Browsing "Guest Posts and Interviews"

Australian SF Snapshot 2016 – Kirilee Barker

Kirilee Barker is a twenty-something writer from Brisbane, Australia. Her first novel, The Book of Days, was shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards. She also received the John Marsden Prize for Young Australian Writers, and is in no way trying to pad this bio out, no sir.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m backpacking around Europe/Asia with my boyfriend for ten months, which has put a damper on writing time, but inspiration can spark in the strangest places and I was on an overnight train from Munich to Rome when I came up with the idea for my current WIP. It’s an odd epistolary novel about trying to restore the French monarchy, a girl who can grant people’s heart’s desire, and the 1889 Paris World’s Fair. It’s currently called Odd Novel I Can’t Genrify, so we’ll see what comes of it!

You also enjoy cosplay, do you have a go-to character, or do you play someone new each time?

I enjoy the costuming side of cosplay more than anything else, so I tend to care more about whether the character has an awesome look than having a go-to character. That being said, after certain badass events in the last episode of Game of Thrones, I might have to cosplay Cersei again. She is my drunk, evil spirit animal.

You can also check out my cosplay adventures and thoughts on tumblr at gallimaufrygirl.

The Book of Days ended with plenty of wiggle room for a sequel – do you have any plans to write any more of Tuesday’s adventures?

I would love to write a whole series about Tuesday! I’m about 30 000 words into the fully-plotted sequel, but I just wasn’t loving it, so I took a break to work on some new stuff. But if people want to read more about Tuesday and the gang, I’ll always be happy to write it.

What Australian work have you loved recently?

It might not be current, but I recently read Rosamond Siemon’s The Mayne Inheritance and loved it. I’ve been on a true crime kick recently and it definitely scratched the itch.

Which author (living or dead) would you most like to sit next to on a long plane trip and why?

Having just taken some pretty long plane trips, I know that I’m not in the mood to chat to anyone during them, so maybe a long-dead author that I could kick off the seat next to me to get some more leg room? Maybe Shakespeare? I’m sure he’d write a sonnet about it.

Check out other interviews from 2016’s Australian SF Snapshot here.


Australian SF Snapshot 2016 – Kylie Chan

kylie chan

Kylie Chan married a Hong Kong national in a traditional Chinese wedding ceremony in Eastern China, and lived in Hong Kong for ten years as an information technology trainer and consultant. When she returned to Australia she studied martial arts, Buddhist and Taoist philosophy, and brought these together in her nine-book ‘Dark Heavens’ Chinese mythology-based fantasy series published by Voyager-HarperCollins worldwide. She is currently working with University of Queensland academic Dr Kim Wilkins on a research higher degree investigating the new wave of digital self-publishing. Kylie is based in Brisbane.

Black Jade sees the end of an epic series. How does it feel to close the door on a world that has been such a big part of your life for so long?

It was epic, and it felt very strange to not have any more John and Emma to write. That said, I’m planning a spinoff for one of the main characters, John’s daughter Simone, who will be a young adult in tertiary study having to deal with the aftermath of the end of the series and its consequences for her. My ability to create this is predicated on having enough access and research to be able to authentically and respectfully depict local Australian spirits – because the daughter of a powerful Chinese spirit would undoubtedly come across the locals. If I can’t do that then I won’t go there.

At Contact you spoke about The Bento Net as part of your Guest of Honour speech. For those that weren’t there, can you tell us more about it?

It’s all Queenie’s idea! It’s leveraging the new paradigm of print-on-demand in an extremely creative way. People originally thought that print-on-demand would be printing machines in bookstores – instead it’s turned out to be localised printing facilities that can print limited numbers of copies of selected books – instead of the huge offset print runs, these digital presses can print as few as a single copy of a book. The BentoNet ( connects publishers who use the print-on-demand facilities provided by IngramSpark with bookstores who can act as distribution points.

A customer buys the publisher’s book through the BentoNet, and the BentoNet passes the order to the bookstore. The customer can then collect the book direct from the store (driving foot traffic into stores!) or have the book shipped directly to them. If a book is particularly successful then the store can order more copies to put on their shelves. Books are printed locally in the state or country where they are to be delivered to, so shipping costs are reduced. It’s a win situation for everybody.

We’re in our first month of production and it’s worked well so far – and now Queenie is setting up world-wide printing and distribution through IngramSpark’s print-on-demand service.

Congrats on the new contract with Voyager! What can you tell us about your new trilogy?

Exploding Space Dragons! It’s a straight-up science fiction romp, with space ships and aliens and interstellar political intrigue, set three hundred years in the future. I’m half-done with the first novel in the trilogy and having a lot of fun with it.

What Australian work have you loved recently?

I’ve been lost in Kate Forsyth’s Dragonclaw series, and Alan Baxter’s Alex Caine series.

Which author (living or dead) would you most like to sit next to on a long plane trip and why?

Can I sit between my two besties Isobelle Carmody and Marianne de Pierres? The three of us have an absolute blast at Oz Comic-Con together, we take photos of the cosplay and share our shopping. Being part of the writing community has made me so many terrific friends!

Check out other interviews from 2016’s Australian SF Snapshot here.


Australian SF Snapshot 2016 – Nicole Murphy

nicole murphyNicole has been telling stories for as long as she can remember and been writing them down since primary school. She’s had five novels published – three as Nicole Murphy (the Dream of Asarlai trilogy with HarperCollins Australia) and two as Elizabeth Dunk (contemporary romance with Escape Publishing).

Her two main occupations thus far in her life – teaching and journalism – have taught her a great deal about writing. As a teacher, having to explain the nuances of story to young children helped to hone the information in her mind. As a journalist, Nicole has won awards for her writing (in particular a series of articles on mental illness) and has interviewed people such as Gary McDonald, Noeline Brown and Roy Billing. She is now onto her third occupation – professional conference organiser where again, her writing skills are at the fore.

This year has been quite full on for you (to put it mildly!), do you have plans to return to writing before the end of the year?

It’s been a year I wouldn’t wish on anyone. The fact I was able to stop writing for several months and I didn’t care told me how little I had in the tank to write. I think if I’d tried I would have created crap. Thank goodness for fabulous publishers who are happy to give you a break when needed. I’ll definitely be writing again soon. I’m starting to get itchy – ideas flooding my head, fingers literally itching to type at times. I’m thinking I’ll be easing back into it by the end of the month.

How do you balance your time between the spec fic and romance writing? Have you ever found that a story that started in one genre worked better in the other?

Up until the last year I’ve only had a contract for one genre or the other at a time so it’s been easy. Now I have two contracts so I have to be really strict with myself about when I work on what. I tend to plan out my year (because I have to fit it around work) and I focus on one project at a time which helps. My main issue is keeping romantic relationships out of all the spec fic – but it’s such fun!

Can you give us any sneak peeks of future projects?

I have two more contemporary romances coming out over the next 12-18 months. Then there is the new Gadda trilogy which I’m working on with Ticonderoga Publishing. Fans of the first trilogy will meet a whole new group of characters but their favourites are still there from the first books and things aren’t going brilliantly for them all… Plus someone is going to make a surprising comeback.

What Australian work have you loved recently?

Defying Doomsday was just amazing. Such fantastic stories that just happened to feature people with disabilities of various kinds. I’m so in awe of the amazing short story writers out there. Also I’m lucky to be an Aurealis Awards judge but you’ll have to wait until next year to find out the great books I’m reading there.

Which author (living or dead) would you most like to sit next to on a long plane trip and why?

Wow – what a question! Ok – Jane Austen. I might as well fan-girl out properly and I adore her work. But really I’d be happy sitting and gasbagging with anyone in the industry here in Aus. We’re an awesome bunch!

Check out other interviews from 2016’s Australian SF Snapshot here.


Australian SF Snapshot 2016 – Dirk Strasser

dirk strasser

Dirk Strasser has won multiple Australian Publisher Association Awards and a Ditmar for Best Professional Achievement. His short story, “The Doppelgänger Effect”, appeared in the World Fantasy Award-winning anthology, Dreaming Down Under. His fiction, including his fantasy trilogy The Books of Ascension: Zenith, Equinox and Eclipse, has been translated into a number of languages. A collection of his short stories, Stories of the Sand, was recently published. His most recent short story publication has been “The Mandelbrot Bet” in the Tor anthology Carbide Tipped Pens. He founded the Aurealis Awards and has co-published and co-edited Aurealis magazine for over 25 years.

Aurealis is the longest running spec fic magazine in Australia. What do you attribute its success and longevity to?

Aurealis has been publishing continuously for 26 years, and we’ll reach our 100th issue milestone next year, so one thing you can say is that Aurealis hasn’t been a flash in the pan! A lot has changed in the time we’ve been publishing. We didn’t have email when we started, the first editions were laid out in old-fashioned physical paste-up, and the first covers were done using only three block colours without colour mixing. Looking back, it’s hard to see how we got through the early days.

I think the main reason we’ve lasted so long with such sustained success through all this change is our adaptability. I’m not a great believer in and head-wall banging when what you’re doing is no longer working. When we find that something that was once successful for us doesn’t work anymore, we change our strategy. We’ve gone through phases of full national newsagency distribution, bookstore distribution, high-volume overseas print distribution, and now we’re digital only. Just this year we changed again in our push to go global. We decided that we would open up to overseas authors while at the same time maintaining the number of Australian stories we published each year. The result will be that even more people around the world will be aware of what’s being published in Australian SF.

We’ve changed the process of story selection over the years. We’ve changed the editorial structure a number of times. We’ve encouraged a constant influx of new people and new ideas. We’ve also adapted in our story choices over the years and have deliberately avoided being stuck on a certain type of SF story. Anyone who’s read Aurealis knows almost any sort of speculative fiction can pop up. If it’s good, we’ll publish it.

Over the course of your career, you’ve been on both sides of the editing table. Do you approach editing your work differently to editing others?

It’s harder to edit your own work. I think you unintentionally skim more when reading your own fiction. You read what you think you’ve written sometimes, not what’s actually on the page. You read in a particular tone inside your head that sometimes doesn’t match the way other people would read the words. The best way to avoid this is to leave your draft lying dormant for as long as possible before you edit it. That way you can approach it closer to the way a new reader would approach it.

In the last Snapshot, you said that writers should inspire trends. What trends would you like to inspire over the next few years, either through Aurealis or your own work?

There always seems to be a new wave of writers coming along that are inspired by the very existence of a magazine with the profile of Aurealis within Australia. I would like to think that whatever new trend in SF comes along, it will find a home in Aurealis among the pantheon of previous trends.

In terms of my own writing, I would like to see a trend where SF finally takes its rightful place in the literary mainstream. There are still too many occasions where quality books that are clearly SF are disenfranchised from speculative fiction, science fiction or fantasy labels. We should all be fighting the “if it’s good, it can’t be SF” attitude on all fronts.

What Australian work have you loved recently?

I know it was published a while ago, and many people would argue it’s not SF, but the Australian book I’ve had by far t greatest emotional response to in recent times is Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief. I would argue that not only is it fantasy, the fantasy element is what gives it its power and depth. What other conclusion can you possibly come to about a book whose narrator is Death? The writing has a haunting simplicity. How can it be anything but fantasy when one of the narrator’s most striking lines is: “I’m haunted by humans”?

Out of recent Aurealis stories, I loved Bentley Reese’s “The Corpse Eater” in Aurealis #92, an unusual mixture of the lyrical and the brutal and Matthew R Ward’s “Surfing Time” due in September’s Aurealis #94, an unusual time travel story with a real twist.

Which author (living or dead) would you most like to sit next to on a long plane trip and why?

I would love to have a long chat with China Miéville. The weirdness of his ideas are off the scale, and I would try to get a sense of what his thought processes are, particularly the slake-moths in Perdido Street Station, the mosquito women in The Scar and the concept of unseeing in The City & the City. I’d probably end up trying to get him to change direction from his most recent works that seem to have strayed from “weird and accessible” to “weird and difficult”.

Check out other interviews from 2016’s Australian SF Snapshot here.


Australian SF Snapshot 2016 – Lara Morgan

lara morganLara Morgan writes for both adults and teens and is the author of The Twins of Saranthium series and The Rosie Black Chronicles.

She lives in a coastal town in Western Australia called Geraldton which is a long way from most places and too close to others.

Her mission is to rid the world of tea, one cup at a time. This is going quite well.


You’ve had something of a rocky road getting The Twins of Saranthium published. How does it feel to see the journey reaching its end?

It’s been a great relief to finally get it done as I started writing the third and final book several years ago and to now have it complete feels like a weight lifted. For a while I wasn’t sure if the characters were going to be able to end their journey but I’m glad they have and I think I’m mostly satisfied with how it’s turned out. Is any writer ever totally happy with their finished product?! I only hope the readers who waited so long for the final book are still there!

If you could write a letter to your pre-published self, what advice would you give?

Make a promotion plan and get on it! When I first started I had no idea how much promotion authors are expected to conjure themselves and was really unprepared. I still struggle with working out how I can do my own side of the promotion and what works, what doesn’t, especially given my geographic limitations. I would also probably tell myself to try to write faster and not agonise so much over the details because rewriting is the key, to use the time I had better. Now I have two small children I look back and think of all the time I did have! Hindsight is a cruel mistress.

What’s next for you once the Twins series is complete?

I have ideas for both a young adult and adult novel but right now I’m working on a screenplay for my Rosie Black Chronicle series. It’s slow going but I’m enjoying doing something different. I can’t announce that a film is imminent after I complete it, but I can say watch this space….

What Australian work have you loved recently?

Jaclyn Moriarty’s Colours of Madelaine series is fantastic and Red Queen, Isobelle Carmody’s final Obernewtyn book

Which author (living or dead) would you most like to sit next to on a long plane trip and why?

Can I only pick one? I think Urusla Le Guin because I would love to hear her talk about how she writes and writing in general and also because she’s just such a living legend of fantasy and sci fi writing and is one of the trail blazers for women in the field. She’s an inspiration to me. Plus I think she would just be great company.

Check out other interviews from 2016’s Australian SF Snapshot here.


Guest Post – Character Building with JJ Sherwood … plus giveaway!

This post is presented as part of the Steps of Power Blog Tour, to celebrate the release of book 1 – Kings or Pawns. Below you’ll find some great tips on how to develop a character’s distinct voice, plus a giveaway to win a range of goodies, including signed copies of the book!

Character Building: Distinct Points of View

It’s not just how they think, it’s how they speak as well


The characters in a story are everything to me. When I’ve long forgotten everything else in a book, the images and “feelings” of my favorite characters remain with me for as long as I have yet lived!

There are various ways to bring characters to life on a page and give each character point of view a unique personality. For example, two characters can look at the exact same scene, but will notice and remark upon different things. This is the most common method for well-developed character point of views, but for me, there is an additional tool that is the icing on the cake for most characters and stories!

And that is character point of view flavor.

What is this flavor I speak of? I’m talking about more than a character’s history, what she knows, and what she notices while she describes the events taking place. I’m talking about the flavor that allows you to hear a character describe something as simple as a chandelier and know exactly who is speaking (even if no name is mentioned). This type of flavor is rarely seen in force outside of first person point of views (delightful ones such as Bartimaeus rush swiftly to mind!)

But this same flavor can be crafted into a third person point of view and it is this flavor that makes it an extra special key to character building!

Let me give an example with several awesome characters from The Kings all observing the same event: a chandelier crashes into ground. (Even better: there are pictures! It’s like a picture book!)


The chandelier was actually quite lovely. Perhaps not as lovely as those chandeliers she had seen in Nilanos’ home, but it did its best in the soft candlelight to sparkle and gleam from the many-faceted stones.

However, it was rocking rather oddly. She paused a moment, watching its rhythmic swaying. There was something so enchanting about its movements that she could almost envision herself, a rich lady in the highest courts, fawned over by many handsome princes.

There was a sudden creak and groan and Alvena leapt aside with a silent yelp. The chandelier snapped from its golden chain and smashed into the ground before her, scattering the tiles with crystal and broken metal.

Ah! They’re terribly unsafe!’ she thought as she quickly slid away from all other hanging objects. She would not be getting one of those.


The chandelier was hideous. Yet another attempt at Sel’varian culture to string gold and jewels into every conceivable contraption. He was quite certain they’d have hung a dozen of the damn things up if they didn’t pose a threat to the integrity of the ceiling above.

It must weigh a god-damn ton,’ Jikun thought, eyeing its rocking cautiously. With all that gold-plated metal and crystal, a ton could not be that far off.

There was a sudden creak and groan and Jikun’s hand flew upward to form a wall of ice. He heard the chandelier smash into the marble floor, and as the wall dissolved to a puddle of water on the tiles, he could see that the hideous thing now lay in a thousand pieces.

‘At least the appearance of their ceiling has improved.’


The object was magnificent. Jerah had seen things like it before… of sorts. At least, of a similar color. Gold, like coins. But this item was polished to perfection and dangling with countless chunks of shiny glass. Jerah had not seen glass like that before, and he wanted desperately to have a piece.

But the object was much too high up, swinging about as though blown by some unfelt wind. At least, Jerah couldn’t feel any wind. He watched as it twisted about its golden chain, causing the links to tighten and twist.

And then there was a sudden creak and groan and Jerah dove to the side. The object snapped from its golden chain and smashed into the tiled floor, scattering the room with chunks of broken metal and glass.

Jerah was back on his feet in seconds. He could not waste this opportunity! He quickly identified an unbroken piece of glass and pocketed it.



In the center of the room, and the center of the ceiling in the center of the room, directly over the middle of the marble tiles full of their unlucky cracks, there was a chandelier.

‘Chandelier, oh chandelier! Thine beauty is diviiiiine! …Oh look. A pot.’

Eldaeus spun his way to the far corner of the room where the radiant pot seemed to glow in the sunlight. He plucked it up and admired it. He lifted the lid. ‘I could fit a bushel of apples in here. Or a dead cat.’

There was a sudden crash behind him, like glass and metal shattering across the floor, making it difficult to hear the fervent rally of voices debating about what color the cat should be.

‘I’m the master. I decide!’ Eldaeus pointed out. ‘…And it will be black. Black cats are just bad luck.’


I think the best way to make this work is to imagine the character in first person. Sometimes, if I’m struggling, I will actually write the character in first person and then go back and change it to third person!

Readers: who are some of your favorite characters? What do you think it would be like with that extra flavor (if they don’t already have it!)?

Writers: Try it! 😀 It is actually quite fun! Sometimes, it’s even easier than third person!

How important is that extra flavor to you?

a Rafflecopter giveaway


You can also check out other blogs on the tour by going to!

Australian SF Snapshot 2016 – Sylvia Kelso

sylvia kelsoSylvia Kelso lives in North Queensland, Australia. She often writes fantasy and SF set in analogue or alternate Australian settings, and likes to tinker with moral swords-and-sorcery and elements of mythology. She has published 8 fantasy novels, including Amberlight and The Moving Water, which were finalists for best fantasy novel in the Australian Aurealis genre fiction awards. Her short stories have appeared in Australia and the US, including anthologies from DAW and 12th Planet Press, and the online e-zines Luna Station Quarterly and Eternal Haunted Summer. Her novella “Spring in Geneva,” a riff on Frankenstein, appeared in October 2013 with Aqueduct Press. Her most recent publications are the related fiction “Dear James,” in the award-winning Australian anthology Letters to Tiptree, in August 2015, and another short story, “A Moment in Laramidia,” which appeared in May 2016 in the anthology Lightships and Sabres, from Wolfsinger Press.
The fourth book in the Amberlight series, Dragonfly, moves onto the next generation. Can you share your motivation behind the generation jump, and some of the themes we’re going to encounter in the story?

To tell truth, “I” had no conscious motivation for Dragonfly. From Amberlight on, it was the Black Gang, aka my creative component, who kept asking, what happened after that?

For Dragonfly, “that” was the astonishing birth/baby at the end of Source. The Black Gang still wanted to know, who was she, who or what would she be? And it took them four years to evolve the replies. But one day a “ground zero reverie” recurred to Therkon, the Dhasdeini crown prince and minor character from Source – and next thing I had the opening sentence of Dragonfly.

So this is most obviously a coming-of-age story, but for a highly unusual adolescent, and at base a traditional, heterosexual-duo lovestory – except not quite. Most openly, it’s the next instalment of answers to the question of the whole Amberlight series: what or who and why is the qherrique now?

Recently you contributed “Due Care and Attention” to Cranky Ladies of History, about Lilian Cooper. Out of all the cranky ladies out there, what was it that drew you to her? How did you first come across her?

I first heard about Lilian from Ariella Van Luyn, also at James Cook University, who wrote a story about Lilian’s house in her own Creative Writing PhD. But once found Lilian attracted me instantly. She worked in Brisbane, my state capital, she was path-breaker for women in medicine and with cars, and she was not just a “a character,” in Aussie terms, but the epitome of crankiness. Anecdotes of her retorts abound, and she was also notoriously profane, even as a field surgeon for a women’s medical corps in World War I. I’ve been chipped about cursing too freely almost all my life. Who else would my Cranky Lady be?

What will the next project be after Dragonfly is released? Will you continue on with the Amberlight series, or do you have other works planned?

I think the Amberlight series is now concluded; at least, the Black Gang have stopped asking, what happened then? But I do have a number of other projects, currently in progress, a novella sequel to “Spring in Geneva.” I’ve also finished other shorter fiction, including a 22K novella called “Death and the Maiden,” a prequel to the second Everran book, The Moving Water, which was accepted for an anthology called Maidens and Magic. So the next immediate project will be the editing and proofing for that.

What Australian work have you loved recently?

Somewhat narcissistic, but I really loved the range of notable women’s amazingly variant approaches to James Tiptree Jr. in Letters to Tiptree. I felt totally honoured to have been published in such an award-winning anthology, and in such company.

Which author (living or dead) would you most like to sit next to on a long plane trip and why?

There are many authors I would. lerve to sit next to, but Whatinhell wd I say! One ancient author I would want to badger anyhow would. be Polybius, over his missing history books on the Second Punic War. One live author I could sit next to would be my good mate Lois McMaster Bujold. We have taken a few car trips together, and we never have any trouble finding conversation topics, or differing without ending at daggers drawn. Especially if I could. lure her into returning to Australia, a long plane trip with Lois would. be just fine.

Check out other interviews from 2016’s Australian SF Snapshot here.


Australian SF Snapshot 2016 – Christopher Sequeira

Chris-SequeiraChristopher Sequeira is a writer, editor, and more recently a film and television producer – published in places like Australia, the UK, the USA and Canada – who specialises in mystery, horror, science fiction and super-heroes. He’s written scripts for flagship superhero comic-book brands, such as Justice League Adventures for DC Entertainment, and Iron Man and X-Men stories for Marvel Entertainment, and he’s created original characters and edited and published comics in Australia. His (and Dave Elsey’s and Phil Cornell’s) Sherlock Holmes: Dark Detective comic-book series, originally published only in Australia, has just been picked up by Caliber Entertainment for the world market.

In recent times he’s launched the ‘Horror Australis’ genre concept with the prose anthology Cthulhu: Deep Down Under with fellow editors Bryce Stevens and Steve Proposch, with follow-up collections to be announced, and he is also editing the 2017 anthology Sherlock Holmes: The Australian Casebook for Echo Publishing. He was the co-writer, with industry legend Mark Waid, of Dynamite Comics’ Justice, Inc. – The Avenger storyline ‘Faces of Fear’, and there’s more classic literary-turned comic-book heroes coming with The Exoneration of Doctor Fu Manchu graphic novel – partnered with long-time colleague W. Cher Chan – a project designed to catapult this literary/movie icon into the 21st century and address a few significant issues with the character’s history.

He is also working with different international film and television production partners to produce two feature films, and two television series, some based on original concepts and some on licensed properties.

Last year you published horror anthology Cthulhu: Deep Down Under. What were some of the highlights and challenges of crowdfunding such a project?

Moving from the crowdfunded book to a more mainstream editorial / anthologizing career appears to be evolving out of CDDU. Can’t say much more than that, but CDDU was hard, hard, work, which needed to be slightly supplemented by the editor’s own pockets but, BAM! things are happening as a consequence. We have worked with brilliant Australian creators and now all sorts of opportunities have opened up, names you would not believe are appearing, projects being slated. Now we just have to seal a damn deal for the original book itself and the creators!!! Getting real close, though, because of a couple OTHER deals. So, the highlights are all about doing good work just for the sake of good work, and persevering. We were so, so fortunate to have found so many decent, talented people to work with and support our vision, and the signs are there that a pay-off exists in one form or another. Keeping running, keeping dreaming. Never. Ever. Give. Up. Those that treat you right, be prepared to take a bullet for; those that treat you wrong, ignore and move on.

The Australian comics industry has grown considerably over the last few years. Are there any up and coming artists/writers that you’re excited about?

Two friends of mine who do comics who have been active for a while – to those that know what’s going on – are going to have careers that just explode soon: Artist, Marcelo Baez and writer, Julie Ditrich.  Also a young lass who was at a convention table next to Chewie Chan and I earlier this year really impressed us with a decent, positive ATTITUDE and MANNER that sadly is a lacking element in aspiring professionals; she was so well-balanced it stood out enough to now make me give her a shout: Danikah Harrison, she’s got the raw talent and the right attitude, she’ll make it for sure.

What’s next for you? Can you give us any sneak peeks of your current projects?

Fu Manchu is the big one. Can really only show the main image right now. Apart from the things announced (as per my bio) the things I have coming up that I can’t name are even more exciting. I am stepping into the anthology space with my Horror Australis buddies Bryce Stevens and Steve Proposch in a huge way – we’re going international with some amazing concepts and creators. I am also developing a really cool movie relating to an established superhero with movies in his past, so that will be fun, and another movie project will happen as soon as a contract is signed, so it’s so damn close I’m terrified.

Fu Manchu_poster_02

What Australian work have you loved recently?

Anything by writer Kaaron Warren, anything by artist Nicola Scott; they just turn everything to gold, those ladies.

Which author (living or dead) would you most like to sit next to on a long plane trip and why?

I only like sitting next to people on long flights that I consider friends!  They HAVE to listen to me talk crap the whole trip!

Check out other interviews from 2016’s Australian SF Snapshot here.


Australian SF Snapshot 2016 – Alison Croggon

croggonBorn in 1962, Alison Croggon writes in many genres, including criticism, poetry, theatre and prose.

She is the author of the acclaimed young adult fantasy quartet, The Books of Pellinor (Penguin Australia/Walker Books UK/Candlewick Books), which has sold more than half a million copies in the UK and the US alone. Her most recent novel, The River and The Book, was published with Walker Books Australia and UK in October 2015. It is shortlisted for the Wilderness Society award for Environmental Writing for Children, and for the YA prize in the Western Australian Premiers Literary Awards. The Bone Queen, a Pellinor prequel, is released in the UK, US and Australia in 2016/17. She is presently working on a new epic fantasy, Motley.

She was Melbourne theatre critic for the national daily newspaper, The Australian, until 2010, and kept an influential blog of theatre criticism, Theatre Notes, from 2004 to 2012. She was awarded the Geraldine Pascall Critic of the Year in 2009. She was performance critic for ABC Arts Online from 2012-2015 and has written for Guardian Australia, the Monthly and Australian Book Review. She is a regular columnist and poetry critic for Overland magazine. She was poetry editor for Overland Extra (1992), Modern Writing (1992-1994) and Voices (1996) and is founding editor of the literary arts journal Masthead.

The Bone Queen sees you return to the world of Edil-Amarandh. What was it like going back and exploring Cadvan’s earlier years after so long out of that world?

It was really interesting, more than I expected. It had been about five years since I had written anything in that world, and I’ve written a couple of books in between, both fantasies but of completely different kinds. And of course, you change as a writer. The Gift was my first serious attempt at writing fantasy (given that the beginnings of that book go back to when I was 10 years old…) If I were writing The Gift now, it would be a different book, because of what I learned writing the series. Possibly not that different, but there would be a few things I’d finesse!

I do love that world, and those characters, and going back was enjoyable in so many ways. I always said that I would never write another Pellinor book, there has to be a reason driving your desire to write the story, I guess what drives The Bone Queen is the whole question of what culpability and forgiveness and redemption might mean. Mainly the challenge was to remember everything I had already written, so I didn’t put in some detail that contradicted things in the later books. I think I managed, with the help of my editors, but readers have picked up on things that got past phalanxes of copy editors and proofreaders in three countries. There’s always something you notice when it’s too late!

It was great having the opportunity to write about some characters who are peripheral in the other books, like Milana, Maerad’s mother, and Dernhil. But I equally loved finding new characters, like Selmana, the other central character in The Bone Queen, my six foot tall red-headed smith.

The River and the Book touches on some important topics around cultural appropriation and human rights. What prompted you to write it?

I’m actually not sure. You write books about things that trouble you, and cultural appropriation and colonialisation and environmental destruction are things that trouble me. But really I started with Sim’s voice. I wrote the first chapter and I think I just fell in love with that character. It was a novel I wrote like I write a poem, just waiting for the next bit. I didn’t really think anyone would be interested in publishing it. But I wanted to find out what happened to Sim, which is why I got to the end.

Can we have a sneak peek at your next project? Will there be more Pellinor books, or do you have something brand new on the go?

I’ve got a couple of things I’m working on. One is a new epic fantasy called MOTLEY that is giving me all sorts of headaches (I’m in the middle of a huge rewrite, having written 600 pages of wonderful world building, but somehow without my central character). I’m really hoping this works out, I love the world, and I love my character (now I’m discovering who she is). The other major project is a kind of historical fantasy called THE STONE HEART, which I’m hoping to have at first draft by the end of next year.

What Australian work have you loved recently?

Probably the Australian book that has most hit me where it matters in the past year is Charlotte Wood’s THE NATURAL WAY OF THINGS, which is one of the best fictions I’ve read about how misogyny works. Gruelling and beautiful and uncompromising. There is something so simple in its conception that is so fully and complexly realised in its execution. So much admiration.

Which author (living or dead) would you most like to sit next to on a long plane trip and why?

I suppose I should say my husband, Daniel Keene, who is a playwright and who is good company on a long haul flight. We’re flying to Europe in three weeks’ time, so I get to test this thesis again! Otherwise, I would have liked the chance to have a long conversation with Anton Chekhov, whose letters are delightful and funny and wicked and wise.

Check out other interviews from 2016’s Australian SF Snapshot here.


Australian SF Snapshot 2016 – Sophie Masson

Born in Indonesia of French parents, and brought up in France and Australia, Sophie Masson is the award-winning and internationally-published author of over 60 books for children, young adults and adults. Her latest young adult novel is Hunter’s Moon, (Random House Australia, 2015) while her latest adult novel is Trinity: The False Prince, (2015, Momentum.) Her novella, The Romanov Opal, is coming out in 2016 in the And Then… adventure anthology, published by Clan Destine Press. She has four books coming out in 2017: three children’s picture books and a YA novel.

Sophie is also a founding partner and co-director of Christmas Press, a boutique publishing house with three imprints, Christmas Press Picture Books, Eagle Books and Second Look, producing acclaimed children’s picture-books and fiction. She holds a BA and M.Litt from the University of New England and is currently undertaking a PHD in Creative Practice at the same university.
She is on the Boards of the Australian Society of Authors, the New England Writers’ Centre and the Small Press Network. She has also served on the Literature Board of the Australia Council and the Book Industry Collaborative Council.

Congratulations on having your first academic article, Mosaic and Cornucopia: Fairy Tale and Myth in Contemporary Australian YA Fantasy, published! Fairy tale retellings have always been popular, but we’re seeing more than ever before in the current market. What do you think makes them so popular?

Fairy tales are wonderful as inspiration for fiction, as they provide both the basic plot framework for a story but also the wide spaces and gaps which a writer needs for their imagination to really take flight. Fairy tales don’t tell you what to think; they work on a much deeper level than thought, conjuring up images and archetypes and emotional meanings. And yet they are also highly practically structured, the narratives flows well. It’s the very paradox of fairy tale that makes it so rich: a mix of enchantment and earthiness; humour and horror; magic and practicality. The fact that most fairy tales don’t use names for characters but rather, roles (such as ‘the king’, ‘the witch’, ‘the youngest son’, etc) also means that a novelist has all that to work on and make their own. And of course, there are so many different variants of classic fairy tale tropes from across the world–you are not limited to one version of Cinderella, for instance! The other thing too I think is that fairy tales work both in literature for young people and literature for adults–different things may be emphasised, that’s all.

Earlier this year you published a series of guest posts on your blog looking at how authors and illustrators got started on their creative paths, and shared some of your early influences and literary efforts. Are there any books you read as a child that you wished you had written?

Oh yes, many—books I read and re-read many times include the Narnia books, the Tintin books(which I read both in French, my native language, and English), the Moomintroll books, James Thurber’s The Thirteen Clocks, Nicholas Stuart Gray’s The Stone Cage, the Famous Five and Secret Seven books by Enid Blyton, Patricia Wrightson’s The Rocks of Honey and An Older Kind of Magic, Leon Garfield’s books, especially Black Jack and Devil in the Fog, Alan Garner’s Weirdstone of Brisingamen and The Moon of Gomrath, Michel Strogoff by Jules Verne..the list is pretty much endless! As a kid, I also tried to write my own versions of similar stories–and I think that though my efforts were of course pretty poor, the very fact of doing that and reading the books over and over meant that subconsciously I was absorbing lessons about narrative, characterisation, plot, pace, etc. I’m still indebted to those works, and what my aim with my own work has always been to try and recreate that sense of intoxicating enchantment and immersion that those books evoked in me as a young reader. I’m also proud to say that not only have I written about some of these books in various magazines and journals, but this year I was part of the publishing team that brought back Jules Verne’s wonderful adventure novel Michel Strogoff(which we published as Jules Verne’s Mikhail Strogoff), in the first English-language translation in over a hundred years, by the fabulous Australian translator Stephanie Smee (see This really felt like giving back to a work that had coloured my childhood reading with such verve and vividness!

You’re writing Ghost Squad as part of your creative writing PhD at the moment, has this affected how you have approached writing the book?

Yes, it has. I’m writing the novel at the same time as I’m researching material for its accompanying academic exegesis, which is on the very interesting speculative fiction sub-genre of afterlife fiction, specifically YA afterlife fiction (ie novels set in the afterlife). This means that not only am I reading a lot of really fabulous novels that I would not necessarily have come across otherwise, but as part of the cultural context of afterlife fiction, I’m taking in some very interesting background stuff, such as Victorian gothic and ghost stories, and screen-based narratives, especially TV series, which have the general theme of afterlife, or return from the dead: including Les Revenants(the French series, known as The Returned in English), the Australian Tv series The Glitch, Resurrection(US) and also the very successful earlier series, Lost. It’s fascinating stuff! Because of this, I’m coming up with all kinds of insights and ideas which are feeding back into the creative work as much as the academic work. And vie versa too–my work on the novel is feeding back into the academic study. As a synergy, it’s working really well.

What Australian work have you loved recently?

I’ve really enjoyed Avery and its sequel Thorne, by Charlotte McConaghy; and also at the moment am deep in the intrigue of the latest Liane Moriarty, Truly, Madly, Guilty.

Which author (living or dead) would you most like to sit next to on a long plane trip and why?

Right now, I’d say the author of the book that has most struck me this year: the superb novel, Laurus, written by Russian writer Eugene Vodolazkin, and magisterially translated by Lisa Hayden. Vodolazkin is a medievalist as well as a novelist, and his portrait of the Middle Ages through the life of a young healer is one of the best ever, certainly since the great Sigrid Undset’s ‘Kristin Lavransdatter’. Laurus is an absolutely beautiful, magical novel, deeply spiritual yet playful, full of tragedy and joy, humour and grotesqueries, warmly human yet one of the most extraordinary examples of mysticism and the numinous in prose that I have ever read. It plays all sorts of tricks with language and structure and jumps from time to time yet it’s totally accessible and pacy. Just amazing! I would love to shake the author’s hand and thank him for such a wonderful reading experience, and also to talk at length about the Middle Ages, Russia, writing, spirituality.. There would be just so much to talk about!

Check out other interviews from 2016’s Australian SF Snapshot here.