Page 2 of 3
By Chris (2007-10-09)
Quite a few fantasy books have been coming out of Oz of late; do you think your nationality impacts on your writing – giving it, say, a particular style or flavour?
A: I honestly don't know. We're a culture that loves action and loves story. We're a curious bunch, we do a lot of overseas travel, we embrace the unknown. We're pretty short on pretention, we're irreverent, we don't take ourselves too seriously, which is something I really like about being Australian. We get the job done but we like to do it with a laugh. Perhaps because this is a huge country physically, with limitless horizons once you get past the coastal fringes, we tend to think big. And perhaps because much of Australia is so damned empty, when you start heading inland, our imaginations need to start filling up the spaces. We're a very free country, intellectually. We have time and space to let our minds wander. And we just love a good rollicking yarn!
What was the initial inspiration that drove you to write these books?
A: Every story I write has its genesis in character. Everything starts with the people. They tap me on the shoulder and say hi, and I look at them and ask, Well who the hell are you? What's your story? And on I go from there. In the case of these books, I was swimming laps in the
local pool and a single scene popped into my head: two friends, one noble, one common, brought to a place of terrible confrontation. One friend was about to preside over the other's execution. And I thought, oh! But how did this happen? How did you guys get to this point?
That was the seed of the story that became the Kingmaker, Kingbreaker duology. From there, I just let it grow.
Could you tell us a little about the journey your story undertook to be published? How does it feel now to be a published fantasy author? How has it impacted upon your life?
A: Authors can be very odd people. Sometimes I think they don't come much odder than me. For all that I'd been dreaming of being a published writer most of my life, I had a great deal of fear and insecurity to overcome along the way. I wanted this so badly I kept stopping myself
from continuing, because the fear of failure was at times absolutely crippling. I stopped and started writing the original standalone version of this story more times than I can remember. I wrote other stuff, started and stopped other stories, walked away from writing altogether for months at a time. Worked other jobs, ran my own business. But I always came back to it. I could not get these characters and their story out of my head completely.
In hindsight I realise that this was as necessary part of the journey. I had the ideas but not the technical skills I needed to write the story. As I writer, I wasn't cooked yet. Eventually though I pushed through the barriers and wrote the single volume version as a film script. It was the only way I could overcome my resistance and just get to The End. Once I had an actual completed story, I turned around and rewrote it as a novel. All that narrative prose -- I still find that challenging. I love dialogue. Narrative prose makes me sweat, sometimes. Then I submitted it, as I said before, and it still wasn't right. Eventually I got there.
It feels fantastic and surreal to be a published fantasy author. It's also an immense privilege. So many people dream of being a writer. So many people sweat blood over their manuscripts. And yet the sad truth is that relatively few writers will manage to see their dream turn into a reality. Not a day goes by when I don't stop to think about how incredibly lucky I've been. As for the impact on my life, well, I'm writing full time at the moment. I've got a solid two years' worth of
work ahead of me. I'm pretty much living inside my head all the time. It gets a bit lonely sometimes, not to mention strange *g* but the trade-offs are worth it.
It comes across in your writing, that you're clearly very much in love with the genre you write in – what book was it that first hooked you on fantasy, and are there any you'd recommend?
A: The first fantasy novel I read was The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, when I was in 4th class primary school. I've never looked back. In terms of recommendations, well, there are a bunch of authors I love and always read. I'll give you a few of them, this isn't an exhaustive list -- just some of my favourites. Writers whose work gives me great pleasure.
George RR Martin, Kate Elliott, Kage Baker, Lois McMaster Bujold, Orson Scott Card, Rachel Caine, Glenda Larke, Terry Pratchett.