Category Archives: Promoting Friend’s Books

Supanova with Chris & Cheryse

Off to Supanova today and tomorrow.  Cheryse and I had heaps of fun yesterday.

Here we are all set up with our books.

Here we are all set up with our books.

 

Will be in the RICC building, in Artist’s Alley (booth 191). We Artists are underneath the Signing Hall.

And here we are thinking about running away with the Doctor. (They were still setting up at this point, hence the ladder etc).

And here we are thinking about running away with the Doctor. (They were still setting up at this point, hence the ladder etc).

Today Chris McMahon will be joining us.  I’ve known Chris since way back in 1997 when he joined the Vision Writers group so we’ve been through the upheavals of trying to write, while looking after our families. Today he’ll be bringing along copies of his Jakirian Cycle. A little while ago I was teaching my UNI students and one girl mentioned this really cool book she’d found by a Brisbane author but could never find the rest of the trilogy. Turned out it was Chris’s first book, The Calvanni. Small world.

Hope she sees this and comes to Supanova.

J_trilogy

‘Think Kill Bill meets Dune . . . Heroic Fantasy in world of ceramic weapons where all metal is magical . . .’

So if  you’re coming to Supanova, drop by and say Hi!

Leave a Comment

Filed under Australian Writers, Conferences and Conventions, Conventions, Fantasy books, Fun Stuff, Promoting Friend's Books

From Fantasy to Felony and Fangs…

I’ll be dashing straight from work to the airport to fly off to Melbourne on Friday the 12th of April for a Sisters in Crime Event, where I’ll catch up with Alison Goodman and Narrelle Harris (aka the Daggy Vamp). We’ll be talking about writing across genres. After all, as readers we don’t stick to one genre, why should our creativity be restricted to one genre?

And we even got a nice write up in the print media! (The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald)

 

Narrelle M Harris will interrogate two fellow authors – and herself! – about why they’ve turned from fantasy to crime to explore Melbourne’s underworld and other-worldly…

 

WS-Rough-front-207x300Narrelle M Harris writes both crime and fantasy. She is the author of two frequently hilarious crime vampire novels set in Melbourne: The Opposite of Life and its sequel, Walking Shadows, published last year by Clan Destine Press. Both feature daggy Glen Waverly resident, Gary Hooper, who might be Melbourne’s (or maybe the world’s) least impressive vampire and his geekgirl librarian friend Lissa.

Narrelle also writes in the business sector. She created the Melbourne Literary iPhone app in association with Sutro Media.

 

a_new_kind_of_death_ebook_cover_finalAlison Goodman has received world-wide recognition for her fantasy books Eon and Eona which have been sold into 18 countries, and translated into 11 languages. Her first crime novel, A New Kind of Death, previously published in the USA as Killing the Rabbit, is now available to an Australian audience, thanks to Clan Destine Press. It’s a dark and wickedly adult comic thriller with just a touch of speculative intrigue and was highly recommended in Sisters in Crime’s Davitt Awards.

Alison was a D.J. O’Hearn Memorial Fellow at Melbourne University, holds a Master of Arts, and has taught creative writing at postgraduate level. She is currently working on a new fiction series.

 

Fantasy writer R C Daniells has also turned her hand to crime – with a paranormal twist in The PoF Wraparound ResizedPrice of Fame (Clan Destine Press). At its centre is documentary maker Antonia Carlyle who uncovers dark secrets in St Kilda when she researches the cult ’80s band, The Tough Romantics, and its doomed singer Genevieve James. The iconic band’s rise to international fame, she discovers, had as much to do with its cutting edge sound as its history of tragedy, betrayal and murder…

In her spare time, Rowena has devoted five years to studying each of these martial arts – Tae Kwon Do, Aikido and Iaido, the art of the Samurai Sword.

 

If you’d like to attend, here’s the info:

The Rising Sun Hotel, cnr Raglan St & Eastern Rd, South Melbourne (no lift). Mel Ref: 57, H2.Try 1, 55, 112 or St Kilda Road trams. Free on-street parking after 6pm.

$10 (members/concession )/$15 (non-members). Dinner upstairs from 6.30pm. Men or ‘brothers-in-law’ welcome. No bookings necessary. 10% for members from the Sun Bookshop bookstall.

Info: Carmel Shute on 0412 569 356 or go to www.sistersincrime.org.au

4 Comments

Filed under Australian Artists, Conferences and Conventions, Dark Urban Fantasy, Paranormal_Crime, Promoting Friend's Books, Thrillers and Crime, Thrillers and Mysteries

My Next Big Thing…

Last week Cheryse Durant tagged me on her blog, as part of a chain of author recommendations called The Next Big Thing. Today it’s my turn to reciprocate and to pass on the torch. I’m going to answer questions about my new project King Rolen’s Kin Book Four . Then I’m going to tag some wonderful authors who will tell you about their Next Big Thing on Wednesday 12th of December. (Here are the other authors who are blogging today on their Next Big Thing: LJ Smith, Kallee BuchananChris McMahon and Keren K)

PS. Regarding my Next Big Thing.  I really had trouble deciding between the book that will be released tomorrow, The King’s Man and the book I’m currently writing. In the end I decided to talk about how writing The King’s Man influenced writing KRK4.

PPS. This blog post contains spoilers if you haven’t read the first KRK trilogy.


Q: What is the working title of your next book?

At this point Solaris Press want to call KRK4 King Breaker (or maybe King-breaker). I wanted to use words associated with kings and royalty, since this was the title theme of the King Rolen’s Kin trilogy.

Q: Where did the idea for the book come from?

I always knew there was going to be more KRK because when book three of the trilogy ended Byren had dealt with one of the Big Bads (as they’d say on Buffy) but the other villain still lived and sat on his father’s throne.

The problem was, I didn’t know how any of this was going to unfold. Then a friend* who had read KRK said to me, ‘Garzik can’t be dead. He just can’t.’ And I realised he wasn’t. And just like that I had the premise for The King’s Man ebook, released 6th December.

*The King’s Man is dedicated to: Leanne, who refused to believe that Garzik was dead.

Q: How did writing a book about Garzik help you write KRK4?

In the writing of The King’s Man I explored the larger world and having a richer world opened up more narrative possibilities. I am a voracious reader, which helps with world building.

I’ve always been fascinated by how societies evolve. What seems perfectly normal to us would be unthinkable to people at some other time, in some other place.

For instance, in Tibet they practice a much more varied form of marriage than we do. Two or more brothers* will marry one woman. All the children the woman has will be regarded as the children of the marriage. Because of the harsh conditions people need a certain amount of land to survive. If each of the brothers took a wife for themselves and had children, the family land would be broken up in the following generation and become non-viable. This would cause rivalry within the extended family. Their society evolved these customs over time to survive and it all seems perfectly normal to them because, for them, it is.

*This is a simple example. For more detail read Stratification, Polyandry, and Family Structure in Central Tibet by Melvin Goldstien.


Q: Speaking of world building, you explored a very differently structured society in The Outcast Chronicles and in KRK one of the central characters is gay. Were you worried that people would be offended? And why write about sexuality?

Some people were offended. There was one reviewer who said they refused to read KRK book one once they realized Orrade was gay. So far the reviews of OC have been positive, but I’m sure some people will find the way the mystics live in sisterhoods and brotherhoods confronting but just like the people of Tibet, the mystics’ society is logical for them.

And I write about sexuality (among other things) because I write about the human condition. I believe that fantasy can take a mirror and hold it to the world to make us question our assumptions.

Our world is a lot larger and more amazing than people realize, and I do my research. Things are never as simple as they first appear. For instance there are straight men go in search of gay sex* for various reasons. For one thing it is much easier than chatting up a woman, as there are no complications since both parties know what they want. For another, some men rationalize it as not cheating on their wife or girlfriend.

Sexuality and the search for love is one of our primal drives. If I avoided it, I would not be writing honestly. I would be skimming over the surface and the act of writing would feel unsatisfying for me. Besides, sometimes it is good for us to be confronted.

*For more information on this see Dr Joe Kort’s articles here.

Q: There are some confronting things in The King’s Man. How has this book been received?

The book will be officially released tomorrow but the first review is already up. I have a beta reader in one of my adult sons. He is a keen fantasy reader and he’s my target audience. If he doesn’t understand something or he wants to know more about it, I will elaborate. He reads most of my books before I send them to my publisher.

 

Q: After all that serious stuff, here’s a fun question. If you found yourself in a lift with a movie director you admire and had the chance to pitch your book to them, what would you say and who would that director be?

I’d say: I write rollicking fantasy that keeps readers up all night. But underneath all that adventure and fun King Breaker is about the price we are willing to pay to achieve our ambition and asks is it worth it?

And my dream director would be Allan Ball because of his wicked sense of humour in True Blood and Six Feet Under, or Peter Jackson because he is a consummate story teller, or Guillermo de Toro because of his lyrical vision in Pan’s Labyrinth.


Q: It’s been a busy year for you with four books coming out. How do you find the time to write?

Actually, it’s been five books this year – The Outcast Chronicles trilogy and The King’s Man, (both fantasy) and my paranormal crime, The Price of Fame. Plus I’ve been cleaning up my original trilogy, (new title The Fall of Fair Isle) to re-release it some time next year. (When I get the chance).

I’m an Associate Lecturer, we’ve been madly renovating, we have six children (the last one just finished high school) so it has been a really hectic couple of years. But the thing that keeps me sane is writing. This is what fascinates me, exploring worlds via character. If you took this person and put them in this situation what would they do? What would they learn about themselves? That is the core of why I write.

Q: When will we see King Breaker? And what will be your Next Big Thing?

I’ll hand the book into Solaris in May and it is scheduled for release late in 2013.

As to my Next Big Thing… there have been a lot of comments on my blog asking for more Outcast Chronicles and I find this series compulsive, so I will probably dive back into the OC.

 

And here are the authors I’d like to introduce. They will be blogging next Wednesday (12th December), when they talk about their Next Big Thing:

Lee Battersby, author of The Corpse-Rat King and its sequel Marching Dead, lives in Western Australia. He has had over 70 short stories published and won numerous awards.

 

 

 

AA Bell, author of the Diamond Eyes trilogy of SF & Fantasy thrillers. Twice winner of the prestigious Hemming Award for Excellence… Website and blog.

 

 

 

Glenda Larke is an Australian living in Malaysia, an rainforest environmentalist who has worked in avifaunal conservation. She’s also author of three fantasy trilogies and a standalone fantasy novel, seven of which have been shortlisted for the Aurealis Best Fantasy Novel of the Year.

 

 

Gail Z. Martin is the author of Ice Forged in her new The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga (Orbit Books), plus The Chronicles of The Necromancer series (The Summoner, The Blood King, Dark Haven & Dark Lady’s Chosen ) and The Fallen Kings Cycle (The Sworn  and The Dread).  Gail blogs at www.DisquietingVisions.com, and her web site in www.AscendantKingdoms.com.

11 Comments

Filed under Australian Writers, creativity, Nourish the Writer, Paranormal_Crime, Promoting Friend's Books, Readers, Reviewers, The Writing Fraternity, Thrillers and Crime, Thrillers and Mysteries, Tips for Developing Writers, Writers and Redearch, Writing craft

Winner Jason Nahrung Book Give-away!

Jason said:

What a tasty selection of vampires! Pam, one of my favourite characters from True Blood played so brilliantly. Christopher Lee, legend. Thanks to Mark, I have a new series to investigate.

But it’s the double whammy from Shadow of the Vampire that gets the nod: Dafoe’s Orlock is wonderfully nuanced in his re-creation of Schreck’s character from Nosferatu.

And now I have a great desire to go watch Lugosi’s Dracula again. Thanks all, and Sean and mooyah, for taking the time to leave a comment!

So, Scott J Robinson,please email Jason. jnahrung(at)gmail(dot)net to organise the posting of your book.

Meanwhile… Jason says:

Bookings open for Salvage Queensland events in August

Bookings are now open for those able to attend my chat at Caloundra Library on Monday August 13 at 10-11am and at Noosa Library on Tuesday August 14 4-5.30pm. Expect to hear about the writing and publishing process, landscape as character and inspiration, and vampires, of course. Given that Salvage was primarily written on (and is kind of set on) Bribie Island and polished off at Noosa, it’s something of a homecoming.

You can also rsvp for the Brisbane launch at Avid Reader, 6 for 6.30pm, on Friday August 10 by emailing events @ avidreader.com.au or phoning 3846 3422, or drop me a line and I’ll pass it on. Kim Wilkins will be doing the honours.

You can also book in for the Darkness Down Under panel, with Kirstyn McDermott, Angela Slatter and myself, at Logan North Library on Saturday August 11 at 1.30-3pm. If you like reading or writing horror and dark fantasy, there should be something in this for you.

All events are free. Copies of Salvage will be available. There will be coffee and time for chinwagging. I’m looking forward to it!

Leave a Comment

Filed under Australian Writers, Book Giveaway, Dark Urban Fantasy, Promoting Friend's Books, Promoting your Book, The Writing Fraternity

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

Aussie Female Fantasy Authors featured in Mainstream Media

Great article on Australian female fantasy authors in the Melbourne Age today. (Great photo of Kim Westwood).

If I was American I’d say, ‘You go Girls!’ But since I’m an Aussie I’ll say, ‘Good on yer, mate!’

I think I’ve interviewed all of these writers on my blog. Check out the interview page if you want to know more about them.

In the article Tansy Rayner Roberts says that she thinks science fiction is due for a comeback. Her feeling is that a lot of the trends in reading are being led by Young Adult.  You just have to look at the popularity of Harry Potter, Twlight and now the Hunger Games. What do you think?

2 Comments

Filed under Australian Writers, Fantasy books, Female Fantasy Authors, Gender Issues, Promoting Friend's Books, Publishing Industry

I Disappeared down a Rabbit Hole

But I will resurface!

(I set myself a goal for a rewrite and have been chained to the keyboard but more on that later).

The good news is that I’m going to ROR next week and apart from the wonderful time I’ll be having with my writing buddies, I get to launch Tansy new book! We’re going to make it a double launch so Richard will be launching Margo’s new book. Her book, Sea Hearts, is based on the novella by the same name that won the World Fantasy Award for its section.

If you live in Tassie or are going to be there Thursday, Feb 2nd…

We’re pleased to spread the news that Margo Lanagan will now be joining us on February 2nd for a launch of her new book, Sea Hearts. Margo and Tansy Rayner Roberts will share the evening, making it a very exciting double launch for us — don’t miss it!
See below for details of both books.

Thursday February 2nd
5:30pm
The Hobart Bookshop
Rowena Cory Daniells will launch Reign of Beasts by Tansy Rayner Roberts.
This is the final book in Rayner-Roberts’ The Creature Court trilogy.
Richard Harland will launch Margo Lanagan‘s Sea Hearts — an an extraordinary tale of desire and revenge, of loyalty, heartache and human weakness, and of the unforeseen consequences of all-consuming love.


The Hobart Bookshop
22 Salamanca Square
Hobart Tasmania 7000
P 03 6223 1803 . F 03 6223 1804
hobooks@ozemail.com.au
www.hobartbookshop.com.au

If you happen to be a Taswegian, then drop by the Hobart Bookshop and say Hi!

3 Comments

Filed under Australian Writers, Dark Urban Fantasy, Fantasy books, Female Fantasy Authors, Fun Stuff, Genre, Nourish the Writer, Promoting Friend's Books, Specialist Bookshops, The Writing Fraternity

Supanova – Be there or be Square!

Okay, maybe not, but it will be heaps of fun. There’s a great line up of writers coming this weekend to Brisbane Supanova!

Isobelle Carmody( is going to launch The Sending), Marianne de Pierres, Tracey O’Hara, Keri Arthur, Ian Irvine, Kylie Chan and myself will be at the Dymocks bookstore if you’d like to stop by and get a book signed or just chat.

Plus there will be panels and a workshop.

Friday –

Isobelle Carmody Writing Masterclass in the Cosplay Theatre at 6.45pm

Saturday –

1pm – Isobelle Carmody’s booklaunch for The Sending in the Wrestling ring – launched by Min

2.30pm – Marianne and Rowena in the Supanvnova Seminar Room – Steps to Publication

3.30pm – Tracey and Keri in the Supanova Seminar room – Introduction to Paranormal

Sunday –

11.50am – Kylie in the Supanova seminar room – Journeying towards Trilogies

1pm – Official launch of Ian Irvine’s Vengence by Isobelle Carmody in the wrestling ring

2.20pm – Ian Irvine in the Supanova seminar room – Vengence unleased!

Here is a link to the official event guide. And here’s some pics from the other Supanovas I’ve been to.

There's amazing costumes!

There's amazing authors. This was Sydney or Melbourne with Kevin J Andersen, Rebecca Moesta, Jennifer Fallon, Alison Goodman, Kate Forsyth, Marianne de Pierres and me.

This is Jennifer Fallon and me signing books.

10 Comments

Filed under Australian Writers, Conferences and Conventions, Conventions, Dark Urban Fantasy, Fantasy books, Female Fantasy Authors, Fun Stuff, Paranormal_Crime, Promoting Friend's Books, Readers, SF Books, Specialist Bookshops, The Writing Fraternity, Thrillers and Crime, Thrillers and Mysteries, Workshop/s

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 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

17 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