Meet Trudi Canavan …

As the next of my series featuring fantastic female fantasy authors (see disclaimer) I’ve invited the prolific and  talented Trudi Canavan to drop by.

Watch out for the give-away question at the end of the interview. (NOTE this competition is now closed. Thanks for all the entries!)

Q: Like me, you have a background as an illustrator. Do you miss illustrating?

I have to admit, I don’t miss being a freelance illustrator much at all! While it was a fun job to have and I like being self-employed, it didn’t pay very well. Painting and other forms of art are now a hobby again, and it’s much more creatively satisfying to be portraying what I want to portray, in whatever medium inspires me and with no deadlines.

Q: In 1999 your short story Whispers of the Mist Children won the Aurealis Award for Best fantasy Short Story. Are you still writing short stories, or do you find your stories keep growing until they become novels?

Yes, I do still write shorts, though not often. My second published short, “Room For Improvement”, won a Ditmar in 2004 and I’ve had stories published in Dreaming Again and Legends of Australian Fantasy, but that’s four stories over ten years so you can see I’m not all that prolific!

My story ideas come with a length already obvious to me right from the start. I know if there’s ‘enough’ story to fill a short, novella, novel or series. Sometimes there’s a piece of history or character background within a longer work that can be separated out and written in a shorter form, like a short story or novella – like ‘The Mad Apprentice’ novella in the Legends anthology, which is a piece of history from the Black Magician Trilogy world.

Recently I joined a local short story critique group with the aim of both ‘giving back’ to the sff community, polishing my writing and critiquing skills, and motivating myself to write more short stories. I’m hoping to write a few set in the universe of my next series and then, in a couple of years, include them with my old short stories to form an anthology.

Q: In 2001 the first book of your The Black Magician Trilogy series came out. The Magicians’ Guild, The Novice, and The High Lord went on to be best sellers. Was this a bit of a surprise? (A welcome surprise, LOL).

Well, of course! I don’t think any sane writer expects success. They hope for it, and delude themselves that it will happen in order to keep going when times are tough, but they never take it for granted that it’s going to happen.

My dream, which formed when I was about fourteen, was to write a fantasy novel. Having it find a publisher was not necessarily part of the dream, but by the time I’d written it I certainly wanted it to be to justify all the hard work. If I’d not found a publisher I’d have been disappointed, but at least I’d done what I’d set out to do. Everything else has been a bonus. A confidence-boosting bonus and one that’s financially sustainable, thankfully!

Q: Your second trilogy, Age of the Five has also been a best seller.

Yes, though it’s success is overshadowed by the Black Magician Trilogy and its prequel and sequel. Part of that is due to it being aimed at an older market. I decided to do so because I was a little worried I’d be typecast as a YA writer, which isn’t a bad thing for sales but I could see it might be for me as a writer in the long term. I don’t want to be restricted to only being able to publish to one kind of audience.

To make it a non-YA book, I simply had to make the main character older (she’s about 25) and add a few sex scenes. I considered whether upping the violence would make a difference, and realised it probably wouldn’t. You’d have to add very gratuitous violence to a book to make it unsuitable to young people these days!

Q: Then, in 2007, you signed a ‘seven-figure deal’ with Orbit to write the prequel and sequel to The Black Magician Trilogy. Does this mean that you are one of the mythical writers who doesn’t have to hold down another job to make ends meet while you write? Has this given you freedom and confidence to concentrate on your writing?

The answer to that is yes, but naturally it’s more complicated than that. I started writing as my only source of income before it paid well enough, because I had no choice.

You see, I started my illustration business so I could afford to write part time. A few years after my first publishing contracts I developed chronic fatigue. It wasn’t as debilitating as most cases, but I had to save all my energy for writing, and let the illustration business go. Those early advances didn’t come close to a full time wage and I survived, financially, by been very, very, very frugal.

Thankfully, in the years since then I have regained most of my old energy and the writing brings in a much better income. I’d glad I don’t have to take on a second job, because I worry that doing so would bring back the chronic fatigue. There are other things I’d like to do, like finally get a university qualification, but again, I worry about what affect that would have.

Q: With such a large range of trilogies many of which interrelate do you have a huge whiteboard in your office with timelines, family trees and maps? How do you keep it all straight?

I have a pinboard above my writing desk, but it’s mainly covered in maps and plans. All my lists of made-up words and character names are on my computer. There’s less of this than you’d expect, actually. I try to keep my cast of main characters small enough to be easily manageable. I figure that if I can remember who is who,  the chances are better that the average reader will keep track as well.

Q: I know you do a lot of craft, as well as cooking. Do you find that you need these creative outlets to counter balance the intensity of writing really long fantasy trilogies?

Yes, I’ve always found that the compulsion to write dries up if I’m not doing other creative activities. Part of the reason is that I do a lot of thinking about stories when painting or I’m involved in something repetitive and soothing like weaving. Another part is that finishing a craft projects provides a feeling of completion and achievement on a regular basis, which I only get once a year or so from writing. The crafts I do also qualify as research – they provide an understanding of how thing were made in the past and can be a source of inspiration for stories and building fantasy worlds.

I’ve read articles about chemicals in the brain that relate to creativity, that suggest that the more you produce them the easier it is to produce them. Creativity stimulates creativity.

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.

When I saw the discussion about this on the internet my first reaction was ‘is there really?’. It’s certainly not the case here in Australia, where most fantasy authors are female.

When I considered the ratio of male to female overseas authors I knew of, there didn’t seem to be a big imbalance. Then I learned that I would be attending a Mega Signing in the UK as part of the publicity tour for The Rogue in May, and that I was the lone woman in a pack of eight male writers. That certainly made me sit up and take notice!

While the boy’s club label didn’t seem immediately true of authors, it did agree with my impressions of the commentators of sff overseas and this article confirmed it. I’ve always been a bit bemused by the UK/US awards shortlists and the books reviewed in magazines. The sort of fantasy they seem to like is what I’d call ‘blokey’.

Q: So you think there’s a difference in the way males and females write fantasy?

Yes, but not all writers all the time. Most male and female writers come pretty close to a style and flavour of fantasy that sits easily in the middle. But there are definitely writers who write in a blokey or feminine style, even if they’re of the opposite gender.

I suspect there are cultural differences, too. The sort of fantasy popular in the US may seem blokey to our Australian tastes because we have more female fantasy writers here and the subtle differences in the way women write fantasy may feel ‘normal’ to us. Is the opposite true? I don’t know. But if it is, it doesn’t seem to be putting off overseas readers. Every time I talk to people in the oversees publishing, bookselling and commentary industries they ask “why are there so many fantastic women fantasy writers in Australia?”. Maybe the question should be “why aren’t we paying more attention to all the fantastic women fantasy writers in your own country?”.

Q: Following on from that, does the gender of the writer change your expectations when you pick up their book?

I would be lying if I said it didn’t, but the important thing is it doesn’t stop me wanting to read a book. Ultimately I want to read a good book, and I never consider if that’s more likely because the writer is male or female. I certainly never decide that a book is bad or not my taste because of the gender of the writer.

I know some readers do, and I slot that in the same category of “extremely fussy and a bit strange” readers along with those who won’t read a book written in first person, or that have prologues or epilogues, or with a point of view character in a gender or sexual orientation different to their own.

I don’t feel I should be judgemental toward a reader because of their reading comfort zones, but I do feel sad that they may be missing out on great books.

Q: What do you plan to write next?

I’m really excited about the next series, Millennium’s Rule, which we’ve just finished negotiating the contract for. It is set in a multiple world scenario, where characters with the ability can hop from one world to another. In one world, where there has been a kind of industrial revolution powered by magic, a young archaeology student finds an ancient treasure – a sentient book. In another world, trapped in its own dark ages, the daughter of a cloth merchant must hide her powers from magic-hating, priests.

Q: Sounds like fun to read and to write! And here’s the fun question. If you could book a trip on a time machine, where and when would you go, and why?

I would go into the future, maybe by a hundred years. Maybe that’s surprising from a writer of fantasy, which is mainly set in worlds based on past eras, but I’m not under any delusions that any time in the past was a better one than now. Not that I expect the future is guaranteed to be either, but I always want to know to know what happens next.

To win a copy of Trudi’s latest book  ‘The Rogue’ answer this question: Why do you think there are so many fantastic female fantasy writers in Australia?


Filed under Australian Writers, Book Giveaway, creativity, Fantasy books, Female Fantasy Authors, Genre, Inspiring Art, Promoting Friend's Books, The Writing Fraternity

103 Responses to Meet Trudi Canavan …

  1. Mary Preston

    Maybe it’s something in the air. I would hope it’s because there is a ground swell of encouragement. That minds are expanded & allowed to soar.

    • Something in the air, Mary? LOL

    • One might ask the same question about female actors from Australia. The best female actors in the world are also from down under. Now I haven’t been to Australia yet, but knowing a bit of the history of the country makes me surmise there is a bit of rugged individualism that runs a thread through the entire population. There’s a fantastic music, film, literature, and art movement borne by the sense of otherness. Australia is a tough place for tough people..just the sheer size of it. Getting across the land takes time…

      • There’s definitely a strong sense of individualism here, but I’m not sure sure about the toughness. We’re a pretty wealthy nation compared to many others. Wealth = leisure time and education = ingredients for getting good at writing.

      • Trudi, while I coupled individualism with toughness as reasons for the strong female fantasy density in Australia. I realize that Australians have it better off than many countries in the world however just a glance at a nature book makes you realize that Australia leads the world in creatures or forces of nature that will kill you. Whether it’s spiders, jellyfish, snakes, sharks, crocodiles, rip tides, extreme heat….Australia seems to lead the world. Now I may have been influenced by the Bill Bryson book…but it seems to me that must have some kind of effect on the population’s collective unconsciousness…..

    • Ali A

      Personally speaking I’ve tended to notice the Australian writers are better fantasy writers than any other (British or American) writer. Narrowing it down I think the fact that Australian writers are so good is because as a younger country they don’t have the, lets just say history and experience, that other countries might have and that gives them a little bit of creative license; that they aren’t tied down so much by social taboos and wirting expectations that are so common in Britain. In addition they don;t have the Happy go lucku attitude of the A

  2. Denis Fedoseev

    I believe, the answer is pretty simple: because Australians _do_ pay attention to female fantasy-writers in their country. Therefore, those writers are noticed, published, read and discussed.
    And creative spark in the air also helps 😉
    Above all, the level of iving is pretty high in Australia (as far as I could notice) and so it’s much easier for everyone to explore their creative possibilities. In writing fantasy – fantastic fantsy – for instance.

  3. Sarah

    I think Trudi’s right: there are fantastic female fantasy authors everywhere! However, Australia’s a bit less stuck in the mud with gender roles than some other countries, so it’s more a level playing field when it comes to recognition. Don’t worry: I’m sure we’ll catch up with you eventually – look out for my debut novel c.2053 LOL! 😉

  4. Margaret Mager

    I suspect that it comes down to what was summed up, a few years ago, in the bumper-sticker distributed in Queensland schools, “Girls can do anything!” As a teacher for over thirty years, I can say that I witnessed a dramatic downward plunge in the idea that there were things that girls (and boys) inherently could and/or should do. It is many, many years since I heard a father assert “No daughter of mine is going to become a mechanic – I don’t want to see grease under her fingernails!” There is a (largely unstated) feeling that anyone should be judged on what they do and how they do it, not on whether they are male or female.

    • Having said that, Margaret, things go the other way. Boys are not doing as well as girls in school.

      And there are not a lot of great models for boys who don’t want to be football players or politicians. My sons felt the pressure of being creative, sensitive types when they were in high school.

  5. Big question. Could be a combination of things. I remember Tansy mentioning Sara Douglas as being perhaps the start of the trend. Perhaps Douglas having that initial success paved the way with publishers (i.e. female writers of fantasy in Aus were a going concern).

    Of course there needed to be a good supply of quality women waiting in the wings and how that happened, I could only guess at? As mentioned above, changes in attitude to what women “can do”, good role models in Douglas and Fallon, and perhaps here I am missing out on YA authors, who would play an integral part in developing a love for fantasy.

    It’s something that we should perhaps (as a community of writers & readers) focus on – what are we doing right? ( potential PHD topic?).

    But it’s something that we should definitely recognise and celebrate.

    • My usual answer to this question is that there really wasn’t a market for local fantasy writers until Pan Macmillan ventured into genre fiction in the late 80s, early 90s, followed by the beginning of the HarperCollins Voyager imprint. So there was a backlog of writers waiting to be published. That doesn’t explain why they happened to be mostly female, though.

    • What Trudi says, is true. We were all writing away without a local publisher to approach. Don’t ask me why the books that got published were by female authors.

  6. Cecilia

    I would like to think it’s the fact that Aussies get behind their local authors which gives other unpublished the chance to catch a break. Also Australia is a country where we are blessed with a vivid native culture and a landscape that inspires imagination and creativity. Certainly hope the trend continues but at the same time lets not forget the awesome talented bunch of guys out there as well 🙂

  7. Nathan

    I should imagine the laid back life style in Oz helps to create some great authors.
    As for women authors, well all my favourite authors are women. Maybe it’s because women are able to portray the characters feeling better than men, therefore the reader can better connect with the characters.

    • Well plenty of people overseas are connecting with characters written by male authors so I doubt that’s the case.

      My top ten authors list does have more female authors in it though which is a bit of and oddity when I see most lists from other people mostly from overseas.

      The question/s should be “what’s up with the Aussie male gene pool? To much beer?” or more seriously “Is the ‘girls club’ so ‘entrenched’ in Australian Fantasy publishing that the guys are finding it hard to break into?”

      Would be interesting to see some stats on the male female breakdown of fantasy readers from different countries.

  8. Seth Aronsohn

    I think it’s because there aren’t any exceptionally big male names in Australian fantasy writing, and so that has meant that female authors haven’t been overshadowed. Either that or it might just be because Birds of a feather flock together.

  9. Lauren

    There are probably many factors, but I definitely think that part of it is that the culture and background we grow up with in Australia is so far removed from types of worlds created in fantasy fiction. The exotic and foreign nature of fantasy spurs writers on to let their imagination run wild, both male and female alike.
    There is also, I think, a really good community of writers within Australia that support and encourage each other. It’s an exciting time for fantasy writing.

    • It’s interesting that not many Australian fantasy writers describe a typically Australian landscape. But to us the European landscape is exotic. I noted ten years ago that one of our locals, Jane Routely, did include hints of Aussie animals and landscape in her books – but she did so when she was living overseas and felt homesick.

      It’s as if what is far away and exotic stimulates us.

  10. Marty

    It is the other side of the world. The magnetic field ist inverse (look at your toilet), in summer, it is cold (Europe = warm), it is night in australia if we go to work in Europe… And so, there are many “fantastic female fantasy writers”. 😉

  11. Fuzah

    I’m thinking it’s probably because Australian female writers inspired and encourage each other and combined with the nature surrounding them, they manage to create visions which set them to write beautiful stories.

  12. RogerL

    “Why do you think there are so many fantastic female fantasy writers in Australia?”

    Are there? Who? I have only heard of one – Trudi Canavan.

    Let me ask a question in return
    Sweden have world recognition (at least in Sweden) for all our crime writers. Can you mention two?

    • Is one Stig Larsson? I’m not really into crime so that’s just a guess!

      If I’m the only female Australian fantasy writer you’ve heard of, then oh boy do you have a wealth of wonderful authors to discover. I envy you the discoveries you’ll make!

      • RogerL

        Correct – Stieg Larsson has sold 27 miljon copies worldwide (2010). Sadly he did not live to see this success…

        Others include Liza Marklund (reached #1 at New York Times Best Seller), Henning Mankell, Camilla Läckberg, Sjöwall/Wahlöö, and other crime writers not named larsson…

        I guess Australians write/read fantasy as Swedes write crime. There is a market – with big enough market different preferences will diversify the market.

        Maybe it is as simple as – in Australia women reads fantasy?
        (Note: I have no idéa…)

        During my youth women and girls did not read fantasy here in Sweden. This has changed… One of my daughters got the recommendation from school to read something else than fantasy occasionally…

    • LOL, I was at a school doing a writing workshop and the teacher complained that all the kids wanted to read was spec fic (fantasy and SF).

  13. Unal

    I don’t agree with RogerL. Because the questions was why there are so many “FEMALE” fantasy writers in Australia. Even if we don’t know the names of them we can think and answer the question from our point of view. We can say that women’s imagination is greater than men’s. But this is not right. People’s minds work differently. So I can guess that Australian readers like to read Women’s imagined worlds therefore there’re more demand on their books rather than men’s.

    • RogerL

      I took a look at

      Sorry but I can’t say that I recognize any but Trudi, male or female 🙂

      My name memory is not great but I have searched for all authors A-C on a Swedish online book shop and got this result (figure in parenthesis is no of titles available, I do not list those completely missing):
      Lee Battersby (1), Adam Browne (1), Trudi Canavan (24) incl. audio, Kylie Chan (3), Paul Collins (3), Kate Constable (6), D.M Cornish (7), Alison Croggen (18), Marianne Curley (9), …

      But I will take that list to our library/book shop to see if I can find any.

    • Unal, it is really the publishers who create this, because they accept the books. So the editorial and marketing team at the major publishing house have been accepting fantasy books by female authors for the past 15 years.

      You could ask, why are the fantasy books that men submit not being accepted by the publisher?

      • I have wondered if it’s simply the fact that the majority of people working in publishing are women – female editors who perhaps naturally have a preference for character-driven fantasy.

  14. Martin

    This is a really big question and I don’t think any one thing can explain it (it could be the basis of a dissertation if not a PhD).

    As a UK reader I have noticed that a lot of the female writers on the shop shelves, and my bookshelves (all barr one actually), are
    australian. Likewise, most of the male writers are from the US. I think another big question is why are there so few fantasy authors (of either gender) in the UK?

    I’d say like some others above me, that the relaxed Aussie lifestyle is good for imagination muscles. As well as the stunning scenery. On a deeper level, while Australia still has an ample history, it is a relatively newborn country compared to many others. I’d hope that this would mean the sexist tendencies embedded in many societies run weaker in the Aussie environment.

    Whatever the reasons, I’m very grateful for the many lovely stories coming from Oz and let’s hope there are many more to come (whether from female or male writers).

    • Martin,w hat if I said it was an example of deeply entrenched sexism.

      Just putting this forward:-

      Science fiction is more respected than fantasy because it is based on science and fantasy is seen as escapism.
      Australian male writers don’t want to appear soft so they concentrate on writing SF. SF is not accepted by the major spec fic publisher in Australia because it is believed that it doesn’t sell.

      Therefore the majority of books submitted are fantasy, written by females.

      • Martin

        My comment seems naive and just a little optimistic in contrast, but you do raise a very interesting point.

        On the other hand, there are also some excellent male writers in australia, such as Garth Nix (off the top of my head) who are not afraid to appear ‘soft’ and have had great success as a result.

    • You’re right. Garth Nix has done really well with Sabriel etc. You’ll note they are YA and fantasy is more respected for YA readers. Don’t ask me why!

  15. Romina

    I think there are so many female fantasy writers in australia because of the beautiful environment. Just look at these wonderful beaches! Lying there in the sun just has to improve your imagination. Further women are more likely to invent completely new places for their stories (Sure there are exceptions like Tolkien)
    And maybe it’s also just that young women are influenced and encouraged by their favourite authors who are living in their country so they think: ‘well, I could do that too’
    Even if the status of women has improved over all the last years there are still more possibilities for men to make a career, thus men might not think of becoming an fantasy author or something.
    But all in all I’d say that this happened by random, because there have to be also male fantasy authors. Maybe it’s just that the female ones are more successful?

  16. Kathryn Glover

    Maybe it has something to do with proximity. Relatively speaking Europe and America are a lot closer geographically and so stereotypes get passed backwards and forwards. Australia is out on its own (no offense) and doesn’t really get discussed by us Brits unless we’re battling it out in the Ashes or if there’s been a natural disaster, which has made it onto the news. So maybe there’s more freedom for Australia to develop its own fantasy writers and for the women to get recognised more than they would on this side of the globe.

  17. Danny

    Well woman have the better and more versatile imagination and Australia is such a beautiful country it must be packed with inspiration. simples!

  18. Ali A

    …cont. (not that I’m saying anything bad about the British or Americans). With regards to female fantasy writers, well I think that male writers, especially in the fantasy genre are a little oversexed and really like to write books down to the grit of life and society where as I have noticed with female writers thay have more of a finesse about the way they write. They get to the pint and have imagination, with regards to architecture, methedoligies of magic and relationships. Female fantasy writers in Australia, I think, take more consideration in their characters. What makes them like that…it might be the fact that women through time have not had the chance to express themselves in fiction as much as males have and therefore are relatively new and can approach fantasy with a fresh eye and outlook!

    • Ali, thanks for the compliments regarding characterization, world building and magic. As a writer I put a lot of effort into these areas.

    • Martin

      I definately think you’re right with regards to the better characterisation found in female writers’ fantasy. A lot of the fantasy written by male writers (and this is just an observation from the books which I have read and may not be accurate) do appear to be ‘blokey’ like Trudi said and much grittier (in terms of violence and sex).

  19. Sojourner

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    I think its the enviroment, its very inspireing, it also makes you wish to escape from reality and enjoy your own world.


  20. Laura

    To answer the question the question I think it comes down to the writing. Not that I’m saying you need to be female and australian to write good fantasy. For years many novels have been driven by the worlds in which they are set and perhaps one main character. The remaining characters not developed enough to allow the reader to care too much for them ( I know I’m dismissing many non australian and male writers in that generalisation, sorry). But the female writers from australia of late seem to be much better at creating worlds and placing characters in these worlds that you care about and develop as the story progresses. In short, in grossing you in the world AND the fate of the characters.

  21. David

    If they are stuck in the middle of nowhere, what choice do creative people have but to be creative? Positive feedback. It helps that gender inequality is somewhat confined.

  22. Lindsey

    I feel like some of it has to do with the earlier history. Perhaps when the genre started to become popular, women fantasy writers in Australia bonded, formed their own community. In the writing and publishing world, who you know is huge, and I can definitely see women authors making the connections with each other.

    Almost all of my favorite fantasy novels are by women Australians, and I enjoy watching my favorite authors (both Canavan and Cory-Daniells) communicate with each other on blogs and twitter.

    As an overarching statement “Early on, women authors formed a community within fantasy fiction, and that bond has facilitated conversation, growth, and the overall prestige of Australian female fantasy writers.

  23. Brendan Podger

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    I am going to blame(?) the restricted market that was the rule in Australia in the seventies and eighties. Because of the buying restrictions meaning we couldn’t get books direct from the US, to get to an Australian bookshelf required first being picked up by a British publisher, and then doing well enough there to be considered by booksellers in Aus.

    We didn’t see as much on the shelves, but what was there, after the varying filters tended to be the best. Since women had to on the whole be very good to just get published, that meant more of their works proportionally made it through to Australian shelves, giving the home grown market a natural inclination to both expect good things from female authors, and to encourage Australian women who saw the shelves full of women’s names to take a crack at it themselves.

    • Hi Brendan,

      Don’t know why that weird ‘Your comment is awaiting moderation’ note came up. WordPress gremlins, I guess.

      Not much spec fic was being published in the 70s and 80s. It was mainly small press, Norstrilia (spelling?) and Cory and Collins. LOL.

  24. Woah! This thread has certainly jumped ahead. Not sure if its been mentioned by I wondered if maybe the publication of those female authors found a more than ready readership in female readers here in Australia and from then we have a second wave of women writers? While figures are sketchy I think there is a trend for girls and then women to read more fiction than men.

  25. Leigh Rathbone

    I think there are some fantastic female fantasy writers because we tend to read more (to ourselves and bedtime stories for children) and so have a better imagination. Austrialia has a vast amount of unpopulated area, unlike countries like England, where a walk across a field only separates the next village. Thus creating the start for an adventure.

  26. ChrisMc

    I think it’s the ausi-quad effect!

    Great Surroundings, Modern Culture, Excellent Education & Vegemite!

  27. Kat

    I think there are fewer prejudices concerning female fantasy authors in Australia than elsewhere.

  28. Jamie Menzies

    I’m going to go for a combination of women authors being more noticed in Australia (no idea why, I’ve never been!) and sunshine! I dont know about you but I always have a lot more energy to do things in the sun, so this must have some effect!

    Also I suppose now that women authors have a higher profile in Australia it seems more like an attainable goal for up and coming female writers, so they really go for it.

    Personally I have no preference over the gender of authors as long as the words are good!

    • Great, Jamie.

      I read a comment on another blog where the author was asking why so few women had won a literary prize in the last 10 years. The commenter said ‘I’ve never read anything, ever, that was written by a woman that was any good.’

      This is why James Tiptree Jr used a male pen name when she first started writing!

    • Lol! Not sure about the sunshine idea. It usually comes with hot temperatures, and I always get less done in summer because heat makes me sleepy.

      When Sarah Douglass was first published to great success, the influx of SFF manuscripts to Australian publishers escalated dramatically. At one stage there were over 300 per month arriving. I don’t know if it dropped off after that. If it did, that would support my ‘backlog’ theory. If it didn’t, then that would support the idea that Sarah’s books and success inspired others to have a go.

  29. I think there is a nexus of ley lines in Australia that favor the feminine, giving them great insight into what makes a great fantasy story. Oh, and yeah, I’m jealous. Keep up the awesome writing!

  30. JDM

    I believe it must be something about the more relaxed way of life and obviously the sunshine 😉 Or maybe something different in the education system; in Great Britain any “creative” career path such as an actor, writer or singer are all looked down upon almost as being too risky an to be really worthy to consider. Also in response to why the UK/US are male dominated fantasy writers I suppose because our cultures were rather male dominated up untill not too long ago, even though to a degree so was down under, and the most notable writers for me are from older generations for instance C.S.Lewis and J.R.Tolkien. In addition I do find males and females do, generally, write differently and express emotions differently in the book; though one way isn’t better but because female writers are less common in fantasy it’s fair to see a female writer is refreshing.

    Thanks a lot for the books and hope you have a good time in our neck of the woods,


  31. Khadijah

    I don’t think that there is a simple reason there are so many fantastic female authors in Australia. However, I have come across many in my reading. I think it has to do with publicity, but I may be wrong, seeing as I have never been to Australia. In most countries, fantasy writing isn’t appreciated very much, but I think that in Australia, it probably is. Although the landscape of most fantasy books, by Australian authors, that I have read, are not similar to that of Australia, I think that the beauty of Australia gives writers more inspiration to write in great detail about other inspiring places, that aren’t in this world. I think it’s great that female fantasy writers get so much credit in Australia. Almost all of the fantasy books that I have read and loved are written by Australian women. Perhaps I should move to Australia, it might help me with my writing 😉

  32. Andrew Campbell

    My theory boils down to a certain female “never say die” attitude that I’ve grown up to appreciate. Female authors have a certain compassionate streak that can lack from authored novels of the male gender. Female authors are more focused on people, relationships, (not just love & hate) and are more focused on progressing a story by dialogue, consequences and difficult issues that must be overcome with very controlled and necessary amounts of violence, rather than “kill him”… “he’s dead now”…. “then I ate his entrails with scones, jam and earl grey tea”. Compared to a lot of the male authors who focus mainly on big bangs, explosions, blood and fighting to try and move a story along, they focus a lot of their attention and try to drive the story by carnage and death and a lot of the character’s “realness” is lost, where female author’s tend to drive their stories with character’s who develop throughout the novel, relationship changes and difficult, but more true-to-life scenarios that “we” as the average reader can relate to, but still in the context of a fantasy realm where issues, inhabitants and landscapes could be vastly different, life as a whole is still very similar to planet Earth.
    This is nothing sexist against men in particular or male authors being terrible storytellers (I love my Paolini, Pullman & Tolkien) but Female’s seem to have that extra space in their brain to function will, determination and concentration a little more effectively then men. Maybe it’s that dormant motherly hen spirit instilled in them from day dot that shines through in their natural care for their “babies” (in this retrospect, character’s they have mentally birthed and are raising to have their own personalities and traits, to be like real living, breathing people, trapped in ink and paper).
    Eventually all these things build up into one mass of epic fantasy adventure. Having built their foundations strong, female author’s always seem to carry successful and satisfying stories to the very last page, be it one novel or spread across seven. I first found love in Trudi Canavan’s work while glancing in a bookshop window, the cover for “The Magician’s Apprentice” jumped out at me and I bought the book and took it home to read. Never judge a book by it’s cover they say, well I’m glad I disobeyed that day cause it was a true gem of a find. From there I’ve moved backwards to The Black Magician’s Trilogy then straight from there into The Ambassador’s Mission, now eagerly awaiting my pre-ordered The Rogue to arrive by mail. One thing I’ve noticed throughout all these stories is consistency, with character moulds, and thick ethnical history, issues and racial differences. The stories are always fantastic and versatile and forever surprising the unexpected reader (me) but still there is a depth of knowledge about Imardin, Sachaka and The Magician’s Guild that carries through all the novels that keeps it familiar and real, like your were reading an ultra-detail and highly enthralling history book rather than a bogus fantasy cliché journey. That’s something I truly love about all of her work, originality. Ideas that haven’t spawned from someone else’s creation. In short I think I can answer this question. Female authors aren’t scared to think outside the square

  33. Karsten

    I uess this is a self fullfilling prophecy supported by the publishers.
    They “know” that australiam women write good fantasy, so they publish them. This creates an even bigger market for “female fantasy”, which in turn makes it easier for female fantasy writers to find a publisher, and so on and so on…
    It started with one or two good books from women that created the market. From this on this effect sustained itself.

    (I wanted to add something about vampire stories here, but I removed it. It was too negative )

  34. Liz Lowe

    Well, doesn’t Australia have it all? Great weather, amazing wild life and amazing authors? 🙂

    Maybe the question should be why the US and UK doesn’t have so many female fantasy writers. I think that this is probably down to a negative stereotype of the genre, it would seem that people have forgotten about the pure escapism to be found in fantasy works.

    All i can say it Thank God for he Lord of the Rings! Or people might carry on thinking that fantasy is just for kids 🙂

    • Liz, I first published as Cory Daniells, because I wanted a non-gender specific name. Now I’ve switched to using my first name as well as both my parent’s last names.

      I really don’t know if it has made a difference to readers.

      And yes, I love fantasy. You can explore the big questions in fantasy, just as you can explore them in SF.

      • Liz Lowe

        yes 🙂 Fantacy and SF are amazing for tackling Big Questions and challenging the set order of things. Is always fun.

        to be honest I doubt that the authors name makes much difference to readers…. it’s always titles that stresses me out (Bad habit when i start something of making really stupid titles)

      • Liz, I must confess, I get hooked by great cover art. I’ve even ought books just for the cover art. But then I come from a background as an illustrator.

    • RogerL

      “Maybe the question should be why the US and UK doesn’t have so many female fantasy writers.”

      Don’t they?

      I mean, I knew about a more UK and US female fantasy writers than of Australian.

      • Roger, this is an interesting point. I’m finding lots of wonderful female fantasy writers from the US and the UK.

        But I’ve also come across a perception that it’s the male writers who get the kudos and the reviews. I know it isn’t politically correct to say this. It’s the kind of thing people whisper. ‘Fantasy is a boy’s club.’

        This is why I started my series of interviews with Fabulous Female Fantasy Authors!

      • RogerL

        Rowena, I call you on that claim.
        Counting all reviews in all media I bet female fantasy writers will come out on top.

        J. K. Rowling dominates!

        But I guess those authors that appeal to a mass market isn’t valued as much. The question is what is more difficult – to write and make success in the mass market or to a selected few? (Pure luck does play a part as well)

  35. Ha anyone mentioned the small press situation in Australia and how that may have nurtured the talents of many of our writers?

  36. JDM

    Who won? 😀

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