Category Archives: Reviewers

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.

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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

Meet the team at Galactic Suburbia…

Today I’m interviewing the Intrepid Team who brings you Galactic Suburbia. Fresh from the Aurealis Award win for contributing to Speculative Fiction, and hot on the heels of a Hugo nomination, we’re going to range wide and far, from motherhood, deadlines, to goals and gender.

Q: First of all Congratulations on the Aurealis Award Win! The Peter McNamara Convenor’s Award for Excellence (named after Peter McNamara who was the original Aurealis Awards convenor as well as an Indie Press editor and publisher). This award celebrates work in any medium that brings credit to the field of Speculative Fiction. This must have been a buzz to win. Did some of you go to the awards night?

TANSY: it was very exciting to win it, and to hear such lovely things said about Galactic Suburbia and its effect on the community over the last few years.  We all went along except Finchy who was on parenting duty back home – but it was lovely for Alex, Alisa and I to be able to celebrate together on the night.

ALEX: it was my first Aurealis Awards night and very exciting to attend. The ceremony itself was really well constructed and it was a lot of fun being there to watch people get well-deserved awards… and a lot of fun to hang out with them after as well. Getting the award was a bit surreal, since it’s a fairly big deal and to think that the conveners thought us talking to each other was worth it is amazing.

ALISA: I was really excited to attend a Sydney Aurealis Awards night and it was a lot of fun. I’m constantly blown away by the way Galactic Suburbia has been received.

Q: I now hearGalactic Suburbia has been nominated for a Hugo! (Best FanCast) Do you have any idea of the number of people who are listening to what you have to say? And does it make you feel nervous?

FINCHY: We appear to be averaging just over fourteen hundred downloads per month from our episode list with around three hundred subscribers based mainly in Australia, US, UK and Canada as well as a handful in other countries such as Sweden, Belgium and the Philippines.

ALISA: I have to admit that I try not to think too much about how many people are listening. I think that the podcast works because of the synergy between three good friends just having a conversation and so I try not to get too self conscious about it. Course, there’s no avoiding that when we record live episodes in front of an audience! Which is actually a lot of fun.

ALEX: live episodes are heaps of fun! … except when they’re too early in the morning. I admit that I like looking at the number of hits our website gets, but it doesn’t translate in my head into ‘these people actually LISTEN.’ Being nominated for the Hugo is a totally mind-blowing thing – an award that non-community people have heard of!

TANSY: What is lovely is that so many of the people who do listen to our podcast either tweet or email us, sharing their experiences and joining the conversation.  I can never quite wrap my head around ‘400 people listened to that episode’ but once you get it down to about ‘5-10 people talked to us about that episode’ it feels more manageable!  We can sometimes see the influence we’ve had as books/ideas we recommend or suggest get picked up by other people with their own blogs or podcasts or communities around them, which is very exciting.

Q: On the Galactic Suburbia About page you have a description of yourselves, Alex the Reviewer and Teacher, Tansy the Fantasy Writer and Mum, Alisa the Indie Publisher and Engineer. (And we should include Finchy in there as the Silent Producer). But you don’t tell us what prompted you to start Galactic Suburbia. I’m guessing you all knew each other before this. Did you have Mission Statement? To Boldly Go Where No Other Podcast Had Gone?

ALISA: We started Galactic Suburbia for a bunch of reasons. Something that the three of us are really passionate about is offering diversity of opinions and voice in the genre and we were very conscious that most of the podcasts at the time featured mostly male voices. When our favourite podcast – Starship Sofanauts – finished, we were so sad to be losing the show that we genuinely thought about picking up the gauntlet. We realised though, much as we loved the format of the show, three women on a podcast would really be a different, and our own show. So we decided to launch Galactic Suburbia – vaguely based on the Sofanauts (an emphasis on news and views on current sf publishing) but with our own, feminist, twist.

ALEX: I wanted the excuse to chat with friends that I’m lucky to see once a year. Email is nice and all, but all talking at the same time is on an entirely different level of interaction. Other than that, what Alisa said.

TANSY: We also wanted to give the Australian perspective on publishing, science fiction, etc.  So often it’s the US (and to a lesser extent UK) voices which dominate the discussion, no matter what the medium.  We ended up with a great deal of happy accidents that weren’t originally planned – such as how much easier it is to have a discussion about crunchy feminist issues when people aren’t leaping into your comments thread to derail you!

Also I have to say the reviewing aspect pleases me a great deal – since my second daughter came along I have so little time for reading and even less for reviewing, which saddens me because I’m well aware of how important it is to have non-US female reviewers adding their voices to the discussion.  With Galactic Suburbia I have incentive to finish a book or two each fortnight, and to say something about it without having to write anything down!

Q: Can you give us a rundown on how you come up with the premise for an episode and then the mechanics of how you record it? Has this changed over time?

ALEX: When we started out, we had a three-part strategy: news first, then ‘Culture consumed’, then a ‘Pet subject.’ We quickly realised that we needed to include feedback, too, because we were actually getting some and it was nice to discuss it! While we enjoyed doing the pet subject, there were times when we couldn’t easily think of something crunchy enough to talk about… and then we discovered that we were in serious danger of going over two hours. Eventually we experimented with dropping the pet subject and giving ourselves a bit more time on the news etc; given that we do occasionally still threaten the two-hour mark, it’s probably been a good move!

TANSY: Recording wise, we all hop on to Skype.  Finchy presses the buttons (I’ll let him give more specifics) and we talk straight through, barring accidents of the internet, from beginning to end.  We have show notes up ahead of time in a shared Google Doc, which gives us the links to talk about in our news segment (we’ve all added to this doc in the weeks leading up to the episode), and a loose order of points of discussion, plus the works listed we’re going to review in our ‘Culture Consumed’ section.  We take turns to moderate episodes, so we share the burden of trying to keep it all on track and saying things like ‘and what have you been reading, Alex.’  Then the other two hop off Skype and go have dinner/go to bed while I tidy up the Show Notes, Finchy does the editing, and ‘casts’ the episode into the internet.

FINCHY: We use Audio Hijack Pro to capture the audio from Skype for all three presenters simultaneously, after spending a little bit of time checking their relative levels.  I edit in Garageband (mostly to eliminate technical glitches such as Skype dropping out) and export the compressed MP3 which is uploaded to Podbean using Cyberduck.  Content editing is rare as the presenters are amazingly fluent and we like to have the feel of a natural conversation.

ALISA: The recording through unless internet accidents has added a very real “suburban” feel to our show. Listeners have positively commented on the sound of babies and barking puppies in the background. I like the idea of it sounding like the three of us sitting round a kitchen table, having a cup of tea, and life going on around us.

Q: You all have work, some have families, Alisa is running Twelfth Planet Press (and getting married this year – TR) .  Like you I have work, family and deadlines. I feel like I’m running top speed just to stop from going backwards. Women can have it all, but is it worth it?

ALISA: I think women can have it all, just maybe not all at once. Is it worth it? Hell yes.
Sometimes I dream about just coming home from my day job and doing … actually, I have no idea what people without commitments do? But not often. I enjoy running my press and working with outstanding, creative people, and the intellectual challenge of it all. I enjoy the process just as much as I appreciate the rewards of my labours. I do worry about how I will fit a family in with it all and am starting to lay the preparation ground work for that now.

ALEX: I think it’s ‘all’ available, and I hope that we’re at the point where, if I don’t want to, I don’t HAVE to want it all. But I can help those of my friends who have bigger ambitions (Alisa…).

TANSY: People ask how I get it all done – how I write and balance my family responsibilities, kids, etc.  “How do you do so much”  It sometimes feels a bit like a veiled attack – “how do YOU do it when *I* don’t, what makes you so special?”  But it comes down to priorities.  You make time for writing, or fanzine editing, or convention running, or reviewing, or small press publishing, or whatever, if it’s important to you.  If you love it enough.  And yes, I have ambitions, mostly revolving around trying to earn a living in my field, but I don’t feel the need to have it all.  Where would I put it?

I think it’s a worry how easily the idea that ‘women can have it all’ has shifted to ‘women should have it all, and if they’re not achieving perfection across every aspect of life, they should feel bad about themselves.’  I’m not a perfect mother, partner, writer, feminist or podcaster, but I’m pretty happy with my life.  Galactic Suburbia gives us so much personal satisfaction right now, but I hope that if it ever becomes a chore or something to trudge through, my fellow podcasters would ditch it in a hot second and run off to find whatever else they need to make them happy.  If it’s not fun, what’s the point?

ALISA: I agree – I think it’s not, how DO you fit it all in but rather how much do you want it? And which bits do you really want? Because I most definitely cut corners in my life, mostly with the boring chores, to do the things I really want.

Q: You are all in your thirties and you’re all well educated, Engineer (Alisa), Classics Phd (Tansy), History Masters and Teaching (Alex). You’ve talked about gender from the Tiptree Awards, how comics portray females and Celebrating Joanna Russ. As someone who works with young women in their twenties I’ve come across the feeling that the feminist movement is old hat and a bit of an embarrassment.  How far have we come? How much farther do we need to go?

TANSY: I think that anyone who thinks feminism isn’t necessary isn’t looking at the world right now.  It’s never been more relevant to the lives of young women.  There are so many battles still to fight – in politics, in bodily autonomy, in law reform, in workplace equality.  And yes, in publishing and science fiction too.  Then there’s the challenge of intersectionality, of making sure that feminists are not trampling on the rights of others to get what they need, and that we remember that racism, homophobia and ableism are rife in our communities.

Like knitting and crochet, I like to think that feminism is coming back into vogue among the young.  And books matter, just like the representation of gender in all cultural products matters – it’s how we shape ourselves as a society.  Women are constantly in danger of the backlash, of being told it’s time to sit down and shut up because the men are talking.  And while sexism is often (but not always) more subtle and insidious than in previous decades, it’s still with us.

Nothing makes us happier than hearing from our male listeners about how they have become readers of and advocates for women’s work because of Galactic Suburbia.  Though it’s also pretty fabulous when we hear from women who have also changed their way of thinking towards feminism, the work of other women, and gender issues in general, because of us.  We’re not gurus or experts in gender theory and we’re certainly not perfect feminists – we’re just showing our work as we make our own imperfect journeys forward in figuring things out for ourselves, and it’s lovely how many people want to come along for the ride.

ALISA: It makes me sad when I talk over feminism with my mum and realise that we haven’t really come anywhere near as far as maybe we should have for the time frame. On the other hand, I know so many men who have their head around the issues and are not only walking the talk, they’re active advocates. Is feminism old hat? I don’t think so. Does it need to constantly be reviewed and updated, I think yes. I think one problem is that the really overt aspects of sexism have been addressed, and hopefully mostly improved. Like you can’t not hire or promote me just because I’m getting married later this year and probably will want to start a family soon. But the battle now is to bring to light the subtle, subconscious and culturally condititioned aspects of sexism. This battle in some ways is a much harder one but at the same time, I think it’s deeply fascinating. Certainly the most positive interactions I’ve had with Galactic Suburbia is when someone has thought about something we’ve discussed and then gone away to look at their own actions, found them wanting AND then done something about that – like actively reading and talking about female writers and their work.

Alex: … all of that.

Q: Where do you see Galactic Suburbia going in the future?

ALEX: Wiscon…  :D

TANSY: WISCON OR BUST!

ALISA: I’m with them!

Q: Individually, what would you like to achieve in the next year and in the next 5 years?

ALEX: I just want to read a lot of really good books. And talk about them.

TANSY: I want to *write* a lot of really good books.  Selling some wouldn’t hurt either.  I want to earn a living at this writing thing and that means getting my ambition into gear.  So glad I have good friends to keep me sane along the way.

ALISA: I want to *publish* a lot of really good books.  I’m looking forward to completing the Twelve Planets series, launching our new crime imprint Deadlines, and releasing our first novel. In the next 5 years? I probably want it all :)

See an overview of 2011 podcasts.
Catch up with Galactic Suburbia on Facebook
Catch up with Galactic Suburbia on iTunes
Catch up with Galactic Suburbia on Twitter @GalacticSuburbs
Catch up with them individually on Twitter
Tansy @tansyrr
Alisa @Krasnostein
Alex @randomisalex

Blogs
Tansy Rayner Roberts
Alisa Krasnostein
Alexandra Pierce

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Filed under Australian Writers, Awards, Conferences and Conventions, Female Fantasy Authors, Gender Issues, Genre, Indy Press, Nourish the Writer, Podcasts, Publishing Industry, Readers, Reviewers, The Writing Fraternity

Meet Cheryl Morgan…

The first interview of 2012  Ta Da!

I have been featuring fantastic female fantasy authors (see disclaimer) but this has morphed into interesting people in the speculative fiction world. Today I’ve invited the talented Cheryl Morgan to drop by.

 

Q: I found collating material for this interview very challenging. You have done so much in the spec fic genre that I didn’t know where to start. So I went for the chronological approach.

In 1995 you produced the first issue of Emerald City, an Ezine containing reviews of books, movies and conventions and interviews. Between 1995 and 2006 when Emerald City ceased publication, you released 134 issues, most of which you wrote yourself. It’s great that the files of all of Emerald City’s issues are still available. So much work! This Ezine received several Hugo Award nominations and won Best Fanzine in 2004.  The ‘zine turned semi-pro and was nominated for best Semiprozine, while you were nominated for Best Fan Writer in 2006. If you could go back, knowing what you know now, and give yourself some advice before you started the first issue of Emerald City what would it be?

I think you have overdone the awards there. Emerald City ceased publication in 2006. My second Hugo win was in 2009, so for work published in 2008. That clearly can’t refer to Emerald City. There are probably other nominations for Best Fan Writer that don’t refer to the ‘zine either.

As to your question, I’d suggest that I spent more time reading reviews by people like John Clute and Gary K. Wolfe before trying to write my own. One of the interesting things about working online is that your early work is all out there for everyone to see for ever more.

Q: In an post on John Scalzi’s blog you said ‘Back when I first started getting nominations there was a huge upset about it and I was accused of, you guessed it, not being fannish enough. Apparently the fact that I published Emerald City electronically rather than on paper meant that it wasn’t a proper fanzine, and the fact that I wrote mainly book reviews meant that I was too serious about SF to be a proper fan.’ Publishing electronically back in 1995 was really cutting edge. How did you come to do this?

It was just circumstances really. I had recently moved from the UK to Australia for work, and I wanted my friends back in the UK to be able to read my fanzine. I had also just met a wonderful man called Kevin Standlee, and I wanted to send the ‘zine to him and his friends in California. The only way I could afford to do that was to publish electronically.

Q: I noticed in your photos on your twitter profile you have a Glenda Larke book and an Alison Goodman book. (I’ve interviewed both of these authors for this series). What is it about their writing that appeals to you?

I loved Alison’s last book, The Two Pearls of Wisdom (aka Eon). What attracted me about it was the accurate and sympathetic portrayal of a trans woman. That’s rare in any book, and in a book aimed at the YA market is very rare indeed. I was lucky enough to meet Alison at the recent Melbourne Worldcon and thank her for the book. She’s a lovely person. I’m now reading the new one, The Necklace of the Gods (aka Eona), and enjoying it too.

I’ve known Glenda for a long time and we are good friends, despite the vast geographic distance between us. She’s a great writer who tackles all sorts of serious themes in a very intelligent way. I have no doubt that she’d be getting awards if she were a man.

Q: You seem to be a very dedicated SF fan, driven to discuss and dissect the genre. I’ve always loved the genre, even way back when I didn’t know what the word genre meant. Discovering SF Fandom when was 18 meant discovering people who talked about the things I was interested in. (All my life before this I had been the weird one). When and how did you discover the genre and fandom?

I’ve been reading SF&F for as long as I can remember. I read Dan Dare and X-Men comics as a kid. I’m old enough to have seen the first ever episode of Doctor Who (and was promptly banned from watching it by my parents because it gave me nightmares). I first read Lord of the Rings when I was about 13. It is in my DNA.

As to fandom, I was involved a lot in Dungeons & Dragons fandom as a student, but when I started my first job one of my bosses found out about my hobby and suggested I try attending an SF convention. His name was Martin Hoare, and he introduced me to his best mate, a fellow called Dave Langford. It was all downhill from there.

Q: You are the person behind Wizard’s Tower Press, which releases mainly digitally, making out-of-print works available. You also published the magazine, Salon Futura. What led you to go into publishing?  

US immigration. As described on my blog, I have effectively been banned from visiting the USA. This means it is difficult for me to see all of my friends, and in particular Kevin. The only simple way I can get back there is to create a business that requires me to visit SF conventions, and will allow me to apply for a business visa. Hence I created Wizard’s Tower, which is a publishing company.

Q: The first issue of Salon Futura was launched that the World Science Fiction Convention in September 2010. That would have been the Melbourne World Con. As someone who lives in Bath in the UK that was a long way to go to launch Salon Futura. This is a ‘new online non-fiction magazine devoted to the discussion of science fiction, fantasy and related literature.’ What led you to produce Salon Futura?

As a small press, it is very hard to sell books, because you have to get them in front of people without being annoying and spammy. The obvious thing to do is to start a magazine. And I needed to do something different, so I thought I would try doing a literary review magazine, somewhere you would get serious discussion rather than just reviews and fan squee. Sadly that didn’t work to well.

Q: You also have an ebook store that provides a sales outlet for other small presses like Australia’s Twelfth Planet Press. Is that part of the same grand plan?

Not entirely. The store came about initially because I needed to be able to sell Wizard’s Tower books, but it was obvious to me that, even with Salon Futura as a marketing vehicle, people would be unlikely to come to a store that sold so few books. So I asked a few other independent publishers if they would like me to sell their books, and things have grown from there. We now have seventeen publishers represented, including ourselves, and more are being added. I’m particularly pleased to be able to bring Australian books to a wider market.

I have also become convinced that it is necessary for the health of the publishing industry for there to be competition to Amazon. Charlie Stross blogged recently about how Amazon controls 80% of the world-wide market for ebooks. That’s an astonishing level of market dominance. It doesn’t matter too much when there are plenty of alternatives in the form of bricks-and-mortar stores selling paper books, but as Jonathan Strahan and Alisa Krasnostein found out recently the viability of such stores is very much in doubt. In a few years time we could be facing a world in which most towns have no bookstore, and Amazon has a substantial majority of the market for online sales of both paper books and ebooks. Short of a technology shift that outflanks their existing systems, or government regulation, it is hard to see how they can be challenged.

This is particularly worrisome for the many mid-list authors who see ebook editions of their backlists as a good way to supplement their income. Amazon royalties right now are quite generous, but once they have consolidated their domination of the market there’s no reason to believe that they won’t start to reduce those. Right now I can give independent authors a much better deal than Amazon. I ran the numbers for a self-published book by a friend of mine – Paintwork by Tim Maughan, which recently received high praise from Cory Doctorow Tim gets 39% more money if people buy from me than if they buy from Amazon, but most people still buy his book from Amazon because they like to stick with a brand they know. It is all very scary.

Q: You are the non-fiction editor for Clarkesworld from Wyrm Publishing. One of the stories, Spar won a Nebula, the magazine has won two Hugos and was nominated for a World fantasy Award. As an editor of non-fiction what do you look for in an article?

For Clarkesworld what I looked for is what my boss, Neil Clarke, wanted. We have specific guidelines on the website. That’s very different from what I looked for with Salon Futura.

More broadly, of course, I look for the same things other editors want: good, clear prose; the ability to explain complex ideas in an understandable manner; having something interesting to say.

I should note that I have retired from Clarkesworld. December was my last issue. The job of non-fiction editor is being taken over by Jason Heller, who wrote one of the most interesting articles I bought during my tenure there: a history of science-fiction themed rock albums. I’m sure he’ll do a great job.

Q: Your discussions page on Salon Futura looks interesting. Running a Small Press, YA Science Fiction and Cross Genre Crime Novels to name just a few. It must take a lot of time to set up these discussions and edit them. You must have a huge network of contacts of people in the genre. We’ve just lost Anne McCaffrey and I noticed on the lists that people reacted as if they’d lost a friend. Are there people who met through Emerald City almost 20 years ago that you are still in contact with?

Oh Goddess yes! The thing I value most about having run Emerald City is all of the friends I have made. I knew Neil Gaiman and Kim Newman from way back before any of us was famous, but since Emerald City I have met wonderful writers and editors such as – no, I won’t start making a list, as it would go on forever – just dozens and dozens of really talented people. And many, many wonderful fans as well.

Q: You have your own video channel on You Tube, Video Mewsings. There are readings by China Mieville and Cory Doctorow among others. This is a great way for people to catch up with events that they wouldn’t otherwise get a chance to see. Have you found that the writers you are videoing are happy to be involved?

Mostly, yes. And of course I always ask. I’m not very good at video though. It requires skills that I don’t have, and ideally equipment that I can’t afford. I should probably stick to podcasting.

Q: You have been involved in the SF and F Translation Awards. (See an interview with Cheryl here). I’ve been involved with the setting up one national award and the running of another. It’s a big commitment. I see the awards are just finding their feet and working out what process is most efficient. In the interview you say:  ‘I think that the Internet is doing a wonderful job in promoting connections between SF&F communities around the world. You can see from the increasingly international nature of the Hugo and World Fantasy Award ballots that something very exciting is happening. Lavie Tidhar and Charles Tan, with the World SF blog, are doing a superb job in making our world smaller and more connected.’  Truly the web has brought the world together. I’ve been following the Occupy Wall Street movement on twitter. But there is still the language barrier. What do you hope to see the SF&F Translation Awards achieve in the future?

I’d like to see some of the writers that the awards spotlight getting recognition from major publishers. Writing talent isn’t by any means restricted to the English-speaking world. There must be some amazing authors out there, and if the awards can help them get translated, and then bring them to attention of major publishers, then I will be very pleased.

Q: There have been a series of posts by female bloggers on the topic of MenCallMeThings, about males who use the anonymity of the internet to abuse female writers to shut them up. John Scalzi discusses it here in a post titled the Sort of Crap I don’t Get. On September 1st you wrote a post called Bowing Out. You sound like you are feeling burned out. This is a great pity as you have done so much for the genre over the years. What will you be doing to recharge your batteries and restore your inner self?

No, I’m not burned out, just frustrated. Winning Hugos is a wonderful experience, and I’m very honoured to have one, let alone four. However, the more prestigious an award, the more people will snipe at you for winning. You always expect a bit of nonsense from fandom, but of late I’ve been seeing a number of professionals in the industry suggesting that the Hugos are fixed. I think that’s really disgraceful behaviour, and there’s absolutely no evidence for it. Sadly the recent debacle with the British Fantasy Awards will only make people more willing to believe such accusations.

I think awards are a very valuable way of generating interest in good books, and I’d love to continue to be involved in promoting things like the Hugos and the translation awards. But because I have won Hugos that will lead people to say that I have only done so because I’m part of the in-group that fixes the results. So I have to step aside and let other people do the public stuff. I’m working just as hard on others things, I can assure you, and indeed working behind the scenes where I can.

Q: On November 20th it was the thirteenth annual Transgender Remembrance Day, you wrote a post called Transgender Day of Remembrance.  This was how I found you (again) and what led me in a round-about way to ask for an interview. You say: ‘globally the average lifespan of a trans person is just 23 years.’ I had no idea. (For a long post on the topic see here). As someone who has lived on both sides of the fence and could ‘pass’ you say: ‘All that changed when I won my first Hugo. Suddenly I had a public profile, and got talked about. The first person to out me publicly was not a trans-hater, or even someone who disliked me, but a left-wing activist I had thought of as a friend who presumably thought I had a moral duty to be out.’ It sounds like you have been through a great deal. Have you considered writing the story of your life, or a fictionalised story amalgamating your experiences with friends’ experiences?

Good grief no! There are far too many trans women’s biographies in the world already. There is nothing I have done that is in any way unusual, and my life has been nowhere near as successful or interesting as, say, Jan Morris, April Ashley, Caroline Cossey or Calpernia Addams.

It is also the case that the public focuses far too much on the negative aspects of trans people lives. It is about time we stopped being known for being “tragic” and started being known for being talented and doing good things. There are plenty of amazing people who can fulfil that requirement better than I can.

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? (Looking at your post on YA writers, perhaps I should rephrase the question to include them as well!).

Well it all depends on who you ask and what they mean by “fantasy”. If you ask many male fantasy fans to name a few women fantasy writers they won’t be able to because they never read, or even notice, books by women. Yet if you look along the shelves in the SF&F section of a bookstore in the US or UK almost every book you see by a woman will be classifiable as “fantasy” in some way or another.

Fantasy is a category that women writers are being forced into because the major publishers assume that no one will buy SF by a woman. Obviously people like George Martin and Joe Abercrombie do very well in fantasy too, especially that small subset of fantasy that features rough-hewn, Conan-like heroes who slaughter their enemies with great enthusiasm. But in the US and UK fantasy is seen as very much women’s writing.

On average, males and females do write about different subjects because society forces them into very different roles. That doesn’t mean that all men write one way and all women write another way, nor does it mean that men can’t write books that appeal to women, or vice versa. All of this “one or the other” stuff is nonsense. No one knows that better than trans people.

The problem is that major publishers these days have no interest in books that will only sell well, they only care about books that will be huge best sellers. To get that they try to cut out anything that they think might mark a book out as unusual, everything has to be aimed at the central peak of the distribution curve. And that leads of obsessive concentration on gender “norms”.

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

Given the way that major publishers behave, there is a natural expectation that a book by a woman will be focussed on “women’s issues” (for which read “romance”) and a book by men will be focussed on “men’s issues” (for which read “killing people”). Thankfully very many writers manage to confound expectations.

Also, of course, independent presses don’t have the same idiotic obsessions, which is one of many reasons why I love them.

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’ve always fancied visiting the ancient Romans. They seem so similar to us in many ways, and yet fascinatingly different.

But the thing I’d really like to do is learn more about the ancient civilizations of Africa. We know so much about the history of Europe, of China, India and Japan, even of the Aztecs and Incas. But we know almost nothing about the great empires of Africa: Meroë, Songhai, Zimbabwe and so on. When England was embroiled in the Wars of the Roses, Timbuktu was the biggest, wealthiest city in the world. So much of that has been lost, apparently forever. A time machine could help bring it back.

 

Follow Cheryl on Twitter. @CherylMorgan

Follow Salon Futura @SalonFutura

Follow Wizard’s Tower Press @WTPress

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Filed under Awards, creativity, E-Zines, Gender Issues, Genre, Indy Press, Readers, Reviewers

We writers are Needy Creatures

We slave over our books, and devote years to writing them. The characters become as real to us as members of our own family. We cry when the plot makes us hurts them and, at times, we laugh aloud. (Yes, I know it’s sad).

And then we send them out into the cruel world, our books released into the wild. All we can do is hope that someone will read them and enjoy them. And then this happens …

Rob Will Review has listed his favourite 11 books for 2010 and not only has he mentioned my good friend and fellow RORee, Trent Jamieson’s wonderful Death Most Definite. But he has mentioned my trilogy. Rob says;

‘No point in beating around the bush.  Rowena Cory Daniells’ The Chronicles of King Rolen’s Kin trilogy is one of the best new high fantasy series I’ve read in ages.  Simultaneously intimate and epic, this gloriously entertaining triptych presents a richly realized world with compelling, three-dimensional characters, an intriguing use of magic–referred to here as “Affinity”–and a densely complicated political situation that inspires a mindbendingly complex web of intrigue, manipulation, and misapprehension.’

Wow, Rob, I’m blushing!

I’d post a YouTube video of my doing the Happy Dance but it would be embarrassing and my kids would never live it down!

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Filed under Australian Writers, Dark Urban Fantasy, Fantasy books, Genre, Readers, Reviewers