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Supanova steampunk documentary!

Posted by richardharland on June 6, 2012

It’s a week and a half to the Sydney Supanova – the special big bash, Supanova’s tenth anniversary celebration. Not only stars of film and TV (more than I can list – check ’em out at but also two RORees as author guests – Marianne de Pierres and yours truly, Richard Harland! (the overseas author is Christopher Paolini, of Eragon fame)

For me, the most exciting bit will be the filming of a steampunk documentary. Michael Pryor and I will be doing a panel on all-you-ever-wanted-to-know about Steampunk, and filming will take place during and after the panel. Come in steampunk togs if you have any – or come anyway.

Here’s the official invite, open to anyone attending Supanova on the day –

“Would you like to appear in a Steampunk TV documentary? Simply, attend Michael Pryor and Richard Harland’s panel over the weekend at Supanova in Sydney. Filming will take place during the panel as well as an opportunity to be interviewed straight after the panel. So come dressed in your best outfit and tell us why you love Steampunk! Tell your friends and family to come along and make this event one to remember!

Keep checking this page for confirmation of which day and room this event will be held.

We look forward to seeing you there.”

For any further information, please contact Trevor Howis at

Posted in Australian Spec Fic Scene, Book Launches, Fantasy Genre, Genre TV Shows, Movie/TV Adaptations, SF Books, Steampunk, Uncategorized, Writing for Young Adults | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Having a ball at Supanova!

Posted by richardharland on April 23, 2012

I had a ball at Supanova, signing Worldshakers and Liberators, and doing a joint presentation on steampunk with fellow Australian steampunk author Michael Pryor. I was a huge event – I didn’t hear final numbers, but on Saturday it was well on the way to being the biggest Supanova ever. Most of the guests were international, stars of TV and film, graphic novelists, all sorts of talents. It was exciting to sit in the Green Room chatting to them!

The authors were mostly Australian, except for Brendan Sanderson, the American author who’s finishing off Robert Howard’s Wheel of Time series. [Whoops – quick revision – I had a brainsnap there – I meant Robert Jordan!} Our very own Trent was there – also Keri Arthur, Kylie Chan and my fellow steampunk author, Michael Pryor. Michael and I did a talk on steampunk – very well attended and approved enthusiastically. Steampunk is definitely making waves!

I loved seeing so many steampunk costumes there! In fact, there were more the second day than the first – because people had been buying steampunk gear from the stalls around.

For some classy steampunk costuming, here are Angela, Cherie and Michael (not the author) – plus me, not quite so classy because my shirt is hanging out. A real Victorian-era gentleman would probably die of shame if seen with his shirt hanging out!

I’m wearing my aviator helmet and goggles in that pic, but I got to wear my new steampunk hat most of the time. It attracted a lot of attention, that hat! Here I am wearing it, with Michael Pryor who also dressed up in full steampunk regalia.

I haven’t got a pic of all the authors at the signing table – I was sure I had, but I haven’t. Nor of Trent at the event – perhaps you can post one up, Trent?

Posted in Australian Spec Fic Scene, Authors and Public Speaking, Fantasy Genre, Genre TV Shows, Movie/TV Adaptations, Steampunk | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Paul Mannering: How did I get here?

Posted by Rowena Cory Daniells on June 11, 2011

For the first time ever, Angry Robot opened its doors to independent submissions. New Zealand based Paul Mannering – along with thousands of other hopeful writers – submitted the first five chapters of his SF/Zombie-horror manuscript Tankbread.

A long-time member of Vision, Paul has since been asked to submit the whole MS.

Today he talks about the journey up to this point.


As a writer I always thought that the worst thing in the world was a rejection letter from an editor. Now I realise that the rejections are nothing. It’s the responses that give you a reason to hope that will kill you inside.

In the first weekend of June I got a response from Angry Robot Books requesting the full manuscript for my novel Tankbread because they liked what they had read of my submitted sample. Less than 48 hours later I won a SFFANZ Sir Julius Vogel Award for Brokensea’s third season of Doctor Who audio dramas.

My immediate reaction to this second Cool Things That Sometimes Happen To Writers was to find perspective in the wisdom of Douglas Adams: “No one likes a smart arse”.

These days it feels like the chances of being published by a real international publishing house are on par with dying in a plane crash. And then being eaten by a Uruguayan rugby team. So I’m not planning any book-tour destinations yet.

As David Byrne and Talking Heads once asked, “How did I get here?”

Tankbread came to me in as a complete concept one day while walking home from work. I saw the opening scene, and heard the opening lines in my head. The post-apocalyptic diner. The cooked dog on a plate. The Asian across the table tearing chunks out of the girl’s neck.

From there I fleshed out the first act. The story progressed slowly as I took breaks to write other things, short stories and audio dramas.

The Sir Julius Vogel award winning 3rd season of BrokenSea’s Doctor Who was written in a frenzy of creativity and stress after the main script writer for our previous two seasons quit after delaying us for months. We had very little time to put something together and I work best under pressure.

The first three chapters of Tankbread were written in two drafts. I hate re-writing anything. My best ideas come to me in the first rush of discovery. The rest is editing.

I finished the story in February 2011, during the dark weeks following the Christchurch earthquake when we were off work and felt like we were living in our own localised apocalypse.

From initial concept to completion took four years.

Early on I posted the first chapter, pre-edits and re-writes to a couple of writing lists for critique. It got plenty of feedback and it was all good advice. Vision Writers members suggested it fell a little flat after the opening scene. So I kept working on it, adding a new scene that helped expand the universe of the story. The story took me on its own journey. What I ended up with was a character driven post-zombie-apocalypse story with lots of pulp-horror adventure. Of all the critique groups I’ve worked with over the years, Vision and Writing and Publishing (both Yahoo groups) have provided the most consistent critiques.

Once I finished the first draft I started seriously editing it. I got other people to read it and I put it down for a month and then came back to it and edited again. This process fixed all kinds of errors. Then near the end of March the sample went off to Angry Robot. I edited it again while they were considering the first 15,000 words.

Stories reach a point where they are good enough. From here I’ll re-write and make changes only based on editorial feedback.

As David Byrne and Talking Heads once asked, ‘How did I get here?’

  1. Write every day write a shopping list, a to-do list, a poem, an email, a blog, a short story a chapter a character bio. Write on a PC or Mac, a tablet, a napkin, in the sand. Write in ink, pencil, crayon, blood, condensation. Write in tongues, write non-fiction, write porn, write revenge, lust, passion, action, descriptive passages, dialogue. Write screenplays, radio-scripts, first person, third person, second person, write under a pseudonym. Write at a desk, in your car, upside down, in bed. Write in your head if you have to.


  1. There is no such thing as writers block. If you have no idea where your current project is going – go back to the point where you knew where it was going and start writing from there. If that doesn’t work for you – see point 1.


  1. Love Rejection but Don’t Luuurve Rejection. Rejection is part of writing. Every writer get’s rejected. Usually by incompetent morons who couldn’t edit a tombstone inscription! At least that’s our immediate and emotional reaction. We hate rejection. If you learn to accept rejection, you lose a lot of the fear that comes with not writing and submitting to markets. When rejection comes with good advice – treasure it. Remember the editor is rejecting the work – not you as a person. The flip side to that is that your mum, partner or writing group are probably praising you, not your writing. Blanket praise should be regarded with suspicion.


  1. Read critically. Read everything. Read it for the usual reasons you read things (to be entertained, informed, aroused, incensed, or just because there’s nothing on the telly). When you come to a bit in a book you really enjoy – read it critically. Why does that passage or line or dialogue strike you? On the flip-side of that – when you read something that sucks – think about how it could have been written better. A lot of crap does get published, and it sells. It’s not about writing Shakespeare or Theroux. It is about writing something good enough to achieve the purpose it is intended before. Mostly (and no writer will ever admit this) the purpose is to make the writer very rich and smug at cocktail parties.


These simple approaches to writing are what got me to where I am today. Always learning, always practising and always having fun with exploring new ideas and enjoying other people’s great stories.


Catch up with Paul here.



Posted in Australian Spec Fic Scene, Awards, Characterisation, Collaborating, Editing and Revision, Fantasy Genre, Genre TV Shows, Movie/TV Adaptations, Nourish the Writer, Publishers, Publishing Industry, Visiting Writer, Writing Craft, Writing Groups | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

The Holy Grail … Movie/TV Series options on Books

Posted by Rowena Cory Daniells on January 22, 2011

Who hasn’t been watching Alan Ball’s brilliant adaption of the Sookie Stackhouse books by Charlaine Harris?

It must be such thrill for a writer to see their characters and story realised in an excellent TV series. Kudos to Alan Ball and the team.

And we have the HBO George RR Martin Fire and Ice series to look forward to. Trailers here and here if you can’t wait for a taste.

But all is not plain sailing for authors whose intellectual property gets optioned for film and/or television. Firstly only a very small percentage that are optioned. My agent, John Jarrold, is associated with the Gotham Group in Los Angeles, a management production company. John says:

‘One in 1,000 books are actually optioned for medium to large amounts of money.  One in 100 of those actually have a film made from them.  Those are rough figures, obviously!  The agency has had film interest in a number of titles, but NONE have actually had a serious option payment made on them.’

Here, Ally Carter, author of the Gallagher Girls series and Heist Society talks about her experiences with three different production companies on three different film options.

She starts with a disclaimer. eg.  if you say authors never have a say in what happens to their books when they get made into movies, then someone will point to JK Rowling. Then she covers the different types of options and the other things such as the script, timing and talent (actors).

Here is a list of books that have been made into movies. And Here is a list of 20 good books that were made into not-so-good movies. Many of these are spec fic.

And here we have a look at what makes a good book to movie adaptation. They say:

‘a good bookish movie is more than a sum of the total of the book’s parts — the Watchmen proved that beyond any doubt. Watchmen stayed true to the book’s plot with slavish devotion, portrayed the characters with flawless accuracy, and even duplicated the look of the original illustrations. Yet, despite all of that, the magic Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons managed to work with pen and paper didn’t translate to the big screen. It was a good movie, but it certainly wasn’t great.’

They go on to say achieving a great adaptation is not about slavishly following the book, it ‘ lies in the film’s success at concentrating and magnifying the feelings readers have when they read the book.’ And they go on to analyze five examples. I would have to agree with Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings. When Jackson adapted the book to the movie, he did what I did while reading the book to my children. He cut out the boring parts and condensed the action, sticking to the strongly emotive moments.

Unless we are JK Rowling, we authors usually have very little to do with the adaptation of our book into a movie or TV series. Books and film are completely different mediums and what works in one, will not work in the others. I teach script writing, storyboard and animatics and I am constantly saying to my students how are you going to show what your character is thinking? You’ll need a flashback. How are you going to convey the character’s realisation? You’ll need a visual metaphor. Don’t try to cover a story that takes 20 years, compress, set a time limit if possible.

When you do get someone who is able to crystalise the essence of the book and even improve on it, then it is a joy as with True Blood and Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings.

Not every author’s experiences are so uplifting.  Here Ursula Le Guin talks about how the Sci Fi Chanel whitewashed Earthsea. She says:

‘A Wizard of Earthsea and The Tombs of Atuan, which were published more than 30 years ago, are about two young people finding out what their power, their freedom, and their responsibilities are. I don’t know what the film is about. It’s full of scenes from the story, arranged differently, in an entirely different plot, so that they make no sense.’

One of the main disappointments for her was the use of white actors to play coloured characters. Here on her own web site, Le Guin talks about her experience and how she felt the director was putting words in her mouth. She ends with:

‘I wonder if the people who made the film of The Lord of the Rings had ended it with Frodo putting on the Ring and ruling happily ever after, and then claimed that that was what Tolkien “intended…” would people think they’d been “very, very honest to the books”?’

The message seems to be for authors to go into movie/TV adaptations with their eyes open . You can be incredibly lucky and have a director/script writer who takes the best from you book and makes it more accessible to the general public, or you can be left wondering if they read the book at all.

What adaptations have you seen that impressed you?



Posted in Agents, Collaborating, Creativity, Editing and Revision, Genre TV Shows, Movie/TV Adaptations | Tagged: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Winner Rowena’s Give-away

Posted by Rowena Cory Daniells on January 18, 2011

Well, people certainly came up with some fun fantasy worlds to holiday in!


I liked Chris L’s idea of 50 Fantastic Holiday Destinations (from fantasy worlds). I’m a big Fritz Leiber fan from way back, so I would happily visit the Bazaar of the Bizarre. And I must admit, when I’d not well I put on the first Lord of the Rings movie to watch because I find the Shire so relaxing.

And Louise knows her world inside out, because she would visit her own fantasy world!

Cels would run away to the Faerie Realm, being very careful not to eat or drink anything while she was there.

Sean would go to Rivendell. Here, I  must admit that this is also one of my favourite parts of the LOTR movie because I love the sets the designed for Rivendell.

Thoraiya would happily spend a holiday in Randland, from Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series.

With so many great suggestions it was really hard to come up with a winner. So I decided to name you all winners.  Chris L, Louise, Cels, Sean and Thoraiya email me privately to organise the posting of your prizes!




Posted in Book Giveaway, Genre TV Shows | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Feasting on Spec Fic TV Shows

Posted by Rowena Cory Daniells on January 25, 2010

This holiday I’ve been watching Dark Angel. It came out in 2000 and I never heard of it until now. They only made two seasons. My favourite so far is the episode where Bruno returns. Very droll.

It took Buffy two seasons to hit its stride. I only have the first season of Dark Angel, but I can’t see why it didn’t take off.

Then I remember that Fire Fly was cancelled part way through its first season and all I can do is shake my head.

Meanwhile, Charlaine Harris, the author the the Southern Vampire Series that is True Blood, is coming to Australia in September. See here for info, scroll down to the bottom. I really enjoyed the TV show, especially the slutty brother. Again, very droll!

Here’s a pic for True Blood fans.

Posted in Genre TV Shows, Genre Writing | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Primal Emotions

Posted by Rowena Cory Daniells on December 13, 2009

Over at the Mad Genius Club-Writers’ Division, I did a post the other week about favourite movies and everyone started quoting The Princess Bride.

Not only is is fun and cool, with terrifically quirky characters, but the dialogue is so good, people can quote it from memory. That is an achievement, any writer would envy. It has even crept into the everyday. If I ask my husband to take out the rubbish, he says ‘As you wish.’

What made The Princess Bride so memorable, apart from all of the above?

Well, as Fezzik the Giant and Inigo Montoya tell the Miracle Man, he must help them because Westley is motivated by ‘True Love’. A primal emotion.

What drove Inigo to train with the sword every day from the age of 11? Revenge. He had to avenge his father’s murder. A primal emotion.

What makes a book or movie memorable its ability to reach into us and make an emotional connection. What do we all share? Primal emotions.

There’s a little caveman (or woman) in all of us.

As a writer, if you can tap into that primal emotion, you will connect with your readers. That is why Romance is the biggest selling genre, outselling all other popular fiction fiction paperback genres combined. (Quoting from Romance Writers of Australia).

For The Princess Bride fans here is one of my favourite scenes and possibly the best revenge scene ever written.

Memorable quotes from The Princess Bride

Inigo Montoya: Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.

[Inigo advances on Rugen, but stumbles into the table with sudden pain. Rugen attacks, but Inigo parries and rises to his feet again]

Inigo Montoya: Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.

[Rugen attacks again, Inigo parries more fiercely, gaining strength]

Inigo Montoya: Hello! My name is Inigo Montoya! You killed my father! Prepare to die!

Count Rugen: Stop saying that!

[Rugen attacks, twice. Inigo avoids and wounds Rugen in both shoulders, the same spots where he wounded Inigo. Inigo attacks, bellowing:]


[Inigo corners Count Rugen, knocks his sword aside, and slashes his cheek, giving him a scar just like Inigo’s]

Inigo Montoya: Offer me money.

Count Rugen: Yes!

Inigo Montoya: Power, too, promise me that.

[He slashes his other cheek]

Count Rugen: All that I have and more. Please…

Inigo Montoya: Offer me anything I ask for.

Count Rugen: Anything you want…

[Rugen knocks Inigo’s sword aside and lunges. But Inigo traps his arm and aims his sword at Rugen’s stomach]

Inigo Montoya: I want my father back, you son of a bitch!

[He runs Count Rugen through and shoves him back against the table. Rugen falls to the floor, dead]

Whew. I feel better just having read that. And I’m a pacificist!

Okay, what scene from books or movies have been so memorable, that you can still recall them today and maybe quote a line or two?

Posted in Genre TV Shows, Genre Writing, Good Dialogue, Writing Craft | Tagged: , , | 7 Comments »