In ‘As It Is on Earth’, Australian writer Rob Firth shines a light on modern-day ethical dilemmas in this tale of intrigue that follows highflying lawyer Frances Brennan and reformed crim Gino Rossi as they journey with their respective beliefs and convictions to guide them.
Encountering some of life’s serious crossroads, Frankie and Gino’s protagonist and antagonist roles appear to reverse, as they re-purpose their understanding of God. And despite their abiding respect and affection for each other, these lead characters become perilous foes who use their deepest certainties to decide the right thing to do, blurring the line between social justice and social carnage.
While maybe not as extreme, the novel echoes ethical dilemmas we’ve all faced, or may face sometime in our lives. Without the stuffiness of being too highbrow, it will stimulate discussion and debate about what keystones we use to sort right from wrong, and how difficult it can be sometimes to distinguish between the two.
Let's talk about it
1. Tell us something about yourself that not many people know
I have a collection of about one hundred old and foreign keys, some dating back four or five centuries.
2. Why did you choose the themes in your book and were you aware of them from the start?
Ethics and fairness are important to me. I had the premise of this story in my head, probably for decades, before committing it to paper. The themes reflect how we each sort through our most difficult decisions, and in the end justify acting the way we do, based on many things, including our experiences, learnings, and convictions.
3. How difficult was it for you to write this book? Did you face any obstacles?
‘As it is on Earth’ is my debut published work, so yes, it wasn’t easy to write. However, I surprised myself that the more I wrote, the more I found myself enjoying the process, as well as the creativity of world building in this piece of fiction. In small part, the story involves a cancer journey, and one of the hurdles I needed to overcome arose when my sister was diagnosed with metastasised cancer, and subsequently passed away. I struggled to ensure there was due respect around those passages, without being too clinical or too emotional.
4. Do you always write in this genre or do you like to break out of the box?
Ask me again in ten years.
5. What are your writing habits or idiosyncrasies?
Forcing myself to write was most often unrewarding. I usually found myself writing when the creative inspiration seemed to descend, even if it woke me at 3 am. With major amendments, I would convert the text to an audio track and listen to my story being read, and this I found to be an effective self-checking tool.
6. What would you do differently next time?
From the very first draft, I’d use more powerful verbs to eliminate the use of humdrum adverbs being coupled with weak verbs, rather than make these changes in subsequent edits, as I did.
7. With hindsight, what would you say to yourself as a fledgling writer?
Keep trying; don’t publish till you’re completely happy with your script; pay attention to creating an impressive cover.
8. If you worked with a professional editor, what was the experience like?
I worked with some super helpful professional Beta Readers before finalising the story and text.
9. What’s next for your writing?
I have a draft work underway for the dramatic stage.
Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, Rob Firth’s paid work ranged from taxi driving during uni days through senior executive mid-career, to management consultant in semi-retirement.
Rob has always felt alert to social and fairness issues, and welcomes robust discussions about religion, politics, ethics and equity. Rob values strong interpersonal connections, and is after honest conversations and maintaining close friends. And he’s interested in the meaning of life, what makes others tick, the freedom to be ourselves, and how we react to the unexpecteds we encounter.
He’s always sought to be the best family man he could, but admits to not succeeding at times due to work. He’s now retired, living outside Sydney with his wife.