Tag Archives: Margo Lanagan

Hemming Award Shortlist Announced

The shortlist for the Norma K Hemming Award has been announced. ‘The Norma K. Hemming Award marks excellence in the exploration of themes of race, gender, sexuality, class and disability’ and I feel very honoured to see my books in such esteemed company.

In no particular order with the judges’ comments:


The novel Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth (Random House Australia)

“Forsyth weaves together the stories of three vitally different women amongst the flavours and fortunes of 16th and 17th century France, exploring the themes of sex, sexuality, love, ageing, beauty, vengeance, jealousy and fear.”

sea hearts

The novel Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan (Allen & Unwin)

“Sea Hearts takes us on a journey through what it means to be male and female, lover and loved, thing and person, and Lanagan’s rich prose goes beyond the fantastical towards new sensibilities and understandings.”

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The trilogy The Outcast Chronicles (comprising the novels BesiegedExile and Sanctuary) by Rowena Cory Daniells (Solaris)

“The Outcast Chronicles trilogyis a tour de force of extraordinarily detailed world building. Rowena has created political intrigue, attempts at genocide, a dangerous world of magic that many believe to be gods, with flawed, noble and ignoble characters on all sides. There is poetry and wit in the writing, and characters that stay with you long after you have finished this gripping trilogy.”


The novel Winter Be My Shield by Jo Spurrier (HarperVoyager)

“Winter Be My Shield is a suspenseful, grim, and gritty heroic fantasy novel – the first of a trilogy – set in a cold, wintry land. Jo Spurrier focuses the events around a dangerously powerful young woman, a horribly wounded war veteran, and a cruel, yet strangely sympathetic villain, all of them coming to terms with their tormented pasts. The author is a remarkably accomplished storyteller who must surely have a huge career ahead.”


The winner and runner-up of the Hemming Award will be announced at the national SF Convention, Conflux, next weekend. Best of luck to everyone and you are already winners.


Filed under Australian Writers, Awards, Characterisation, Fantasy books, Female Fantasy Authors, Gender Issues

ROR … Recovering

Here I am, back from the 2012 ROR (See here for more info on the ROR writers group). This year we went to Steeles Island. Lovely spot, great premises.

Here's the view up the estury

The view up the estuary

This was an intense week. We read 5 manuscripts beforehand and wrote reports then spent a morning, or an afternoon, on each ms. It reminded me why I love writing – sitting around, getting excited with my fellow writers about plotting, foreshadowing, characterisation, blending back story and of course … talking about the industry.

The room where it all happened.

I had a bit of a problem with the room. The ceiling was at an angle, the chimney fireplace ran at two different angles and then there were the horizontals and the verticals… the angle of one of the chimney sides was at war with all the other angles in the room. It got so I couldn’t look in that direction. The others thought this was hilarious, but it really bothered me. Confession … writers can be a little neurotic. (I can’t find a photo of the wall in question that shows the ceiling and the chimney. You will have to take my word for it).

You can see the energy level from this pic of Tansy and Richard

The guys did a brilliant job of critiquing all the manuscripts. I’m not allowed to say much about the books because we don’t want to jinx them.

Margo being insightful

(Marianne and Trent couldn’t make this ROR due to work commitments and where they were up to in their current manuscripts).

Maxine attended virtually by skype and this worked surprisingly well. Her book is on its second draft and it was really interesting to see how she had incorporated the feedback from the last ROR. (Come on Maxine – get that book finished. I’m dying to read the ending!). Richard put in his usual quirky polished manuscript.

Dirk provided us with amazing cooking while giving excellent insights into our books. Somehow he managed to pull enough of a manuscript together despite life getting in the way, for us to get swept away by his project. Tansy has a follow up to her highly successful novella bubbling in the writing pot. Margo brought a new project along that was in a raw state deliberately to sound us out. This was really interesting and we had a terrific time brain storming.  The guys were great with my book. They helped me realise the difference between book one of a new trilogy and book four of a series. Obvious once you say it, but really hard to see when you are neck deep in manuscript.

That's me enjoying the brilliant banter of the RORees

On the Thursday evening we drove into Hobart for the launch of Tansy’s Reign of Beasts and Margo’s Sea Hearts. (More on the launch). This was held at the Hobart Bookshop in Salamanca Square. Waves to Chris and Janet!  (Here’s Margo being interviewed about Sea Hearts. The original novella won a World Best Fantasy Award). Book one of Tansy’s Creature Court trilogy won the Aurealis Award for fantasy.

There was a terrific turn out for the launch. I want to thank some of the ROR blog followers and the Twitter Team for turning up to wave the flag.

This is me kissing my DH at the launch

And while all this was going on I spent every spare moment chained to my lap top madly working on the rewrites for Solaris. Serious Brain Overload!!!

So, to help me and everyone else calm down, here are some photos from Steeles Island.

The steps down to the beach in the early morning light

Tansy's partner and their youngest on the tidal sands

Sunshine on sea a Wild Tassie Beach


Filed under Australian Writers, creativity, Fantasy books, Female Fantasy Authors, Fun Stuff, Nourish the Writer, Specialist Bookshops, The Writing Fraternity, Writing Groups

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
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

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


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

Ripping Reads …

A couple of weeks ago my writing group did really well at the Aurealis Awards. I thought I might do a round-up of their books, so if you’re looking for a ripping read like Richard is, you’ll be able to find it.

So … Starting with Trent Jamieson. Trent’s Death Works trilogy is set in Brisbane (yay!) and it’s really quirky. It starts with Steve sitting in the food court in the city when a dead girl saves his life. Steve works for corporate death, helping souls into the afterlife and there’s a take-over bid. Suddenly he’s on the run with the dead girl …   Book one was a finalist in both the horror and the fantasy section of the Aurealis Awards.










And coming out next year is Trent’s new series The Roil. Very dark and full of daring do!










There’s Tansy Rayner Roberts’ Creature Court series. The first book of this series was a finalist in the fantasy section of Aurealis Award and won this section. This series combines a threatened city, with powerful shapeshifters and a dressmaker who suddenly finds herself caught up in a battle to save her home.










Marianne has been really busy. If you like Janet Evanovich’s Stepanie Plum books you’ll love her Tara Sharp series. Book one won the Davitt Award for female mystery writers. There’s just a touch of paranormal as the main character has the ability to read body language.








Then there’s her new YA series. Dark, sensual and exciting. I like reading YA because the focus is on the protagonist and you get straight into the story.








And don’t forget her two SF series. The rollercoaster ride of the Parrish books. (Aurealis Award finalists)






And the slightly more cereberal but just as addictive Sentient of Orien series. (Aurealis Award finalists and book four won the award)





Then we have Richard, who’s been having heaps of success with his quirky steam punk series. Worldshaker has just won two awards in France. It gives him an excuse to dress up in waistcoats and top hats!










And there’s Margo’s latest book Tender Morsels. I’ve  lost track of the number of awards Margo has won for her writing. This book should come with a warning – disturbing.










If you like time travel, there’s Maxine McArthur’s series and her robot mystery nove, Less than Human. (Once again, finalists and winners of the Aurealis Awards).







With so many good books to read, it’s hard to know where to start!


Filed under Australian Writers, Dark Urban Fantasy, Genre, Promoting Friend's Books, SF Books, Young Adult Books

Friends doing well!

Over on the ROR blog I’ve done a post about the Aurealis Awards. These are the Australian equivalent to the Nebulas or the Hugos (I forget which one is judged by a panel of peers).  Several members of my writing group are on the short list in different sections.

This is us at the Maleny ROR. Dirk, Richard, Maxine, Me, Tansy, Trent (Marianne was sick and Margo had deadlines).

Why join a writing group? Here’s why Marianne and I started ROR. I can honestly say, the RORees have been like an extended family. Publishing is a tough business. We authors write because we love it, but there are times when you just need to talk to someone else who knows where you’re coming from.

We meet every year or so to critique our works-in-progress (WIPs). Having a group of people all look over your manuscript is great. If four out of five people say X needs changing, then you can be sure it does. Our crits are never destructive, always constructive because we want our friends’ books to be the best they can possibly be. And the ROR team have had some success. (See here).

If you’ve like to start your own critique group like ROR I’ve done a couple of posts on the topic. ROR 101 and Critiquing 101.

So there we are. Kuds to to my fellow RORees for making it into the final lists of the Aurealis Awards and I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for them on Saturday night!

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Filed under Australian Writers, Awards, creativity, Fun Stuff, Genre, Mentoring, Promoting Friend's Books, Publishing Industry, The Writing Fraternity, Writing Groups

Winner Margo Lanagan’s Give-away …

Margo says she liked Sean’s story about his Moof but the prize has to go to Kaia, for the Chai Cake!

So a copy of Margo’s Yellowcake collection and The Wilful Eye will go out to Kaia.

Please email Margo.  Margo(at)inhouse(dot)com(dot)au


Filed under Book Giveaway, Dark Urban Fantasy, Fantasy books, Female Fantasy Authors, Fun Stuff

Meet Margo Lanagan …

As the next of my series featuring fantastic female fantasy authors (see disclaimer) I’ve invited the talented (and slightly weird in the best possible way!) Margo Lanagan to drop by.

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




Q: As a writer who has a foot firmly in two camps, the literary world and the fantasy world, do you find readers react differently to your books depending on whether they are genre readers, or literary readers?

Literary readers can sometimes make a bit of preliminary apologetic noise about how they don’t read much in the way of fantasy. (I’m talking about face to face reactions here.) And they can be more unnerved by the weird content that genre readers take in their stride. That’s probably about the extent of the difference—and that’s also a gross generalisation, too, on my part! There are as many degrees of enthusiasm/indifference/puzzlement in one camp as in the other.

Q: Your short story collections or individual stories/novellas have won three World fantasy Awards. (Black Juice – Anthology, Singing my Sister Down – Fantasy Short Story, Sea-Hearts – Novella).Do you think of yourself as primarily a short story writer, or are you novel writer who wandered into short stories by chance?

At first I was a poetry writer, who wandered into novel writing in a bid to get some readers, any readers—also to enjoy the capaciousness of the form. Then I got myself into a whole bunch of trouble biting off HUGE novels that I could not chew, so I ran screaming to the short story to save my sanity. Yes, that’s pretty much how it went.

Q: There is a surreal quality to your short stories. Many of them feel as if they happen in our world, with a slight twist. In an interview on SF Site you said: ‘the balance of the real and unreal in my stories is pretty much how I see the world. Some weird small thing in the real world strikes me (like misreading a magazine title Modern Bride as Wooden Bride, out of the corner of my eye) and my mind just builds and builds on it until there’s a whole other world there, full of wooden brides! (This is a Black Juice story.)’  Have you always viewed the world through this surreal lens? And conversely, when did you realise that other people didn’t see the world as you see it?

Oh yes. I’m the third of four daughters, and I discovered early that the way to get attention was to be the clown. Making people laugh, by noticing that sort of thing, was my role in the family. I didn’t realise it could be put to wider use for quite some time, until my realistic-story ideas started getting weirder and weirder. Then I twigged that there was a whole fantasy genre over here, ready to welcome me in with open arms!

Q: Your latest novel Tender Morsels, which was a joint winner of the Best Novel World Fantasy Award in 2009, was published many years after your previous novel Touching Earth Lightly (1996). Was Tender Morsels novel a long time in gestation? Or did you work on others novels in the mean time.

Oh yes yes yes I worked on other novels, and you know it, Rowena! 😀 There was the Big Fantasy Brick with which I broke my own back; then there was the junior fantasy quartet, which also grew and put out tentacles and complicated itself until it was insupportable. Then came the aforementioned running screaming to short stories, and then Tender Morsels was the pick-on-something-your-own-size project that I finally managed to complete. It really was quite efficient once I got going, taking about 18 months to complete.

Q: I see your Selkie novel, called Watered Silk, is due out in 2011. Can you tell us a little about it?

Ah, the selkie novel. *weeps a little* The selkies so far have accumulated three titles, one for each market (Aus, US and UK). And their publication in Australia has been put back until probably February 2012, because they need a second round of structural editing, probably because the first round was done in a tearing hurry just before Christmas last year.

All I can say about the novel (because it’s changing under my hands even as I speak), is that it’s very watery, very silky and very, very sad. It has a madly atmospheric fictional-version-of-the-Hebrides setting; there’s a witch at the centre of the story of whom I’m very fond; and pretty much everyone in it has a thoroughly heartbreaking time. I think my next novel will have to be some kind of ‘romp’ to compensate.

Q: Much of your work (stories and books) is described as YA. In an interview on Tabularasa you said: ‘I think the attraction of writing fiction for younger people is the escape into characters’ lives who haven’t yet made decisions that will set them up for a predictable path through life. But I also like the fact that characters are encountering things for the first time, or just starting to make sense of the world, or just starting to question the world that they’ve found themselves in.’ Do you still set out to write for the YA market or is it just that the stories that come to you have YA aged protagonists?

I try not to think too carefully about markets when I write (yes, that is the sound of my publishers’ eyes rolling, in the background). Probably my attitude can best be summed up as avoiding putting explicitly unsuitable-for-YA-readers material in the novels. I still find the young-adult stage of life the most interesting to explore, for the same reasons as you’ve quoted; it’s partly escapism from the kinds of middle-aged issues I find I’m having to face now—a kind of making-over of my own life, perhaps, in my head.

Q: In an interview on Meanjin you said that you write longhand. Do you still do this, and if so what is it about writing longhand that appeals to you?

Yes, I still do it. My day-job work involves keyboarding, so sitting at a keyboard doesn’t set up the right vibe for me, for creative writing; it feels as if longhand writing taps into my writing-brain more readily. Also, it just provides variety of hand movements, so forestalls RSI a bit longer—I know, it all has to be typed up eventually, but transcribing is a much more relaxed form of typing than composing, so it’s less likely to result in injury. And I like the concrete evidence of pages piling up on the left as I do my day’s quota—that little message at the bottom of the screen, ‘Page 4 of 4’ just doesn’t do it for me the way crinkly pages of messy handwriting do.

Q: In a guest post on Justine Larblestier’s site you said: ‘Sometimes you have to lie fallow for a while, remove yourself far enough from your own words, your own style, that you can come at them afresh later. Sometimes there’s a good story waiting, but your subconscious hasn’t worked out how you’ll approach it yet. Leave it alone; let it grow …’  What do you do, when you need to let your subconscious do the work?

It depends on time constraints. Sometimes the deadline is so pressing that a task like washing the dishes is all the time you can spare from the story—something manual and mindless like that is good. A walk, a movie that wrenches you completely out of the story’s mindset, some music, a trip away or perhaps just the passing of a normal working week/month—all these activities are useful for putting distance between yourself and the story and letting it cook without you getting in the way. Sometimes you need to hold the story in your head while you do these things, sometimes you just need to come back and prod it every now and then; sometimes it’s healthier just to put it out of your mind completely and come back fresh at a later time, when your imagination’s feeling all elastic and full of possibilities again.

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?

Not substantially; I just think that as soon as a field is shown to offer solid rewards (in this case, by Rowling and Meyer), blokes will be all over it like a rash, making big, possessive noises that attract media attention. For years, fantasy was consistently sneered at and sidelined because it was seen as a kind of squashy, undisciplined, overly romantic little sister of science fiction. It amuses me, in a sour sort of way, this boys’-club issue.

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

Not at that early stage (presuming I haven’t read that author’s work before); I’m always hopeful that a writer will be able to inhabit male and female characters equally convincingly, and create a world whose appeal isn’t only to one gender. Once I’ve started, cliches of gender-blinkered-ness are only one kind of slip-up that can kill my interest in a book; throw in a bit of sloppy writing and a dull plot and I’m gone.

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?

For my next novel, I need to go back to 1830s New South Wales, and walk for a while in the virgin bush, also hang about on the fringes of the European settlements and listen to how people speak. How I would do that without arousing suspicion and being clapped in irons as a madwoman, I don’t know.

The best answer in the comments below wins a copy of Margo’s new story collection Yellowcake, and of The Wilful Eye, the bewitching first volume of Tales from the Tower, stories (including one by Margo) gathered by Isobelle Carmody and Nan McNab.

Tell us about the BEST cake you’ve ever eaten. The most mouth-watering comment will win a copy of Margo’s YELLOWCAKE collection, and a copy of THE WILFUL EYE anthology, which also contains a slice of Lanagan.

Margo’s Blog.

Follow Margo on Twitter @margolanagan


Filed under Australian Writers, Book Giveaway, Dark Urban Fantasy, Fantasy books, Female Fantasy Authors, Nourish the Writer, Promoting Friend's Books, The World in all its Absurdity, The Writing Fraternity, Writing craft

In Praise of the Fantasy Genre

Over at fellow RORee Marianne de Pierres‘ blog I’ve written an article about the fantasy genre.

It’s a genre much maligned by the literary world, yet many literary books are fantastical in nature. As in all genres there’s a bell curve with a lot of stuff sitting in the middle, being neither remarkably good or really bad. Yet fantasy can be used to explore all sorts of interesting concepts. You only have to look at the work of Margo Lanagan to see how freeing it can be. And you only have to read a Terry Pratchett book to see how it can be used to satirise our world. For Terry Pratchett fans here’s link to TP Quotes.

Closing with a quote from the great TP himself:

‘The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.’



Filed under Fantasy books, Nourish the Writer, The World in all its Absurdity, The Writing Fraternity