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Posts Tagged ‘Dark Urban Fantasy’

Paula Weston asks: Why aren’t YA books as respected as ‘adult’ books?

Posted by Rowena Cory Daniells on June 2, 2012

Today we have Brisbane based author, Paula Weston, whose debut YA fantasy Shadows has just been released from Text Publishing. Paula is going to talk about her passion, writing for Young Adults.

She raises the question why are YA (and children’s books) less respected than adult novels.

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

 

‘Young adult is a point of view, not a reading age.’

I don’t know who said it (or in what context) but I love that sentence. Not just because it justifies the amount of time I spend reading (and enjoying) young adult stories of all genres, but because it’s true.

To suggest – as a Times magazine columnist recently did – that adults should only read adult books and leave everything else to teenagers, is remarkably narrow minded. His justification? Because ‘books are one of our few chances to learn’. In other words, there is nothing of value in young adult stories.

In that case, why do we let our teenagers read them?

The idea that a young adult novel is somehow less well written, less intelligent, less engaging and less capable of moving a reader, is insulting to writers and readers alike. Sure, there are varying degrees of quality among young adult books, but that can said of novels in any section of a book store or library.

Yet young adult novels come under stronger criticism. And when you combine the words ‘paranormal’ and ‘young adult’, you’re almost guaranteed to be immediately dismissed as lightweight in many circles. (And yes, I know spec writers – adult and young adult alike – have faced this sort of discrimination for years.)

Like many writers whose books end up in the YA section, I didn’t set out to specifically write a young adult novel.

I’d had an idea bouncing around for a while for a paranormal story but I kept pushing it aside because I was working on a fantasy series. My agent (Lyn Tranter of Australian Literary Management) came very close to scoring a publishing deal on the latter, and when it fell through, I went through my usual round of self doubt, frustration and yes, a teeny bit of self pity. (At that point I’d written five full-length manuscripts, with my first rejection slip dated 1995.)

Once I dusted myself off, I knew I needed a break from the pressure I’d put myself under to land a publishing deal. I just wanted to write something for fun, and that increasingly insistent idea in the back of my mind was the perfect outlet.

So I started on a story just for me, not worrying about anyone would think. I wrote a few scenes, which became a few chapters, and suddenly I had half a novel. Characters had never come so easily and I’d never enjoyed writing so much. I sat down and fleshed out the plot in greater detail and realised I had a story that would take more than one book to tell (four in fact). My agent loved the idea, and those early chapters, and I suddenly had an exciting new project on my hands.

I chose the age of my characters based on what would work best from a narrative perspective and what I needed for plotting (Gaby, my narrative character is 19…or so she thinks.)

When the wonderful folk at Text Publishing offered me that long-awaited contract, they felt the Rephaim series was young adult. The team there really knows what its doing in the YA market, and I was more than happy with that call. My only concern was that my series not be marketed to children or younger teens, given the amount of violence and profanity it features.

I’m an eclectic reader – from literary to paranormal and everything in between – and I’ve consistently found some of my favourite writers on young adult shelves (Aussies Melina Marchetta and Markus Zusak, and US writer Maggie Stiefvater). Some of the best books I’ve read in the last 12 months have been YA (and written by Aussies), including Vikki Wakefield’s All I Ever Wanted, Leanne Hall’s This Is Shyness and Jane Higgins’ The Bridge (okay, Jane’s from New Zealand, but you get the picture).

And if you don’t think YA spec fic stories can’t be complex and rich with analogy and metaphor, check out Marianne de Pierre’s Night Creatures series or Veronica Roth’s Divergent series.

Certainly, some YA stories can have a lighter touch, particularly when it comes to dealing with sexual issues (compare the YA and adult paranormal novels of writers like Richelle Mead, Lilith Saintcrow and Kelly Armstrong), but others push the boundaries more than adult fiction.

I agree there are boundaries that should be respected when the primary target is teens. But more and more, young adult novels are crossing over to wider markets. Harry Potter – still referred to in some quarters as ‘children’s fiction’ – sparked that fire, and it shows no sign of burning out any time soon.

Absolutely, teens should own the YA section of book stores. But the rest of us shouldn’t have to feel like we’ve left our brains at the door when we want to read great stories that just happen to wear the YA label.

Paula has a copy of Shadows for one lucky commenter. Give-away question:  When you were growing up what YA novel (or writer) made a big impression on you?

Shadows: Book 1 of the Rephaim series (Text Publishing) is out 2 July

Posted in Australian Spec Fic Scene, Book Launches, Characterisation, Fantasy Genre, Genre Writing, Publishing Industry, Readers and Genre, Visiting Writer, Writing Craft, Writing for children, Writing for Young Adults | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 20 Comments »

Double Book Launch

Posted by Rowena Cory Daniells on January 25, 2012

Anyone going to be in Tassie on Thursday 2nd of Feb?

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!
Thursday February 2nd
5:30pm
The Hobart Bookshop*
Rowena Cory Daniells will launch Reign of Beasts by Tansy Rayner Roberts.
This is the final book in Rayner-Roberts’ The Creature Court trilogy.
Richard Harland will launch Margo Lanagan‘s Sea Hearts — an an extraordinary tale of desire and revenge, of loyalty, heartache and human weakness, and of the unforeseen consequences of all-consuming love.
 
So if you happen to be around, drop into the Hobart Bookshop and toast to Tansy and Margo’s new books!
*The Hobart Bookshop
22 Salamanca Square
Hobart Tasmania 7000
P 03 6223 1803 . F 03 6223 1804
hobooks@ozemail.com.au
www.hobartbookshop.com.au

Posted in Australian Spec Fic Scene, Authors and Public Speaking, Book Launches, Covers, Creativity, Fantasy Genre, Nourish the Writer, Promoting your Book, Publishers | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Congratulations Alisa Krasnostien and Twelfth Planet Press!

Posted by Rowena Cory Daniells on September 7, 2011

This post is also cross-posted to my blog.

Alisa Krasnostein is an environmental engineer by day, and runs indie publishing house Twelfth Planet Press by night. She is also Executive Editor at the review website Aussie Specfic in Focus! and part of the Galactic Suburbia Podcast Team. In her spare time she is a critic, reader, reviewer, runner, environmentalist, knitter, quilter and puppy lover.

Q: First let me say mega congratulations on being a finalist in the World Fantasy Awards (courtesy LOCUS) in the Special Award Non-Professional section for your work with Twelfth Planet Press.  I imagine you’ve been popping champagne ever since you found out. Did you have any inkling this was coming?

Thank you! My nomination was totally unexpected and took me completely by surprise.  I’m very excited because I was already planning on attending World Fantasy Con in San Diego.

 

Q: I was involved in Indy Press in the late 70s early 80s so I know how much work and money goes into this. If you’d had any idea that you’d be ‘working longer hours on the press than my day job and I still don’t have enough time in the week to get to everything that needs to be done.’  – (See full interview on Bibliophile Stalker) – would you have jumped in with as much enthusiasm?

Interesting question. I’m not afraid of hard work. I definitely lean towards the workaholic. I think also, being an engineer has trained me to get absorbed and focused on the task at hand. And the amount of time I work and the amount of work I create for myself is definitely self-inflicted. And I hear I can dial it back at any point in time if I want! I love indie press more now that when I first jumped in and I respect and appreciate the people who contribute to the scene even more so now that I know how much work and dedication and talent goes into everything that gets published. And I also believe that we are limited only by the passion, time, commitment and hard work that we put in. So. No pressure. And no regrets.

Q: And following on from that, if you could go back and give yourself advice about starting Twelfth Planet Press, what would that advice be?

The number one thing I regret is not taking my business more seriously from the start. My advice would be to set up my small press as a small business from the beginning and not rely on a box of receipts or a papertrail for forensic auditing later. I set the financial and business side up several years in and that was most definitely one of the most painful things to sort out. There’s so much more to writing and editing and publishing than the creative side and I would advise myself, and anyone jumping in (both at the publishing and the writing ends), to get a basic handle on accounting, legalese to read and understand contracts and basic business advice (like if you need an ABN and how to structure your business – will you be a sole trader or a company and what does that mean anyway?) .

Q: You did a post for Hoyden About Town on The Invisibility of Women in Science Fiction. It’s obviously a subject you feel strongly about.  Is Twelfth Planet Press seeking to address this issue with affirmative action?

Not in any formal or mandated way. Overall, I don’t have a gender imbalance issue at Twelfth Planet Press – I buy what I like and the best stories that are submitted to me. And funnily enough, that gender breakdown is different to the general norm (though that’s not true of my novella series).

The Twelve Planets – twelve four-story original collections by twelve different Australian female writers – is a project that came from a place of realising, at the time of idea conception, how few female Australian writers had been collected. That’s changed during the time of project development. But the Twelve Planets remains a project that will release over two years close to 50 new short stories written by women. And that’s something that I’m really proud to be doing.

Q: Twelfth Planet Press has had some remarkable wins for a new, small Indy Press. There were six finalistings in the Aurealis Awards this year. Two finalistings on the Australian Shadows Award. And Tansy Rayner Roberts’ novella Siren Beat won the WSFA Small Press Award for 2010. This novella was part of a series of back-to-back novellas that Twelfth Planet Press released.  It’s notoriously hard, from a writer’s point of view, to sell a novella to a publisher. Why did TPP start producing BtB novellas?

Thanks, I was particularly pleased with our Aurealis Awards shortlistings this year coming after seven shortlistings last year. It feels like validation for some of the choices that I’ve made particularly in terms of the direction I’ve taken. And the win from the WSFA was just unbelievably exciting. I’m so proud of the work that Tansy Rayner Roberts is producing at the moment.

I really wanted to have a product to sell at a particular price point, around the $10 to $15 mark. That was really the place that I started at for the novella doubles. I personally love the novella length, especially for science fiction and I loved the idea of paying homage to the Ace Doubles. I especially loved the idea of pairing two totally unrelated works and throwing them into a package like many of the Ace Doubles did. From a gambling sense, if you love one and not so much the other, that’s not a bad deal for $12. And from a publisher’s point of view I like the idea of perhaps enticing readers to find new or unknown to them writers or be exposed to a new genre by buying a double for one of the stories and getting the other one as a bonus. If I make the pairs right!

Q: An editor once said to me, I can’t tell you want I want, but I’ll know when I see it. This is incredibly frustrating to a writer. Can you tell us what you want?

Only that I’ll know when I see it. Sorry! But yeah, we look for what we aren’t expecting, what is outside of what everyone else is writing, that breaks new ground and feels fresh, that stands out from the pack. What I want is the project that stands out cause it’s not like all the other books on the shelf. I specifically look firstly for really solid writing – writing that is unpretentious and doesn’t get in the way of the story. And then I want to be emotionally or intellectually moved or changed by the work. I look for stories that demand my attention and then hold it. I look for stories that tell me something I didn’t know before – about myself, or about society or humanity. I look for a rewarding reading experience. So. Not much.

I’m very busy and I deliberately choose to read submissions when I’m in a bad mood and whilst doing something else. I want what I’m reading to demand attention, to demand I put everything down and just read it to the end.

Q:  A finalist placing in the World Fantasy Awards has to raise the profile of Twelfth Planet Press. Where would you like to see TPP in five years time?

I’d like to see us with wider distribution in brick and mortar bookshops all over the place (long live the bookshop!) and being in a position to pay pro rates for writing, art, design and layout. I’d like to see us pushing genre boundaries and continuing to publish top quality fiction by writers at the top of our field that inspires, engages and entertains.

Q: On a personal note, where would you like to see yourself being career-wise in five years time?

I’d like to be working full time for Twelfth Planet Press.

 

Follow Alisa on Twitter  @Krasnostein

Hear the podcasts on Galactic Suburbia

Hear the TPP Podcasts.

Catch up with Alisa on Linked in

Catch up on FaceBook

Drop by the ASIF Website.

Posted in Australian Spec Fic Scene, Awards, Editors, Fantasy Genre, Genre Writing, Indy Press, Publishers, Publishing Industry, Writing Craft | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Nicole Murphy – what I’ve learnt since my trilogy sale

Posted by Rowena Cory Daniells on June 25, 2011

Or … The joy of being a newbie writer.

 

July 1 marks the official release date of Rogue Gadda, the third and last book in the Dream of Asarlai series. It hasn’t even been two years since I got the email from the HarperVoyager publisher, Stephanie Smith, that began ‘Dear Nicole, I love your book…’

What a rollercoaster of a couple of years. I’ve written the other two books, edited and copyedited and proofed all three books and spent I don’t know how many hours promoting it all.

For the first thirteen months after I sold, pretty much every waking hour was given over to the Dream of Asarlai. If I wasn’t writing, I was thinking. If I wasn’t editing, I was planning promotion.

Then in August 2010, I delivered the manuscript for Rogue Gadda to the publisher and I found myself in the unique position of not knowing what I should be writing. No more deadlines. I still had work to do, based on editorial feedback, but the creative process was done.

It was at this point that I realised one of the great mistakes we make when we’re starting out on this mad journey to publication. We’re so focussed on the end result, on the dream, that we forget the joys of the present.

There ARE benefits to being an unpublished author. Sounds weird, I know, but it’s true.

For example as an unpublished author, you can write anything you want. Any genre. Any style. Any voice. Experiment. Go mad. Let the muse take you to far off lands.

Once you’ve had that first novel sale, however, you suddenly have this thing called a career, and career comes with restrictions. Publishers have expectations. They’ve signed you to contracts, established marketing plans. They’ve started to brand you, and they need that brand to continue.

Readers have expectations. They’ve invested time and money in you and now that they love your work, they want more.

So suddenly, you’re having to make decisions. Sure, that fabulous rolling epic fantasy looks GREAT, but perhaps you’re better off sticking with the urban fantasy genre you first published in. Or you want to write some short stories in your world but oops – the contract says the publisher owns the world and you can’t. Or you have a fabulous idea for a YA book but damn it – no point writing THAT until you know you’ve got more than one book, so you can establish a career as a YA writer…

Then as an unpublished author, you don’t have to worry about promoting yourself. You don’t have to spend money on creating bookmarks and posters for events. You don’t have to attend conventions to meet with folks. You don’t have to spend hours each week writing blog posts or contacting review sites or interacting with readers (and don’t think signing with a major publisher saves you from all this – IT DOESN’T!)

Then there’s the fact that as an unpublished author, you can sit back and watch the current upheavals in the publishing industry with interest but without feeling that every bookstore that closes is going to ruin your career. This might be contentious but honestly – if you don’t have to chase a major publishing contract right now, I’d suggest you don’t bother. Sit tight for a year or two, perfect your craft and wait for the dust to settle.

Does any of this mean that I’d give back my contract, or that I’m not trying for another one? Absolutely not. Being a contracted author is hard, hard work but it’s also the most fun I’ve ever had. I love my books. I love my world. I love that other people love my books and my world.

But there are days that I pine for the time when I didn’t have a contract, when I didn’t have a career to nurture and I could just write what I wanted.

Great days, my friends. Great days.

Giveaway question – if you could write anything, what would it be?

Nicole’s favourite response will win a copy of Rogue Gadda.

Rogue Gadda cookie

Connor handed it over carefully, making sure he didn’t touch her. The slightest contact of skin on skin would be enough to have his power draining into her and disappearing forever.

Posted in Australian Spec Fic Scene, Book Giveaway, Creativity, Editing and Revision, Editors, Nourish the Writer, Plotting, Promoting your Book, Publishers, Publishing Industry, Writing Craft | Tagged: , , , , , , | 28 Comments »

Blitzing the book trailers …

Posted by Rowena Cory Daniells on March 5, 2011

This Sunday we have a ‘call back’. In an interview with AA Bell, author of Diamond Eyes, she tells how the music that inspired her while writing the book led to a collaboration, that has created a killer book trailer. Then we hear from the musician involved in her project,  ‘David Meshow’.

We have a copy of Diamond Eyes to give-away. Watch our for the question at the end.

Blitzing the book trailers for many NY Times bestsellers this month is the non-traditional low-budget trailer for Diamond Eyes, by AA Bell.


Over 106,000 views in only 3 weeks! (Here and Here)

 

Interview with the Author:

 

How did music play a role during the initial creative process?

Since the main character is blind, music and poetry plays an increasingly important role in the Diamond Eyes trilogy, adding sensory depth to settings as well as a few main plot twists. During the research stage, I therefore searched high and low for musicians who could inspire me by playing as many instruments as my main character, and play them so well, they could do it anywhere – in a garden or forest, and with a quirky sense of humour too preferably, to suit the off-beat characters and varying paces of the story, from slow and melancholy to fast-paced action. That’s how I found French Canadian, David Meshow, a young musical genius who can play at least 8 different instruments (and up to 4 at once, while singing in English, which isn’t his first language!) He also taught me how to play the most amazing electric guitar melodies around a campfire, so I could use it to increase the ‘magical’ aspects of a specific scene in Hindsight (launching in June.)

And in post production?

It seemed only natural that such unique music should play a large role in post production too. So I wrote to David for permission to use part of the music which had inspired me so much during the creative process, and sent him a copy of the book, but he was so inspired by the story, he told me he was keen to write a brand new piece just to suit it. And wow, what a fabulous example of inspiration breeding inspiration. Over 5000 fans now agree it’s his best yet!

Interview with the Musician:

What inspired you when writing the Official Theme to Diamond Eyes?

 

From the story, I imagined how I would be if I was blind. Seeing nothing, but seeing something that nobody else can see, because it’s only in my head, gave me a lot of strange feelings. I first tuned my acoustic guitar with an unusual scale. After having found the main “chords” I recorded the guitar on my computer, just a simple test. Then i added some improvised piano. I love the sound of piano because you can get some smooth peaceful high tones and aggressive low notes at the same time. At the final recording step, I thought: What could I play to replace these testing notes? I tried different things but my final answer was; “Hey David, don’t change anything. The first recording test was pure emotion. It sounds deep.’ And finally, I used the soundless preview of the traditional trailer to get many ideas for the main ambiance and for adding different sound FX.

How long did it take?

A few minutes here and there, but if I calculate the full time of the composition, mixing and production to finished product, I’d say it took me a good full week. But i don’t like to calculate my time because it “scraps” my imagination and the mood I have when I’m recording a song. It has to be done with heart. The most difficult is the final mixing step because I have to admit that I’m never 100% satisfied. Sometimes I just need to stop or I’ll never release my work. Hehe!

What has this fabulous response from youtube fans meant to you as an artist?

Ha! I’m surprised! I’m the kind of person who is always anxious until I get the first comments. It’s always like that. I really wasn’t expecting such a good response. I wasn’t sure about making a video for the song either. I was wrong, I guess. A lot of fans have told me it’s my best yet. And if I’m here today, it’s thanks to them! This 50 million views could not have happened without them. I’m really happy about everything that’s happened!

To win a copy of Diamond Eyes, AA Bell asks: What music do you listen to when you write?

Posted in Australian Spec Fic Scene, Book Giveaway, Book Launches, Book Trailers, Creativity, Musicians, Promoting your Book, Sales | Tagged: , , , , , | 11 Comments »

Is Fantasy a bit of a Boy’s Club?

Posted by Rowena Cory Daniells on February 26, 2011

The Gender Divide – Does it exist in fantasy or is it our perception that it exists, that creates it?

I started last week answering interview questions from Marc at Fantasy Faction (see interview here). Marc introduces the interview with:

‘A few months ago I was in Waterstones and a book caught my attention… ‘The King’s Bastard’. There were thousands of books in the Fantasy/Sci-Fi section of that particular shop, but this one was in the ‘featured’ section and for some reason just jumped out at me. The name ‘King’s Bastard’ perhaps appealed to my darker side, the picture on the front cover of a rugged man with multiple weapons – obviously to be used for brutal combat, the power of the word; King! To me as a male fantasy fan this book simply said ‘pick me up‘. I picked up the book and gave it a read, the blurb was equally dark and I could tell that this book would feature everything I’d been looking for… Now being an e-book reader, I got home, jumped online and added the title to my ‘wish list’… It was only at this point that I noticed the name of the author; ‘Rowena Cory Daniells’. I did a double take at this point – Now, without injecting any sexism into this post (at least intentionally) I had presumed the book was written by a male.’

Please note, I’m not being critical of Marc, I’m taking about perception. It was my perception that most fantasy writers were female because in Australia, it is a bit of a girl’s club. Marc’s sixth question was:

‘Please excuse me for saying this – but after a recent topic in our forum entitled ‘Female Fantasy Authors’ we concluded there are very few of you out there. Even more so – there are less who write darker fantasy. Why do you think this is?’

This reminded me of a conversation I’d had a World  SF Con in Melbourne in August of 2010 with Kate Elliot. Kate has since gone on to comment on my ‘Why I’m featuring Female Fantasy Authors’ post. She said:

‘My feeling is that there is a gatekeeper issue that creates a sense of invisibility(of female fantasy authors)and of the sense that the female writers are secondary or irrelevant to the greater discussion. There are a ton of epic/heroic/fantasy review discussion blogs out there, and I think they’re fabulous, but they heavily skew male.’

Tansy Rayner Roberts brings up the point that: ‘The Nebula novel shortlist was just released and it features five female-authored novels (four of them fantasy) and one male-authored.’

So there are great books by female fantasy authors but are they being discussed on the blogs?  Lindsey from the US said: ‘most of the female fantasy writers I encounter are in other countries, mostly in Australia. I’d say that reflects in the readership, too.’  Remember it is all about perception. If female fantasy writers aren’t being talked about, then the readers won’t be aware of their books.

And Erica Hayes suggested that ‘in the US, there is a huge romance market, which includes a large slice of paranormal, urban fantasy, fantasy and sci-fi romance. The majority of ‘romance’ authors are female. So perhaps many female fantasy authors in the US are being published as ‘romance’, and are putting a higher romance content in their books — just because it’s a larger market and they have a greater likelihood of making a living.’ Since romance is one of the few genres where a mid list author can make a living, this is a valid point.  There seems to be a perception that we authors should be grateful just to be published and be willing to work a second job to support our families. But that is a topic for another post.

Glenda Larke says: ‘Re the gender divide, one part me really HATES saying this, but the advice I’d give to a woman starting out is: use a gender neutral pseudonym. Later on – when you have an established career – that’s the time to tell everyone you are a woman.’

When my first trilogy was published I chose to use Cory Daniells, because it was a non-gender specific name. If I’d continued to do this, Marc would not have been at all surprised by the author of the King Rolen’s Trilogy. He would have read the trilogy believing it to be written by a man. Would this have changed his perception of the book? Will Marc read it now with the subtext, this book was written by a woman, in his mind? Will he think, Gee, she really writes good fight scenes for a woman – rather than – Great fight scene! (Here’s hoping he likes the fight scenes. LOL).

Which brings me back to the original question. Is there a gender divide in the fantasy genre, or is the perception that there is a gender divide, the problem?

Update: Since writing this post I’ve done a series of interviews with creative people where I ask them about gender (as well as lots of other things). See here.

Posted in Australian Spec Fic Scene, Fantasy Genre, Gender Divive in Writing, Genre Writing, Nourish the Writer, Promoting your Book | Tagged: , , , , | 28 Comments »

Winner Marianne’s Give-away!

Posted by Rowena Cory Daniells on January 11, 2011

Marianne has put everyone’s name into a cyber champagne bucket and Ta Da, pulled out:

Rachel’s name!

So Rachel, if you email Marianne on:

decourt(at)bigpond(dot)net(dot)au

she will organise to send you your copy of the book!

Posted in Australian Spec Fic Scene, Book Giveaway, Genre Writing | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Meet Marianne de Pierres …

Posted by Rowena Cory Daniells on January 4, 2011

Marianne and I met at the very first VISION writing group meeting (when it didn’t even have a name). She had escaped from her family (3 small boys) caught a ferryboat across from Stradbroke Island and was determined to pursue her writing. The rest, as they say, is history.

After Orbit picked up the Parrish series, Marianne went on to write the Sentients of Orion series. Her contemporary, paranormal mystery series Tara Sharp is published with Allen and Unwin, and the first book of her new YA series Burn Bright will be released by Random House this year.

Marianne has a copy of Sharp Turn to give away. Look for the give-away question at the end of the post.

 

 

 

Q: All three Parrish books were short listed for an Aurealis Awards and White  Mice made the concept into a game. This series was such a break neck adventure there was hardly time for the reader to draw breath. I see there is a We Want more Parrish Facebook group and you are writing a Parrish novella. Can you tell us a little more about this and do you see yourself writing more books in the Parrish universe?

 

I had always intended to write at least one more novel, if not another trilogy, but things didn’t work out that way. My publisher was keen for me to branch out, and frankly, at the end of Crash Deluxe, I needed a break from Parrish. She is rather intense to have in your life every day!

I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to finish Parrish’s story though, and I do believe one will come along eventually. Quite coincidentally, at the time Cels Jansink started the FB group, I was approached by an e-book publisher for a SF novelette. It seemed to be the perfect moment to revisit Parrish, so at the moment I’m writing a novelette (10K) which will be a prequel.

 

 

 

 

 

Q: Glitter Rose collection from Twelfth Planet Press. I always had the feeling that this collection grew out of your time living on Stradbroke Island. The reader is immersed in a dreamy sense of dislocation and otherness. What did you set out to explore with Glitter Rose?

Yes, Glitter Rose was inspired by both my time living on the island, and my love affair with JG Ballard’s collection, Vermillion Sands. Stradbroke Island has a very strong sense of mythology which I wanted to explore it my own way. Islands are often places people run away to, escaping their life elsewhere. When I began to write, Tinashi’s story came from nowhere, as if it had been waiting in the wings for the right set of circumstances to give it voice. I was searching for a sense of melancholy and tragic romanticism, and I feel that, to a degree, I achieved it in those stories.

 

 

 

Q: The first two Sentients of Orion books were short listed for an Aurealis Award and the next two have been nominated. (fingers crossed!) This series required a lot of research and took the reader far into the future across the universe into unfamiliar concepts. You must have a real love for vast space operas. When you started out writing this series, did you have any idea how far it would take you and your characters?

 

 

 

 

 

At the time I started writing Dark Space I was beguiled by the new wave of space opera and wanted to be a part of it. However, I felt there were still a lack of developed female characters in the genre, and definitely a lack of SF stories that portrayed a woman’s POV through events like childbirth and rape and war. To add to that, I had a strong sense of the scope and the philosophical underpinnings that I wanted to explore. What I didn’t realise was how emotionally draining it would be to guide the characters through that kind of landscape. The hardest thing I’ve ever done.

Q: Burn Bright is a dark look at teenagers in the near future. What prompted you to write this series and what was the inspiration for the world. (Can we assume you lead a dissolute life as a teenager? <grin>)

It’s actually not near future. It’s a fantastical world with SF underpinnings. The fantasy element is gothic and dark and more window dressing than anything else, while the plot functions well and truly as either far-future or far-past SF. The story has MANY themes running through it; dystopia masquerading as a utopia, the divide between youth and their elders, repression, patriarchies vs matriarchies. But the one thing that arose from my own past, that I particularly

wanted to explore, was the concept of pleasure within our moral and religious frameworks. Guilt seems to pay a large part in keeping society functioning within acceptable boundaries. I wondered what would happen if we removed guilt and let young people indulge purely hedonistic pursuits without it. Retra/Naif is the story’s moral compass but what happens to her when she discovers pleasure without guilt? Are moral values in any sense innate? Or are the purely a result of environment and upbringing? My belief is the society will self regulate. But you’ll have to read the book to find out if that happens!

One of the most exciting things about this project has been my collaboration with indie musician, Yunyu. She has written a simply mesmerising song to accompany the release of the book.

Q: The first book in Marianne’s Tara Sharp series, Sharp Shooter, won the Davitt Award (for Best Novel by an Australian female crime writer). You told me when you started writing this book that you were having so much fun with it. Is this why you branched into writing contemporary, paranormal mystery series based around Tara Sharp? And where do you see the series going?

I wrote it very much as an antidote to the Sentients of Orion which was exhausting, research heavy and demanding in every way. Tara Sharp was a balm to my rubbed-raw writing muscle. Tara’s character felt so natural to write and the world was contemporary – no difficult concepts to determine.

I’ve always incorporated humour in my writing, but usually it tends to black humour e.g. Parrish Plessis. I surprised myself by writing some decent slapstick in the Sharp books. I giggled my way through them and hoped readers would too.

Q: You write this series as Marianne Delacourt. Why are you using a pseudonym for the Tara Sharp series?

Out of respect for my science fiction readership really. I didn’t want them to pick up a Tara Sharp novel and expect them to find the same kind of emotional intensity and deep philosophical questions that underpinned the Sentients of Orion.

Q: Peacemaker Series looks like it will be a lot of fun. It grew from a Virgin Jackson short story and it brings together Australian outback, cowboys and urban fantasy (in the bush). You grew up on a wheat farm in Western Australia, how much of your childhood is there in the character Virgin Jackson?

I grew up on a diet of boy-hero/action/cowboy stories and was the youngest of a farming family. I had so much freedom and time when I was young and spent my days in imaginary worlds being one of those heroes. I used to practise with dad’s stockwhips, go bareback riding, spend too much time in trees and ride shotgun with dad when he chased sheep stealers off the property. If they aren’t the right ingredients for Peacemaker then…

As I turn 50 today and spend some time reflecting on my life, I realise how incredibly blessed my childhood was. Thanks mum and dad!


Q: You are certainly diversifying with the genres you write in and the publishers you are working with. I’ve heard publishers say that they don’t like writers to write across genres because it dilutes their reading audience. As a savvy writer who plans her career you must have a rationale behind your diversification.

 

When you choose to write across genres you have to be aware that you will need to build a unique audience for each identity – this takes time. From that point of view, it makes sense to consolidate and stay in one genre. But I hate creative constriction and believe diversification is healthy – if that’s what stimulates you.

 

 

 

Q: Back in 2001 when we set up ROR, we created the group to push ourselves and our writing craft. Do you feel that it has succeeded? I know some of us have very tight deadlines to deliver books and it is not always possible to get to ROR with a completed manuscript. Is there any direction you would like to take ROR so that it keeps pushing you?

I believe the current format we have in ROR is still very effective. The main problem is the logistics of trying to get seven people available at the same time with enough material. Often the timing doesn’t work out.

Q: What are you currently working on?

I’ll write it in point form to keep it brief J

Night Creatures #2 – Angel Arias (dark teen fantasy)

Peacemaker #1 – Peacemaker (urban fantasy)

Tara Sharp #3 – Too Sharp! (humourous crime)

Parrish Novelette

Stalking Daylight SF screenplay collaboration with Lynne Jamneck (nearly finished)

Q: At ROR we always do our realistic goals and our dream goals. So what are your realistic goals (what are you currently working on) and what are your dream goals?

My dream goals are many and varied and for the most part private. However, I would say that I’d love to write an episode/episodes for a really quality TV series like Spooks or Fringe.

Oh and please, Alan Ball, can you pick up one of my books next time you’re in a bookshop!

Here are the chatrooms if you want to catch up with other MDP readers.

Follow Marianne on Twitter. @mdepierres

 

Question for giveaway: What’s the full name of Tara Sharp’s narcoleptic security chief?

 

The give-away will stay open until Tuesday of next week, when Marianne will select a winner.

Posted in Australian Spec Fic Scene, Book Giveaway, Creativity, Editing and Revision, Genre Writing, Nourish the Writer, Publishing Industry, Writing Craft, Writing goals | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments »

Meet Tansy Rayner Roberts …

Posted by Rowena Cory Daniells on December 14, 2010

I first met the sweet, but ever so sharp, Tansy at World Con in 1999. She’d just had her first book come out and we shared the same publisher. Since then we’ve shared many a ROR and convention. Tansy’s new series Creature Court is an eclectic mix of Ancient Rome and the 1920s. I loved Power and Majesty (book one) in each of its incarnations as it came through ROR and I’m biting my nails, waiting on book two!

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

Q: You came to writing success very early, winning the Inaugural George Turner SF Prize when you were nineteen (you were twenty by the time the book was published) with Splashdance Silver. If you were able to go back to the nineteen year old Tansy, knowing what you know now and give her advice, what would it be?


Get an agent BEFORE signing the contract!  Also, don’t expect that just because you earned a living at this for one year, you’re going to be able to every year, and the ease with which you write the second book is going to be totally misleading about the effort required for all future books… and um, by the way, your publishing house will be bought out within a year and your editor will leave and you’ll lose all your support, and…

Wow, that’s a really depressing topic to start out on!  I think something like “This is only the beginning, you will write better books, and this will (eventually) be your career,” is a bit more positive.

Q: You had success early, then you were ‘orphaned’ by your publisher and spent quite a few years out in the cold before being picked up by Harper Collins with your new Creature Court series. Did you ever feel like giving up? How did you sustain your creative drive?

It feels like a really long time (and indeed was a really long time) but I never really stopped.  I wrote short stories by the bucketful, and worked on my craft that way.  I spent several way fun years playing with small press as part of the ASIM collective.  I wrote several manuscripts, and workshopped them with ROR – some were discarded, some went on to publication.  I tried different genres and even tried on the hats of a few writerly pseudonyms.  I only had one year without a writing credit, the year 2000 – and that was a real kick in the pants.  After that I was always working on something, or getting something out there.

The first novel of the Creature Court has actually been six years in the making – I was about a year and a half into writing it when I had to put it away in the hopes of getting my PhD thesis submitted before my first daughter was born (it wasn’t).  It took a lot longer to get back to it than I thought and then it only took one more revision before the novel sold.  Lots of long periods of waiting – for publishers to decide, and then between the signing of the contract and the actual appearance of the book.

I never thought about giving up!  Stop writing, are you mad?

Q: You have two delightful little girls now. Do you find having children has given you a new insight as a writer? And are you ever tempted to write for children?

It’s made me less precious as a writer, for a start.  I remember when I used to need a WHOLE DAY to myself to write, and it always had to be at my desktop computer in the same part of the house… crazy, crazy luxuries.  I trained myself to write at the drop of a hat, with a baby clamped to my leg, or in a cafe, or in the ad breaks.

I think being a mother has taught me a lot as a person, and that necessarily changes my writing.  I don’t know that I’m a deeper or more insightful writer now, but I think I feel things more, and I suspect that has an effect.

I would love to write for children.  If I could just get a few months to MYSELF I would run off that superhero middle grade series for girls that I have in my head.

Q: This leads on from the last question. I notice you’ve been reading and reviewing a lot of YA. Is this an area you are thinking of writing in, or do you read it for the love of it?

I long to be a YA author.  I have written a few manuscripts, but nothing that has landed a bite yet.  I also love reading YA for fun – my attention span has gone to hell over the last couple of years and I have found that YA is just so succinct as far as plot and character goes that it’s very enticing.  I’ve been working this year to lure myself away from YA just a bit – reading some actual grown up books – but I do love it, and I really believe that some of the most exciting speculative fiction of the last few years has happened in this genre.

Q: You’ve edited ASIM, Shiny and AustrAlien Absurdities. Do you find editing has helped you develop as a writer? Do you have any advice for short story writers?

I enjoy editing although have been doing my best to give it up because it uses a lot of the same energies as my writing, but doesn’t give (me, personally) nearly as many of the same rewards.  It was one distraction too many, once parenthood hit me over the head.  Editing has done a lot for me as a writer – increased my critical awareness quite strongly.  And it does tempt me back from time to time, but it would have to be a pretty incredible project to make me break my current stance on the matter.

As far as short story writers go – I think the most important thing to tell them is that it’s quite easy to get a half-decent short story published these days.  There are so many markets, and so many editors.  There’s nothing wrong with going for the cheap and easy sale when you’re just starting out.  But ultimately if you want people to take you seriously, you need to look at what you’re sending out there, and whether these are stories good enough to build a reputation on.  As someone who served out her “apprenticeship” in public venues, I look quite jealously at newbie authors who come out swinging, earning critical achievements and award nominations and so on with their first few published works.

This applies to novels too: a debut is a terrible thing to waste.


Q: It must have been a thrill to see your novella, Siren Beat, published by Twelfth Planet Press, win the WSFA Small Press Award. What led you to write this novella?

It was Marianne who did it!  She and Lynne Jamneck had a glorious plan to edit a charity anthology of Australian urban fantasy, to raise funds for Crohns Disease.  Their submission guidelines were so inspiring that I wrote a pitch straight away – because it was an anthology I decided to avoid vampires and werewolves on the basis that most people would choose them, and I decided to set it in Hobart because I figured again I was the only one who would do that!

Once I started thinking of how to turn Hobart into an urban fantasy city, it came so easily – the docks, Salamanca, seamonsters, and Nancy Napoleon standing damaged on the edge of the city, protecting it from invaders.  I was so excited that I took a month off what I was supposed to be doing and just wrote the thing.  They used it as part of their pitch document for publishers and it got within an inch of being accepted before the Global Financial Crisis hit, and suddenly an anthology wasn’t an appealing risk for a Big Name publisher.  So sad…

But Alisa loved the story when I sent it to her next and it was published as the first of the Twelfth Planet Doubles, along with a gorgeous story by Robert Shearman.  Since then – well, I have said repeatedly that Siren Beat is the story that keeps giving back!  It’s earned me more critical acclaim than any of my previous writings put together, and apart from the various nominations and the lovely win from the WSFA, it’s also now earned me two writing grants to give Nancy Napoleon a novel of her own.

Q: You have a PHD in Classics and spent a month in Rome. I believe the topic of your thesis was Imperial Roman Women. Did this area of study help you develop the world for Creature Court?

Technically the series was first sparked off in my head when a mouse invaded the study in our old house!  But that’s a far more mundane story of origin…  my studies of Ancient Rome absolutely infused these books.  I used my memories of tramping around the city to give a feeling of weight and reality to my imaginary city of Aufleur – which led to all kinds of fun and games when we got to the mapmaking part, I can tell you!  Turns out the Rome in my head is nothing like the one on the page…

It was actually my Honours thesis that contributed most to these books – I was studying women’s role in the Roman religion, and one of my great fascinations is the Fasti, a poem which details the many traditional festivals of the old city.  I started thinking what it would be like to actually live in a city where the economy revolved around rites and festivals – taking the old ‘bread and circuses’ concept and pushing it further.  That was the essential core of Aufleur – sure, there was this whole little plot about dark, twisted magical shape-changing superheroes and the sky trying to kill them, but MOSTLY it’s a book about ancient religious calendars.

Heh okay, that’s a total lie.  The festivals are purely background.  But they were an important inspiration for the society, and it made me think very much about the role of festivals and traditions in our society.  I say this as someone who just totally WON at Christmas, and is very smug at having all her presents bought and wrapped… apart from the 8 or so that haven’t been delivered yet!


Q: Book one, Power and Majesty is out now. When are the other two books due? Did you have the books written or planned when you accepted the contract? If not, was it a struggle with two small children to meet your deadlines?

Book Two, Shattered City, is scheduled for April 2011 and Book Three, Reign of Beasts, is scheduled for October 2011.  I had always planned for there to be more of this story, though when I sold Power and Majesty I only had three paragraphs, one for each sequel (it was originally planned to be a series of four).  As it turned out, everything from about halfway through Book Two was to change drastically from my initial plots.  Part of the reason there was such a long gap between the sale of P&M and its publication was to give me time to write Books 2 and 3.

Words cannot express how hard it was to meet those deadlines.  I have always prided myself on being professional and I was so determined to be the author who met every target with quality and quantity and a big smile on my face.  I did pretty well to start off with, and even managed to get ahead of my deadlines as far as the writing went – which was totally necessary when my second baby was born!  It was the editing that killed me.  Juggling a school age daughter, a new baby and writing Book #3 was totally possible, but stretched me to the absolute limit of my resources.  So whenever one of those essential things like structural edits, copy edits or proofs arrived for one of the other books, I fell in a heap.  I resented that so badly, because I KNOW that I can do that kind of work standing on my head.  But it happened over and over, and every time I had to stop writing Book 3 to edit something, I lost all momentum.  It was hugely frustrating.  Luckily my publishers were understanding, and there was just enough give in the schedules to make everyone happy.  I know now that I need to take the fact that I have two children actually into consideration when planning deadlines.

Q: When Marianne and I approached you back in 2001 to see if you’d like to join ROR, you agreed and have been part of the group ever since. Did you find ROR helped you in developing or directing your writing and, if so, in what ways?

Being invited to join ROR was a lovely surprise!  It came at a time when I was quite dispirited about my writing career, and gave me a boost that was sorely needed.  To be treated as a peer by writers – all women in that initial group – who were older and more experiences than me really made me think about my future, and what I wanted from it, and how to raise my own expectations of what I could do.  Also you guys were totally right about what I needed to do with the beginning of Power and Majesty!

There were times when RORing a manuscript gave me the confidence to pursue it and turn it into something great – and other times where I did just let one drop, which is also a good thing to do from time to time.  More than anything, I love the time we spend together on those rare weeks away, talking about writing all night, hanging out together, and just FEELING like a writer.  It’s soul-feeding.

Q: What are you currently working on?

You have caught me technically between projects!  I have some editing and proofing still to do on the remaining Creature Court books, over the summer.  I’ve just this week finished a small collection of stories for Twelfth Planet Press which I shall be able to talk more about in due course.  And as soon as the school holidays end, I am plunging back into the world of sea monsters, kelpies and Nancy Napoleon to write FURY, a novel that I received an Australia Council Grant and Arts Tasmania grant to write.  It’s very exciting!

After that, who knows?

Q: At ROR we always do our realistic goals and our dream goals. So what are your realistic goals (what are you currently working on) and what are your dream goals?

My realistic goals are to sell at least one novel a year for the next five years, but particularly to get the Nancy Napoleon series written.  I have one other fantasy series that I long to write but it still requires a lot of sitting and thinking time.

My dream goals are to have a YA career in tandem with an adult fantasy career (once Jem gets to kindergarten I can TOTALLY manage this), possibly running a second writing name to keep it all straight in my head as well as the bookshop catalogues.  Also, I long to judge the Tiptree Awards.  They are my favourites and my best.  I would also love to win one, of course, but that’s almost too dreamy a thing to long for.  I want desperately to attend a World Fantasy Convention.

My dream goal used to be about earning a living from my writing, but as the mother of two kids who is also running a small business from home, my concept of “earning a living” has shifted somewhat.  I have a lot of jobs right now!  Having said that, I would rather like to help my honey slam our mortgage into smithereens.  He’s invested rather a lot in me over the years and it’s about time I paid some of it back.

The Give-away question is: “if you could change into an animal, which would you choose and why?”

Tansy will be giving away either a copy of Power and Majesty or Siren Beat  Please nominate which you would prefer to receive. The competition will be open until Tuesday of next week when we’ll announce the winner.

Follow Tansy on Twitter: twitter.com/tansyrr

Posted in Australian Spec Fic Scene, Book Giveaway, Creativity, Editing and Revision, Genre Writing, Nourish the Writer | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 16 Comments »

Winner of Trent’s Give-away announced …

Posted by Rowena Cory Daniells on December 13, 2010

Picking a winner is always so difficult. I really hate it, particularly when you have such a nice bunch of answers to choose from.

Gillian suggested the Aigues-Mortes (Dead Waters) in France and it is such a wonderful location that I am sure (if I was a much more meticulous researcher into the past of Pomping I would see that the Aigues-Mortes hosted a Moot in 1879, which indeed it did, now I’ve perused Brown and Sempkin’s Brief (and relatively secret) History of Pomps. Apparently there were two murders, a failed Schism (most Schisms fail), and a successful fishing expedition on the afternoon of the second day of the Moot, in which Mr D caught a xiphactinus, unfortunately at the cost of an Ankou, and two guinea fowl, why the guinea fowl were there is unknown.) So, as Gillian suggested, extinct food was also on the menu, possibly leading to the outbreak of a severe stomach flu which occured on the following day.

Chris L suggested Africa, and Africa has indeed been a popular location, and was the ONLY location until around 70 thousand years ago. I’m wondering if your mention of animals also included them on the menu. RMs are a bloodthirsty lot in the main – though these days a lot of them seem to go in for the tiny sandwiches cut into triangles  (crusts removed).

Cels suggested Tasmania, and I believe there … just let me consult Brown and Sempkin again…yes, a moot has occurred in Tasmania in 230BC(E) and 1606, though, of course, it wasn’t known by that name back then. And the food eaten would indeed be regarded as delicacies now – time makes everything a delicacy or, at the very least, exotic.

Belinda suggested Montville because it would cheer up the Pomps (and they can be a bit gloomy, thanks for considering their feelings) the local food is lovely.

I have to say I liked all of these answers, but I have to choose a winner, and I think I’m going to go with Belinda because (and I know this is a little unfair) Montville was where Death Most Definite had its cruel beating, I mean critiquing, by the ROR crew, and I really like the hills around there, and I could imagine my RMs hanging around discussing the business of death as the rain rolled in over the valley, much like we did almost two years ago.

Louise suggested London, to keep it all at a distance (Oh, those poor Londoners, they cop it with everything!) and bad food to get the RMs out as soon as possible. Interestingly, RMs always complain about the foods at these things, so I don’t know if they would notice.

So, Belinda, if you want to email me at teacupthrenody at gmail dot com with your postal address I’ll get your signed copy away to you.

Please let me know if you want it signed to anyone in particular.

Oh, and if any of you are interested, I’m more than happy to pop some signed bookplates in the post to any of the other contestants.

Posted in Australian Spec Fic Scene, Book Giveaway, Creativity, Nourish the Writer | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »