Watch out for the give-away question at the end of the interview.
Well to be honest … there is some science fiction in Burn Bright. It just wrote itself in without my say! But the fantasy side of the story was lovely to compose. I found myself more able to indulge my word muse and loved writing the younger character.
Q: You combined with singer song writer Yunyu to produce a song and book trailer for Burn Bright. Since much of the book takes place in and around dance clubs, this seems very appropriate. How much collaboration was involved in this project?
Simply, Yunyu read an early draft of the novel and went away and wrote a sensational song. Or songs, actually, three of them. In the end we could only afford to record one, so we picked Angel Arias. From her end, there was a lot more arranging and production to do after that. I was able to sit back and enjoy her genius. We got together a couple of times in Sydney and brainstormed the business side of it, but essentially the creative side was one artist inspiring another.
Q: Burn Bright takes its main character, Retra to some pretty dark places. She’s looking for her brother on an island where teenagers party non-stop and there are no rules except the warning not to wander off the path. It feels very surreal and dreamlike. Was it hard to slip into this alternate fantasy world when you sat down to write? (Read the first chapter of Burn Bright).
Not at all. It’s been sitting in my hindbrain since I was a teenager. I think it reflects the fact that I had my own dark places to contend with back then. Perhaps, if anything, writing the book has been a catharsis.
Q: Book two Angel Arias is due out late in 2011. (Love the cover, by the way). Did you have the second book finished before the first one was released? And, following on from that, did you plan the whole series before you started to write?
No, the second book was not written but in early meeting with my publisher, Zoe Walton, we discussed where the story might go and how many books it might take to get there. The second book synopsis was written, I just needed to decide whether it should be structured in on or two parts (hence bk 3.)
Q:Slightly off the topic of fantasy, since your Parrish series was described as near-future Australian cyber punk, I see there’s a We want more Parrish site on Facebook. Are you planning any more books on Parrish?
That will rather depend on a publisher wanting to publish them. At the moment I’m in talks with someone on a sideline Parrish project, and I’m writing a novelette (1o K) for an e-book publisher. But a full blown series is not something that’s likely to happen in the immediate future.
Q: You also write ‘frivolous, fun-filled urban fantasy’ under the pen-name Marianne Delacourt. Your first Tara Sharp book, Sharp Shooter, won the Davitt Award. There’s a touch of paranormal in this series because the main character can tell what people are thinking from their body language. Did you do a lot of research to make the paranormal element believable?
I did do a lot of research but much of it was anecdotal or “dubious”. What was really interesting were the studies done on paralanguage itself. We are so much more than the words we speak. Communication is complex and largely subconscious.
Q: I notice you have a degree in film and television. Do you plan to get back into writing scripts and, if you do, are there some exciting projects brewing away in the background?
I’ve been slowly working on a script with New Zealand writer Lynne Jamneck for Enchanter Productions called Stalking Daylight. It’s been a slow process because Lynne’s been studying full time and I’ve been writing full time. However we’re nearly there on it. It’s an original SF thriller (not an adaption of a book) in the vein of PK Dick and Vernor Vinge’s work.
Q: I was prompted to start this series of interviews because there seems to be a perception in the US and the UK that fantasy is a bit of a boy’s club. Do you think there’s a difference in the way males and females write fantasy?
Well, I just have to say that if some people think fantasy is a boy’s club, they should look over the fence at SF J
To answer your second question though, I think there is a difference in way that male and female writers tell fantasy stories. But you have to be careful about making blanket statements because there are also many commonalities. And for every difference you might point out, there is an exception to the rule you’re trying to define. I guess the only thing I’d be comment on is that male authors write male characters a little differently. And it’s a difference that is both gratifying and enlightening.
No. Not at all. I never think about the author’s sex when I read a book. Afterwards, though, if it gives me cause to reflect, those considerations might crop up. I certainly never choose a book to read based on gender.
Q: And here’s the fun question. If you could book a trip on a time machine, where and when would you go, and why?
Right now (post deadline!) I’d settle for masseuse and a slice of banana cake right here in my own time!
Give-away question to win a copy of Burn Bright:
If you could choose your favourite musician to compose music for your favourite book, who would it be and what would be the book?