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Posts Tagged ‘Australian author’

I love the Christmas season….but!

I don’t like all the stress. So my Christmas fantasy is that there really is a Santa Claus and he/she/it buys all the presents and maybe cooks the dinner as well.

Photo by Fionna Sullivan

Talking about fantasies leads me to think about wishes…I wish that Christmas wasn’t so commercial and that we were less materialistic generally.

We live in a capitalist society where the dollar is the key. At times I think it’s a great machine that has run mad, eating up everything in search of profit, destroying the planet, churning through people and selling the idea that the dollar is what is important.

I’m part of this great capitalist machine and while I’m caught in this churn I can’t think of a way out. I feel deeply that there is no perfect system. There might be fairer systems. What worries me that such what is conceived of a perfect system is open for abuse, of power being concentrated in the few and then the system is no longer fair.

I also hate the idea of chaos and chaos is everywhere too, stirred up by the fight for resources and supremacy. It’s hard to shut it all out. I keep a fairly positive attitude but scrape the surface and it’s a bit morbid in there.

Mmmm I’m getting a bit dark here. Sorry! Some of my fiction, particularly, the Dragon Wine series is me processing stuff that happened in the world so yeah dark fantasy. Luckily, I also write lighter stuff so I do have an imagination after all. I think I write to escape. I used to escape into daydreams before I started to write. Now I don’t spend a lot of time daydreaming, I spend it writing. It’s a sanity valve.

I joined a book bundle called Into the Horizon with 22 other authors. It is coming out next year. That’s 22 novels in one bundle. It’s currently up for preorder.

Have a safe and happy holiday season.

 

 

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I’m very lucky to have Keith Stevenson visiting the blog today to talk about writing and his science fiction novel, Horizon.

keith_stevenson_colour_hi_res

Can you tell us a bit about your new novel?

Horizon is a science fiction thriller, where personal and political differences between a small group of space explorers play out in the cramped confines of a starship far from Earth, with repercussions for the future survival of the rest of humanity. I wanted to write something that set believable characters, with their own fears, weaknesses and biases, in an extraordinary situation while addressing the key issue of our time: climate change, how we respond – or fail to respond – to it and what that means for our future. It also has quite a bit of cool science about travelling through space and exploring new planets, but at its heart it’s an adventure story.

Keith can tell us a bit about yourself?

Well I’m originally from Scotland, but settled in Australia in 1989 and now live in Wollongong. I’ve been fortunate to be involved in some really cool projects, firstly as submissions manager and later editor of Aurealis Magazine, and organising convenor of the Aurealis Awards when they were still in their relative infancy; then founding my own publishing company coeur de lion with fellow author Andrew Macrae, publishing a lot of excellent Australian spec fic authors (and picking up more than a few awards); running the Terra Incognita speculative fiction podcast which featured the best Australian speculative fiction read by the authors who created it; and most recently launching Dimension6 the free and DRM-free electronic spec fic magazine.

All through that time, and even before, I’ve always been writing. I actually started writing horror stories for a class magazine in primary school. I’m a really slow writer, so I’ve only had a handful of short stories published in Aurealis Magazine, Agog! Fantastic Fiction, and ASIM. And Horizon took a lot of time to come together.

Tell us a bit about why you are write SF?

I love he hopefulness of science fiction, even when it’s SF where bad stuff happens, because at the very least it posits a future where humanity still survives. When I was a kid I read in a junior encyclopaedia that the sun would eventually swell up and destroy the Earth, killing everyone on the planet. That really upset me, regardless of the fact that fate was billions of years in the future. It was pretty soon after I discovered science fiction and realised that was our escape plan – the future imagined by SF writers is a future that has to come about in order to save us all.

Later as I read more and more, I understood that SF was also an ideal way to dissect and interrogate the present, magnifying trends or playing out ‘what ifs’ to demonstrate the underlying truth of the world around us. And it’s a genre that lends itself easily to amazing, adventurous stories. It’s an incredibly powerful and underrated genre. There should be more of it.

I understand that you have been working on this novel [for a long time?]. What kept you going back to this story?

First novels are pretty daunting. I was lucky because Horizon was my ‘project novel’ while I was studying Professional Writing Course, so my approach was very structured. I had to write a proposal for my tutor, exploring the ideas and forms I wanted to portray, and a detailed chapter by chapter synopsis, and then turn in 3,000 words every fortnight for group critting. By the end of it, I had 60,000 words of fairly robust text, which was a big leg up to getting the thing finished. Of course it still took a long time to finish, but I had developed the characters so much that I wanted to see how it all panned out for them, and how believable I could make the whole story. It’s the same with the space opera I’m writing, which I talk a little more about below. Those books have taken me years, but I have to go back to finish the story because I owe it to my protagonist. I’ve made a promise that I won’t leave him high and dry. But I’m also just enjoying writing a massive adventure.

Can you tell us a bit about what’s coming next (is there a sequel)?

Horizon was always envisaged as a standalone. There’s room for a prequel based on the events on Earth as well as a sequel, but I like the story as it is. The crew learn what’s happened on Earth while they’ve been in hibernation and the book ends with a very neat jumping off point that leaves the reader to imagine what might happen next. My focus was on the character interplay as part of the present action and how they deal with the dangers and threats that face them.

What are you working on at the moment?

Aha, well this is another long term project.  The Lenticular Series trilogy is a huge galaxy-spanning space opera with lots of alien species, space battles etc., which will hopefully see the light of day in a couple of years. It has at its core a really strong character study of a person (alien actually) who loses everything, achieves some sort of redemption but almost destroys himself in the process. That’s really given me a solid backbone to build lots of action and intrigue around and I’m really enjoying writing on such a big canvas.

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

I map out key plot beats, where I know characters will end up at point A, B, C on the storyline and then I tend to just write towards that beat. I prefer to write longhand for the first draft, because it really slows me down to think about the action as it’s unfolding. It also lets me follow impulses (and maybe stray off the main throughline to explore and develop related ideas). That’s allowed me to build in whole side plots I hadn’t considered in the planning stage. I pretty much go at that day in day out until I’ve written through to the end point – which may not be the end point I envisaged at the start. After that it’s into the rewrite phase, interrogating what I’ve written and trying to coalesce it and also look for missed opportunities, things that are not working, or aren’t fresh enough and so on. At some point I’ll sub the ms to Serapeum, which is a group of Australian writers who meet every year or so and is solely focused on novel development. If I please those guys, I know I’m on the right track. Then it’s more rewrites until I think it’s ready – to be put through the wringer by an editor, that is!

I’ve never encountered writer’s block. I tend to stop writing in the middle of a scene, so I know where to pick things up the next day. Richard Harland does something similar and he’s never been afflicted with it either.

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

I really like the discovery of first drafts. It’s almost dreamlike the way lines of dialogue float onto the page. But I also love the invention of revising, when you’ve just read something you wrote a while back and it suddenly falls into place with something else, creating possibilities you hadn’t considered before.

What part of writing do you find hardest?

Making it right. Work can always be improved and at some point you have to trust someone else – an editor – to help you do that. A fresh set of eyes really makes a difference and I am very much in awe of what a really good trade editor can do across a whole spectrum of things from making ideas gel better to really making the language sing. Authors are often too close to their work to do that for themselves.

What do you plan to work on next?

Well I need to redraft book 2 of The Lenticular and then start on drafting book 3. That will keep my busy for a long while, I suspect. After that I have an urban thriller I worked on as a screenplay with Paul Haines many years back. I’d love to dust that off and see if it can be turned into a novel.

Thank you, Keith. Those are some very insightful and indepth answers. Here is the book cover image and the blurb.

Horizon book cover

Horizon book cover

Thirty-four light years from Earth, the explorer ship Magellan is nearing its objective – the Iota Persei system. But when ship commander Cait Dyson wakes from deepsleep, she finds her co-pilot dead and the ship’s AI unresponsive. Cait works with the rest of her multinational crew to regain control of the ship, until they learn that Earth is facing total environmental collapse and their mission must change if humanity is to survive.

As tensions rise and personal and political agendas play out in the ship’s cramped confines, the crew finally reach the planet Horizon, where everything they know will be challenged.

____________________________________________

“Refreshingly plausible, politically savvy, and full of surprises, Horizon takes you on a harrowing thrill-ride through the depths of space and the darkness of the human heart.” – Sean Williams, New York Times bestselling author of the Astropolis and Twinmaker series

“Crackling science fiction with gorgeous trans-human and cybernetic trimmings. Keith Stevenson’s debut novel soars.” – Marianne De Pierres, award-winning author of the Parrish Plessis, Sentients of Orion and Peacemaker series
You can say hi to Keith on Twitter and Facebook and on his blog.

https://www.facebook.com/keithstevensonwriter

@stevenson_Keith

http://www.keithstevenson.com/

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Today I have a fantastic interview with Daniel, who lives in Canada but is from Perth originally. Thank you Daniel for coming along.

Daniel-de-Lorne3

 

I understand you have a gay romance out with Escape Publishing. Can you tell us a bit about it?

 

It’s called Beckoning Blood and is about twin brothers, Olivier and Thierry, who are made into vampires in medieval France. Olivier is obsessed with his brother, while Thierry’s heart belongs to another. Olivier isn’t exactly one to take no for an answer so their path through the centuries is littered with plenty of corpses and misdeeds.

 

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

 

I’m a Perth boy, born and bred, but at the moment I’m living in Toronto with my soon-to-be-husband. It was while in Canada that Kate Cuthbert from Escape Publishing accepted Beckoning Blood for publication. I wrote the book at the end of 2009 but it’s gone through a number of edits since then, and then took time to find a home. It’s my first published novel so I’m pretty excited about it.

Prior to that I worked as a professional writer, amongst other things, and studied creative writing and journalism at university.

Daniel, what draws you to the romance genre?

It’s not so much that I was drawn to the romance genre, just that that’s where I’ve found a home. I love reading paranormal and fantasy novels, but a lot of them have straight romance in them (a lot of the ones I read in high school anyway). The male/male market has boomed so I feel there’s more opportunity to write (and publish) the paranormal stories I like. As a result, they’ve usually got a gay love interest in them, which is integral to the plot.

What are you working on at the moment?

I recently finished writing the first draft of the sequel to Beckoning Blood but it’s nowhere near ready. I have a feeling there’s going to be almost a full rewrite. I’ve already rewritten the opening chapter and showed it to my critique partner. She loved it so I think I’m moving in the right direction.

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

I’m more a pantser than a planner. I start with a general idea about what’s going to happen but once I start writing, things can change quite a bit. Often in new and previously unthought of ways. That’s what I love about the writing process: the discovery. Especially when one element at the beginning, that you thought was innocuous, ends up playing a significant role by the end (and saves the plot).

When I’m writing a new book, I try my best to write every day, and I can usually do it. Once it’s done though, the thought of editing it is almost too much. It takes a lot of effort to get into the mindset to edit my own work.

 

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

Revising and reworking. My first drafts are always hideous, but I treat them like a first sketch of a painting. I’ll then go back and flesh out the detail, or rub sections out. It’s a long process. But like nearly every author, I wish the first draft came out gleaming.

What part of writing do you find hardest?

Not using clichés. When I’m doing the first draft, I’ll put them in as it gets the words down on paper (unless I’m feeling particularly inspired). Then later, I’ll rewrite as many as I can into something a bit more original. It’s hard to overcome the almost subconscious use the first time around.

 

What do you plan to work on next?

After I get the sequel together, I’ve got two more books to edit. The sooner I get them polished and published, the better. I will have to work on something new somewhere in there, otherwise I’ll feel like I’ve forgotten how to write. I have a few ideas (including one new one that has struck me) but I’m keeping them close until I make a decision.

 

Here is the cover and the book blurb.

The cover of Beckoning Blood

The cover of Beckoning Blood

Book Blurb

A gripping, blood‐drenched saga about twin brothers, the men they love, and the enduring truth that true love never dies — no matter how many times you kill it.

Thierry d’Arjou has but one escape from the daily misery of his work at a medieval abattoir — Etienne de Balthas. But keeping their love a secret triggers a bloody chain of events that condemns Thierry to a monstrous immortality. Thierry quickly learns that to survive his timeless exile, he must hide his sensitive heart from the man who both eases and ensures his loneliness…his twin brother.

Shaped by the fists of a brutal father, Olivier d’Arjou cares for only two things: his own pleasure and his twin. But their sadistic path through centuries is littered with old rivals and new foes, and Olivier must fight for what is rightfully his – Thierry, made immortal just for him.

Here are Daniel’s contact details on the web.

 

Beckoning Blood is available on Kindle (http://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B00JD7EYX0), iBooks (https://itunes.apple.com/ca/book/beckoning-blood/id852042874?mt=11) and Kobo (http://store.kobobooks.com/en-CA/ebook/beckoning-blood).

 

For a free short story, introducing the heroes of Beckoning Blood, head to Daniel de Lorne’s website (http://www.danieldelorne.com/the-boys).

 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/danieldelorne

Twitter: www.twitter.com/danieldelorne

Google+: http://plus.google.com/+DanieldeLorne

 

I can’t wait to read this Daniel. Best of luck and thank you for appearing on the blog.

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Ah finally I get to drag Alan to my blog. I hear rejoicing!

Thank you Alan for answering some questions about your new book coming out with Harper Voyager.

Alan Baxter

Alan Baxter

Your new novel is coming out, Bound, the first novel in your new trilogy. Can you tell us a bit about it?

 

It’s the story of Alex Caine, a martial artist fighting in illegal cage matches. His powerful secret weapon is an unnatural vision that allows him to see his opponents’ moves before they know their intentions themselves.

 

An enigmatic Englishman, Patrick Welby, approaches Alex after a fight and reveals, ‘I know your secret.’ Welby shows Alex how to unleash a breathtaking realm of magic and power, drawing him into a mind-bending adventure beyond his control. And control is something Alex values above all else.

 

A cursed grimoire binds Alex to Uthentia, a chaotic Fey godling, who leads him towards chaos and murder, an urge Alex finds harder and harder to resist. Befriended by Silhouette, a monstrous Kin beauty, Alex sets out to recover the only things that will free him – the shards of the Darak. But that powerful stone also has the potential to unleash a catastrophe which could mean the end of the world as we know it.

The cover of Bound by Alan Baxter

The cover of Bound by Alan Baxter

 

Alan tell us a bit about yourself

 

I live on the south coast of NSW, among rolling dairy country. It’s beautiful, we’re very lucky to live here. I’ve been writing since forever, even as a kid I would make up stories and write them down. I’ve got three novels out now, a dark fantasy duology, RealmShift and MagesSign, and a short horror novel called Dark Rite, co-written with David Wood. My new trilogy is coming out from Voyager soon – Bound, Obsidian and Abduction. Bound is out in July. As for other work, I’ve had over 50 short stories published all over the place. I recently sold a story to Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine, which is like the holy grail for me. I’ve been trying to sell the for a decade and it’s always been top of my short fiction wish list. My full bibliography is here:

 

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

 

I like the total freedom it gives us to explore any ideas we like. We can expand any concept well beyond the boundaries of the real world and that makes it much more exciting for me.

 

I know you have had a new addition to the household. How does having a baby affect your writing time?

 

It makes it much more precious! I wrote my first novel during my lunch hours at a 9 to 5 office job, so I trained myself early to make time whenever I could to write. Having a baby means I’m drawing on those experiences again.

 

What are you working on at the moment?

 

I’ve got a new novel under way – a standalone horror novel that’s a kind of organised crime/Lovecraftian thing with other stuff mixed in. It’s slow going with the baby, but I’m working on it while also doing edits and final proofs of the Alex Caine books.

 

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

 

My process is to make time to write whenever I can. No one can find time to write, so you have to make it. I also run a martial arts academy, so I can’t write every day, nor do I think people need to. But you do meed to be a writer every day – that means always thinking about writing and stories and characters even when you can’t be writing. Always look at the world with a writer’s eye. I’m a bit of a hybrid pantser/planner. I make loose plans and outlines, then wing it from there. I’m always happy to throw the plan out the window and go wherever the story takes me though.

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

 

Drafting. Get that first draft down no matter how shitty it is. Get it finished. I make notes along the way of things I think will need looking at later. Then edit and polish and edit and polish and edit again until it shines.

 

What part of writing do you find hardest?

 

The middle of books. I hate middles!

 

 

What do you plan to work on next?

 

Not sure. I want to get this standalone novel finished and hope the Alex Caine books go well. Beyond that, I’m not sure!

Thank you Alan. Here is Alan’s contact details on the web.

Website – http://www.warriorscribe.com

Twitter – @AlanBaxter

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Alan-Baxter/115972625096325

 

Book cover and mugshot attached.

 

 

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