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Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Today I’m lucky enough to have Craig Cormick as our interviewee on the blog. Craig is a Canberra local, well he has been since I’ve known him.

craig head and shoulders

 

So Craig, your new novel is coming out, The Shadow Master. Can you tell us a bit about it?

It is a kick-arse tale of alternative history, love and conflict, madness and magic. It has everything except a car chase. (see link below)

So imagine a city something like Florence. A walled city, to protect it from the plague that is ravaging the countryside. Then imagine two waring houses, the Medicis and the Lorraines – both battling for control of the city. And next imagine each house has in its employ a learned man – Galileo and Leonardo, who are versed in the arcane arts of science, that can control time and space and the very laws of nature. So science works like magic in this world.

Then imagine two lovers – Lorenzo and Lucia, who discover that together they too can change the natural laws of the world. But each belongs to a different waring house that refuse to let them be together.

And amongst all this there is a mysterious stranger – the shadow master. He is a hooded man that carries technologies not known in this world. He seems to understand all the mysteries of the Walled City, and even the long-lost secrets of the ancients, who built the walled city. And he possesses the knowledge as to how Lorenzo can save Lucia – and save all of civilisation while he is at it.

Sword fights and mad clerics and bombs and magical shape-changing people and an army of plague victims and fire and water and a wise-arse mystery figure. Gee – I’d read it.

 

Craig can you tell us a bit about yourself (where you live, how long you’ve been writing, previous publications etc)

I live in Canberra, Australia. I have always been writing since – well, since I could make up stories. I have published over 100 short stories and 20 books (including fiction, non-fiction, children’s and adult books. (Well, when I say ‘adult books’ – you know what I mean!!)

My writing awards include the ACT Book of the Year Award (1999) for Unwritten Histories (Aboriginal Studies Press, 1998) and a Queensland Premier’s Literary Award (2006) for A Funny Thing Happened at 27,000 Feet… (Mockingbird Press, 2005). I was a former Chair of the ACT Writers Centre and have taught creative writing at both university and community level.

What else is worth sharing?

Well, in 2006 I was lucky enough to be writer in residence at the Universiti Sains Malaysia in Penang, and in 2008 I was even more lucky to receive an Antarctic Arts Fellowship to travel to Antarctica, which I recounted in my 2011 book In Bed with Douglas Mawson. Link here.

My day job is as a science communicator and I’m fairly well published in academic journals on the social psychology of public reactions to new technologies. I’ve written two ‘outside-the-box’ reports for government agencies on this, Everything you always wanted to know about GM foods (2005) and Cloning Goes to the Movies (2006), (http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0104-59702006000500011) and have also done a lot of talks and articles on Why Clever People Believe Silly Things . (http://www.cosmosmagazine.com/features/a-scientific-view-non-science-beliefs/)

I have been lucky enough to have travelled to all seven continents for work, and it was at a science communication conference in Florence, while walking around the Galileo museum that I got the idea for the Shadow Master.

I have had a varied and interesting life and hope it is reflected in my work.

 

Craig what do you find so attractive about the science fiction and fantasy genres? In what ways do you find it fulfilling?

I like to write across many different genres and styles, from fiction to non-fiction and literary fiction to speculative fiction – and to mix them up as well – but I really enjoy the freedom that spec-fiction allows, to set your own boundaries and styles. I was at a conference where people were talking about spec-fiction styles: steam-punk and clock-punk and traditional sci-fi and speculative sci-fi – and I just put my hands on my ears and zoned out. I think getting too lost in styles or genres can get in the way of things.

I just write ‘stuff’ I really enjoy writing.

Though I must say I really, really like the spec-fiction community. Very supportive, a lot of fun to hang with and not so black-turtle-neck-wearingly-earnest and self-obsessed as the more literary community.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m currently working on the Sequel to the Shadow Master– the Shadow Master meets Godzilla. Oops – I meant the Shadow Master in the Floating City, which is a city something like Venice, that is kept afloat by the magic of four pairs of seers, who are being killed by monsters in the canals. And I am using the original Italian stories that Shakespeare adapted into Othello, the Merchant of Venice and Romeo and Juliet throughout the novel too. It also doesn’t have a car chase.

What is your writing process? (planner, panster, write every day, write sporadically, writers block etc).

Each different book I write seems to have a different path to completion. Some I’ve just sat down and started toying with ideas and seen where they take me, and others I’ve meticulously planned and plotted out. I had a rough idea where I was going with the Shadow Master and let it take me aon a bit of a voyage, but the sequel has been more carefully plotted out.

My plan it to just get the words down first. Novels are written by doing a few pages a day. And when I’ve got them there I can roll up my sleeves and go to work on rewriting them. When things are really ticking the first draft I write is really quite good and needs little work, but of course some days things don’t come easily and the draft later needs a looooooot of work!

What do you prefer drafting the story or revising and reworking?

All of the above. The biggest buzz is when I’m working on a draft and say to myself, ‘Damn that was good!’ As if I’ve surprised myself I could have actually written that.

What part of writing do you find hardest?

Finding time to write amongst all the non-writing things: Job. Wife. Children. Eating. Children. Wife. Cleaning. Sleeping. Did I mention Children and Wife? Etc… Though I was once on an Australia Council grant and had the freedom to write all day every day and I found that after two weeks of bashing at the keyboard I couldn’t sustain the pace. As if I needed a lot of time away from the keyboard for ideas to germinate and work themself up so I could then put them down when I had free time.

What do you plan to work on next?

I’m finishing up a book on the science of the Australian Bushranger Ned Kelly. I’m editing a collection of pieces from all the different scientists who have worked on identifying Ned Kelly’s bones and remains that were recently located at Pentridge Prison in Melbourne. It involves forensic pathology and DNA testing and archaeology and detective work through the records and is absolutely fascinating. Watch this space!

(http://angryrobotbooks.com/books/the-shadow-master-by-craig-cormick/)

The cover of The Shadow Master

The cover of The Shadow Master

 

www.craigcormick.com

https://www.facebook.com/craig.cormick

Here is a bookmark version with the blurb.sm front bookmark copy

 

 

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The wonderful Nicole Murphy and her team of volunteers put on a wonderful day last Saturday (April 5), presenting the inaugural Canberra Writers Day and the Aurealis Awards. The venue, University House, particularly the Great Hall, had wonderful charm. There’s this long gold fish pond in the quadrangle that I’d love to take home to my place.

Conflux Inc with Nicole at the helm put up bid to run the Aurealis Awards for two years in Canberra. Nicole wanted to make it worthwhile for people to come up for the ceremony and thought up a professional writers day.

The first thing I have to say is that both events were very well run. Nicole and the team were excellent. That’s pretty awesome for a multi stream event. Also, I know it was hard financially as there was absolutely no sponsorship money to be had for either event. That’s pretty tough going. I did note that Escape Publishing put an ad in the Conflux Writers Day booklet. Awesome.

I had a full day and I presented a talk. The plenary sessions were pretty amazing. Joanne Anderton, Kaaron Warren, Ker Arthur, Ian McHugh. All of them had inspiring and interesting presentations on their processes, their journey.

Joanne blew me away with her writing process and her copious notebooks, all so clean. Mine are NOT clean but I do have a similar weakness when it comes to notebooks and pens. I do much less thinking though. But then Joanne is an amazingly talented author and bloody hardworking.

Kaaron shamed me most terribly with her talk on using the minutes when you don’t have hours to write. I’ve known Kaaron a long time and I’ve always admired her talent but also what a devoted mother she is and how family focussed. She’s an inspiration.

Keri talked about her journey to becoming a published author and a New York Times best seller. Her story was a amazing. She persevered when many would have given up. Thank you for the inspiration Keri.

Ian McHugh talked about submitting work, write and submit and repeat was my take away message. Ian always inspires me with his focus and the stories he writes.

I went to the shorter concurrent sessions, which were 20 minutes long. I gave one myself on ‘You are not alone’ the value of writing relationships. It was about writing groups, writing buddies, writing dates and writing retreats. But I ran out of time, which surprised me and I forgot to talk about the really good part of writing retreats- the socialising (read drinking and talking crap). Someone came up to me afterwards and thought I was going to talk about relationships in writing, you know science fiction with romance. I laughed so hard. I would have loved to talk on that topic.

Craig Cormick was awesome.  I have to reprogram my head to say I’m going to win at this writing gig. Marcus Armann talked about Evernote and Scrivener and I’m now tempted to buy the later writing program, particularly after catching Phil Berrie with his word frequency proofing/editing talk. Scrivener has analytical tools that does that stuff. I’m always repeating myself when I don’t want to.

Russell Kirkpatrick sorted his mob into top downers and bottom uppers in the world building sense. He’s definitely a top downer, planning his worlds and then writing the story. I’m quite near the other end. To me it’s story first with an idea of the world, but often I build as I go.

Chris Andrews talked about blogging, which was an excellent session. I learned something. See Chris!

The lovely Shannon B Curtis talk about using Microsoft Word to navigate our novels. That was also very interesting.

The Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild had a table selling books (theirs and others) and I bought a copy of Joanne Anderton’s collection, The Bone Chime Song and other stories and lost it. (so if anyone found a copy. It could be mine).

Overall it was great to network with people and also see the new faces. Again I didn’t get around to everyone to chat.

Congratulations to Nicole Murphy and the team for a wonderful event.

 

I didn’t take many photos during the day, except this one of Russell Kirkpatrick. (Happy birthday Russell for tomorrow!!!).

Fantasy author, Russell Kirkpatrick, presenting at Conflux Writers Day

Fantasy author, Russell Kirkpatrick, presenting at Conflux Writers Day

PS I’ll have to write about the Aurealis Awards in another post. My time has run out this morning. I decided to get up early to write. Though technically writing a blog post doesn’t count as writing.

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One of my favourite people in the world is Glenda Larke. Not only is she a wonderful, knowledgeable and interesting person, she is an exceptional author. I’m so pleased her next book is out (or coming out) that I thought it would be a good idea to interview her.

Your new novel is coming out, Lascar’s Dagger. Can you tell us a bit about it?

It’s the first book in a trilogy, The Forsaken Lands.

It is set in a fictional world, evocative of our 17th to 19th centuries when the expansion of the Dutch and British East India Companies led to colonial wars and aggressive expansion. The wealth of Asia fed the prosperity of Europe at the expense of Asian freedom.

In my fictional world, a lascar arrives from the East with a magical dagger — and nothing is quite the same again…Image

Glenda, tell us a bit about yourself (where you live, how long you’ve been writing, previous publications etc)

I’ve spend most of my adult life abroad: Malaysia including Borneo, Austria, Tunisia–but now I’ve returned to Australia to live, not too far from where I was born. I started to write fiction when I was a kid, but my first published work was all photo-journalism articles (travel and nature). My first novel was accepted for publication when I was 52.

Since then I’ve had three trilogies and a standalone published. The standalone, Havenstar, was the first published, and — weirdly — has garnered the most passionately enthusiastic reviews and the least negative ones, yet has sold the least copies.

Glenda, what do you find so attractive about the fantasy genre? In what ways do you find it fulfilling?

It enables a writer to explore all facets of humanity with greater ease than any other genre. For example, within the pages of The Lascar’s Dagger, a reader will find cultural misunderstandings and irrational prejudice; the tragedy of arranged marriage; the greyer areas of murder and piracy; misuse of inherited power; religious compassion and spirituality alongside evil, sanctimonious self-righteousness; sacrifice, bravery and honour; battles and … Well, you get the picture. In a fantasy, anything can happen. The secret is to make it believable.

Have you had any feedback from readers about your fantasy worlds and if so what have they said?

Each of my trilogies is very different from the next. The Isles of Glory is more of a kick-ass swords-and-scorcery. With intelligent, aquatic aliens.

The Mirage Makers is really a story about an individual stolen from her culture and family, rather as children of Australia’s stolen generation were, and how she exacts her revenge — and the cost involved. All with mirages.

The third trilogy, called either the Watergivers or the Stormlord trilogy,  is about the preciousness of water and understanding what it takes to live in a desert nation and survive. With magic. And pedes and ziggers…

Some readers have loved them all; others have favourites. As I said above, everybody raved about Havenstar. Probably the least popular of all was the second book of The Mirage Makers. Some people found that very difficult to read because it reminded them of their worst memories of highschool!!

What are you working on at the moment?

Book Two of The Forsaken Lands. Publication is scheduled for January.

What is your writing process? (planner, panster, write every day, write sporadically, writers block etc).

Not much of a planner. Or rather, I plan like mad, then never follow it because I think of better ways to tell the story. I write anytime, anywhere – literally. In the past that has involved sitting on  the floor of crowded Asian airports, or the deck of a fishing boat chugging up the Kinabatangan River, or in a study so untidy I can’t find anything…

I do find that as I grow older, my ability to write for long hours has diminished. Writer’s block? I write anyway, knowing it’s mostly rubbish, throw it out and try again. Until I get it right.

What do you prefer — drafting the story or revising and reworking?

Reworking & revising, because that’s the fun part. That’s when you decide that maybe, just maybe, this particular story is not crap after all.

What part of writing do you find hardest?

Almost everything?

It’s self-torture. Nothing comes easy. You pick yourself up off the floor and try again. And again. The weird thing is that I never thought of myself as a masochist — yet I must be, because I would do it all over again. Every bit. And still believe I enjoyed myself.

What do you plan to work on next?

Book 3.

You write under different names. Does maintaining these identities (blog, twitter and facebook) it take a lot of time? Do you have any tips for those of us who write under more than one name?

Well, I do double up a lot. My webmaster set up a system whereby I can send blog posts on writing/publishing straight to my website. My tweets go straight to Facebook.

Changing my name was at the request of my publisher at the time. They thought Noramly was too difficult for readers to remember. If I were to do it again, I’d start with the name Larke.

There are only two reasons to use different names: 1) because books flopped and a change of identity seems a wise strategy, or 2) because you write several different kinds of books. For example, Melody Silver for romance, Morgan Sheild for fantasy and Mike Storre for military sci-fi.
You can find Glenda on the web

Blog:
http://glendalarke.blogspot.com.au/

Twitter: @glendalarke

Website: www.glendalarke.com

Facebook: The Glenda Larke Page
 http://www.facebook.com/groups/105625628881/

 

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I am currently studying millinery at CIT in Canberra, particularly Traditional Hat Blocking 1. It’s fab and I love it. I will do a post later on my first piece, a Fascinator. I am rather partial to  hats.

On the Canberra long weekend, we had our first writers’ retreat at Dweebenhiem. Formerly, we called them Donnacons, but as this one is at Dweebenhiem and host by Matthew as well as me, the nickname is (wait for it) Dweebenhiemcon. A bit of a mouthful. Technically, this retreat was organised by Nicole Murphy and Cat Sparks and they did most of the organsing. I mixed things up a bit by inviting a number of local writers to pop in for a morning, afternoon or as long they wanted.

I was a bit behind in my work so the first day was finishing off a revision, which I’ve sent of on submission now. And the next two days were spent drafting the first 6750 words of a new project. I’m meant to be working on that right now, but I’m overdue for a blog post and I have Chaos Bound by Rebekah Turner to finish reading upstairs, so I’m doing this instead.

The weekend was an intense affair. It was like having a party from Friday to Monday. Friday Cat and Nicole arrived as our houseguests and they were dropped here by Kaaron and Tehani, so we had dinner and a few drinks. It was so much fun. Then the next morning the writers arrived and then we had dinner and more drinks on Saturday night, same again Sunday and Monday, which might have been quiet, we celebrated Nicole’s birthday. Phew! Hectic. Nicole had organised different people to do lunch and dinner. Saturday the lovely Kimberley brought lunch, Sunday Shauna made delicious pumpkin soup and Kylie and Russell made roast lamb for dinner. Leife brought tiramisu! Which we ate before the roast because we’d be too full otherwise.

The fridge started to fill up but Matthew said it wasn’t a real retreat unless there was too much food. To celebrate on Monday we had pizza and cake and champagne. I’m hoping at least some of the retreatees got some wordage done. Poor Matthew was out for day one, laid up with a headache. I caught him a few times playing a game. But he assures me he did do some writing.

Cat Sparks put up photos on Facebook and Flickr. See the stream here.

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Finding focus

So after being a time fritterer (see earlier post), I’ve got into a rhythm. I  have been writing for days and I don’t feel guilty anymore about not being focussed. I go back to work on Monday, but I can do so without being ashamed.

I finished a revision of two novels. One being 35,000 words and the other 57,000 words. Compared to one of my fat fantasies, they are small, but still a lot of work.

As you see from yesterday’s post, I’m back onto another MS, Emerald Fire, which I haven’t opened in two years and only partly drafted. When drafting that I wanted to make sure I could do something, that is, complete the plot. Then I realised it was missing something, the people interaction so I put it away with the intention of going back to it. As Ruby Heart hasn’t found a home and it’s the second part of that, there wasn’t much hurry.

I’ve decided this is to be my writing year, but I note in the schedule that besides the day job I have two overseas trips planned. It’s starting to get crowded. At least the Aurealis Award judging is done. Then again I realise I did say I would do the accounts for Conflux and present at the writers day. But both of those are relatively small things. Mmm actually I realise I committed to doing something else. Sigh. Crazy in the head.

I also sat down and wrote up my to do stuff on my white board. I have set myself the task of writing at least two more novels in the current series. Cough. Oh dear. I’ve left one off. Make that three! That’s a 35,000, 56,000 and a 80,000 word novel. I also have a wishlist in there of at least commencing either a Scottish historical or Regency Romance, but there is no hurry on those as they are dream projects that I would like to tackle, rather than what I think I must tackle. I also have a couple of MSs to revise in my pipeline, but they are on a as needs basis. And if by any chance I do all those, I have some other projects in the pipeline and bugger Into the Dark Glass is to be revised/rewritten and I completely forgot about that. MMMM.

So really, I’m not really looking around for something to do. I find the white board helps me focus on what I need to do. Then again I have ignored the thing on many occasion. Last year I knew I was going to be terribly busy so I bought a scheduler to put on the wall to map out everything (like a white board but with days). I was so busy I didn’t even open it and now it is rubbish because it was for 2013.

Anyhow, I’m taking the day off today and going visiting. I’ll be back in the grind tomorrow, or this evening if I have any oompf left. As I live with a writer, he perfectly understands if I am attached to my laptop. I love it.

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Emerald Fire is the sequel to Ruby Heart (currently looking for a home with trusty agent). This is a young adult (maybe) steam punk, Victorian gothic horror, romance (yeah!). I don’t normally posts bit of my work, particularly first drafts, but I’ve just opened up Emerald Fire, which I started two years ago. After  that long a break, I still love the opening.

Edit: Ah alas. I had to take it down. I realised that it contains spoilers. So sorry.

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I am usually a focussed person who gets things done. But I seem now that I’m on holidays to see time just fly past without me achieving anything. I thought these holidays would be spent industriously writing up a storm, churning out novels and revisions, but I must be a lunatic.

We moved house. Still not settled either. We have tradesmen doing repairs, which can be disruptive.

I was reading for the Aurealis Awards and had a hard slog at the end.

I’ve started weaving. Trudi Canavan came up for the weekend to give me lessons on my table loom. I love it. Here is some sample shots. The first is a log cabin pattern Trudi got me to do on my knitters loom or ‘fixed heddle’. It was so much fun.

log cabinOnce Trudi had me reading the pattern we set about to work on the table loom (after she and Paul meticulously rejuvenated it-the loom was given to me and it’s pretty old).

sample scarfBecause this table loom has four heddles, I can do twill patterns. Trudi set me up to do a sample scarf with different patterns. Cough, it’s riddled with mistakes, but the colours work well together.

loomThis one is a shot of the loom. It’s all quite new and exciting for me. I only do short sessions on the loom. I use it as thinking time (which is probably why I’m making mistakes). However, I am starting to understand the workings of it.

I bought a table from the recycle shop at the tip and am currently fixing it up. Photos below.

the beginningThis is what I bought for $50. It took almost all day to fetch a trailer, drive back, then find help to unload it and take the trailer back. No wonder I was knackered. Anyway it’s nice and solid.

Next thing you know I have to sand it.

the start of sandingsandingmid

And today I bought some stain. It’s not a perfect match. I was tossing up whether it was maple or cedar stain, but as it is quite old and varnish darkens over time. You see I don’t want to redo the legs. However, I believe the match is not quite there but I’m in the I don’t care phase. I’m not a perfectionist, obviously. Now I will wait to see if I leave it as it is or I sand it back and try a different stain or sand and restain the legs. Eep!

sanded

I went to Sydney to see some friends for a few days. However, I did read some Georgette Heyer.

I’ve been babysitting one day, doctor’s appointments for ear and now knee. These are passion killers for creativity.

Oh and I bought Season 1 and 2 of The Paradise, which I tried to keep to one or two episodes a day, but um…can’t. All done now. I can resume my normal life.

I forgot about the heat. The office is almost set up, but during the heat wave it was unbearable and I don’t want to run two aircons at the same time and I was too floored by the heat to come upstairs and bring my lap top down.

Enough excuses. But honestly I don’t know why time is flying. I think it may be a fatigue thing. If I was truly inspired I’d be writing a way like a mad woman.

I thought I got rid of my distractions, but today I’m going to an information session on millinery. Sigh. This is meant to be my writing year, but I’m planning a course to do.

Anyway, I’ve spent probably two hours revising a manuscript. And I’m here again ready to start. Well, gee, look at that. It’s lunch time.

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I’m very pleased to welcome Amanda Bridgeman to  my blog. She’s the author of Aurora:Dawin (and its sequel Aurora:Pegasus) a very enjoyable read that I found hard to put down and looked forward to picking up again. There were some lovely creepy elements to this book and I found I was really interested in how Carrie Welles managed in such a male-focussed world. The touch of romance was enticing and I thought complex too,.

Look out for the fan girl questions at the end!

amanda

 

 

How would you describe Aurora Darwin?

Ultimately it’s a Space Opera. It has a science fiction backdrop but it is very character-driven with plenty of action, romance, a touch of horror and a dash of humour.

 Amanda tell us a bit about yourself

I’m originally from Geraldton (WA), but moved to Perth to attend university and have lived there ever since (aside from a 19 month stint in the UK). I used to write a lot in my teens but then stopped as I fell in love with film. I went on to study film/tv/creative writing at uni, then did a bit of extra work on film and tv sets. Years later, I came full circle and found myself writing again. Other than a brief travel article in a local paper, the Aurora books are my first publications.

 What was your path to publication?

Basically I wrote the first 5 books of the Aurora series in my ‘cave’. By the time I’d finished the five, I had mustered up enough courage to let a few people actually read them, and it turned out they liked them! I then had the confidence to emerge from my cave and seek publication. I initially tried to land an agent in the US but I wasn’t successful (looking back, my query letter sucked). I then changed tact and tried publishers in Australia, and landed a contract with Momentum.

How did that story evolve for you? Or was it a progression? Would you say the characters remained the same and that the story changed around them or vice versa?

Aurora: Darwin originally went by another name and was only supposed to be one book. BUT, by the time I got to the end of the ‘Darwin’ story it had evolved and I realised that these characters had only just started their journey. The more I wrote, the more I uncovered until finally their true paths were revealed. It has become somewhat of an epic now and will be a multi-book series!

 What inspired you about the characters and the situation the story put them in?

With Carrie Welles, in a way, it was kind of like a ‘horror for chicks’ tale, in that I imagined the worst thing that could happen to a woman. In my mind it was being stuck in an isolated place,  not knowing who you could trust, and having evil things trying to get to you, to do equally evil things.  Captain Saul Harris was much the same, except he has the weight of the world (or should I say his team) upon his shoulders. It’s his job to try and get them home safely.

 Did you did a lot of research or read a lot of SF as part of your preparation for writing the story?

Having spent a large part of my life immersed in film, most of my inspiration came from SF/Space Opera films, to be honest. I feel rather under-read compared to some writers! My research was a mix of film inspiration and a lot of googling!

 What is your writing process?

With most of the Aurora series I was writing almost every day (social media wasn’t a ‘thing’ in my life back then). When it comes to my stories, I tend to have all the key scenes worked out in my head first. When I have the basic plot and key scenes all worked out, I then start writing and just figure out how to get from one key scene to the next as I write. So I guess it was a little of both – planning and panstering.

 What do you prefer drafting the story or revising and reworking?

I prefer editing/revising. Having had 12 months off from writing ‘fresh’ stuff (for the last year I’ve been doing mainly editing) and getting back into writing ‘new’ stuff recently, I realise just how hard it is (and time consuming) to get that skeleton down. Especially after writing in the same world for five years and now creating a brand new world! Once the skeleton is down (the basic plot & character development) then the revising is easier and more rewarding.

 What part of writing do you find hardest?

First drafts. It’s hard trying to move forward when you know it’s a bit shitty. But I have learnt that it’s okay for that first draft to be shitty. That’s why I like editing, because you get to make it better!

 What do you plan to work on next?

I would like to release another two books in the Aurora Series this year (which are already written), plus I’d like to have the new book I’m writing ready for submission by the end of the year. Fingers crossed!

Here is the blurb and yes more questions at the end.

A distress signal on the edge of inhabited space. A mission that is far outside normal parameters. Two very different people with one common goal survival.

When a distress signal is received from a black-ops space station on the edge of inhabited space, Captain Saul Harris of the UNF Aurora is called in from leave to respond. But the mission is not what it seems. Female members of the United National Forces have not been allowed to travel into the outer zones before, but Harris is ordered to take three new female recruits.

For Corporal Carrie Welles, one of the Aurora‘s new recruits, her first mission in space seems like a dream come true. Determined to achieve the success of her father before her, and suddenly thrust into a terrifying mission, she must work with her new captain and the strained Aurora crew to make it home alive.

When the Aurora arrives at the station Harris and Welles soon find themselves caught up in a desperate fight for survival. Station Darwin is not what they expected. The lights are off. But somebody is home.

Aurora Dawn

Fan girl questions

The book to me opens like a movie, in that we are following two people on an adventure and then slowly get introduced to the others. Is this what you had in your mind’s eye when writing the book? Yeah, I did. Harris and Carrie and the ones we meet first because I wanted the reader to follow just those two alone for a bit, so they could get comfortable with them. Doc is then introduced next because in terms of plot and sub-plots, he is the next most important character in this book, and warrants a ‘special’ introduction as well. The female recruits are singled out a little to enhance them as outsiders, and the rest of the Aurora crew are introduced together – as a team –  to have the opposite effect. I think it would’ve been chaos to introduce all of them together at once, and the slow introductions enable the reader to get to know the MCs well before the shit hits the fan!

Speaking of movies: do you have actors in mind for some of the roles? I was think Scarlett Johansson for Carrie

Oh yes! Being a film buff, I’m always ‘scouting’ who would be great in the roles, should my dream film ever be made . Here’s my picks:

Captain Saul Harris – I’ve always pictured him as Will Smith, but I’m also very keen on Idris Elba too.

Corporal Carrie Welles – I’m not sure about Carrie, but she needs to do an Australian accent – and no-one seems to be able to do one unless they’re an Aussie! Maybe Abbie Cornish? Scarlett Johansson is a hottie, so I’d sign her if she could do an Aussie accent (and dye her hair brown).

Doc – I’ve always pictured Colin Farrell as Doc, although he might be a bit old now (The character is @ 34yrs old)

McKinley – Chris Hemsworth is the front runner here (although not quite as beefy as he is in Thor). My friends like Charlie Hunnam for the role, though….

Brown – I’ve always pictured him like Ice Cube – but of course in a younger and bigger body.

Colt – Someone like Rutina Wesley from True Blood.

I’d better stop there or we’ll be here all day!

Did you need to do much research for the military stuff or do you have a military background?

No I don’t have a military background. My research was a combination of film, tv, and google, but I purposely invented my own military outfit – The UNF – (as a bit of an amalgamation of several outfits) because I wanted to do my own thing and not have every Tom, Dick and Harry telling me I got it wrong. But I’ve learnt that they still will anyway! Oh well. J

I’m going to ask this because I know some SF heads will want to know your thinking here. Gravity issues do not seem to be addressed? How did you tackle that? (Personally I don’t think it’s important to the story). Yeah, I’ve had one or two people comment on this and find it interesting. First up, to be brutally honest, I think it’s irrelevant to the story. To me it’s like any character jumping on a jumbo jet and flying to another city. Those characters don’t sit there and describe what the pilots are doing every step of the way – Why? – because they’re passengers and don’t know why or how that jumbo flies. Most of the ‘tech’ scenes in Aurora: Darwin are from Carrie’s perspective and she’s a SHARP SHOOTER on her FIRST space trip. Being a ‘protostar’ (green-gill), she isn’t going to know how the ship works exactly and therefore can’t explain to the reader what’s going on as the ship takes off – because she herself doesn’t really know. I made this decision on purpose – not to make my main characters either engineers or pilots for this very reason. You would expect Harris to have a better understanding of the ship, but again, most of the ‘tech’ scenes are from Carrie’s PoV so the mechanics aren’t explained in much depth. Ultimately, I took the view that it wasn’t critical to the plot in any way, so I didn’t think it made sense to bog the story down with irrelevant info.  But I know the hardcore sci-fi fans love that stuff. Oh well!

BTW both Matthew and I think the 4 guys in the biocell was the creepiest thing ever. Well done.

Excellent! I think they’re creepy too!

Thank you Amanda for a great interview. I’m looking forward to reading Aurora:Pegasus. PS the ‘doc’ was  a lovely character. I think I feel for him too.

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NanoWriMo

I’m jumping on the bandwagon with NanoWriMo too. I’ve not signed up yet, but November is usually productive for me. The tax is done. Christmas is looming. Now if I didn’t have this uni work to do, I’d be acing it.
However, I do have uni work to do. It is writing though so that’s kind of awesome.
I had hoped to finish Into the Dark Glass (first draft) this year, but I didn’t. I’m about 35,000 words in and I’m polishing the first 20,000 words, which I have hand it. Better get to it.

Happy writing

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I first tried to write a novel when I was 19 or 20. I’d thought up a Star Wars story and as I sat down to write, with pencil and paper. Then I thought I’m not smart enough. I had no idea what it was to be a writer and my love for reading was only a few years old. I had a young son and I think I was pregnant with my second. So I put down the pencil and chucked the paper away.

When I turned 40, I had just changed jobs and my youngest daughter was 18. My life was at a turning point. I was locked in traffic and I asked myself, what do you want to do with your life? My answer was I want to write. My first attempt then was a Scottish Historical Romance, which I loved reading. I wrote probably 700 words and thought -this is crap. Again i gave up. I didn’t have what it takes. That was in May 2000. Around November, I had an idea, a character appeared in my head and wouldn’t let me go. It was a science fiction story, with some alien sex (lol).  I started writing, and writing. About 20,000 words in, I bought a book called ‘How to write a novel’ and it was basic. It talked about length, about number of chapters and I sat down and worked out I had enough plot for a novel. I wrote about 100,000 words in 6 weeks. It was shit though. A download from my brain. But I’d written something with a beginning, middle and an end. The next 13 years have been about learning the craft, about exploring writing, building up skills etc.

I sent Relic (the name of the first novel) out for a manuscript appraisal and I started a fantasy novel, which was really hard work. Somehow fantasy was harder. I wrote that while waiting for the feedback. I wrote short stories. The first of which Trent Jamieson published in Redsine. Short stories were my thing for many reasons. I had lots of ideas. The genie had been let out of the bottle. Short stories were a good way to improve my writing, learn writing and being edited and getting feedback.

I kept writing. Revising Relic was a huge task a first, seeming much bigger than actually writing it. I mean there were incomplete sentences, wrong words and it was very first novelish. What do I mean about that? Well the character was in a room and the pacing was so slow, too detailed, that’s very first novelish. There was also info dumping etc. I probably revised it 50 times over the years. (more on Relic and its future journey in a later post).

In my early years, I had romance novel ideas. I never wrote them. I didn’t research romance writing, markets, conventions nothing. Because Relic was supposedly SF and feminist SF at that, my career seemed to be in the speculative fiction vein. Argenterra, which is the second novel I wrote was a fantasy with romance, rather than a fantasy romance. You see, I did enter it in a competition in the US, Rowena Cory Daniels back then used to feed information into the spec fic networks so I entered. Again I thought I’m not good at this. I kept writing. I had more stories in the back of my mind. Category romances. SF romances. I kept telling myself that one day when I’m a full time writer I’ll be able to try romance too. I even joked with myself as another novel remain unsold, that wouldn’t it be funny if I was actually a good paranormal romance writer. I dabbled in some paranormal shorts in spec fic markets. They were published but it was just something that I might do in the future.

In November 2011, for NanoWriMo I start writing a contemporary romance (again encouraged by good friend) . I think the MS stinks. I didn’t finish it as I got RSI. It was hard. I kept wanting to put a ghost in there or a vampire. I’d been working on a paranormal romance for a couple of years, mostly not working on it. I thought it was too hot for publication. (it was before 50 Shades of Gray)  That MS is completed now though.

Fast forward. No novels in spec fic published. Publishing going through major upheavals and structural changes. My friend, Nicole Murphy encourages me to go to the Romance Writers of Australia conference in 2012. Enter Harlequin’s Escape Publishing and I have Rayessa and the Space Pirates published. Wham. Bam.

Flood gates open. I am writing whatever I like. I still have a dark epic fantasy there looking for a home, but I just write. I’ve written a paranormal romance coming out 1 February with Escape ( http://danikristof.wordpress.com ).

I have another sexy paranormal novel out there looking for a home. I’ve got an agent representing my young adult/steampunkish/Victorian gothic horror/romance. I’ve had to publish the paranormal under another name, but OMG!!!  I’m writing romance, paranormal romance, science fiction, whatever. I’m writing.

That’s the funny thing about writing. Just write. Don’t hold yourself back for silly reasons– like I only write this genre.  Do it now. Don’t wait. It’s like saying I’ll paint landscapes when I retire. Why wait? Just go for it?

Do I regret not pursuing the romance writing earlier? Maybe, I’m not sure. Regardless I had to learn how to write. I cut my teeth on speculative fiction. But maybe, just maybe, I’ll earn an income from writing romance. Watch this space.

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