothing going on and that was enough for me to set it here.”

Nucleus is written from a first-person perspective and in the present tense, which Aaron said presented a challenge while writing the novel.

“If you write in the first-person, you need to be able to explain every reaction the main character has to everything, but that was a nice challenge,” he said.

The story is based on an idea Aaron conceived at Manjimup Senior High School, but didn’t start writing until October 2018.

“I finished the first draft about a year later and reached out to the kind folks at Fontaine and Vivid and we ended up here,” he said.

“I wanted to keep it in WA, so Fontaine Publishing, they’re just in Fremantle.”

The story of Nucleus’ origins came full circle when Aaron reached out to his old English teacher for feedback on the manuscript.

“She was very impressed with it,” he said.

“That was the highest calibre of feedback that I’d had.”

Aaron is a science fiction fan and cites the Dune Series, the Blade Runner films and Akira as other works of fiction he enjoys.

“I like the idea of the nature of humans being tested and I think sci-fi is the best thing for that, aside from murder mysteries,” he said. Aaron currently works part-time, but hopes eventually to dedicate himself to writing as a full-time profession.

“This is the first of the series and there is a lot more to come,” he said.

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