Category Archives: Movies & TV Shows

Meet Chuck Wendig …

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 Chuck Wendig because of his amazing ability to come up with 25 things about all aspects of writing, (for instance 25 Things you should know about Self Publishing) 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 writer.

Q: Your ‘Vampire Zombieland’ novel, Double Dead will be released in November 2011. That makes it sound like it is being unleashed on the world and we had all better look out. Having supplied a cover quote, I can say it promises to be a rollercoaster of a read. Did you find that this style of story came naturally to you? As I read it felt like it just poured out of you.

It did come naturally to me. The vampire Coburn is damaged goods, and I find it terribly entertaining to write broken people. Plus, there exists a powerful and obscene joy in writing about vampires and zombies – especially any time you can bring something fresh to it. I’m glad it went down easy.

Q: You’ve signed a two book deal with Angry Robot for Blackbirds and Mockingbird. Are these books very different from Double Dead? What’s the premise?

My initial – and, as it turns out, incorrect – response is that they’re pretty different.

Miriam Black, the protagonist of BLACKBIRDS and MOCKINGBIRD is a girl whose fate and the fates those around her seem woefully carved in stone: she can touch others and see how and when they’re going to die, and by the start of the first novel any attempts to sway death and change the course of fate for these people has only earned her misery. So she subsists as something of a vulture: she steals from the dead.

Of course, then it clicks: in a way, I’m writing about a vampire. A human vampire, one who’s very much alive and with a singular power that differs from the cabinet of horrors most vampires possess, but even still – she is a creature of death, marked by it, and she feeds off of it.

And, in a way, both of these novels ask—for Coburn the vampire and for Miriam the psychic—can they change who they are? Or are they really just monsters all the way to the marrow?

Q: They used to say being good at playing Pool was a sign of a misspent youth. You’ve written RPG games and contributed to over 85 game books. You developed the entire Hunter:The Vigil game line for White Wolf Studios. Is this a sign of a misspent youth? (For an interview on Chuck’s work in the medium see here).

Gosh, I hope it wasn’t misspent, since game writing is how I’ve been making a living writing! And, I’ll add: I seriously believe that all writers would do well to play games. Not just video games or board games, but actual pen-and-paper polyhedral dice role-playing games. Really gets your head around storytelling for an audience.

Q: The Chuck Wendig persona who writes for the Terrible Minds blog is profane, in-your-face, sharply insightful and funny. You have a real flair for humour. Often comedians say their humour springs from a dark, dark place. Is there a dark, dark place deep inside Chuck Wendig?

Thank you! It’s worth noting that the persona is pretty much the reality, though perhaps with the volume knob turned up a bit. Ask my wife – who I am on the blog is the guy she gets every day. (And woe, woe for her.)

As for, is there a deep and dark place inside me? Dang, I dunno. I wouldn’t say any deeper or darker than you’d find in other people. Sure, I hollow out the corpses of government workers and use them as bob-sleds, and I get sexual pleasure from watching owls eat mice, but that’s normal. Right?

Q: Other than the fact that you live on the west coast are married and have a small son, there is very little information about your live available on the net. Is this a philosophical stance you have taken?

I live on the East Coast, actually! Pennsylvania.

As for information about my life – I don’t think it’s all that scarce. I’m pretty bold and forthright about my existence across social media. Twitter, Flickr, Facebook. I don’t keep much of it a secret. I talked at length about when my dog died, about my father, about the trials and tribulations of being a penmonkey parent. About how I got drunk that one time and was found in a New Jersey rest area with an Ambien-dosed llama.

I’m fairly open.

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?

Oh, jeez. I don’t actually read much fantasy. Though I will say that one of my favorite fantasy writers is a woman: Robin Hobb. I don’t know that it has anything to do with her, ahem, femaleness, but her characterization (particularly across both the Fitz-Chivalry series) is deft and elegant.

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

I don’t expect that it does. When I read ZOO CITY by Lauren Beukes I wasn’t expecting anything because of her being a woman.

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?

Nebulous answer: the future. Let’s go with 100 years. Just to see how it all ends up. The past is interesting but ultimately, it’s done – it is what it is and where we are now is a result of that. The future, though, that’s where it gets interesting.


Catch up with Chuck on Google+.

Follow Chuck on Twitter. @ChuckWendig

Chuck Wendig’s Blog.

For a complete list of Chuck’s work across the mediums, see here.

For Totally Free Shit from Chuck see here.


Filed under creativity, Fantasy books, Fun Stuff, Gender Issues, Movies & TV Shows, Music and Writers, Publishing Industry, Tips for Developing Writers

Meet Jo Anderton …

As the next of my series featuring fantastic female fantasy authors (see disclaimer) I’ve invited the talented debut novelist Jo Anderton to drop by.

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

Q: You entered the 2008 Orbit/QWC Manuscript Development competition and your book was among the 10 selected for further development. This must have been a wonderful opportunity. Can you tell us a little about the experience?

The Orbit/QWC Manuscript Development program was absolutely amazing. The opportunity to meet a publisher from Orbit and get face-to-face feedback on my book was invaluable. We also got to spend a week in beautiful sunny Queensland, doing nothing but working on those novels, under the mentorship of the generous and wise Marianne de Pierres. The ten other writers were a great bunch, and we’ve kept in touch since. They’re like a support group and a cheering squad all in one! We even gave ourselves a name, we are the Orbiteers!

Even though I had the flu at the time and couldn’t quite make it to all the activities (sadly I did some lying in bed feeling sorry for myself while my fellow Orbiteers were learning and networking and being generally fabulous) it was still a defining experience for me. The book I took to the program didn’t end up selling, but the experience I gained, the things I learned and the people I met truly helped Debris get to where it is today.

Q: You have since gone on to sell this book, Debris, plus the sequel, Suited, to Angry Robot. Congratulations! Editor Marc Gascione says: ‘With the ever-increasing popularity of Japanese and Korean anime, manga and computer games, it’s been surprising that there hasn’t been more SF and fantasy showing its influence. Debris’s mix of SF and fantasy themes, exotic future-medieval settings, Dune-esque warring factions, and a fabulous kick-ass heroine is exactly the sort of on-trend science fiction Angry Robot was set up to publish. We’re damned pleased to have Jo on board.’ Are you a manga fan? Did you realise you were writing cutting edge SF?

Thank you! It’s still very exciting! And sometimes I find it hard to believe it’s real.

I’m a big fan of manga and anime, as well as video games. All three are definitely influences on Debris. Manga like Fullmetal Alchemist, anime like Planets, and pretty much every Japanese RPG I’ve ever played! I particularly love the mix of magic and technology in games like the Final Fantasy series.

I certainly didn’t set out to write cutting edge anything. I mean, I wanted to write something that felt different, but fun was always more important than different! I also wanted to play with that combination of magic and technology, and create a world where the lines between them are blurred.

 Q: Your debut novel Debris is described as ‘far future, where science is indistinguishable from magic’ and also as your ‘own unique vision of steampunk’. (For sample chapters see here).  Have you finished the second book and, if so, what project are you working on next?

It’s been really interesting seeing how other people describe the world in Debris. While it’s definitely got some steampunk elements, it’s also kind of futuristic and a little dystopian. As I was writing it I was quite firmly convinced it was fantasy, just a different kind of fantasy. I guess I’m seeing now that it’s a little bit of everything.

Yes indeed, the second book is finished. At the moment I’m working on something completely different! I call it a ‘post-apocalyptic romantic comedy, set in Sydney of the not too distant future, with ghosts’. It’s a world of fun!

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?

In the way they write? Not that I’ve noticed. A lot of blokes have influenced my addiction to genre. My Dad read Tolkien to me, I loved his old E.E. Doc Smith and Theodore Sturgeon, and I’ll never forget the day I found my first David Eddings book in the local library. But so did Julian May, and Marion Zimmer Bradley, and Katharine Kerr, and then Sara Douglass and Jennifer Fallon, and more! I’m still finding new addictions.

As I type this I’m trying to think what the differences might be? I wouldn’t say one is more bloodthirsty than the other. I don’t think one gender does more romance, or better romance. Or more politics, or better politics. Isn’t it interesting that those are the first ‘differences’ that occurred to me? Bloodthirstyness, romance, and politics.

But is there a difference in the way their books are marketed? And discussed? And awarded? I reckon that’s where the important differences lie.

It's a thrill the first time you see your book out there in the real world sitting on a bookshop shelf.

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

Ah no. I’d say my expectations are based more on the blurb on the back, the publisher (yes, I actually notice publishers and imprints! But that could be due to my day job), the endorsement quotes, recommendations from friends, stuff I’ve read on the internet… Cover image (I’m a sucker for a good cover, I can’t help it). The usual!

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?

Into the future, definitely. I’d like it to be a Gene Roddenberry type future, with space travel, and exploration. I’m not so sure it would be. But I want to know how future generations will look back on us, what we did, what we could have done, and the kind of planet we bequeathed them.

Give-away Question:

One of the things I love about those Japanese RPGs is there’s always a bigger baddie. The evil-doers you think are the baddies aren’t the real deal, there’s always an ultimate enemy you don’t know about, usually hiding in plain sight. So, for the giveaway prize, who is your favourite ultimate baddie?


 Follow Jo on Twitter:  @joanneanderton

Catch up with Jo on GoodReads

Catch up with Jo on Facebook.

See Jo’s Blog

Free fiction from Jo.


Filed under Australian Writers, Book Giveaway, Comics/Graphic Novels, creativity, Dark Urban Fantasy, Fantasy books, Female Fantasy Authors, Gender Issues, Genre, Movies & TV Shows, SF Books, Steampunk

Meet Rebecca Moesta …

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

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

Q: We met at the Brisbane Writers Festival a few years ago when you and Kevin (Kevin J Anderson, Rebecca’s husband and business partner) were in Australia and again this year when you both attended Supanova. As a writer who is trying to meet deadlines and run a business (WordFire) and attend fun (but exhausting) events, how do you balance your professional life?

I’ll have to let you know when I figure that balance thing out. It can be pretty tricky. I’m terrible at writing or editing while I’m on travel. I tend to bring only light projects with me, like reading or formatting, since I’m highly distractible. I tire easily, and I’m also a sucker for picking up any sort of local cold or flu as a souvenir when I’m on the road. It takes me days (if I’m lucky) or weeks to get back to normal after a trip. Knowing my weaknesses, I jealously guard my time at home to get brain-intensive work done. My best bet for balancing deadlines with travel is to limit the number of event invitations I accept in a given year and to give myself recovery time in between.

Q: The list of books that you’ve written is impressive. Let’s look at the Young Jedi Knights, Junior Jedi Knights. Working in an established world must be challenging. How much freedom do you have as a writer when working in the Star Wars universe?

When I was writing Young Jedi Knights, only a handful of other authors were writing in the Star Wars universe, so there was much more leeway to move around. I never felt that my creativity was being hampered. Whether you write a story set in 1960s San Francisco, in feudal Japan, or on Yavin 4, you have to know the climate, the culture, the language, the geography, etc. All of those worlds have intrinsic restrictions. Writing in them involves research and world building. For Star Wars, most of Kevin’s and my research came from watching the original three movies again and again. Every book had to be thoroughly outlined so it could be approved by a continuity committee at Lucasfilm, but that didn’t seem too restrictive to me. After all, I was playing in George Lucas’s sandbox with his toys.

Q: Then there are the Crystal Doors series. This is a young YA series (the protagonists are around 14 years of age). The Jedi books were also YA. Do you find you are most comfortable writing for the YA audience?

YA and middle grade fiction has been my favorite to read since I was about ten. Somehow, I never outgrew it. There’s a magic in YA: it’s the literature of transformation. Something essential always happens to the main characters. The journey from childhood to adulthood presents challenges and rites of passage that are social, emotional, physical, and moral. Our protagonists confront issues like first love, conflicting loyalties, losing a family member, false friends, uncertain values, leaving home, poverty or violence, idealism vs pragmatism. How could I not be fascinated by that? What is a mere murder mystery by comparison?

Q: You have a Masters Science degree, yet you seem to have written mainly Space Opera and fantasy. Are you ever tempted to write Hard SF?

My MS is in Business Administration. Even though I love science and gadgets, the nuts-and-bolts part of science fiction doesn’t come easily to me. First, there are gigantic gaps in my knowledge, so hard SF requires me to do lots of added research, and second, it gives me way too many more chances to goof up. For me, space, fantasy and science are backdrops against which I set my characters & plot. I prefer to use science as a spice for my story stew, rather than as the primary ingredient.

Q: You’ve written a Buffy book Little Things. Were you a big fan of the series? Was this why you ended up writing the book (with vampire fairies no less!)?

I was, in fact, a huge Buffy fan. One year, my husband Kevin was on a book-signing tour with Brian Herbert for one of their Dune novels, and I was along for the part of the tour.  Before the signing at Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore in San Diego, I chatted with the owners, Maryelizabeth Hart and Jeff Mariotte, and we got into a spirited discussion of what might happen in the next season of the show and what directions we hoped the show would take.

Jeff was already writing Buffy novels, and he and Maryelizabeth were also working on some of the nonfiction BtVS books.  Quickly realizing that I was a True Fan, one of them commented that I should write a Buffy YA novel, and I said it sounded fun.

I thought no more about it until I got an email a few days later from the then-editor of the Buffy line, Lisa Clancy, asking me to consider writing a BtVS novel for her.  (Apparently, Jeff had sneakily informed her that I was a fan and that she absolutely had to invite me to do one.)

Though surprised and flattered, I was intimidated. I’d never written horror before—even humorous horror like BtVS.  In fact, I seemed to lean much more toward fairies than vampires, so I asked my husband, “Do you suppose they’d let me do vampire fairies?”  Kevin thought the idea was different enough that it just might “fly,” so I suggested the idea to the editor, and the rest is history.

Q: You often collaborate with your husband Kevin. I’m fascinated to learn how you manage this? Does one of you plot the idea, then the other fleshes it out, or do you plot together, then write alternate chapters, then rewrite together?

In most cases, it starts with brainstorming. We talk over story ideas, jot down notes, arrange them and expand on them, we play up on each other’s ideas, and eventually write a detailed outline.  Then we break it down into chapters and decide who is best equipped to write the first draft of each particular chapter.  Kevin writes half of the chapters, I write the other half, then we edit and swap files and edit each other’s work.  It goes back and forth until we’ve got what we consider a finished version.  And the collaborative book that comes out is different and better than anything either of us could do individually.

Q: I see you and Kevin also script comics and graphic novels (The Gorn Crisis and Grumpy Old Monsters). Have comics always been one of your loves?

When I was growing up, my mom didn’t much approve of what she called “funny books,” so I didn’t read many. It was only after meeting Kevin that my appreciation for them developed. (My mom has been educated on the subject and now approves.) For a writer, there’s a exceptional joy that comes from seeing a story that I wrote come to life in illustrations.


Q: What’s next in the pipeline for you?

I’m doing quite a bit of epublishing at the moment, but I’d like to squeeze in a nonfiction book, as well as writing a few books for younger children (with illustration). I also have a new humorous science fiction project coming up that will be co-written with Kevin.



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?

It doesn’t seem politically correct to say it, but I do think that on average men and women construct fantasy using slightly different mental recipes.

When I was a teacher, I started with the assumption that all gender differences are a result of how the student was raised. I reluctantly came to accept that there are actual biological differences that affect the thought process. Later, when I had my son, I tried to raise him in a gender-neutral way, to revive my preferred theory of differences coming primarily from nurture rather than nature. I struck out. He was all boy from the start, and I gave up on my theory.

That said, I do think that there is a boys’ club that holds male fantasy writers in higher esteem than female writers, especially in epic fantasy. Writing styles vary widely, and some authors’ writing crosses the gender divide, but overall, books by male authors draw more respect from readers and are more valued by editors.

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

Unfortunately, yes. If I read a book whose author’s name is male, I expect a story that is idea-driven or plot focused, while with a female author I anticipate more emphasis on relationships, feelings, and personal development. I feel really guilty saying this—tell me I’m wrong!

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’d visit Pompeii before Vesuvius erupted, to experience daily life there. I’ve always been fascinated by ancient cultures in Egypt, China, Greece, Italy, Persia, etc. How did the rich people live? What rights did the poor or enslaved have? What was the state of technology? How did they practice religion? What were their arts and entertainment?

I wouldn’t want to stay there longer than a few days, but I want to know how accurate modern historians really are in interpreting a culture 2000 years older than our own.

Rebecca has generously offered a Give-away book bundle of:

  • Crystal Doors trilogy in trade paperback
  • Jedi Shadow paperback (an omnibus of Young Jedi Knights books 1–3)
  •  BtVS: Little Things

Which she is willing to send anywhere in the world!

Give-away Question: Do you see yourself more comfortable living in Buffy’s world or the StarWars universe?




Follow Rebecca on Twitter:  @RebeccaMoesta

Rebecca’s Blog.

Rebecca on Facebook.

Catch up with Rebecca on GoodReads.


Filed under Book Giveaway, Children's Books, Collaboration, Comics/Graphic Novels, creativity, Fantasy books, Female Fantasy Authors, Fun Stuff, Gender Issues, Movies & TV Shows, Readers, SF Books, The Writing Fraternity

Meet Kylie Griffin …

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

Kylie has her first book due out in 2012. I thought it might be interesting for readers to hear from a writer who is at this point in their career.

Q: First let me say congratulations. You must have been over the moon when you go the Call with the offer of a contract! Your first book Vengeance Born is due out from Berkley in February 2012, with two more in The Light Blade series already contracted. Have you been working on this series for a long time?

Hi, Rowena, thanks for inviting me and for the congratulations. I was over the moon getting the Call (and the three-book deal just thrilled me). You work so hard that when it happens there’s a real sense of disbelief that you’ve finally achieved that goal, then you run the gamut of emotions, from elation to relief and happy-crying, LOL.

To answer your question, I wouldn’t say I’ve been working on the Light Blade series all that long but I do think the foundation for writing a fantasy romance series has been building over many years.

I’m an avid fantasy reader from way back – Anne McCaffrey, Andre Norton, Mercedes Lackey, David Eddings, Isobelle Carmody and their books (and your T’En series), just to name a few. All of their books had a huge impact on me growing up – and I wanted to write fantasy but with a romance interwoven through the story. I love putting a hero and heroine together and watching their story unfold, usually helped along by an epic-style external plot.

VENGEANCE BORN started out as a stand-alone book in 2007 with all the elements I love about fantasy – world-building, empires and wars, other races – demons, human warriors, hybrids, a goddess – but there’s also the story of the main character’s romance. Then, as I wrote, some of the secondary characters began demanding that I write their stories.

While I’ve a three-book contract there’s another four characters clamoring for attention. Whether they’ll be written remains to be seen. 🙂 I hope readers will get the chance to meet them.

Q: In your day job you are a teacher, but your passion is writing, specifically fantasy-romance. There are a lot of paranormal-romance on the shelves now days, but not so many fantasy-romance. For readers who don’t know the genre, how would you describe it?

I like to think of fantasy romance as being a combination of traditional fantasy and traditional romance.

You get all the fantasy elements, as in a cast of characters, plot archetypes, world-building, magic, etc. yet with the additional element of a romance thrown into the mix, and you end up exploring the gamut of relationships – political, social and romantic.

I love the appeal of having the best of all worlds in my stories (no pun intended *grin*).

Q: That leads to – what drew you to write in this genre and its associated sub genres?

My heart belongs to the genre – specifically fantasy romance, science fiction romance and post-apocalyptic romance – I love, live and breathe it. I can’t remember a time I wasn’t fascinated by it.

My earliest exposure to this genre was as an impressionable 6y.o. watching a rather scary episode of Dr.Who (a British SF TV series), being terrified but at the same time fascinated by the whole concept of time-lords and travelling to different worlds with varying technologies etc.

I also grew up devouring every book, TV show and movie in this genre – Star Wars, Star Trek, The Hobbit, the Dragons of Pern series, the Witch World series etc. Writing my own stories seemed just a natural extension.

The pure escapism of writing about characters who exist in an imaginary world, the vast scope of story lines, the human to non-human range of characters, the development of a romance and the challenge of making everything so real as to suspend a reader’s disbelief. I just love it!

Q: You are known as the Contest Queen because you have placed and won so many Romance Writers competitions. (Kylie is a member of RWAustralia, RWNZ and RWAmerica). You won the RWAmerica Golden Heart (Paranormal section), the Emma Darcy, the Valerie Parv, the Clendon, the Emily and have placed man times in the RWAust Emerald Award. I know how advantageous it is to an aspiring writer to join these organisations and to enter these awards, but the readers might not. Would you like to explain how placing and winning awards helps a writer’s career?

This is a great question, Rowena. You’d think the purpose of entering a contest would be to win, and for some writers this might be valid. When I first started entering contests, I didn’t have a writing group or a critique partner service to draw on for feedback, so this was a way of meeting that need and improving on my skills as a writer.

These days many writing organisations have other services like critique partner schemes, isolated writer programs or writing groups. So it’s one of many ways, not just the only way, to receive feedback.

A lot of the larger publishing houses these days don’t take unsolicited manuscripts ie. you need an agent to represent you to get editors to look at your work. The houses I were aiming for – Berkley, St.Martins, EOS, Harlequin LUNA, Grand Central Publishing – no longer accepted unagented submissions.

So, another strategy I employed was to look at the final judge of the contest. It’s usually either an editor or agent who acquires/represents the genre you’re writing in. Reaching the final round or placing in contests gets your work in front of these specific editors and agents. You can bypass what’s affectionately known as the “slushpile” or the “no unsolicited submissions” rule.

Another reason for entering and aiming to place in contests is that it builds your contest resume and gets your name “out there”. Including this this contest success list in your query letters to agents and editors or when pitching in person to them can make your work stand out. It can also show that your work has consistency and that it also had a potential readership.

Q: By day you are a mild mannered school teacher but your alter-ego is a Rural Fire Fighter, State Emergency volunteer and Community First Responder (responds to 000 calls). You must be drawn towards helping people in dangerous situations. Could you tell us about some of the experiences you’ve had?

I find a lot of satisfaction in helping people, that’s true.

I’ve spent most of my teaching career in small, isolated rural areas and getting to know the people and families in these villages and surrounding farmlands is something that evolves. There’s a huge sense of mateship or looking out for one another because you have to and you know one day you may need their help too.

Also, from a more pragmatic point of view, there tends to be a lack of emergency services (or swift access to them), so that need to help one another tends to be a way of life in these communities but in this day and age that means volunteering and gaining qualifications and along the way you make some great friends, not to mention learn skills you may never have experienced had your life taken a different path.

Some emergencies do hold an element of danger but that’s something our training helps us to prepare for and deal with. In the Rural Fire Service I’ve been to everything from bushfires (some deliberately lit, others started by lightning strikes) to house fires. On the scare factor scale, being a fire-fighter is probably the most immediately dangerous occupation of all the services I’m involved in.

I’ve been a member of the State Emergency Service for 15 years and in that time have participated in several searches for missing people and gone away on out of area calls as a part of a flood and storm damage crew (tarping houses, removing trees, evacuating people from their houses during floods), eg.most recently Cyclone Yasi and the devastating floods in Queensland. Because of our geographic isolation, our unit also responds to road crashes and I’ve helped extricate people trapped in vehicles and, unfortunately, I’ve also assisted with body retrieval when the casualty has died.

I’m also one of five SES members who’ve trained with the New South Wales Ambulance Service as a Community First Responder – an advanced first aider (similar training a junior ambulance office receives). We have a vehicle outfitted with almost everything you see in an ambulance. Over the last few years I’ve attended numerous emergency call outs, everything from broken limbs, heart problems, asthma attacks, amputations, severe burns, to performing CPR on casualties.

Not every emergency situation has ended well but I get a huge amount of satisfaction knowing my team mates and I are able to provide help when it’s needed. Our community appreciates it too. A couple of examples, one of the local oldies bakes us cakes and other goodies when we’re on 24hr flood duty, a passing motorist we helped free from floodwater sent us a large box of chocolates and a wonderful thank you card, and a family whose house we saved from burning down made a lovely donation to the fire unit.

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?

The 'Front door Dragon' that Kylie commissioned a local stained glass artist to make for her.

Personally, I’m saddened to think that there is this sort of perception out there. We have such a rich diversity of authors, male and female, who love writing in this genre and each bring their own unique styles and stories to our bookshelves.

Even if there is a difference in the way male and female fantasy authors write, isn’t the sole purpose of writing to entertain the reader (and ourselves)? We all do it in different ways and it’s the diversity that feeds and entertains the reader.

As a fantasy author, this is the way I prefer to think of myself.

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

I’m a huge believer that the story is paramount. I read the back cover blurb with the expectation of being sucked in – if it hooks me then I’ll read it regardless of the gender of the author.

As a reader I want to be engaged, I want to identify with the characters, I want adventure in whatever form it comes. I want to be entertained for a few hours. If the author’s writing does all this, then mission accomplished.

It’s as simple as that.

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

Oh, the possibilities are endless. This is so not a fair question!!! LOL

I have a passion for ancient civilisations – the Romans, the Vikings, the Greeks, the Mayans, the Egyptians, the Celts – so anywhere/anywhen with them would be amazing.

I also like alternate histories. Exploring alternate turning points in the present would be fascinating, a bit like the Choose-Your Own-Adventure stories where you decide which pathways determine your present story line.

But I also love the unknown future – what will humanity be like in a hundred or a thousand years? What technology will we be using? Do we share this universe with any other race? So, going forward in time would be fun too!

Thanks for this opportunity to be interviewed, Rowena. It’s been a hoot and I’ve really enjoyed answering your questions.

Give-away Question:

Kylie says: While I haven’t received my author copies of VENGEANCE BORN, I do have a eco-friendly tote bag with the cover of my book on it to give-away.

I’ve shared a little bit about some of the fantasy authors who’ve have impacted me as a reader and writer. So, which books and fantasy world/s have made an impression on you and why?


Follow Kylie on Twitter: @KylieGriffin1

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Filed under Australian Writers, creativity, Female Fantasy Authors, Fun Stuff, Gender Issues, Movies & TV Shows, Nourish the Writer, Publishing Industry, The Writing Fraternity, Tips for Developing Writers, Writing craft

Winners Sean Williams Give-away!

Sean is such a softie! He says:

To the question,

“if the Tardis appeared in your living room and Dr Who stepped out, which of the Doctors would you like it to be and why?”

There’s no correct answer, just answers I like better than the others, for wildly irrational and impulsive reasons, and I’m back to tell you which ones they are.

My favourite Doctor will always be Jon Pertwee. (There’s always a special place for your first Doctor, even if it was Colin Baker.) The Third Doctor would be a bit crap to hang out with because the TARDIS was mostly just furniture during his tenure, but you can’t beat frills and a frock coat, so Richard Stein and Brendan Podger are automatic winners.

Another automatic prize goes to James Decker for picking Matt Smith, my new tip for the best Doctor ever (shame about those mad years, Tom), and Lynne Lunsden Green also gets a gong for picking Troughton (yay Jamie). I’m glad people are noticing the deep fannishness of Matt Smith’s performance (many have tried to channel earlier Doctors but few have succeeded) and I hope it’ll lead some of the show’s fresh new audience to look back and marvel at what came before.

So there you have it. Thanks for all your suggestions. If I could, I’d give you all a prize for sharing my love for the best show in the whole world! But I can only pick four, and if you drop me a line at mail (at) seanwilliams (dot) com I’ll give you a list of books to choose from.

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Fandom goes Mainstream

OK, I am the biggest nerd out. I have got to go see this movie. It’s about my people …



Filed under Fun Stuff, Genre, Movies & TV Shows

Meet Jennifer Fallon …

As the next of my series featuring fantastic female fantasy authors (see disclaimer) I’ve invited the best selling, multi-talented and amazingly prolific Jennifer Fallon to drop by.

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

Q: The Undivided is the first book of your new series, Rift Runners. Can you tell us a little about this series?

It’s set across alternate realities and involves psychically linked twins separated went there were toddlers. One world is similar to ours, the other is a world where magic permeates everything and the druids rule the world.

I am having an illegal amount of fun writing it.

Q: I see Voyager, Harper Collins are releasing your Second Sons series with new covers. This must be exciting. Did you have any say in the covers?

I had quite a bit of say, actually. I’m very pleased with the result.

Q: When I look at the volume of work you’ve produced in the fantasy genre, (as well as the Rift Runners and the Second Sons series, there is the Demon Child, the Tide Lords and the Hythrun Chronicles), I’m impressed by your productivity. Do you find yourself exploring similar themes in the different series, or do you explore completely new concepts?

I like to explore new themes with every series. Some lend themselves better than others to particular themes, so that sometimes influences the type of world I build.

Q: I remember when we were doing our Masters together you were saying that if someone is immortal, then they are immortal and they can’t die, otherwise they aren’t immortal. You had one character who was an Immortal Virgin, (her hymen kept growing back). LOL. Are you ever tempted to write satire?

To be fair, it was Valerie Parv who suggested that, and I thought it was an awesome complication so I ran with it. I’d love to write satire, but I fear I wouldn’t do it well enough to warrant it. There are much better satirists out there than me. I believe I am descended from an Irish satirist, however, who was executed in the 18th century for saying rude things about the English.

Q: I see your best selling fantasy books have been shortlisted for the Aurealis Awards, the David Gemmell Legends of Fantasy Award and the Romantic Times Best Fantasy award. That must have been a real buzz. Do you think these awards help bring your books to the attention of new readers?

Here’s my thing about awards – who won the World Fantasy Award last year? The Aurealis in 2005? I bet you can’t say.

Do I think they’re useful? Maybe. They are certainly a boost to the ego, but in my experience, getting your books in the shops in large displays by the door is more useful than an award, when it comes to expanding your reading base, unless winning the award makes the booksellers buy more of them, and put the large display bin out the front.

Q: You also write for Stargate. Does this mean you are a dedicated Stargate Fan? I’m sure people would be interested to hear how you started writing for Stargate and a little about the process.

To be fair, I co-wrote one tie-in novel. I’m not sure if I can claim the moniker “writes for Stargate”. I am a fan, which was why I was asked, and the process involved my co-author sending me the manuscript, me changing all the things I didn’t like, adding the snappy dialogue, and it going back and her changing the changes I made. I believe most of the snappy dialogue survived.

I was an interesting project, though and I have now written a Zorro story for Moonstone, too, which was fun. I do find tie-ins to be quite limiting, because you are playing in someone else’s sand pit and you can’t always build the sandcastles you’d like.

Q: In the last couple of years you’ve moved to New Zealand’s South Island and renovated the historic Reynox House, which you’ve established as a residential writers’ retreat. (Honestly, running away to write sounds heavenly to me).  Is this a dream you’ve always had, to run a writers’ retreat?

I’m not sure I’ve always had it, but certainly for the past few years I’ve wanted to do it. It has all come to a grinding halt at present because of the Christchurch earthquakes. The house sustained some damage in the first quake and the repair bills have been quoted as ranging from $375K to $3m. We are currently at the mercy of insurance assessors and quantity surveyors. Last I heard we were 65th on the insurance company’s priority list and it’s taking them months to settle each claim. Do the math…

 Q: I see you have also started a mentorship program. How do you get the time to do all this?

I limit the number of mentorees so that I don’t have more than I can handle at any one time. Right now, because I am working to a very tight deadline, I don’t have any. I should be picking up the program again in a couple of months.

Q: I was prompted to start this series of interviews because there is 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?

More swear words?

To be honest, I’m not sure. I think female writers tend to be a little more character driven, but there are great male character-driven fantasies out there too. I think it’s up to the individual writers. Remember, there’s a large number of people out there who don’t realise Robin Hobb is a woman, so I guess, in many cases, if the reader doesn’t know the gender of the writer, they can’t necessarily pick it, so I’d have to so no.

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

Not at all.

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’d go to the past, just before I was first published and change my name from Jennifer Fallon to John Fallon. Then all the boys out there who assume that all female fantasy writers write soppy romance fantasies would pick up my books and read them and I’d be much, much richer.

Jennifer will give-away a copy of her new book Undivided. Here’s the question: One of Jen’s series revovles around a number of immortals. How would you kill an immortal?


Filed under Australian Writers, Book Giveaway, Covers, creativity, Fantasy books, Female Fantasy Authors, Genre, Movies & TV Shows, Publishing Industry, The Writing Fraternity

Meet Karen Miller …

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

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

Q: I see you also write as KE Mills and are writing the Rogue Agent series under this name. Why would you write fantasy under two different names?

As Karen Miller,  I write epic/historical fantasy, in self-contained story arcs covering a finite number of ‘acts’ – so I’m telling the story across 2, 3 or soon 5 volumes. The historical influences I draw upon for these books range from ancient Mesopotamia right through to Rennaisance Europe. On the other hand, the Rogue Agent books are part of an open ended series, in which continuing characters have stand alone adventures – even though there are some story elements that carry through more than one book. Also, the historical influence is late Victorian/early Edwardian England. That means there is a distinctly different flavour/atmosphere between the kinds of fantasy I’m writing, so Voyager thought it would be a good idea to differentiate them.

Q: You write for Stargate. Are you a big fan? Was it a real buzz to get the chance to write these books? How did it come about?

I have indeed written media tie in books for the Stargate SG1 universe. I’m a fan of the show, and always will be – especially of the first 6 seasons. I had the best fun writing Alliances and Do No Harm! It’s such a privilege, being given the chance to play in a storytelling sandbox built by someone else, that’s given me enormous pleasure over the years. I got the chance because the people at Fandemonium, who have the Stargate tie in rights, read my Stargate SG1 fanfic (the Medical Considerations series) and thought I’d be a good fit. MGM were fine with it, and so I was paid the enormous compliment of being given the nod to write the books.

Q: Another fan-girl moment. You have also written a Star Wars book, The Clone Wars: Wild Space. How did you get the chance to write for Star Wars?

I’ve actually done 3 Star Wars novels – Wild Space, and then the two-part Clone Wars Gambit story, Stealth and Siege. Again, what an enormous privilege. I fell in love with Star Wars back in 1977, sitting in Hoyts cinema on George Street, watching the star destroyer roar over our heads. It sounds crazy, but the experience really did change my life. So many things have happened to me because of that film, and I will forever be in George Lucas’s debt. Probably I wouldn’t have the writing career I have now without him. Anyhow, I knew there were professionally published Star Wars novels, and I knew you had to be a professional writer to be considered. Once The Innocent Mage was published, I contacted the Star Wars editor at Del Rey and expressed an interest in writing for them, if ever they needed a new author. We had a lovely conversation but nothing came of it, so I just shrugged and got on my with my own original fiction. Then a couple of years later they  asked if I’d be interested in tag team writing some novels set in the Clone Wars. I’d been recommended by hugely popular Star Wars writer Karen Traviss, to whom I owe so very much. It took me about 2 seconds to say yes. *g* And that’s how I got one of the best gigs in the world of speculative fiction.

Q: You wrote the Kingmaker, Kingbreaker series, the Godspeaker series, as well as the Stargate books, the Star Wars book and the K E Mills books. When do you sleep? No, seriously, what’s your writing day schedule and how do you finish so many books?

In short, I put the rest of my life on hold to focus on pretty much nothing but the work. Looking back on the past 5 years, I consider that I’ve been serving my apprenticeship. In writing so much, in so many different worlds, I feel like I’ve been taking a crash course in storytelling. As a result, I think I’ve widened my skill set and honed my craft. Now, as I face the biggest challenge so far in my career, a huge 5 books historical/epic fantasy series, I feel slightly better equipped to get stuck in. There’s so much competition in the world of speculative fiction literature, I think it’s easy to get lost in the crowd when you’re starting out. So I made the conscious decision to write as much as I could, as well as I could, and establish myself as a presence on the book shelf. As I say, it meant putting most of the rest of my life on hold but for me, the choice was absolutely worth it. Now I can ease off the pressure a bit, and really focus on telling this new story as well as I possibly can.

Q: Your books have been finalists in the Aurealis Awards fantasy section three times, plus two of your books have been honoured in the James Tiptree Jr Award. That must have been a real buzz. Did attention from the James Tiptree Jr Award come as a surprise, since you write epic fantasy?

The Tiptree honour was a huge shock, because I had no idea the books had been entered! Sneaky Voyager.  It was an enormous compliment. All my short listings have been. With the Tiptree, with its focus on female characters in the genre, it was particularly pleasing. I love epic fantasy, but a lot of it is written from the male pov, with a male audience in mind, so it’s been fun to shake that up a bit and show that there can be epic fantasy showcasing the strengths of great women, too.

Q: I see you’ve signed a new deal with Orbit for a 5 book deal to write an epic fantasy saga called The Tarnished Crown Quintet. (Congratulations!)Will this be under Karen Miller of KE Mills?

Thanks! This is a Miller adventure. Hugely exciting, and even more terrifying. Biggest challenge of my life so far. Fingers crossed I’m up for it!

Q: I see you like to listen to music while you write. Do you make up a play-list for each series to get you in the right mood? If so, what’s you current play-list?

I don’t do play lists, as such, I just whack the cds into the player. I go by composers … Bear McCreary, Hans Zimmer, John Williams, James Horner, Alan Silvestri … anyone who writes powerfully emotional music that helps me access my own creative emotionality.

Q: You worked with horses when you lived in England and you used to breed, train and judge horses here in Australia, but have stopped now. Do you find your practical knowledge of horses really useful for writing fantasy?

I think so. Given that epic/historical fantasy is generally set in a time frame where horses are ubiquitous, it helps to have a feel for them, I think, as well as some basic understanding of the facts. Plus you can get some good plot points out of the whole horse business.

Q: You are involved in the Castle Hill Players, a local community theatre group. (I belonged to a children’s theatre group and loved it. I really do know what greasepaint smells like!). Do you find that performing on stage gives you a unique perspective for writing fantasy minstrels?

There’s certainly that aspect. Also, I find that writing is like being an actor in a one-woman show. I have to become all these different people as I’m writing them, so the experience of acting and directing really helps me get into their skins and bring them to life.

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?

I think there’s a difference between the way men and write, full stop. Men and women experience the same world very differently, for many many reasons, and I think those differences are inevitably reflected in our writing. In terms of the ‘boy’s club’ question, well, I think that’s more a case of the readership and the gatekeepers of the readership. When you’re talking urban fantasy, that’s a sub genre that’s dominated by the female voice. In many ways, UF is women’s answer to noir fiction. To me, at heart it’s about female empowerment – or at least, it seems to me that’s how it’s evolved. And then you’ve got the paranormal romance sub genre, which again is dominated by women’s voices. That has to be inevitable, I think, given that romance is pretty much a female genre, though there are men who read and enjoy romance fiction.

Then you’ve got the question of epic/historical fantasy. Until recently it’s been the default standard for fantasy fiction, and it arises directly out of the Tolkien school of literature, and the Dungeons and Dragons culture – both of which are traditionally male-centric. As a result, this (now sub) genre is traditionally male oriented. The biggest names writing it are male, and the loudest voices discussing it are male, and the writers getting the lion’s share of the spotlight are male. So yes, as a female writer, sometimes it does feel as though women epic fantasy novelists aren’t accorded the same amount of oxygen in the conversation. I look at the achievements of a writer like Kate Elliott, whose Crown of Stars series is easily as complicated and challenging and epic as Martin’s work, and she is not anywhere near as visible. I find that difficult to sit with. However, I’ll note that my publisher, Orbit, is a brilliant champion of women writing epic fantasy. From what I can see, the resistance tends to come from the gatekeepers of the epic fantasy sub genre. They’re predominantly male, and they consistently focus on male writers, and that means the women writing epic/historical fantasy often get short-changed. And when you get male reviewers openly disparaging female writers in high profile genre magazines, well, that doesn’t make the situation any easier.

Having said all that, though, I think it must also be said that many of the traditional elements associated with epic/historical fantasy are elements that don’t traditionally appeal to women, either as writers or readers. But that doesn’t mean that no women are interested in them, or that women aren’t capable of writing them with the same flair and authenticity as men. What’s happening, I think, is that some people are falling victim to gender biases and assumptions, which is unfortunate.

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

I wish I could say no, but I think it does, to an extent. Epic fantasy written by men tends – and I say tends, it’s not a universal truth – to be heavier on action than emotion. Often there’s no romantic element to the storytelling and certainly a de-emphasis on female characters.  For whatever reasons, those are elements that I really want to see in the books I read. Patrick Rothfuss said on a panel recently that he’s encountered a lot of resistance to the notion of romance in fantasy. I think that’s sad, because I don’t believe for a moment that men don’t want and need love in their lives as much as any woman. And if there is a percentage of men who find romance in epic fantasy confronting, well, that’s no reason to eliminate it  – and by extension, women – from this sub genre of speculative fiction. Absolutely there is an important place for the male-centric story, the male bonding story, all that stuff. It’s as vital as the female empowerment of urban fantasy. But it shouldn’t exist at the expense of epic fantasy that presents are more gender-equal view of the world, where men and women fight the good fight side by side, sometimes falling in love along the way.

By the same token, if I pick up a fantasy novel written by a woman, I generally expect a softer, more emotion/character driven story. Often the focus isn’t on the miltary aspect of epic fantasy. But that doesn’t mean it’s all women can write, and it doesn’t mean that men can’t incorporate these more ‘feminine’ traits into their fiction with huge success. At the end of the day, we are all human beings who live and love and grieve and celebrate – and I think our stories should reflect that.

Ronald D Moore, the showrunner of the rejigged Battlestar Galactica, talks a lot about this on his dvd commentaries. He makes the point over and over that given the choice between losing a scene that’s all SFX and shoot’em up, and a scene that explores/reveals character, with emotion, he’ll lose the action sequence every time. To him, character is at the heart of storytelling. I’m rowing in his boat. That’s what I aim for in my writing, what I look for when enjoying someone else’s story, and what I think makes for the best story experience.

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’d go back to Elizabethan England, to the court of Elizabeth, so I could see her in person.

Karen has a copy of her latest book A Blight of Mages to give-away. Here’s Give-away Question: Would you rather live in the Stargate Universe or the StarWars Universe?


See Karen’s LJBlog.


Filed under Australian Writers, Book Giveaway, Characterisation, creativity, Fantasy books, Female Fantasy Authors, Fun Stuff, Movies & TV Shows, Music and Writers, Promoting Friend's Books, Publishing Industry, The Writing Fraternity, Writing craft

Drive-by Supanova Post

Here I am, back from Supanova and I want to say a big thank you to the team of volunteers. First of all sending hugs to  the Superwomen of Supanova. Missy, Felicity, Nicole and Skye!

Marianne and I at the Dymocks Table

A big thank you to Sandra, Ineke and Claire who ‘womaned’ the Dymocks store.  And while I’m at it, I must say how great it was to catch up with fellow authors, Trent Jamieson, Jennifer Fallon, Trudi Canavan, Isobelle Carmody, Marianne de Pierres and Robin Hobb. Always a pleasure to spend time with!

The costumes are absolutely amazing. So much effort and the tone of the event is so friendly. At one point a huge conga line passed by with everyone dancing and laughing.

A big hello to Caroline and the team who put together the costumes from NINE. Thank you for the cute little No: 5 I was given.

Had so much fun catching up with readers, watching costumes and chatting to friends!


Filed under Australian Writers, Conventions, Fantasy books, Female Fantasy Authors, Genre, Movies & TV Shows, Specialist Bookshops

Almost Squeee for Firefly!

According to this article the Science Channel has acquired the rights to Firefly and will be screening it in its entirety.  Plus there’s an interview with Nathan Fillion about Firefly, where he says that if he won the lottery, he’d buy the rights to Firefly, make more episodes and distribute them on the internet!

Who’s seen Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog?

Now we can all dream what would happen if Nathan Fillion and Joss Whedon won enough money to pick up the Firefly series …



Filed under Fun Stuff, Genre, Movies & TV Shows, The World in all its Absurdity