Category Archives: Book trailers

Here it is, the trailer for The Price of Fame

Thanks to my long suffering DH and Jason and Nat Collins who did the music!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jgBHQ3MMPrk&feature=youtu.be]

Copies of The Price of Fame should be arriving next week. I promise, first thing I’ll do is send out the prize copies to the competition winners who’ve been waiting so patiently.

Am planning on interviewing Daryl about the proces of creating trailers, creativity and art.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Australian Artists, Australian Writers, Book trailers, Indy Press, Music and Writers, Paranormal_Crime, Resonance, Thrillers and Crime, Thrillers and Mysteries

Trent Jamieson’s Book Launch for ‘Night’s Engines’. (Book 2 of the Nightbound Land)

Back in 2003 the ROR group went to Varuna to critiue our books in progress. Oh my, we all look so young! (Tansy, Marianne, Trent, Maxine and me). Trent put in a book which would later be developed into the Nightbound Land duology. I remember being in awe of his vision for this world, so different and inventive. And Margaret, would she escape…

Flash foward to 2012 and the second book of the Nightbound land is about to be released. Yay!

Trent says:

The Nightbound Land was inspired by my love of monsters and Steampunk. I wanted to write a big secondary world science fantasy filled with steam engines, mad men, and creatures out of nightmare, and the world of Shale was the perfect canvas for my obsessions. It’s everything I love about fantasy bound up in tooth and claw and clockwork machines. I only hope that it’s as fun to read as it was to write.

AVID READER (in Westend,brisbane) are holding a “Night’s Engines” evening, where they’ll celebrate a stella year of writing and publishing books!
Thursday 19th July
6pm for a 6.30pm start
Free event but RSVP essential
RSVP to events@avidreader.com.au 38463422
Trent Jamieson must be the hardest working writer in Australia. We have had book launches for 5 Jamieson books in the past two years and we are SO PROUD! To celebrate publication of the second book in his Nightbound Land series we are holding our first ever dress up party. Come as Trent Jamieson means obligatory moustaches, beards and/or glasses. Dress up and have some fun or just come on down and celebrate with us in the traditional un-hirsute manner.
So, here’s wishing Trent, all the best with this duology. I’ll be coming along to the launch, although I won’t be in steam punk costume. (Haven’t got anything suitable).
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cd-GIecM1jQ&feature=player_embedded]

2 Comments

Filed under Australian Writers, Book trailers, creativity, Dark Urban Fantasy, Promoting Friend's Books, Steampunk

How cool is this?

My Dh had finished the trailer for The Outcast Chronicles. Ta Da!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NDfjjKVn96Q]

I’m going to interview him in a couple of weeks about putting the trailer together, so if you have any questions, drop them in the comments.

12 Comments

Filed under Book trailers, Covers, creativity, Fantasy books, Female Fantasy Authors, Fun Stuff, Promoting your Book

Meet Tom Taylor …

I’m expanding my series featuring fantastic authors to include fantastically creative people across the different mediums, which is why I’ve invited the talented Tom Taylor to drop by.

Watch out for the give-away question at the end of the interview.

I usually put a photo right here, but I couldn’t resist this:

Artist Harrison Chua draws comicbook writer Tom Taylor

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dCDGPRKdn8A]

Q: Not only do you write for comics, but you’re also an ‘award-winning playwright who has written for radio, musicals, film, magazines, satirical news and sketch comedy. (For a full list of Tom’s works see here). Tell me, did you sit there doodling in your school books while daydreaming about what you’d do one day? Did your teachers encourage you, or tell you no-one ever makes any money from writing? Did you ever dream you’d see your work performed in the Sydney Opera House?

Yes, I absolutely spent all of high school doodling in books, especially in Geography, where I just drew and drew… in-between sleeping. My geography teacher wasn’t very engaging. He’d probably have far less-kind things to say about me.
Outside of the arts, the education system was never really my friend. I did have a few teachers who encouraged me, and one in particular who used to let me leave class and do creative writing up a tree.

No, I can’t say I ever thought my work would be on at the Sydney Opera House or at the Edinburgh Festival. However, being involved in theatre from the age of 12, and in a singing group before that, I probably thought I’d have a better chance of having something on at the Opera House than to be writing in a galaxy far, far away.

Q: I’ve interviewed authors who write books for Star Wars, Star Gate, Doctor Who etc. And many of them start out as fans, so it is no trouble for them to immerse themselves in the world. You’re currently writing for Star WarsBlood Ties with Chris Scalf, Invasion with Colin Wilson published by Dark Horse Comics, with more on the way. Looks like you are thoroughly immersed! Is there a huge ‘bible’ of information you have to refer to? Do you get to add to this ‘bible’ as you develop your stories?

Absolutely. Star Wars canon is immense. On top of the movies, you have the cartoons, computer games, short stories, role playing games, novels, and more, and almost everything that is created becomes canon. So yes, all creators need a bible and I think everybody becomes fast email friends with a man known as Leland Chee, Lucasfilm’s keeper of continuity.  He’ll be called on a lot in the next year as I work on the next instalment of Star Wars: Blood Ties ‘Boba Fett is Dead’ and some other Star Wars work.

Q: You also write your own original material. The Deep: Here be Dragons has just come out from Gestalt Publishing, art work by James Brouwer. In a review on Broken Frontier Kris Bather says: ‘Comedy in this artform can always be tricky, but the pair know what they’re doing and elicit the most laughs out of each comedic moment, thanks to great pacing, expressions, and dialogue’. Comedy can be challenging. Did you have to work at developing your relationship with artist James Brouwer, or did the two of you just click?

I’ve written a lot of comedy over the years – musicals, sketch comedy, and plays, including for the Comedy Festival, and generally I don’t really have to think about, or analyze, if something is funny. With James, I found a guy who also just gets it, and just as importantly, is a fantastic storyteller. I used to direct theatre back in the day, and for me the characters on the page need to react appropriately to situations, and need to react to whatever people are saying, just like actors. There are some fantastic artists in professional comics who think that 22 pages of some dark superhero, switching between the same two expressions tells a story. James isn’t one of those guys. James puts so much character and life into the Nekton family (The main characters of The Deep). No character stands around blank-faced while someone else is talking. Every page he sends me has me smiling. So yes, James and I did just click. And, thanks to that click, The Deep is the most joyous comic I’ve been a part of. Seriously, get this book for Christmas, for yourself and for your children. It will fill your heart with rainbows. It will fill your heart with exactly six rainbows. Any more than that and your arteries would begin to clog with rainbows and that would end messily… but probably very colourfully.

Q: Rombies (written by Tom Taylor, illustrated by Skye Ogden, Colours by Mikiko Ponczeck) is a historical paranormal tale set in ancient Rome. What inspired you to set a story in ancient Rome? Have you always been fascinated by its history?

Skye Ogden inspired me. Honestly, this was originally his idea. I just ran with it, and I’m very glad I did. Gestalt actually asked me to write this very early on in our working relationship and I said no.  I’m not a massive horror fan and I wasn’t sure this was the project for me. The night after I said no, I had a dream about Gladiators fighting zombie lions beneath the Coliseum. I called them the very next morning to say yes. I wanted to see Zombie Lions come to un-life. We made that happen. Where we plan to go next is epic.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=9eVw0wPd7vI#]

Q: Example (written by Tom Taylor, Illustrated by Colin Wilson) is being made into a short film. Newsarama said: ‘This book should be used in writing classes everywhere, and should be the primary example (no pun intended) for aspiring comic writers to reference when trying to learn how to write dramatic and compelling dialogue.’   This is quite an accolade for any work, let alone a graphic novel. (I see it is an adaption of your award-winning play Example. I always tell my kids a play needs to be really well written because it has to hold the audience with the power of the premise, characterisation and dialogue – no special effects).  Do you do a lot of train travel? Do you listen in to people’s conversations or does it all spring from some deep dark part of your psyche?

The Example was written in the wake of the London Bombing. And it was these events, along with a typically appalling, fear-mongering ad for A Current Affair, which inspired the play. The government in Australia at the time was pushing the ‘Be alert, not alarmed’ slogan and that was also driving me insane. A lot of my writing is a vehicle for vent – an outlet for outrage. Almost all of my short plays stem from this.

On the surface, The Example is a story about a man, a woman and their reactions to an abandoned briefcase on a railway platform. Below the surface, it’s an exploration of terror and racism. It’s essentially a prejudice versus preservation story. And it’s just been optioned and filmed.  Yay!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K1KCYq11GHY&feature=player_embedded]

Q: Flinch is a collection of stories including Shaun Tan, Justin Randall, James Barclay, Terry Dowling and yourself among others. The stories all revolve around each person’s interpretation of the word ‘flinch’. One of your stories White Dove 111 is about a colonist ship leaving a dying earth. This looks like an SF mystery from the description. Did you grow up reading Science Fiction?

I did read a lot of sci-fi, but I was far more into Fantasy. White Dove III was another great excuse to work with the man, Colin Wilson.  I also wrote another short story in Flinch called 96,000m, illustrated by Tom Bonin, which was my first published underwater story. It was the first time I’d publicly shown my fascination for all things underwater and squid-like.  Although, that story was a far cry from the joyous all-ages adventure of The Deep: Here Be Dragons. 96000m is pretty disturbing. If you like disturbed, or are disturbed, you’ll probably like 96000m.

 

Q: You are working for DC comics (Green Lantern and Sinestro). Is this one of your childhood dreams to write in the DC universe?

Yes. So many times, yes.

I grew up with DC comics. I loved all of these characters as a kid and never stopped loving them (except outwardly when I was a teenager). Superman is my absolute hero and writing him is one of my ultimate goals. I’m really proud of The Brainiac/Sinestro Corp War which is the story I’ve just written in DCUO Legends #16 and #17 and I was very lucky to get to work with a great artist like Bruno Redondo (another guy who, like James, just gets it). I’ve written something else unannounced, and I’m also still staggered I got to write The Authority for a year. The Authority was the super team that made me realise that superhero comics could also serve as an outlet for outrage.

Q: Looking at your published works you have been amazingly productive. In an interview on HYPERLINK SciFiBlock you say: ‘Like any work, there are times when it’s a hard slog and things get very hard, but then you just have to pick up the nearest blunt object, smash yourself in the face, and remind yourself that you’re writing Jedi and superheroes for a living.’ Do you have a work routine that helps you meet these deadlines?

I’d like to say I have a routine but, really, I have kids, including a baby who doesn’t sleep very well, and that throws all routines out. My only real routine is that I stay up very late to write. The rest of the world needs to be asleep before I can do my best work. The Example was written one night between 1am and 5am. I started writing this very interview at 2am, it’s now 4.27am… and the baby’s already been up twice.

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 (in books) is a bit of a boy’s club. I’ve come across quite a bit of talk on the blogs recently about female comic artists and writers, and their lack of representation in large companies like DC. Have you come across this in your professional life?

I have heard this, and I do know this was an issue for DC in the announcement of the New 52, one they’re trying very hard to rectify. I think mainstream superhero comics have the perception of being a boys club, but the comics medium absolutely isn’t.

This year alone, I’ve worked with four female artists on eight different projects, which is possibly more female creators than some of the majors are working with.

I’m not sure superheroes have the same appeal for women. And I’d argue that they are often narrowly written and illustrated with men in mind. For every brilliantly written and lovingly illustrated superhero book like Secret Six by Gail Simone and (Australia’s own) Nicola Scott, there is a book with a scantily clad superheroine tearing her clothing while scratching the face of… probably another scantily clad woman who is tearing her clothing.

But outside of the Superhero genre, there are a lot of women telling brilliant stories.

Keep an eye out for Believe, which is set to be published soon, to see the incredible work of Emily Smith (and two other huge unannounced things we’re doing together). On top of Rombies, Mikiko Ponczek has just handed in the last pages of a 22 page story she has illustrated and coloured. I can’t wait for that one to be announced. It’s a script I’m very happy with and Miki has just smashed it.
Kate Moon has already finished the story Poppins which will be included in Brief Cases (whenever that comes out) and I have a small, but very cool story coming out with someone else who must remain nameless for now. She knows who she is. Hi, you!

Q: Following on from that, does the gender of the writer/artist change your expectations when you approach their work?

Nope. I never really think about it. And, when I do, I actually tend to get genders wrong.

Sorry, Robin Hobb.

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?

I think it’s ridiculous that a time-machine company needs to take bookings. You can be anywhere and anywhen! Why do you need me at the time-machine depot at 9.30am?? It’s a disgrace!

Having gotten over my rant, and glared at the Time Machine operator who apparently couldn’t come to my house at 12, I would take a trip a very long way back.

I hypothesized earlier tonight that a pterodactyl may have eaten a missing link which would have caused humans to have one extra thumb. I would go back in time and ride that Pterodactyl into a live volcano before it ate our three-thumbed ancestor, thereby making all of us fifty percent more opposable.

You’re welcome.

Give-away Question:

For your chance to win a copy of The Deep: Here Be Dragons, and the six rainbows in your heart that come with it, answer this question.

If you had three thumbs, what would you do differently?

 

 

Follow Tom on Twitter:  @TomTaylorMade

See Tom’s Blog

Catch up with Tom on Facebook

 

 

16 Comments

Filed under Australian Artists, Book Giveaway, Book trailers, Characterisation, Collaboration, Comics/Graphic Novels, Covers, creativity, Dark Urban Fantasy, Fantasy books, Gender Issues, Genre, Indy Press, Inspiring Art, Movies & TV Shows, Nourish the Writer, Writers Working Across Mediums

Meet Anita Bell …

As the next of my series featuring fantastic female fantasy authors (see disclaimer) I’ve invited the talented powerhouse Anita Bell  to drop by.

Watch out for the give-away question at the end of the interview.

Q: First of all, major congratulations on Diamond Eyes winning the 2011 Hemming Award for Excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy Themes. Since this is award is not necessarily awarded every year, winning must have come as a wonderful and welcome surprise. Did you consciously set out to explore the themes of race, gender, sexuality, class and disability in the book?

Actually, Diamond Eyes is a story about freedom and independence. But since my main character is a young woman who is blind, sexually inexperienced, and misdiagnosed by nursing staff who all treat her as crazy as well as handicapped, all those other themes grew organically in a way that also resonated strongly and unanimously with the judging panel.

Sad but true; while working for ten years in a mental health facility, I saw young men and women routinely castrated or medicated to suppress their sexual development, often without their knowledge or consent (due to the fact they’d been declared unfit to make such decisions on their own). So this part of Mira’s story is inspired by a young handicapped couple I met, who’d both been disabled through a contagious disease, but eventually regained their independence through modern medications and therapies – and when it came time that they’d recovered enough to have healthy children, it was too late. They’d both been “cared for” in their best interests.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LkbKh4hGmSU]

Q: Following on from that, we were part of the QUT Cohort doing a Masters while writing a book. You produced Diamond Eyes. What was the research question you were exploring with this book?

Funny story: It started out as;

How can I crack the big markets overseas and for movies?

But since that was too big a question for a masters and required too many non-existent definitions about degrees of cracking, and how big is big etc, my lecturer dis-engorged the “choke” from my throat and encouraged me to narrow my focus to the more definitive;

How can a novel manuscript be ‘re-visioned’ to create a more satisfying draft.

(Where satisfying is defined by a self-assessed improvement that results in a commercial reward that had previously been unattainable.)

So the dissertation I wrote is called: Revisioning a “Novel Concept”: Beyond vision and revision to advanced editing strategies.

But since a lot of the research is drawn from the film industry, and from mega-best-selling works from overseas, and since a lot of the advanced editing strategies are topics that are never normally discussed in most writing workshops, it might as well be called;

Tips on how to crack the big markets overseas and for movies.

Sound familiar? Hehe.

David Meshow the theme for Diamond Eyes.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qERvjhq7tCg&feature=player_embedded]

Q: You have a wonderful book trailer (LOL, my husband did it). The music is by David Meshow. Recently, we were on a panel together where you walked us through the process of finding the musician, approaching him and what has happened since. I’m sure people would find this fascinating, as it’s an example of cross-pollination between creative people.

Wow, yes! We’ve chalked up more views than a lot of big budget Hollywood movies and over 300 Youtube Awards in 17 countries, including;

#1 Most Discussed, worldwide in Feb & March

#2 Top Favourited, worldwide in Feb & March

#2 Top Rated, worldwide in Feb and March

Normally, I thrive in silence while I’m writing and editing, but at all moments in between I refill my creative energies by filling my home, my car – even my saddlebags with music.

Three of my characters love music, and play instruments, so I spent a lot of time on youtube looking for talented amateurs with the same kind of interests. People who could not only play, but play so well, they make it look easy by playing with a relaxed sense of humour. I also looked for people who could play with their eyes closed and invent their own tunes on a wide range of instruments, and that’s how I came across David Meshow – who can do all of that, and resembles Mira’s bodyguard in looks and personality. Best of all, he taught me out how to play electrical instruments outside, around a campfire – so I could make a scene work properly in the sequel Hindsight.

Then after being inspired for so long by David’s music, and his advice during my research stages, I wrote to ask permission to use one of his original instrumental pieces for the book trailer during the launch, because that piece has brilliant moments of violin and xylophone along with all the other instruments that gave it a unique offbeat quality which also dramatically suits the chase scenes at the end of Diamond Eyes, the novel.

But when I mentioned the novel and what it was about, he was so inspired by the unique concept behind Mira’s eyes that he offered to write a piece to suit her specifically.

And that’s what the Original Theme to Diamond Eyes is. Close your eyes, and you can image yourself blind. Open them again and imagine the world around you isn’t today. It looks how things did a century ago, even though you can still feel all the invisible *real* things around you – so if the three story building you’re in wasn’t there back then, well, now you’re standing in mid-air, looking down on the world. Living in two worlds at once. That’s the core idea, and David’s really nailed it with the official theme song. He’s got millions of fans now, but they all seem to agree. Diamond Eyes is the best yet, and I have to agree. But then, I’m biased! Hehe.

Q: I understand there are two more books in the Diamond Eyes series, Leopard Dreaming and Hindsight.  When is the last book of the trilogy due out? And what will you do after this?

Interesting question, because it’s not a traditional trilogy. Diamond Eyes is a stand-alone story set in an asylum, Serenity, which is on a sub-tropical island in Queensland.

Then the duet of sequels; Hindsight (just launched) and Leopard Dreaming (June 2012), are both set on the mainland, during a brand new stage of her life. They’re also much faster paced than Diamond Eyes.

If you liken them to movies in the film industry, then Diamond Eyes would be the pilot, and the next two would be the mini series. So you don’t necessarily need to read Diamond Eyes to enjoy Hindsight, but you’ll definitely need to read Hindsight before taking on Leopard Dreaming in the new year.

 

Q: In a post on the ROR site you say … ‘SF is not dead – from my perspective it’s morphing/maturing beyond the “pure” genre of science fiction into speculative fiction (the new meaning for SF[1][1]), in a way which offers room for a natural blend of genres which must also complement each other uniquely for each story. Effectively, this permits a wider scope for wider technologies and invites more possibilities and opportunities to cross-dress our genres.’ You go on to say …’ In our own fast-changing world, which is already rife with “fantastic” opportunities and “tomorrow technologies” is it any wonder that such elements are so readily accepted in the environment of a wider story – often even expected – by a market that can still shy away from health food if we label it health food? To many people, it seems that science fiction sounds more like “homework” while fantasy sounds like a “holiday”, and yet how many wouldn’t go anywhere on holiday without their mobile phone, ipod or laptop?’  I love this quote. How near future is the Diamond Eyes series? Would people feel at home in this world?

It’s tomorrow fiction, akin to James Bond, but nowadays, most genres need to be tomorrow fiction to some degree during the writing stages anyway, or else the technology can date the story too quickly and make it seem old fashioned too soon.

e.g.

So I’m constantly inventing new technologies based on my best guesses from existing products and research, and very often those “fantastic” new gizmos are hitting the market by the time the book is.

Off the top of my head, technologies that I invented for my stories in the last ten years, only to have them invented for real by the time the books launched, include;

  • Electronic pens, which convert any sketches into a text file or digital image.
  • Night Owls, a form of high tech night vision goggles which can also see through buildings using sound waves akin to mobile phone transmissions. Now also used in airports for full body scans.
  • NOR:STAN, the National Orbital Reconnaissance: See Through Anything Network. Same principle as nights owls, but also incorporating technology from the mining industry as a larger scale satellite system to help find lost bushwalkers, people trapped in burning buildings, and even terrorists in underground bunkers.

Even Mira’s Hue-dunnits – her electronic sunglasses which can change colour – are now in development as a fashion accessory to suit any wardrobe.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eAXBTXnVHns]

Q: You write in many genres under a number of pen-names, including a set of best-selling non-fiction titles, award winning adventures for children and even wickedly funny romance for women. You’ve always been a writer of exciting stories. What was the first thing you wrote seriously to submit?

A cosy crime story, called Budgie Soup, which was published in 5 countries, including the USA’s prestigious Murderous Intent Mystery Magazine, and won the Penguin Award, as part of the Scarlet Stiletto Awards, way back last millennium, in 1999.

Q: You say if you hadn’t been a writer you’d be …’ A cartoonist, vet or research scientist. And as it turns out, writing allows me to do bits of each!’ I can relate to research scientist. I think writers have to have enquiring minds. But cartoonist and vet? Why these two? Are you good at drawing and can you ‘talk to animals’?

Hehe… something like that.

To be a vet, we need to be astute at understanding body language – which works for characters as much as for animals. Pets can’t tell us where they’re hurting, and often characters can’t either. How we treat animals also helps to define us, not only as individuals, but also as a society.

Same goes with cartooning. It’s a social science that’s heavily dependent on observation of the human condition, as individuals, and in society, and how we perceive ourselves through the lens of humour also helps to define us.

To be a vet, we need great compassion, but humour is more often a dark art that can throw masks over fury, injustice and tragedy.

Q: You seem very comfortable writing a fast paced action thriller and moving across genres. A good book is a good book, no matter what the genre. Do you have any advice for writers to help them improve the pacing of their books?

Short sentences. Listen to men speaking, and compare to women on the same subject. Guys rarely use more than 8 words in a sentence at a time unless they’re explaining something, while women rarely use more than 12.

In action scenes, guys tend to get serious with only 2 to 6 words at a time, while women often clip down to 8 or less.

If you think that’s an exaggeration, watch all your favourite movies with the sound muted and subtitles on – and take notice how clipped conversations can get as the images speed up. Or take a ride on a train or bus with your ipod switched off so you’re listening to other people around you.

Q: You had a friend who attempted suicide when you were younger. You said …  ‘From the time we were both 10, we both had to ‘be mum,’ looking after our other brothers and sisters before and after school, and I had to manage my parents’ farm as well when they went away on business. On top of this we went to a high school where extreme pressure existed to be the best we could be. Students came from all over the world because of their high standards and we had to compete against them, too. My friend passed the breaking point.’ Are you tempted to write something that would reach out to teens who feel overwhelmed?

Yes, but not for a while. I can’t write really dark material unless I’m detached from tragedy myself and that’s definitely not this year. Otherwise, writing dark material only tends to take me down further, and once those chemicals in the brain start triggering the downward spiral, it’s a hard cycle to break free from again. And I’d never write that sort of thing without an uplifting ending, because it was soul-destroying misery-lit with downers for endings that drove my friend over the edge all those years ago. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good book that leaves me weepy, but if they’re not tears of hope, love or joy – if they leave me feeling empty and emotionally wretched – I’d never go anywhere near it. If I want to be depressed, I’ll read a newspaper.

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?

Historically yes. Absolutely. But I’d like to think the last 10 years has become a bit more like this:

 

There’s been plenty of times when I’ve been told by readers that I must have had some of my stories written by my husband. Apparently, I’m not supposed to know how to field strip a Styr or Glock and put it back together again without it blowing up in my face. Or how to turn a gum tree into a signal tower, use scorpions and black light to navigate an underground tunnel, or the horns of the moon to tell north from south in either hemisphere.

At the other end of the scale, I know a subset of male writers who can really get inside a woman’s head well enough to write convincing female characters – but a lot more who can’t.

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

Depends on the name they choose to put on the front cover, especially if it’s very feminine or hyper-masculine.

e.g.  Stephan King was always going to rule the page once he nailed his genre, and Karen Slaughter was never going to write little kiddies faerie tales.

Then there’s androgynous names, like AA Bell, Sonny Whitelaw, JR Ward etc, where the writing style is far more likely to appeal to both genres. Or at least try to, more often than not.

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?

Ah, but if I told you, I’d create a paradox and a full set of alternative futures in another dimension. Just thinking about it is enough to split the future in two; one in which I do, and one in which I don’t.

Cool timing; there’s a new scientific theory (evolved from string theory, which in turn evolved from studies of nuclear explosions) that our present and past have already been shaped by our future in all its permutations in all dimensions. And that many things about Fate seem inevitable, because they’ve already been tampered with by those who’ve already travelled.

So assuming I’m one of them, and have already made the trip – or “will have going to have made it” at some time in the future (or alternate time line) – you can rest assured that all my friends will have nice things happen to them, while all those who’ve been nasty should be grateful I don’t hold grudges… much.

<insert evil laughter>

Give-away Question:

It’s said that everyone has something they’re naturally or uncannily good at – so good, you might call it a super power. Mira’s gift is seeing the past, her stalker can hear the future, while my own superpowers are merely green lights in heavy traffic and finding the perfect parking space when I most need it. (touch wood!)

So what’s your super power?

 

Catch up with Anita on Facebook

on GoodReads: www.goodreads.com/aabell

44 Comments

Filed under Australian Writers, Awards, Book Giveaway, Book trailers, Children's Books, Collaboration, creativity, Dark Urban Fantasy, Fantasy books, Female Fantasy Authors, Gender Issues, Genre, Inspiring Art, Music and Writers, Nourish the Writer, Paranormal_Crime, Promoting Friend's Books, Script Writing, Thrillers and Crime, Thrillers and Mysteries, Tips for Developing Writers, Writers Working Across Mediums, Writing craft, Young Adult Books

Meet Simon Higgins …

Today I’m interviewing Simon Higgins because he’s a fellow Iaido practitioner as well as a great writer, also I thought I’d ask him about fantasy writing and gender, to get his perspective as a male writer.

Look out for the give-away at the end of the post.

 

Q: You have a series of Young Adult novels set in Japan called the Moonshadow series. I like the covers, very manga.  Are you a big fan of Manga? Do you get much say in what appears on your covers?

I do like Manga very much, and find it fascinating that most people don’t realize how old it actually is. Apparently, Manga first evolved from experimental perspective sketches that woodblock artists in Japan tinkered with during the Edo period, which in turn slowly evolved into a unique ‘pop-culture’ form of stylized drawing. Now of course, Manga has several main schools (multiple ‘dojos’ have evolved, which seems to happen with all things Japanese) and numerous sub and fusion styles. Working in conjunction with Random House Australia, I chose Ari Gibson of The People’s Republic of Animation as the cover artist for the Moonshadow books…Ari’s Manga is unique: strong, with classic lines, but still quite individual – I love it, and it’s pretty much the way I picture the characters in the series when I’m writing. The various foreign editions including the US version published by Little, Brown (the Twilight people) conjure up very different visions of the heroes. I should probably mention also that the Moonshadow series is actually pitched at the ‘middle school’ market, just a shade younger than the traditional ‘young adult’  category (not that everybody agrees on the age range those pigeon-holes actually encompass, of course)…

 

Q: The American Library Association described your Moonshadow books as  ‘good old-fashioned adventure set in medieval Japan…exhilarating opening sequence…nonstop action…the pacing is so intense…the language is modern, but the setting, clothing, tactics and tools are well placed in their time period’. In Tomodachi, you had an English boy stranded in sixteenth century Japan.  With the Moonshadow series do you use a European character to ground the audience in medieval Japan or do you plunge straight in?

The Moonshadow books feature pretty much an all Asian cast, as in this series I am dealing with a unique historical phenomenon, rather than an outsider’s eye on a specialized, complex warrior culture, as in Tomodachi. The Moonshadow series actually arose from an inspiring historical fact that I stumbled on while researching in Japan: that at one stage, Tokugawa Ieyasu, in order to keep his grip on the Shogunate, employed the spies of Clan Iga, many of whom (and this is the cool part) started their dangerous careers while they were still children.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8nFiWmQDh4&feature=player_embedded]

Q: I see you competed in the Iaido World Titles in Kyoto Japan and came in fifth in 2008. Not bad for a ‘gaijin’. (For more info on the samurai sword see Simon’s page on his Kyoto Adventures). I remember the pair of us sitting in the bar at a national SF convention talking martial arts all evening. I think it takes a particular type of mind to appreciate Bushido. I know you do a lot of school talks. Do you find the kids respond well? Do you think they go away with some insight into the philosophy behind the martial arts?

It certainly seems that way to me; I often see evidence of students really getting where I am coming from in terms of my own martial arts paradigm: that we train to perfect technique and therefore ultimately ourselves, not to grow skilled at actually killing; that the more one trains, the gentler one tends to become; that violence does not equal strength any more than mercy equals weakness; and that as the Japanese have always maintained, the sharpest swords rarely leave their scabbards (for they rarely need to). If there is any one message I am constantly hoping to transmit to young readers it’s this: adopting a challenging code and choosing to follow an exacting path doesn’t make you old-fashioned, quaint or weak. It does the opposite; it’s empowering. It’s a secret for enjoying and making strong progress through the landscape of life.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKaLRklCzxA&feature=player_embedded]

Q: You worked as police officer, prosecutor and a licensed private investigator  on murder cases. You have written thrillers such as The Stalking Zone as well as near future thrillers like Under no Flag, Thunderfish, Beyond the Shaking Time.  Was this a bit like bringing your work home with you?

Not really, because the three crime thrillers I wrote, Doctor Id, Cybercage and The Stalking Zone, sat more at the fantastic end of the law enforcement story genre, though much of the gritty psychology of those tales was true to the environment that inspired them. My (young vigilante) heroes were allowed to have wins, to get results, though they had to really suffer along the way, so I suppose that in the end, the stories were in fact very positive though harrowing. Thunderfish, Under No Flag, and In the Jaws of the Sea, explored the idea that people labelled criminals under one perspective might actually be not only good guys from another viewpoint, but in fact the most useful humans in that particular equation. I found it ironic that numerous imaginary elements of the Thunderfish trilogy kept coming true in one form or another, such as the battles in Antarctic waters between whalers and the Sea Shepherd activists, or the discovery of a fissure in the earth’s crust, deep in the Atlantic.

 

Q: I see way back in 1975 you were part of a heavy metal band. It’s amazing how many writers have a musical background. Do you still practice music?

I still play guitar and sing, and have consistently written songs for most of my life. Music is very much a part of my family’s culture, as my wife and daughter are both songwriters and my son is a professional musician. If you love soul, funk or acid jazz, you can check out his sounds here

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?

Perhaps (as a generalization) but I also think that most of us could cite ripping action-rich fantasy novels penned by women and satisfyingly emotional and cerebral fantasy tales written by men; and I do find it a little funny that there is a perception of fantasy in some quarters as being male-oriented, after personally having heard publishers joke about pink, hazy covers (replete with flying horses) stretched around a solid high-quest fantasy book ‘that we can count on girls to buy’.

I reckon that one of the peculiarities of writing culture has always been that while most story tellers obsess over how to tell a timeless, boundary-breaking, universal tale, publishers are meanwhile apparently obliged to obsess over how to categorize, brand and anchor the field of interest in that story, in other words, to narrow and define its scope, so as to better sell it. The clash of these two unrelenting focuses can produce some interesting cross-perceptions about who writes or reads what exactly (and for who) while I guess the truth is that out here in the real world, we simply end up with a great deal of diversity.

 

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

Not in my case, as a lifetime of reading has convinced me that a skilful, gifted storyteller can channel a thousand people whose skin they will never occupy; I’ve read the work of female writers whose male voice, drives and perceptions felt utterly real, and vice versa. So a good writer can always pleasantly surprise us, not only with their imaginings, but with all kinds of truths they can own and convey which transcend their culture, gender or generation. Of course I realize that many people are swayed, unduly perhaps, by unspoken notions of ‘gender suitability’. That old ‘men can’t write good romance, women don’t do bloodshed well’ viewpoint. I think it’s so often wrong, it’s worth dismissing entirely.

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?

Like the traveler in HG Wells’ groundbreaking novel, though the past fascinates me, if only one trip was possible, I would opt to see the distant future (or yes, that current, possible future the machine could take me to, based on things as they now stand).  So I’d visit my own locale, here in Australia, say, two hundred years from now. Why? Part of me just has to know: do we finally grow up as a species? Or does it turn out that our damned gadgets wound up destroying us because they kept evolving while their creators remained inherently paranoid and primitive? Hey! That’s a question that spec fic seems to keep asking!

Giveaway Question: 

When you are forced to suffer through some ‘oh no, not this again!’ cliché in a book or movie, what sassy, mocking or witty twist-outcome might you assign to it? Example: Vader wheezes ‘I-am-your-father!’ and Luke (at least in your rewrite) retorts, ‘The hell you are. I had DNA done. So I know it was a wookie.’ So yeah…pick your most nauseating cliché and…strike back!

10 Comments

Filed under Australian Writers, Book Giveaway, Book trailers, Children's Books, Comics/Graphic Novels, Covers, creativity, Fantasy books, Gender Issues, Inspiring Art, Music and Writers, Nourish the Writer, Thrillers and Crime, Young Adult Books

Meet Paul Collins …

I have been running a series of interviews with female fantasy writers to redress a perception I came across – that fantasy was a bit of a boy’s club. It really isn’t like that here in Australia. We have many wonderful fantasy writers who just happen to be female.

Today I’m interviewing Paul Collins because, for one thing he’s been a power-house of indie publishing for over thirty-five years, and also I thought I’d ask him the same questions I’ve asked the female writers about fantasy writing and gender, to get his perspective as a male fantasy writer.

Look out for the give-away at the end of the interview.

Q: You have over 140 books, including 30 non-fiction hard covers for the education market, 11 anthologies and two collections of your own stories. You edited The MUP Encyclopaedia of Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy and have also had over 140 short stories published. You write and edit all across genres and ages. You’ve been presented with both the Inaugural Peter McNamara and A Bertram Chandler awards for Lifetime Achievement in SF, won the Aurealis and William Atheling awards, and been short-listed for just about every other genre award. I guess that all this makes you a Renaissance man. Yet you left school at 15. What drove you to achieve so much?

I have a vivid memory of walking home one day when I was about twelve. I looked at all the ramshackle houses of our suburb and thought, “This is where I’m going to wind up. Living in one of these and working in a factory”. I knew I’d be leaving school at 15. It’s not that I hated school, but I just somehow knew that whatever I was going to do in life, having a university degree wasn’t going to in any way take a part – it was just going to stop me from earning money for four or five years. I also knew that to break from the future to which I was destined I’d need to pull something out of thin air. When I turned fifteen I had a variety of jobs: electroplater’s assistant, spot-welder, worked on a farm, apprentice clicker (making leather goods) sheet metal worker, to name just a few. At seventeen I was the despatch manager for Metro Goldwyn Meyer. At this point I knew I’d taken a wrong turn. Where to from the heady heights of a despatch manager? I was stuck. There was nowhere for me to go at MGM. Maybe a booker (of films), but that was hardly something to aspire to. I then opted for working three jobs at a time to build up sufficient funds to work for myself. I doubt I knew exactly what I could do at that point – but I think I was planning on opening a cinema. I certainly knew enough about the industry at that time.

Regardless, while I was at MGM I started working as an apprentice projectionist at two suburban cinemas (Delta in New Lynn and The Star in Glen Eden, NZ). I also worked weekends with my uncle in a metal polishing factory. When I had sufficient funds I quit MGM and came to Australia. It’s this background that drove me forward. I wanted to be something other than the guy living in the suburban neighbourhood working the 40-hour week.

Q: Your first book Hot Lead Cold Sweat came out in 1975, almost 40 years ago. In the late 70s and early 80s you ran an indie press, Cory and Collins, during which you published Australia’s first heroic fantasy novels, long before the majors got into the act. Later, with your current partner, Meredith Costain, you edited the Spinout and Thrillogy series in the 90s, which is also when ypu wrote the Jelindel Chronicles. And in 2007 you established Ford Street Publishing and released the new Quentaris Chronicles. You must have seen a lot of changes in the publishing industry. What do you think of the trend for authors like best seller Barry Eisler to turn down half million advance to self publish?

I read that article. And some of it doesn’t ring true to me. I doubt, for a start, that a writer would knock back a half million-dollar advance so they could self-publish. It’s all very well Amazon claiming they’re selling 110 digital books compared with 100 print books, but we need to remember that e-books are a relatively new technology. People are experimenting. When Beta came out people flocked to it, as they did VHS. Where is either of these technologies now? Beta, despite being better quality than VHS, fell by the wayside. Some say Mac is better than the PC, but there are far more PC users than Mac users. Why? Promotion. Whoever has the biggest slush fund to promote their wares wins. So right now, despite there being Kindle and e-pub, both are on the same wagon, especially now that Mac users can download Kindle software and read Kindle books (and vice versa). So all the promotion money, articles, etc, are looking at digital. As a publisher who has dabbled in e-books, I can tell you I am not getting anywhere near the sales that Barry Eisler discussed in his blog interview. Nor is any other Australian publisher that I know of. The problem I see is that there are millions of titles on sites such as Amazon. How will you find the title you’re looking for? All very well if you know the author’s name, but even then you’re battling to find the book. Try typing in Paul Collins for example. There are four writers in Australia alone with this name. And booksellers have yet to find a way to differentiate between us (some use our birthdates, but readers would have no idea how old “their” Paul Collins is).

I don’t see this as a digital versus paperback issue. I think digital complements the paperback. Others feel the same way. Don Grover (CEO of the Dymocks chain) sees the physical book as the dog and digital as the tail.

And I’d also question Barry’s $30,000 income this year for a self-published short story. Before calling me a cynic, let’s remember publishers made such outlandish claims of their book sales right up till BookScan was released. Then suddenly all their highly inflated sales figures dropped like rocks. I doubt there’s a BookScan for short stories, so the $30,000 claim isn’t verifiable. Why would he make such a claim? Obviously so people would download it on the assumption it must be terrific. Cory Doctorow claims to have had 700,000 downloads of his novel Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom – 30,000 of these came on the first day of release. But they were absolutely free. Even still, that’s a heck of a lot of downloads.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3S-eKDYqpEs&feature=player_embedded]

Q: Your new Young Adult book, Mole Hunt, was written for boys, specifically those who read Matthew Reilly, but apparently adults are reading it as well. Did this surprise you?

Not really. It’s sort of YA crossover, although patently marketed as YA. What does surprise though is that it’s had about fifteen great reviews, all of which by women. It’s not the sort of book that I’d expect women to enjoy reading. I mean, Maximus has no redeeming features; the body count is high (two people get killed in the first chapter); it’s young adult SF. I mention the latter because three adult reviewers told me they don’t like SF, but thoroughly enjoyed the book. I’m not complaining of course! Some comparisons have also surprised me. Bookseller and Publisher said it’s a cross between The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Total Recall and Dexter.

Some might think I wrote dystopian fiction because of the popularity this genre’s enjoying. But frankly, I wrote The Maximus Black Files years ago. Incidentally, The Hunger Games kicked off the recent dystopian wave – anyone who’s read my novel Cyberskin (published in 2000) will see striking similarity in the plot – deaths filmed in reality TV, a la snuff movies. I suspect I was ahead of my time!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4tTn_WXCiw]

Q: You say your favourite fictional character is Modesty Blaise. (First appeared as a comic strip in 1963. The author, Peter O’Donnell, went onto write 12 books. The first appeared in 1965. In a time when the James Bond was the ultimate spy and females were his reward, Modesty Blaise was a woman ahead of her time). Does this mean you’ve always admired strong women?

Very funny, Rowena LOL. But to answer your question, I do prefer athletic women. Modesty Blaise would be my dreamboat. Xena Warrior Woman, too, if we’re entering the realm of fantasy. I mentioned earlier the marketing failures and successes between products – I think had a smart producer taken on Modesty Blaise franchise, we’d have easily seen an equal James Bond dynasty. But I suspect all the heads of film companies were macho men afraid to lose their “image” of manhood, whatever, and didn’t think for a moment anyone would suspend disbelief that a woman could be a successful criminal. There was one movie made, and it was a shocker. I was so angry that the film was a spoof. Equal to the time I watched the much-anticipated Bonfire of the Vanities. Fantastic book by Tom Wolfe completely demolished by some idiot filmmaker. It makes you wonder how people get these things so wrong.

Q: Your new publishing endeavour Ford Street Publishing is doing well with Dianne Bates’s Crossing the Line, short-listed for the NSW Premier’s Award, Pool, by Justin D’Ath, short-listed for the Victorian Premier’s Award and a Notable Book in the CBCA awards, plus My Private Pectus by Shane Thamm was short-listed for the NT Read Award. There have been others, such as George Ivanoff winning the Chronos Award for Gamers’ Quest, Notable CBCA novels, etc. In an interview on SPUNC (Small Press Publishers’ site) you say: ‘Surprisingly, I grew up in a house without books. No one in my family was a reader. Marvel Comics were my sole literary diet. Perversely, I think this upbringing has helped me to choose good books. I’m still a somewhat reluctant reader – to grab my attention a manuscript really has to have that special X factor.’ That is an amazing leap from the boy who read comics to editor of award nominated books. Can you tell us what the X Factor is and do you still have your comic collection?

As close as I can come to explaining the X Factor is that books can just “feel” right. The writing has to be good; the subject matter spot on for the time; the plot has to “move” you; the book has to have the prospect of commercial success. There are many ingredients to this recipe. In a few words I’d sum it up as something intangible, like gut instinct. You won’t find it in the Macquarie. Alas, I sold the comic collections in the eighties. I should also mention that freelance editors also work on these titles – I can’t claim all the credit for editing. I usually do the first round of edits, authors respond, and then the books go to freelancers who work with the authors.

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?

Many would disagree and no doubt point to many examples to prove me wrong, but I think women write more character-driven novels while men write plot and action-driven novels. It seems to me that more women then men read fantasy, and this possibly explains why female writers head up the best-seller lists. Women write more emotively than men, and dare I say linger in scenes with description while men will move at a quicker pace. Compare, say, Isobelle Carmody’s writing with Garth Nix’s. Completely different styles. Both are best-sellers, so there’s no question as to who is the better writer. That’s very subjective.

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

I should have a diplomatic answer to this question, but you know me . . . I prefer plot-driven, fast forward fiction. If I were to give you a list of ten authors I’d read again, they would all be men. The top three would be Ioin Colfer, Philip Reeve and Peter O’Donnell. If we’re talking about fantasy novels, I’d possibly (and sometimes erroneously) expect a fair bit of romance within the pages of a book written by a female. I’m not remotely interested in romance whether it’s dressed up as fantasy or not. Give me George RR Martin’s Game of Thrones any time. There might be romance there, but it’s well hidden and certainly not an integral part of the plot. As an aside, this isn’t to say I don’t think women can’t write fantasy without romance, or that men can’t write with emotive depth. It just transpires that I seem to prefer male over female writers.

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?

It would certainly be in the past – I don’t think we’re heading anywhere nice. I’m assuming I’d be um, protected, right? Like, “Okay, Scotty, I’ve had enough. Beam me outta here. NOW.” Under these conditions, Roman times circa Julius Caesar’s reign sound good to me, although only if I were a citizen of good standing and in favour with Julius. I’m obviously wiping from the equation poison, deceit, political ambitions and murderous intent. The wine, women and song aspect has obvious merits.

 

Give-away Question: Maximus Black is a true anti-hero. Do characters really need redeeming features? Yes or No? Give your reasons for your decision.

See here for a complete list of Paul’s books and short stories.

See here for a full list of the books from Ford Street Publishing.

Follow Paul on facebook.com/fordstreet

Catch up with Paul on twitter@fordstreet

www.paulcollins.com.au

www.fordstreetpublishing.com

www.quentaris.com

16 Comments

Filed under Australian Writers, Book Giveaway, Book trailers, Children's Books, creativity, Dark Urban Fantasy, Fantasy books, Genre, Indy Press, Nourish the Writer, Promoting Friend's Books, Publishing Industry, The Writing Fraternity, Young Adult Books

Meet Richard Harland …

I have been running a series of  interview with female fantasy writers to redress a perception I came across – that fantasy was a bit of a boy’s club. It really isn’t like that here in Australia. We have many wonderful fantasy writers who just happen to be female.

 

Today I’m interviewing Richard Harland, author of the hugely popular Worldshaker books. I have been doing a series of interviews of female fantasy authors and thought it would be interesting to get a male fantasy writer’s perspective on the question of writing, gender and fantasy.

 

 

 

See Richard’s cool Worldshaker book trailer.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ATZ8Z1Nmxo&feature=player_embedded]

Q: In an interview on Readings you describe Steampunk as: ‘a kind of retro imagining of machinery and gadgets that might have happened. … Jules Verne in his own day imagined future technology, but nowadays it looks to us like an alternative technology of the past that never actually happened. Steampunk worlds usually have a 19th century or pre-WW I feel about them.’ To me it seems a genre you are ideally suited to write because of your English background and your penchant for waistcoats. (Richard has a page on Tips for Writing Steampunk).  Reading Worldshaker  and the sequel, Liberator, it feels like it comes very naturally to you. Is this right?

It comes naturally to me, for sure. I look back on my earlier novels and I can see steampunky bits creeping in – the early industrial scenery in parts of the ‘Ferren’ books, the Victorian elements in The Vicar of Morbing Vyle and The Black Crusade. Deep down, I always wanted to write steampunk, and the  Worldshaker world was ten years in the planning before I began writing it, fifteen years before publication. I had no hope of getting it taken up by an Australian publisher until the steampunk trend started to build momentum internationally.

My interest in early industrial technology and Victoriana goes back to my childhood, which happened to be in England. But did it have to be in England? I look at some great steampunk writers in Australia – like Michael Pryor and Scott Westerfeld (as ‘honorary Australian’) and they don’t have that kind of background.

The one area where I’m sure my English background does count is in my depiction of class. The class system is strong and flourishing on the juggernaut ‘Worldshaker’ – and that’s something that doesn’t come in much with most other steampunk writers. I think you need to suffer under a class system to have a strong emotional feel about it!

See Richard talking about Steampunk at Bialik College, Melbourne.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elLXY8629b0&feature=player_embedded]

Q: I see there was a point where you dropped out of Sydney UNI and ‘bummed around’ writing songs and performing them at venues around the city. I bet there’s a book in there somewhere. Are you ever tempted to write about this period (disguised of course)?

Yes, and I will. Promise!

Q: You are not a novice to winning awards with many final-listings in the Aurealis Awards, several wins and the Golden Aurealis Award in 2004. Recently Worldshaker won the prestigious Tam-Tam Je Bouquine award for best novel ages 10 -15.  I bet you wished you were in France at the time to pick up the award. Did it come out of the blue?

I’d never even heard of the Tam-Tam Je Bouquine award until I won it! In fact, it never occurred to me that there were YA awards in France. (Makes me wonder whether it means much to anyone overseas when I can boast of winning those six Aurealis Awards.) My publisher and editor dressed up specially to accept the award on the night – and I’m sure they expressed our shared reactions to the honour of the award far better then I could have done. At least they could express them in understandable French!

See Richard reading from Worldshaker at Bialik College, Melbourne.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPqQV_IDpqg&feature=player_embedded]

Q: You have written 145 pages of writing tips for aspiring authors. (Find them here). This must have taken ages, Richard. As a University Lecturer you have a background in teaching. Have you had a good response from aspiring writers to your Writing Tips pages? Do you get emails from people? (I know I would have devoured your writing tips when I was first starting out. I still find useful things in there whenever I dip into it).

Yes, I keep getting emails and positive responses – which makes me feel good about setting up the website. Because you’re right, it ate up an enormous amount of time – four months when I could have been writing my own novels. But the feedback makes it all worthwhile.

Q: And now Liberator is coming out. Having read an earlier draft at one of our ROR weekends, I know it delivers more Steampunkery goodness. Do you envisage a another book in this series?

Not immediately. it’s a duology that resolves in an almighty battle – and although there’s obviously more story to come, the Col-Riff romance has worked itself out by the end of LIBERATOR.  Not much you can do with male lead and female lead after that!

So I’m taking a breather from that particular strand of history in the juggernaut world. The novel I’ve now started writing belongs in a different time and place, with different characters. I hope to continue the Worldshaker/Liberator narrative some time further down the track.

See the Allen & Unwin Worldshaker Book trailer.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dLugL-GhcOA&feature=player_embedded]

Q: Wow, Richard I think I have book trailer envy. It looks like your Worldshaker has inspired quite a few people. Did you ever think you’d have book trailers?

I never thought much about book trailers. I see what people have done (in the UK, Germany and Australia), and think how clever and creative it is. But it’s an art-form I don’t have any personal connection to. I imagine my books almost like a movies unrolling in my head before I ever start writing them – that’s my form of visual imagination.

What I’d really like to see is a movie trailer!

See another book Worldshaker book trailer.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5Gg0U5QGdU&feature=player_embedded]

Q:You’ve been a busy man in the last ten years or so with the Wolf Kingdom books. (This won the Aurealis Best Children’s Illustrate Work/Picture Book). Have you been approached to write more in this series?

No, and at the moment I wouldn’t want to. I’m zooming in on steampunk and YA fiction. I don’t want any distractions!

Q: And there are many other books, some aimed at children, like Sassy cat one of my son’s favourites, right through Ferren and the Angel for teens, to the SF/Mystery series Eddon and Vail.  Plus there’s the duology, The Vicar of Morning Vyle and,  The Black Crusade which won Best Horror and the Golden Aurealis. You say you suffered writer’s block for 25 years. When you got over this, it must have felt like a dam breaking. How did you get over your writer’s block?

Many factors, including setting up a regular writing routine. And sheer bloody-minded stubbornness, because I bogged down time after time on my first novel – and went back to begin again over and over. I guess in the end I managed to live up to my own standards. Very stupid – I couldn’t bear to show my work to anyone until it was perfect … When I should have been learning how to improve by finishing imperfect stuff and getting feedback on it from other people.

I’m a very bad role model for other writers. My writing tips website is like a way of telling other intending writers how to steer clear of the traps I fell into!

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 boys club. Do you think there’s a difference in the way males and females write fantasy?

Do they really think that in the US and UK? Sounds like a hangover from the far past. No one could ever think of fantasy in Australia as a boy’s club. Here, the most successful fantasy writers are mostly women, as are the vast majority of readers.

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

I hope I can change my expectations according to what I read when I open the book, but maybe I do expect some things things more from male or female authors. From male authors, wild supposition and fantastical imaginings; from female authors, a fullness of fleshed-out reality, a sense of detail, and being there right in the scene.

Having said that, of course, good fantasy writing has to have both. I can think of heaps of examples of male authors who can flesh out their creations until you’re right there in the scene; and heaps of examples of female authors with powers of the very wildest imagination.

Q: And heres the fun question. If you could book a trip on a time machine, where and when would you go, and why?

The time of the French Revolution, end of the eighteenth century. The most exciting period ever, for me. (Anyone who reads LIBERATOR could guess that!)

I’m assuming that I’m guaranteed survival, though – or that I can hop back into my time machine and escape if the guillotine gets too close to my neck!

Richard’s Blog

2 Comments

Filed under Australian Writers, Awards, Book trailers, Covers, creativity, Fantasy books, Fun Stuff, Genre, Promoting Friend's Books, Steampunk, Young Adult Books

Doing anything Saturday 27th, August, 2011?

Once a year, the good folk down at the Logan North Library run a Speculative Fiction month. On Saturday 27th of August some friends and I will be on a panel talking about writing.

So if you are in the neighbourhood, drop by and say Hi!

(Logan North Library, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia)

Leave a Comment

Filed under Australian Writers, Book trailers, Covers, creativity, Dark Urban Fantasy, Fantasy books, Fun Stuff, Genre, Inspiring Art, Music and Writers, Paranormal_Crime, Promoting Friend's Books, Promoting your Book, Publishing Industry, Readers, Resonance, The Writing Fraternity, Writing craft, Young Adult Books

Meet Trent Jamieson …

I have been running a series of  interview with female fantasy writers to redress a perception I came across – that fantasy was a bit of a boy’s club. It really isn’t like that here in Australia. We have many wonderful fantasy writers who just happen to be female.

Today I’m interviewing Trent Jamieson because, for one thing he has a wonderful new book coming out. (Yay Trent!), and also I thought I’d ask him the same questions I’ve asked the female writers about fantasy writing and gender, to get his perspective as a male fantasy writer.

I’ve known Trent Jamieson since he was a fresh-faced aspiring writer coming to the VISION meetings (almost 15 years) and Trent has been a part of the ROR writing group for 8 years. He’s sold heaps of short stories, won or been a finalist in awards and now has a second series coming out.

Watch out for the give-away question at the end of the interview.

Q: I can remember dropping you at the ferry after one of our critique sessions, saying – One day The Roil will be published, Trent. It’s so creative and interesting. It just has to hit the right publisher at the right time. Now it is coming out through Angry Robot. I was thrilled when you asked me for a cover quote. The Roil can be described as Steampunk, but it is so much more, dystopian SF, Lovecraftian horror. How long has The Roil (The Nightbound Land duology) been in the making?

Ooh, I remember that, too! I’m not sure if I believed you at the time, but I’m so glad you were right. In fact, I never quite believe it until I know the book is in print – just got an email from my publisher to say that copies arrived at Angry Robot today – Yay!

The Nightbound Land’s been around in my head a very long time, at least ten years though there are elements going back to my early twenties, just after I graduated Uni. I’ve notes sketches, and bits and pieces in my earliest notebooks. I think this is the world that I’ve kept circling all my adult life, and I might come back to it once I’ve finished the next book (which is due in a couple of weeks, Arrrgh!). I’ve short stories planned, there’s a novella I want to do concerning a person that really only shows up for an instant in book one (and as a corpse, no less, but up until that point they had led a very exciting, if rather tragic, life), there’s poems too. This is the world I always come back to in my mind.

It’s dark and grim (and I’ve glad you’ve noticed the Lovecraftian elements – there’s a reason my blog is called Trentonomicon) – and nonsensical. But it’s also very much grounded in my experience of city spaces. My wife Diana says she can’t read the scenes in Mirrlees or Tate without thinking of Brisbane.

This is Trent’s cool new book trailer for The Roil .

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cd-GIecM1jQ]

Q: You’ve written a lot of short stories with an anthology Reserved for Travelling Shows and over 23 stories published individually. Your stories have been finalists in the Aurealis Awards four times and won twice (SF and YA, but also nominated in horror). Just as it is hard to pin down The Roil, it is hard to pin down your short stories. If you had to describe your genre as a writer, how would you do it? And, if that’s too hard, what are your favourite genres to write in?

I like to mess around in various genres. Believe it or not, my first published works were nonsense poems. But I don’t set out to write in a specific genre. Stories start as either a particular image, or a weird sentence or even a beat, I just follow the pulse to end.

I don’t know if I have a favourite genre, I like the grand epic gestures of Urban Fantasy, and the way it’s also curiously intimate.

Steampunk is just glorious, the machines, the clothes, the foggy streets (or in my case rain-drenched). I’m really itching to work on a sword and sorcery novel that has been sitting in my hard drive for years (I sold Death Most Definite, before I could get back to it).

I love genre fiction, but ultimately what makes a tale work is the author writing it not the appurtenances of genre, I love authors that are their own genre, I want to read a Tansy Rayner Roberts story or a Rowena Cory Daniels story or a Marianne de Pierres story or China Mieville or Michael Swanwick or Kim Westwood.

What I would love to be is an author that drags people with them whatever genre they write in (maybe one day, eh) though my sensibilities are deeply fantastical, so they know it’s always going to be a bit weird.

Q: You’ve tutored at Clarion South and the Queensland University of Technology. I’ve always enjoyed and appreciated your critiques at our ROR weekends. Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

Honestly the most important thing is to read, and read lots. Everything you can get your hands on, poetry, fiction, non-fiction, swim in the words. You don’t learn to riff off words until you’ve heard a lot of tunes. Unless you’re some sort of genius, then you don’t need my advice anyway.

The other thing is to take a delight in it. Writing is play, writing fiction is play, if you’re not enjoying it there are far more lucrative careers than writing (pretty much anything). It’s hard work, hard, hard work, but it should sing for you, too.

Q: Your Death Works trilogy was published by Orbit. The first book, Definite Most Definite was nominated for both the horror and the fantasy section of the Aurealis Awards (again you defy genre). This trilogy combines horror with humour, zombies and death as a corporate business (not to mention a love story).

The trilogy is set in Brisbane, our home town. In an interview on Fangbooks you say: ‘Brisbane is very important to me. From the brown, and slightly ominous coils of the Brisbane River to the flashing transmitters atop Mt Coot-tha, and the knitting needle bunches of the Kurilpa Bridge Brisbane is full of stories (and the possibility of adventure, explosions and love).’ Did you come across any resistance to setting the trilogy in a little-known Australian capital city?

None whatsoever. No-one ever told me not to set it in Brisbane, it never came up. Orbit grabbed it and ran with it, and they’ve never been anything but supportive – maybe it helps that Bernadette Foley, my publisher is from Brisbane!

See Trent’s cool Death Most Definite book trailer.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQtI__Zc5bY]

Q: You’ve been doing a series of quirky and amusing videos. (See See Trent’s Book corners 1- 5 and Trent’s Book Corners 6- 10). What inspired you to start these?

Honestly … I discovered that I had a video camera in my computer and thought, why not? They’re really something I do as a bit of a hobby. I have a rule that they have be pretty rough, and daggy, so far I am in no danger of breaking that rule.

And, I thought, I can do this, whereas I could never see myself podcasting. Galactic Suburbia, the Writer and the Critic, Coode St Review, all of these are brilliant podcasts – that I love, and could never hope to replicate – I figured there was some room for silliness.

Q: By the end of August, you’ll hand in the second Nightbound Land book, Night’s Engines. What do you plan to write next?

Gah! I’ve a kid’s series called The Players that I wrote with an Arts Council Grant a few years back, I’d like to see if I can sell that. I’ve a Sword and Sorcery novel called Empire December that I would like to finally polish up and send out. I’ve a story about a girl that is carried by a storm to a carnival in a cherry orchard run by the devil – and he’s a slick old devil this one. And there’s a Space Opera novel I’ve been meaning to write, not to mention an Urban Fantasy series about a family in Logan City – the city on the southern edge of Brisbane. And there’s a vampire novel that I want to write based on my short story “Day Boy”.

You know how it is, the ideas never stop coming. It’s deciding which one grabs you the most at the time and running with it.

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?

If I pick up a book without knowing the author’s gender I rarely guess correctly, and that’s usually only because the odds suggest I have to get it right some of the time! So, to me, no. Writing is about inhabiting other people’s heads. Good writers of either sex do this. I think there is a difference in the way that different people write fantasy in the politics, the concerns, the lyricism etc that they bring to their work, but gender isn’t as big a determinant of that. Though this is me coming at it as a reader, and I want to read (or at least try) EVERYTHING!

But what happens if you cut out one sex is that you miss out on fifty percent of the voices, fifty percent of the richness of the world. I don’t want to reduce my chance of being surprised and delighted by half.

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

I expect to be entertained, challenged, shocked, and taken somewhere different when I pick up any book.

Margo Lanagan, Kate Griffin, Grace Dugan, Hope Mirrlees, Lucy Sussex, Kirsten Bishop, P.M. Newton, Steph Swainston, Krissy Kneen, Gail Carriger, Kate Elliott, and I could go on and on, all of these writers do that because, like any other writer I admire, they’re not me, I don’t know what they’re thinking or what game they’re playing with their stories, until I read them.

That’s the chief pleasure of reading any work of fiction, you’re reading someone else’s imagination, and mixing it with your own to form a cool sort of imaginative story stew. What an amazing thing that is.

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?

I think it would be to the beginning of the universe. If you could somehow exist and watch the laws of physics coming into play, watch something become, well, something when before there wasn’t anything, how wonderful that would be!

Either that or I’d love to hang out with a T-rex or two.

Give-away Question:

What steampunk technology would you used to travel around the world?

Follow Trent on Twitter:  @trentonomicon

See Trent’s Blog.

Find Trent on GoodReads.

24 Comments

Filed under Australian Writers, Book Giveaway, Book trailers, creativity, Dark Urban Fantasy, Fantasy books, Fun Stuff, Genre, Nourish the Writer, Promoting Friend's Books, The Writing Fraternity, Writing craft