On the Couch with Stuart Black

Stuart-Black-AAR-On-the-CouchWho is Stuart Black?
I am a father, a husband, a son, a brother, a friend, an author, a CEO, a founder, a colleague, and many other things from time to time. But it is my relationships that best define me. Particularly those with my family and close friends.

What would you do differently from what you do now?
Nothing. This is a sweet spot for me. My new novel, The Signatory (published 20 April). That’s incredibly exciting. There have been lots of times in my life when things have been tough – both from a personal and a professional point of view. But I’ve got through those times, and now I’m lucky enough to have a great balance with my writing, playing music, my day job (running a company with 110 staff), and hanging out with family and friends.

Who inspires you and why?
All sorts of people inspire me. When I was young, songwriters topped the list. People like John Lennon, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, Nick Cave, Christine McVie, Brian Wilson, Carole King, Billy Joe Armstrong. Composers like Beethoven, Puccini, and Mozart. Writers like Dostoevsky, Colin Dexter, Gillian Flynn, and Michael Connelly.

Screen writers like Mike White, Jesse Armstrong, and Taylor Sheridan. Sports people like David Pocock. Larger than life figures like Nelson Mandella. And people I meet on a daily basis. The woman at the café this morning who gave me a kind smile and thanked me for my custom.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
What I am doing. Could I do it better? No doubt, but I am giving it my best shot. Sometimes my best makes no difference. But it’s not for want of trying. There are some things I do which might sound noble – like when the agency I run does pro bono work for a healthcare cause that saves people’s lives.

But other times, it is something small that is unnoticed by all the world except for the sole person the gesture was directed at. Like a warm hello to my neighbor when he’s having a bad day.

When I write fiction, it is always with a message in mind. In the case of The Signatory, my new novel, it is about the way people in positions of power and authority abuse their status. Will it change the world? Maybe not, but I will keep pushing.

Leaving the world to fend for itself according to market forces can be a dangerous game. Sometimes those of us who can, need to intervene. When people do the wrong thing – which happens every day, even in a city as wonderful as Sydney – we don’t have to accept that. Of course, you have to pick your battles.

But the great thing is that when you choose to put your hand up, to try and right a wrong, you tend to find there are others who will join the cause. All that’s needed is a little leadership. And that can come from anywhere. Indeed, it often comes from the most unexpected of places.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
I know this sounds like a cliché but I have to say, Tuscany. I love the beauty of the landscape, the art, the warmth of the people, their approach to food and wine, the history, and the wonderful times I have spent there with my wife.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
Sydney Harbour. To live anywhere near it is an incredible privilege. To go boating on it is an absolute joy, but so is a walk along the foreshore. I always leave our beautiful harbour feeling like my spirits have been lifted.

What are you currently reading?
Hemingway’s For Whom The Bell Tolls, Michael Robotham’s Good Girl Bad Girl, and John Grisham’s The Boys from Biloxi.

What are you currently listening to?
Joni Mitchell, Court and Spark.

Happiness is?
To love and be loved.

What does the future hold for you?
I don’t tend to look too far ahead – otherwise it distracts me from the present. But if I had enough success with The Signatory to create space for more time on my next book (which I am incredibly excited about right now), that would be wonderful.

And if, while doing that, I could spend a little more time with the people I love most in this world – my family and close friends – that would be the icing on the most glorious cake I could wish for.

Stuart’s second novel, The Signatory is published by Interactive Publications and available from all leading book retailers. For more information, visit: www.ipoz.biz for details.

Image: Stuart Black (supplied)