Tag Archives: Nicole Murphy

Dynamic Duo run National SF Con (Conflux 9)and have new books out…

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 Dynamic Duo, Donna Hanson and Nicole Murphy who are co-chairs of the Australian National SF Convention, Conflux 9 and who both happen to have a book coming out this year. They are proof that you can be creative and successful, and give back to your community.


Donna and Nicole

Donna and Nicole

Q: Both of you have work and families, you are part of a writing group (the Canberra SF Guild and part of Fantasy Writers on Retreat), you’re published and you both have books coming out this year (more later), on top of all this, you put your hands up to be co-chairs of Conflux 9. Tell me honestly, when you came home from that meeting and told your significant others that you’d volunteered to run the Nat Con, what did they say? (From the photo it looks like you might have had one glass to many).


Well that photo on the website was my birthday shot ( a High Tea)  so I’m not sure we’d dived into the champers at that time. We think we’re insane and I think our partners know it. Matthew (Farrer) my partner has this wide-eyed stare every time we talk Conflux 9. The worried frown sort of says-‘she’s going to rope me in?’ And just last weekend I did too, do a couple of panels. It’s the power of the inevitable. However, this is definitely my last con.



I dreaded telling my husband, Tim, cause he really didn’t like the time it took from me when I chaired Conflux 4. But the fact that a) it was with Donna, so the workload wouldn’t be as bad and b) I love doing this meant he was fine with it. However, we’re both swearing that this will be the last time we organise a con and hoping our partners will keep us to that. Not that that means it’s the last thing we’ll do for the community. We have ideas. One that keeps popping up in particular (you know what I mean, Donna).



Nicole do not go there. Do not pass go and do not collect $200. Think of the work involved. You’re insane.


Q: Not only are you doing all of the above, but Nicole, you’re teaching Year of the Novel with the QLD Writing Centre and the ACT Writers Centre, and Donna you are doing a Masters in Creative Writing, and a course in Millinery (hat making). Is there a point where you think, I can’t take on one more thing? Or is your philosophy, the more I take on the stimulating life is and it’s just as well I’m really good at juggling?



I have my limits. Like if I sold a trilogy I’d probably have massive brain melt. But that’s not going to happen in the next 3 months. I’d like it but you know gee a girl can only do so much. Ironically, I do find the more I have on the more productive I get. RSI stymies me a little. I guess it’s a matter of stacking. Conflux is over at the end of April. Things are hotting up now with Conflux so I ease off on the writing. The Masters starts soon, but I’m taking all of April off to get the Conflux thing done and uni if needs me. Millinery if the course goes ahead (they need a minimum number) will be my time out. I have arthritis in the neck and one day I’m not going to be a happy camper so I do have this philosophy of doing as much as I can now rather than waiting until I retire or something. And to ease the pressure in my writing gears and cogs, I wrote two novels in the last half of 2012 and I just have to polish them and send them out this year. The pressure to write has eased a bit.



There is no doubt in my mind that I am quite, quite mad. However, there’s nothing that annoys me more than being bored, and this year there’s little chance of that happening! The two Year of the Novel courses were important to me because I love teaching and helping people – I get as much satisfaction from seeing friends and those I’m mentored and taught succeed as I do from my own success. More, even, cause I don’t have to deal with the worry and fretting and constant fear of bad sales figures J And as Donna said Conflux is over is just over three months (eep, eep, eep!) and I’m going easy on myself on the writing front in order to keep things under control. That said – I’ve got two books coming out between now and then, one of which I’m editing and publishing, so… Back to the comment about being mad.

Marc Gascoigne

Marc Gascoigne

Q: You’ve been involved in running other Confluxes and other events like the World SF Con 2010. How did you get involved in running events? Was it overwhelming the first time? I know Conflux 9 is running a pitching opportunity with Marc Gascoigne from Angry Robot. Nalo Hopkins is the International writer GOH, Karen Miller is the Australian GOH writer and Kaaron Warren is the Special Guest writer, (see here for details), so you get to meet cool writers and editors. Are there other benefits to running a Con and is it something you’d recommend to people wanting to become writers? (For information on the pitching opportunity see here).


Nalo Hopkins (Photo David Findlay, 2007)

Nalo Hopkins (Photo David Findlay, 2007)


Nicole will tell you I roped her in. I’ll blame Maxine McArthur because I’d never heard of SF cons (well I had been to a Star Trek convention and knew about those but not fan run lit cons). I ended up being the Chair of Conflux (number 1) but I was just helping out on the committee (cough because Maxine gave me strong hints that I should) and then I ended up being the chair. I did the next one and then scaled down my activities to focus on writing.

I did make a lot of contacts and made many friends as a result. In those early days I was very enthusiastic and networked a lot and I guess brought in other writers to the fan scene. The rest is history. For that first con though I had 10 months off work and I didn’t write much either. I think I did other things like edit anthologies.

I do recommend getting involved with organising these conventions and helping out. It’s a good experience and you make great contacts. However, I do recommend a little balancing between your activities. I got invited to help out with worldcon because I got noticed doing the Conflux convention running. It can be addictive. Worldcons are great fun (going to them and being involved).


Karen Miller (Photo Mary CT Webber)

Karen Miller (Photo Mary CT Webber)

Kaaron Warren

Kaaron Warren





Yes, it’s all Donna’s fault. She asked me to run the short story competition at the first Conflux. I wasn’t totally happy with my work on that, so I decided to work on the next convention to prove I could do it. And then the next convention. And then I chaired one. And then. And then…

And now, thanks to Conflux, I work full-time as a professional conference organiser. So yeah, I love them.

I’m not sure I’d recommend it to other writers, because it is very time consuming. That said, if you’re not good at networking (like me, I’m atrocious at it, unlike Donna who is an absolute marvel at it), then getting involved in convention organising is a great idea because you have to meet and interact with these people. I’ve not doubt that my work with Conflux helped me get my foot in the door with Harper Collins. Didn’t get me published – it was the fact the company loved the books that did that, but it helped.

So balance it up – the time it takes versus the fact it can be very beneficial. And fun. And you get to meet the coolest people, and often they’ll stay friends for a long time after.


Q: Donna your book Rayessa the Space Pirate is available from Escape Publishing. You edited the Australian Speculative Fiction: Genre Overview, which was published in 2005. You’ve had a lot of short stories published which range from fantasy, through erotic horror, to SF (is this right?), yet Rayessa the Space Pirate is a rollicking Space Opera, which doesn’t take itself too seriously. Was it a relief to let your hair down and write for the fun of it?



I had fun writing Rayessa and the Space Pirates. I wrote it a long time ago, when I was a fairly new writer. Even though it’s been revised, I stayed true to the character during those rewrites. She’s fun, the story is fun. But when you take in my other work, it is surely different and not what you’d expect from me. I’m very proud of it because of its lightness, its vibrancy and like you said rollicking space opera.

Many of my short stories are me flexing my writing muscles. I evolved from just writing a story to experimenting with styles and content. I do tend to go a bit dark at times. ‘Heat’ was a bit like that with the split narrative (it’s in my free fiction section on my blog-warning adult content) and in the last couple of years I’d been writing short paranormal too, just to see if I could. I’m a bit astounded that I really like writing happy ever afters just as much as the soul sucking endings. I write what is in my head, pursue ideas and go with it. Who knows what I’m going to do next.

3 books.axd

Q: Nicole you’ve had numerous short stories published, and an Urban Fantasy trilogy set in Australia called The Gadda (Harper Collins). The tag-line on your blog is: Where Fantasy and Romance Collide. So your next book’s genre is a step sideway, but not that far. Arranged to Love is written under your pseudonym, Elizabeth Dunk. (For a taste of Elizabeth Dunk’s writing style see here, Claudine’s New Adventure). What was the genesis of Nicole the fantasy writer evolving  to include Elizabeth the romance writer?



It all started way back when I was originally writing the first lot of Gadda books. I’d been thinking I was a straight fantasy/SF writer, but I had one of those blinding moments of inspiration where I realised I kept putting romance in as a sub-plot and I’d probably be better off pulling it to the forefront. That was the genesis of writing the Gadda books and when they were done, I kept having ideas for contemporary romances as well.

In 2011 I was at home, writing full-time, and I needed to do something apart from the Gadda books to challenge myself. So yes, I took a step sideways – a small one, but definitely still a step. My aim was to write a Mills and Boon category style romance. The only way Arranged to Love matches that is in length – otherwise it fails. But it’s a great story and it had a checkered road to publication but I’m so happy it’s there.

I’d always intended to use a pseudonym, but to be open about it because some people read only genre, some people read an author. So there will be people who will read anything I publish and there will be romance readers who won’t touch the Gadda books with a barge pole and vice versa. Here’s hoping it works.



Q: I understand there is a Steampunk High Tea is planned for Conflux 9 on the Thursday afternoon at 3pm.  (For the full program, see here). I’m guessing this mean we all get to dress up in really cool steampunk gear, sip tea and nibble cucumber sandwiches. Do you have any fashion advice for the event?



I think people should go with that they feel comfortable with. I’m dressing up because: hey I made a dress so I must wear it. But people can come with a bow tie, or goggles or a gun or just in day clothes. I bought Matthew a Nerf Gun. I expect him to paint it and make it look all steampunky. My son gave me a steampunk necklace for Christmas. I’m almost kitted up.

It’s a bit of fun. People can do traditional Victorian or make it up with whatever they like. I’ve seen men and women in corsets, kilts, junk, jodhpurs and google, top hats, parasols. Any and all. Just come for the fun and the high tea. I believe we get lovely sparkling wine too. Try googling steampunk clothing and you’ll be amazed at what is out there. Mind bogglingly awesome. There are some very talented and creative people out there. Just remember you have to book and pay for the high tea as it is an extra event.



Can I just add – cucumber sandwiches are awesome! Honestly, you read about them and think, how old fashioned, how silly, making sandwiches with cucumber only, what a strange thing to do. But they’re great. I prefer them with a yoghurt dressing, rather than cream cheese. Take note, Rydges!


Q: You are also staging a Regency Banquet. Does this involved getting dressed up like Elizabeth and Mr Darcy? What can people expect at a Regency banquet?



Yes, if you want. We ran a Regency Banquet a few years ago and we had a great turn out. A lot of people love the period and went all out. Some had period costumes, some people adapted modern wear to make it look period, some of those were very effective.

The menu for the banquet is taken from the Conflux cookbook, Five Historical Feasts, by Gillian Polack. We are re-running that. The menu was researched and put together by Gillian, who is our very own historian (she’s a Dr), with the help of a bunch of us who tested and tasted the recipes. The food was really good to eat. Not good for my waistline.

This year to spice things up we have entertainment from Earthly Delights. They are the group that run the Jane Austen Festival in Canberra the week before Conflux. (they always get TV coverage of the event). John Gardiner, his wife Aylwen Gardiner-Garden will be organising the impromptu dancing and also music. John has agreed to do a 3 hour workshop on Regency Dance and Manners on the Friday. I’m so going to that. ($45 for members) and Aylwen is bringing items of costume to do a hands on workshop on costume design ($10 for members), so we are getting into the Regency thing. I hope we get takers because the dance workshop needs 16 people to work.


Lewis Morely and Marilyn Pride Conflux 5 (Photo Cat Sparks)

Lewis Morely and Marilyn Pride Conflux 5 (Photo Cat Sparks)


The original Regency banquet was run during my conference, Conflux 4 and I may be biased, but I think it was the best of the lot. Everyone really went all out with the costuming and the whole place looked wonderful. The food was overwhelming – there was very little desert eaten because it was so rich we were already full. A fabulous night.

Note that while we’ve cut a lot of allergens out of the menu (eg there’s no fish/shellfish, no nuts), there’s one thing we can’t avoid – dairy. The Regency folks were nuts for it. And butter, so forget your diet! But if you’re lactose intolerant, there’s so little food available for you that you’ve got to seriously consider if it’s worth your while.


Donna Hanson, Cat Sparks, Alisa Krasnostein  Conflux 4 (Photo by Cat Sparks)

Donna Hanson, Cat Sparks, Alisa Krasnostein, Conflux 5 (Photo by Cat Sparks)


Q: Do you have any tips for first time convention goers who are planning to come to Conflux 9? (For membership information see here)


Be prepared to meet people, have fun, be entertained, learn things, network (drink). Be prepared to be thoroughly knackered. Come to our Meet the newbie session in the bar after the steampunk high tea. You’ll get to meet seasoned con goers to find out how to make the best of your convention.


Adam Browne and Keith Stevenson (Photo Claire McKenna)

Adam Browne and Keith Stevenson (Photo Claire McKenna)


Don’t be afraid to approach your favourite writer. One of the great things about our industry is that we’ve all been in the same boat – having to greet our hero for the first time. A lot of the time, we made complete and utter fools of ourselves but we’ve always survived. Australia’s SF industry is wonderfully supportive, encouraging and fabulous and generally we only bite if asked to.

If you’re coming as a writer, intending to network with editors, agents and publishers – be cool about it. For professionals, conventions are part work, part fun and hanging with friends. So be aware of the circumstances and if you are going to approach them for a chat about your work, be polite and understand if they ask you to come back another time.

And whatever you do – don’t do what some shmuck did to poor Stephen King at a convention and chase a writer/editor/agent/publisher into the toilet with your manuscript and fling it under the door to them!

That said, a lot of us are very bribable. I drink red wine 🙂



Rowena thanks for the interview. You’ve done heaps of research. It is much appreciated.


Donna Hanson

Donna Hanson

Catch up with Donna on GoodReads

Donna’s blog

Follow Donna on Twitter  @DonnaMHanson





Nicole Murphy

Nicole Murphy

Catch up with Nicole on GoodReads

Nicole’s Blog

Catch up with Nicole on Facebook

Follow Nicole on Twitter  @nicole_r_murphy  



Filed under Australian Artists, Australian Writers, Conferences and Conventions, Conventions, creativity, Dark Urban Fantasy, Fandom, Fantasy books, Fun Stuff, Indy Press, Pitching your book, Promoting your Book, Publishing Industry, SF Books, Specialist Bookshops, Steampunk, The Writing Fraternity, Tips for Developing Artists, Tips for Developing Writers, Workshop/s, Writing craft, Writing Groups

Winner Nicole Murphy give-away!

Thanks for all the fantastic answers – I really did love some of the more ‘selfish’ ideas, such as being able to shut doors without getting out of bed and calorie free chocolate 🙂 And Richard, please work on your magical power – we need to get rid of some of the ‘less insightful’ folks in politics.
But the winner, for thinking of the impact on the world AND being the first to come up with my favourite magical power (housecleaning) is Cecilia. Congratulations, Cecilia. Email me on nicole @ nicolermurphy.com  (remove spaces) and tell me which one of my books you’d like to receive.

Thanks everyone 🙂

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Filed under Australian Writers, Book Giveaway, Dark Urban Fantasy, Female Fantasy Authors, Fun Stuff, Genre

Meet Nicole Murphy …

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

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




Q: With your Asarlai trilogy there is a strong love story running through each of your books. Is this because you are a romantic at heart?

Oh, absolutely. Big, soppy, kissy-kissy romantic. I’ll cry at romantic movies. I’ll sigh when the big proclamation of love scene comes. I think about Chandler proposing to Monica, or Lizzie finally accepting Darcy, and I just swoon.

When I started writing, I was trying my hand at epic fantasy and space opera. Then I realised that no matter what I attacked, it came with a strong romance subplot. So I decided to drop the rest of it and have a go at writing a fantasy romance. That was the original draft of Secret Ones.

Q: This trilogy strikes me as a modern take on Irish mythology. What attracted you to use this as a background for your world building.

Ireland came about because I couldn’t figure out how to use Australia. I’d decided the gadda were going to be a race that developed alongside humans but from different ancestors. I tried to make that ancestry Australian, but I couldn’t get my head around how to do that and not do something wrong to Indigenous mythology. So I tried another direction – humans originated in Africa. What’s the opposite of Africa? Answer – Ireland.

The great thing about this is because I’m not dealing with humans, I don’t necessarily have to be true to Irish mythology. The way I see it, the gadda are on the other side of the stories. They’d agree with some of the elements, but others from their point of view would be just plain wrong. So I’ve got the freedom to play within the mythology without having to be accurate.

Q: I hear you’ve put a proposal to your publisher for a new trilogy. Is it in the same world as the Gadda? Tell us a little about it.

It is in the same world as the Gadda. In fact, it’s the sequel to Dream of Asarlai. The new trilogy is called People of the Star and is set two years after Rogue Gadda. I’m taking the new world that’s resulted from the events of Rogue Gadda and really putting the guardians, their friends and family through the wringer.

It’s got the same structure as Dream of Asarlai, so there’s an overarching storyline but each book is a stand-along romance. You’ll be able to read People of the Star without having read Dream of Asarlai, although of course I’d prefer you to do both J

Cross fingers and toes for me that the publisher loves it and wants it too.

Q: I see you also have a story in Scary Kisses and More Scary Kisses. Did you start out writing short stories?

I was writing short stories and novels at the same time. I had more instant success with short stories – the first half a dozen stories I wrote I sold. This however twisted me a bit and while I recognised what I needed to learn with novels and worked hard on it, I kinda coasted with the shorts but as I aimed for better publications, the sales dried up.

Over the past twelve months, I’ve changed things around and started to work as hard on my short stories as I have on the novels and it’s starting to work. Apart from the two you mentioned, I’ve got a story in Issue 50 of Andromeda Spaceways, a flash piece in the upcoming Conflux Cookbook and hopefully there will be more sales this year.

I see shorts as a great way to challenge myself and experiment without having to sacrifice weeks or months to it. Learn in the shorts, apply to the novels .

Q: You went to the Romantic Times Convention in Los Angeles. What was it like? If someone was going to go, what advice would you give?

RT was fantastic! I had such a blast, I’m going to try to go again next year. RT is a convention much like our science fiction ones – panels during the day, social events at night. Except the romance community does things with a flair and bravado that would make a lot of SF people blush – and that’s not just the erotica writers J As RT isn’t just about romance nowadays but also covers fantasy, science fiction and mystery, it’s a great place to go to network with a large number of publishers, agents, writers and most importantly readers! And perhaps best of all – man will you score free books. I came home with twenty, and I stopped grabbing books cause I was worried about weight!

Q: It says in your bio that you were a teacher. Which subjects/ages did you teach and what are your best memories about being a teacher?

I taught primary school and over the nine years managed to cover everything from Kindergarten to Year Six. My favourite time was the three years I spent in Djarindjin/Lombadina, an Aboriginal community on the Dampier Peninsula in WA (north of Broome). It was fun, inspiring, awesome and a time I will never forget.

Q: You won an award for your series of article on mental illness. What prompted you to investigate this subject and what did you as a person take away from writing these articles?

I started to work on it because mental illness is something that’s always interested me. A number of members of my family have had difficulties with their mental health and in fact, I’m currently dealing with depression myself.

The thing I took away is that these are just people. It can be easy to be scared, particularly of some of the more severe conditions like bipolar or schizophrenia because some of the behaviour can be disturbing. But at the end of the day, they’re folks like you and me. They laugh. They cry. They struggle every single day with the impact of their illness and the smallest thing – a smile, a g’day, a nod – can make the world of difference.

Q: I was prompted to start this series of interviews because there seems to be a perception in the US and the UK that fantasy is a bit of a boy’s club. Do you think there’s a difference in the way males and females write fantasy?

I do. Not that I think that one is better than the other and of course there are exceptions, but my experience is that women’s books are different to men’s. I think we’re still in an age where socialisation does impact on the life experiences of men versus women, and that inevitably has an impact on the writing. Maybe not necessarily on the content, but on the tone and the understanding of societal privilege and what perspectives of the content are shown.

I’d love to see an experiment where a range of men and women were told to write the same scene, with the same character outlines and restrictions, and see what happens. Each one would be different, because people are different, but I think you’d find that the women’s writing would reflect a group opinion different to that of the men.

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

Absolutely. Does that mean I read one more than the other? Well, at the moment I’m tending to read most within the genre of romance, and particularly paranormals. So I am reading more women than men, because more women write in that genre. Does that mean men can’t? Of course not – Trent Jamieson is writing a fabulous urban fantasy series at the moment.

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?

That’s such a hard question. There’s so many time periods that I love. But I’ve decided on a really personal one – I’d go back to after Worldcon last year and make some changes to my life that I’m sure would ward off the depression.

Nicole has kindly offered a copy of one of her books (you decide). Give-away Question:

Would you want to have magical powers? What would you do with them.

Follow Nicole on Twitter:  @nicole_r_murphy

See Nicole’s Blog.


Filed under Australian Writers, Book Giveaway, creativity, Dark Urban Fantasy, Fantasy books, Female Fantasy Authors, Genre, Nourish the Writer, Promoting Friend's Books, Publishing Industry, The Writing Fraternity, Writing craft

DUF Giveaway

It is always a thrill when someone you’ve known for years gets published. Here is the cover of Nicole Murphy’s new  book, first of a series. They are dark urban fantasy.

Over on the ROR blog Nicole is talking about the process of getting published and there’s a giveaway!

The Dream of Asarlai is an urban fantasy trilogy being published in Australia by HarperVoyager. The first book, Secret Ones, is due to hit the shelves in July, with the other two books appearing next year.

Here’s the blurb.

She′s from an ancient clan. He has no family. Can they save the world … together?

Maggie Shaunessy is used to keeping secrets. She′s a fantastic teacher, but she′s also gadda, part of a hidden, powerful race – and she has a habit of annoying the wrong people.

Until Lucas Valeroso meets Maggie, he had no idea what awaited him: super-human powers, a smart and beautiful woman interested in more than unlocking his new abilities and, above all, a sense of belonging.

But dark ambition and dangerous bigotry are emerging in the gadda ranks. Lucas′s new family might cast him out before he′s even truly found his place. And Maggie must work with new allies to find and retrieve a missing artefact before the entire world is changed for all time.

′fresh and interesting approach to an urban fantasy series′ Bookseller+Publisher’

Support Aussie authors not only becaue they’re Australian, but because they write damn fine books!


Filed under Australian Writers, Book Giveaway, Competitions, Dark Urban Fantasy, Fantasy books, Fun Stuff, Genre, The Writing Fraternity