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  1. #1
    I AM too a mod! Moderator Rocket Sheep's Avatar
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    The Black Crusade

    Hi Richard, and welcome to sffworld. I hope you're recovering well from your close encounter with Mr Smythe. You can never tell when these stalkers are going to turn up and beat the living daylights out of you at cons, can you?

    I just want to tell you that The Black Crusade changed my life... well... okay, I'm exaggerating... it made me pull faces and snigger hysterically on the train which got me funny looks... but no other book has ever got me so much attention on the train!

    The evilness, the debauchery, the strange machines and unusual characters... I adored it. Thank you.

    Here's a link to Richard's Black Crusade page for those who've never heard of The Black Crusade

  2. #2
    Keeper of the Hikari Radthorne's Avatar
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    Welcome, Richard, to Australian Speculative Fiction Writers World - oops, I mean SFFWorld. (Not that our Sheepie hasn't been recruiting, mind you...)

    Enjoy your stay among us, and take care to avoid slanderous words against editors, or you shall be the recipient of a terribly long post from our resident editor-in-chief, KatG (who is, beneath the many words, a very wise soul indeed).

    Now, where did I lay down those sheep sheers...

  3. #3
    I AM too a mod! Moderator Rocket Sheep's Avatar
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    Hey, I only said that I'd like to get drunk with JKR's editors and have one of those discussions that you regret the next day but hope that everyone else was drunker than you so they can't remember it. Perfectly normal behaviour really. Not worth accusatory statements using words like "eviscerating".

    Besides, Richard's editors are much better... altho they did put in disclaimer footnotes and let people scribble on the Black Crusade before it went to press... probably happened when someone got them into a drunk discussion or some other perfectly normal behaviour.

  4. #4
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    train sniggers

    Quote Originally Posted by Rocket Sheep
    Hi Richard, and welcome to sffworld. I hope you're recovering well from your close encounter with Mr Smythe. You can never tell when these stalkers are going to turn up and beat the living daylights out of you at cons, can you?

    I just want to tell you that The Black Crusade changed my life... well... okay, I'm exaggerating... it made me pull faces and snigger hysterically on the train which got me funny looks... but no other book has ever got me so much attention on the train!

    The evilness, the debauchery, the strange machines and unusual characters... I adored it. Thank you.

    Here's a link to Richard's Black Crusade page for those who've never heard of The Black Crusade
    Hi Rocket sheep!

    You have to admit, the publisher's warning on the back cover of The Black Crusade does say 'Do not read this book on public transport (or crowded places or or in the company of senior citizens)' So what do you do - you read it on the train! No wonder everyone was staring at you! (Maybe some of them were senior citizens too!)

    You mention strange machines and unusual characters and I'm forced to recognise, these are common features of my writing! I love bizarre and grotesque characters - in The Black Crusade, I was going for psychological grotesques (whereas in The Vicar of Morbing Vyle, the book's predecessor, I was going for more simple physical grotesques). Right now, I'm in the middle of a new fantasy called Juggernaut - guess what, bizarre and grotesque characters again. Also, strange machines - the Juggernaut itself. I'm always drawn to dark crazy machinery and industrial nightmare type settings!

    I'm not so sure that evilness or debauchery feature so often - but yes, there is a kind of monstrous behaviour by a whole society in Juggernaut. No debauchery, though - only extreme self-repression and a fear of debauchery!

    On the other hand, my next book to come out - "Sassycat", in October, from Scholastic - doesn't have machines or industrial settings. It's an animal story set in the microcosmos of a cat-size world. I suppose the characters are unusual because they're all animal types ... and there is evil in the form a supernatural army spreading out from a nearby cemetery.

    I suppose darkness with an edge of comedy or comedy with an edge of darkness is mostly what I write (so far as my publishers will let me!)

    Cheers
    Richard

  5. #5
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    Hi Richard,
    Nice to see yet another Aussie author join us, and from Wollongong no less. Welcome to the forum.

    Given your comment, "I suppose darkness with an edge of comedy or comedy with an edge of darkness is mostly what I write", how do you feel this relates to your earlier YA work? Is it a conscious shift in terms of marketability or something you feel more comfortable including in your writing?

    Another question that has interested me for a while: do you receive much feedback about where your books are selling within Australia? I notice your work displayed prominently in certain Wollongong book stores and was wondering if you get a bit of a home town advantage in terms of book sales here?

    Thanks for spending the time to contribute and provide some feedback.

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    darkness & comedy

    Quote Originally Posted by Eventine
    Hi Richard,
    Nice to see yet another Aussie author join us, and from Wollongong no less. Welcome to the forum.

    Given your comment, "I suppose darkness with an edge of comedy or comedy with an edge of darkness is mostly what I write", how do you feel this relates to your earlier YA work?

    Is it a conscious shift in terms of marketability or something you feel more comfortable including in your writing?

    Another question that has interested me for a while: do you receive much feedback about where your books are selling within Australia? I notice your work displayed prominently in certain Wollongong book stores and was wondering if you get a bit of a home town advantage in terms of book sales here?

    Thanks for spending the time to contribute and provide some feedback.
    Hi Eventine!

    Not really a question or earlier or later in my writing career - I've shifted this way and that all along. I started with the extreme of black and comedy in The Vicar of Morbing Vyle, then produced the 3 Eddon and Vail SF thrillers - not comic except in minor strands, but working with some very dark crime-horror material. The YA Ferren books came later, along with 'Walter Wants to be a Werewolf' for younger readers. My next book out, "Sassycat", is for 10-14 year olds (and cat-lovers of all ages!) I guess when I started, I didn't really think of orienting my writing towards younger readers - now I switch across from young to old (it's been said that The Black Crusade isn't really suitable even for adult readers!) depending on the nature of the story.

    I think it's partly what I've discovered in myself in the process of writing - I find I really enjoy writing comedy and it seems to work. The dark tendency has always been there, but whereas publishers would once have been wary of such material in a YA or children's fantasy, they now look for it. (It was what my publisher especially loved about Sassycat, for example.)

    Second question - No, publishers are reluctant to release data on individual bookstores (mainly because it makes for bad karma if authors go round hassling particular bookshop owners). I do have a home town advantage in Wollongong - unfortunately, it's liable to get lost when everything is done by computer statistics. I'm thinking of chain bookstores - their head office computers aren't geared to take account of small (but significant!) factors like home town advantage.

    Cheers
    richard

  7. #7
    I AM too a mod! Moderator Rocket Sheep's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by richardharland

    You have to admit, the publisher's warning on the back cover of The Black Crusade does say 'Do not read this book on public transport
    Oh... but I like a challenge.

    Right now, I'm in the middle of a new fantasy called Juggernaut - guess what, bizarre and grotesque characters again. Also, strange machines - the Juggernaut itself. I'm always drawn to dark crazy machinery and industrial nightmare type settings!

    I'm not so sure that evilness or debauchery feature so often - but yes, there is a kind of monstrous behaviour by a whole society in Juggernaut. No debauchery, though - only extreme self-repression and a fear of debauchery!
    Sounds like my kind of book! I don't suppose you know Adam Browne do you, and if you do, could I sit in on a discussion between you and take notes?

    There's quite an enclave of writerly types going on out in Wollongong. Does it help to be surrounded by creative types?

    How do you keep your plots under control? They're so complicated and twisting, my head would explode. Do you have a method for keeping things on the winding path?

  8. #8
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    plots

    Quote Originally Posted by Rocket Sheep
    Oh... but I like a challenge.



    Sounds like my kind of book! I don't suppose you know Adam Browne do you, and if you do, could I sit in on a discussion between you and take notes?

    There's quite an enclave of writerly types going on out in Wollongong. Does it help to be surrounded by creative types?

    How do you keep your plots under control? They're so complicated and twisting, my head would explode. Do you have a method for keeping things on the winding path?
    Hi Rocket Sheep!

    I've never had a discussion with Adam, but I already respect his mind and his work!

    What's good about the creative types in Wollongong is that we meet every month in a critique group, to give feedback on recent work. From being a totally solitary kind of writer, I've now become a writer who truly values other people's suggestions. And let's face it, it's very hard to share writing with anyone who isn't doing it themselves.

    I love to develop a twisting turning narrative, juggling many strands up in the air at the same time. No magic trick to it, alas - I think the secret is practice and experience. I used to struggle with plots endlessly when I was failing to finish dozens of attempted novels before The Vicar of Morbing Vyle - and even The Vicar, I had to totally restart and rewrite several times. It's definitely not that my memory has improved! Maybe it's more that, with experience, you get a sense of what's going to be needed ahead before you get there. In the past, I both overplotted (too rigid about what had to happen) and underplotted (difficult bits I just hoped would turn out ok in the event) - now I can sort of sense when things are set up right without tying myself down to specifics.

    Cheers
    Richard

  9. #9
    I AM too a mod! Moderator Rocket Sheep's Avatar
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    It becomes a sense! Fantastic. There's hope for me. Memory and methodology would be much harder.

    I'm in the SuperNOVAs with Mr Browne, which is why I know his work so well. If you're interested in what he's been up to lately you could look here Adam's site.

    I happened to mention the sex scene in Black Crusade to some of the male SuperNOVAns and I think I won you some new fans. We're a bit of a dark carnal crew down here.

    I've noticed a difference between the work coming out of SuperNOVA to the work coming out of say the Thorbies in Sydney. Do you see that in your group? Do you start to rub off on each other?

  10. #10
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    Hi again!

    Hi Rocket sheep!

    You must be a dark carnal crew! Long live SuperNOVA, I say!

    Haven't noticed any rubbing off of influence between members of the Wollongong critique group. Maybe because we're almost all fairly well established ... too late to change our ways!

    Cheers
    Richard

  11. #11
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    Richard,
    Are any of the other authors in your group writing speculative fiction? If so, are you allowed to mention their names so I can look into having a read?

    If they aren't writing spec fic, how do you feel writers "outside the genre" respond to your content?

  12. #12
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    Hi Eventine!

    Hi Eventine!

    Well, you'd know Rob Hood and Cat Sparks as spec fic writers. The least speculative type writer in the group would be Ann Charlton (Whitehead), whose novels can include a sort of magical realist element, but she really has nothing to do with the spec fic scene. But she's not closed off to the speculative genres either - she's a very wide reader and very good at pointing things out.

    I think it's actually not good to get feedback only from people who are thoroughly familiar with the genre. In SF, for example, an afficionado will take a whole lot of things for granted as standard tropes - but is that really good for an author? I reckon the best imaginative works are the ones that create from the ground up - not relying on a level of pre-established knowledge. Guess I want to win people over to (in my case) dark fantasy, rather than appeal only to people who're already submerged in the genre.

    I often feel guilty that I don't have time to do more reading in other genres - there's a lot of inspiration to be gained from other fields.

    Cheers
    Richard

  13. #13
    I AM too a mod! Moderator Rocket Sheep's Avatar
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    I've been to bookstores in Sydney and have noticed your books and Robert's and Australian authors in general, filling the shelves of the sf section (a Vilewatch note fell out of every single one of them! Don't worry, Vilewatch, I put them back), but I never see that level of local saturation in Melbourne.

    Was I just sent to a really good bookstore (my publisher in Marrickville needed to lose me for a few hours) or is that kind of support common in Sydney?

    Down here to get a Harland or Hood I'd have to take and ISBN and a publisher's name to a bookstore or go to a specialist spec fic shop.

  14. #14
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    vileness abounding!

    Hi Rocket sheep!

    A note from vilewatch in copies of my books! It's that Martin Smythe, sneaking around and claiming he wrote The Black Crusade again!

    Normally I think of almost every capital city in Australia as giving more support to local authors than Sydney - I'm glad to have my cynicism rebuffed! In Melbourne, it's maybe because there's a lack of sf/fantasy speciality shops in the city (unless that new one, which I haven't yet visited).

    Cheers
    richard

  15. #15
    I AM too a mod! Moderator Rocket Sheep's Avatar
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    I was stumbling back from Chinatown late one night and happened upon one about the size of a shoebox in La Trobe St... but I never trust the things I see at 3am after a night in Chinatown (have you been to those clubs tucked down the alleys behind the restaurants? There's only so many concoctions you can drink while sitting in a wheelchair in a disused laboratory and still maintain a hold onto reality. It's the gurney and stirrups in the Female Hygene room that really blow it for me. Er... it almost sounds like I'm making it up, huh? Perhaps it is something Vilewatch should look into).

    I've had a look at the Vilewatch site... and I think underneath all that rampant fanaticism there may be a grain of truth to Martin's claims. In any case it can't hurt to keep a look out for vileness. The most worrying thing about the site tho is that Dear Donna looks like the evil twin of Cat Sparks... and I here I was convinced that Cat Sparks was the evil one.

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