Old Collegian debuts new book

July 31, 2023

Jay’s new book, The World That Was.

Congratulations to Old Collegian Jay Pelchen (SPC 2002-07) who is currently releasing his first book, The World That Was.

Jay was a day student at SPC and studied mechanical engineering and physics, before becoming an analyst for the Australian Department of Defence and now at the UN’s nuclear watchdog.

Jay lives in Vienna with his wife Joti and The World That Was is his first novel. It tells the story of Matilda, humanity’s first time-traveller.

New chapters of the book are currently being released online each week.

We spoke with Jay to congratulate him on the book’s launch and to find out where the idea came from.

“I started developing ideas for stories while I was in Year 10 at St Pat’s but I realised that a fantasy epic was going to be too hard to pull off as a first novel,” said Jay.

“It was during a university physics class, after a teacher highlighted that some conventions actually make the math more difficult, that I started thinking about what I would change if I could go back in time.

“The book is a blend of science and historical fiction, looking at how someone might actually go about changing the past. I’ve been able to weave in elements of my engineering training but have climbed castle ruins, met with UK scholars and scrambled down random caves to ensure my book is historically accurate.

“I specifically wrote the novel to be accessible to a Year 11-plus audience.”

Jay hopes that this is the first of many books ahead.

“I definitely have the writing bug and have plans for an epic fantasy duology, a spy novel inspired by my work in nuclear counter proliferation, plus a prequel, sequel and spin off for The World That Was.

“A key challenge was working out a writing method that worked for me but once I did, the writing came relatively quickly. I shared my method on Reddit’s r/writing and the post (click here) is the 26th highest of all time, just beneath Steven King’s writing tips.”

Jay and his wife Joti.

Utilising his engineering background, Jay did all his planning on an Excel spreadsheet.

“I dialled the Architect approach up to a hundred while writing The World That Was … adding project management techniques and Excel graphs to create the Engineer approach.

“Engineers are obsessed with efficiency, structure, dynamics and numbers. All of my planning was done in an Excel spreadsheet which I used to break the writing process into manageable chunks, each able to be completed in an evening or two.”

Jay said this method helped him enormously, with the spreadsheet stepping him through his creative process, ensuring the overall story tied together from the outset, and minimising the amount of words and effort that was wasted.

“I tracked my progress and used formatting and graphs to gamify the process, revealing tangible results after each writing session. This was highly motivating and drove me to complete my novel faster than I ever could’ve imagined.”

New chapters of The World That Was are currently being released.

“I will be releasing several chapters each week, from 3 July to 30 October. This will give me time to finalise any last-minute changes to the text before organising for copies to be printed ahead of a 1 December release party in Vienna, Austria.”

Jay says he has much to thank SPC for when it comes to his love of reading and writing and his career aspirations.

“I have fond memories of the St Pat’s library. When Mr De Jong took us up there in Year 9 to find a book for an English project, I ended up discovering a David Gemmell book and he remains one of my favourite authors today.

“In Year 12, my friends and I would meet there each morning, usually to finish off some last minute homework. It was while reading one of the library’s science magazines that I learned about nuclear fusion which ended up defining my entire career path.”

And there has been other SPC influences during Jay’s writing periods.

“Former St Pat’s librarian Mrs Taylor was one of the test readers for my novel (the science fiction was a bit removed from her usual preferences!).”

To read the latest chapters released of Jay’s book The World That Was, or find out how you can buy a printed copy or e-book, and read more about Jay’s foray as an author, click here

We also caught up with Jay in our “Where are they now” profile series a couple of years back at this link, click here

Good luck Jay and we hope our SPC community gets behind Jay’s The World That Was!