Trudi Canavan is an international bestselling author whose novels have been translated into more than 20 languages. Following the paperback release of THIEF’S MAGIC (UK | US | ANZ), the start of Trudi’s brand new adventure series, she shares some thoughts on what it’s like to be an author based in Australia whose novels are sold around the world.
The Tyranny of Distance is the name of a history book published back in the 60s, and the title has become a phrase used whenever Australians discuss the difficulty of doing business – or anything, really – in a world where most English-speaking nations are far, far away. The difficulties of, for instance, trading with customers half a world away is one reason why Australia produced a lot of wool – it doesn’t deteriorate on long sea voyages.
Sometimes, when I’m abroad, I’m asked what it is like to be an Australian author who is a bestseller outside of my country, or why Australian fantasy is so good. I often think of this phrase, but don’t use it because I am unsure if anyone outside of Australia will know and understand it. Yet I think distance has a lot to do with the answer to both questions. These are some of the ways:
Since shipping is costly, not all books printed outside of Australia are sold here. Until ebooks were easily accessible we were only reading the most popular authors. Since authors draw, consciously and unconsciously, on what we’ve read and seen before, we have been emulating or subverting the best of the genre. Raised on the best, is it any surprise that Australian fantasy writers do well? However…
When it comes to who is writing fantasy, we aren’t as influenced by assumptions and attitudes in other markets. For example, I did not encounter anyone who thought that mainly men write epic fantasy until I ventured overseas in 2011. In fact, when it came to who reads fantasy, I grew up in an era and place where boys were more likely to read science fiction and girls to prefer fantasy. Little wonder, perhaps, that by 2012 two-thirds of traditionally published Australian fantasy writers for adults were women. However, when it comes to being published overseas, and now that the the local fantasy imprints are global, we have this and other differences in our markets to deal with.
Plane fares to and from Australia are expensive, and jet lag means Aussie authors can’t nip over to the other side of the world for a weekend and function as well as someone who hasn’t just had their sleep cycle reversed. So when we do travel overseas we tend to stay longer, which means taking more time away from writing. Even something as simple as giving away a signed copies of your book is more costly than it is for our overseas counterparts, because postage ranges from the same or double the value of the book. But on the other hand…
Email, the world wide web and social media have overcome many of the problems of distance. Only in the latter is it obvious that an author is Australian, because of the time difference. This can be a bit frustrating, as conversations on Twitter, for example, often begin and end (and are Storified) before we Aussie wake up and can contribute. (Though this can be an advantage if it stops us leaping in before knowing all the facts!)
Digital publishing has also made more books available to us – and a lot more Aussie fantasy available to the rest of the world through small presses and self-publishing. It doesn’t overcome all problems of distance, as there are still territorial issues and sorting out epub and reader issues means getting help from overseas, which can be more difficult, but it has generally made it easier to reach a global audience.
So you can see there are many aspects and both advantages and disadvantages to being an Australian author who is successful overseas. What I love most is, wherever I go readers are so welcoming. They will go to extraordinary efforts to come and see me whenever I am in their home country, because they know that it might be a long wait until I am in their part of the world again. And meeting readers is my favourite part of being an author.
Aside from the writing part, of course!
- - May 7th, 2015
SNAKEWOOD tells the story of the Twenty, a band of mercenaries being hunted down one-by-one by an unknown killer. We’re so excited to have acquired this debut epic fantasy tale from British author Adrian Selby, coming in 2016 – almost twenty years after he first put pen to paper! Which, if you think about it, is one year for every dead mercenary. Or is it? Who’s killing them anyway, and why? You’ll have to wait until early next year to find out . . .
Adrian says: “SNAKEWOOD is set in a world where magic is in the plant-life, concoctions of which, known as ‘fightbrews’, radically transform the capabilities and appearance of warriors at a terrible cost. In conceiving of this all those years ago, I knew the story I wanted to tell was focused on these soldiers and the price they pay for their brews and their sins. I can’t describe how delighted I am to have my debut published by Orbit. Their passion and their support for SNAKEWOOD make me very excited about sharing the world that’s been in my head for twenty odd years with this other world I live in the rest of the time.”
And no, you won’t have to wait twenty years for the next one!
- - April 14th, 2015
A CROWN FOR COLD SILVER (US | UK |AUS) is a particularly special new epic fantasy, and we’re thrilled to be releasing it today in hardcover, e-book and audio formats. NPR Books published a glowing review this morning, saying “It’s a vibrant book, and a generously lush one…A Crown for Cold Silver drags epic fantasy through the mud — but it does so with wit, wonder, and wisdom.”
A Crown for Cold Silver will grab you from its first bloody pages and surprise you many times over as unconventional hero and supreme badass Cold Zosia embarks on her quest to destroy those who have taken everything from her. To celebrate the release of this spectacular story, we’d like you to meet the author, Alex Marshall!
How did the idea for A CROWN FOR COLD SILVER form – was it a particular scene or character that occurred to you, or was there a particular moment when you knew that this was the book you were going to write?
I work in a very linear fashion, so the first things that came to me became the first scenes in the book: the classic fantasy set-up of a bloodthirsty horde descending on a tranquil hamlet, but with an older woman as the sole survivor of the assault, instead of a young hero.
Is that something that appeals to you, subverting the tropes of the genre?
I’d say my chief concern is always to create interesting characters and present them with interesting problems. I do my best to let the characters determine the plot, whether that means subverting the conventions of the genre or playing along with them. That said, I’m trying to tell new stories here instead of just retelling old ones, so Crom help any innocent tropes that might get in the way.
There are so many formidable and fantastic characters in this book – a barbarian addicted to intoxicating insects, a shaman who eats demons for breakfast, a retired warrior queen who faked her own death – do you have favourites?
My favourite may be Zosia, the former warrior queen with the devilish canine companion, Choplicker – she’s the lynchpin to the whole novel, a very conflicted character, and writing her scenes was always intense and illuminating.
Read the full interview here.
- - April 8th, 2015
We’re excited to announce that Glenda Larke’s fantasy epic THE LASCAR’S DAGGER has won the Best Long Written Work 2014 in the Tin Duck Awards, as well as winning, in a tie with Trudi Canavan’s superb THIEF’S MAGIC, the Best Novel of 2014 in the Ditmar Awards!
The Tin Duck Awards are the Western Australian science fiction achievement awards, given out annually at Swancon. The Ditmar Awards are an Australia-wide award and are given out every year at Natcon, the Australian National Science Fiction Convention. Both are reader-voted awards.
Big congratulations go to Glenda, Trudi and all the other winners!
If you’ve already read and enjoyed THE LASCAR’S DAGGER and THIEF’S MAGIC, watch out for their sequels, THE DAGGER’S PATH (released January this year) and ANGEL OF STORMS (coming in November).
- - January 30th, 2015
Angus Watson’s Iron Age trilogy burst onto the epic fantasy scene last September with AGE OF IRON, an action-packed adventure in which battle-hardened warriors take on a ruthless warlord and his sadistic druids. Today we’re proud to launch the next two covers in the series! CLASH OF IRON continues the story in April this year, and the epic finale REIGN OF IRON will end the series in September.
Read AGE OF IRON today, or see what people are saying…
‘Unflinchingly bloodthirsty and outrageously entertaining’ Christopher Brookmyre
‘It simply grabbed me by the throat and wouldn’t let go’ Bibliosanctum (five stars)
‘Watson’s tale is gore soaked and profanity laden – full of visceral combat and earthy humor, and laced with subtle magic’ Publishers Weekly
‘Would I read the next one? Yes, absolutely. Bring me my hammer, bring my beer, bring it on!’ SF Crowsnest
‘A fun and addictive read’ Fantasy Faction
Covers by Larry Rostant, designed by Ceara Eliot.
- - January 7th, 2015
Happy New Years everyone! We hope 2015 is already off to a smashing start for each and every one of you. To kick off another great year of publishing, let us tell you about two brand new novellas that are available now in the US and UK! If you made a resolution to read more this year, there is no time like the present to get started!
FIRE WATER by Jaye Wells
Rookie cop Kate Prospero only has one more training assignment to pass before she’s officially sworn in to Babylon Police Department. But the veteran cop in charge of the river patrol boat is a salty old guy isn’t happy about playing tour guide to a rookie and seems even less interested in real police work. But while on patrol, they stumble on to what appears to be a floating dirty magic lab. This highly combustible situation might finally be the key to these two unlikely partners finding common ground.
For more adventures of Kate Prospero, check out DIRTY MAGIC (US | UK | AUS).
RETURN TO HONOR by Brian McClellan
Captain Vlora is a powder mage in the Adran army. Once the favored, adopted daughter of the field marshal, she is now a pariah amongst those she called her family. Her superior officers would like nothing more than to send her to a far off posting and forget about her, but no one is exempt when there is a war – and powder mages are desperately needed.
When a traitorous guard captain goes on the run with information that could harm the war effort, Vlora is sent on his trail. She has three days to find him; she will have to make new friends and test the limits of her skills. Fail, and good soldiers will die. Succeed and maybe, just maybe, she can begin to work her way back into the field marshal’s good graces.
A new story set in the world of the Powder Mage trilogy, the most acclaimed and action-packed new epic fantasy series in recent years. RETURN TO HONOR takes place directly following the events of book one, PROMISE OF BLOOD (US | UK | AUS).
In ICE FORGED (US | UK | AUS) and REIGN OF ASH (US | UK | AUS), Blaine McFadden is sent into exile in an arctic prison colony for murdering the man who dishonored his sister. When a war destroys mankind’s ability to control magic and bend it to their will, out-of-control wild magic brings deadly storms, monsters pulled through rifts from other realms and a madness that drives its victims to violence. Blaine discovers that he might just be the only one who can put things right.
In WAR OF SHADOWS, Blaine and his convict friends discover that plenty of people are trying to kill them. Blaine’s attempts to fully restore the magic affect the new status quo. With the king and nobility gone, there’s a power vacuum, and some ruthless players have decided to fill that gap themselves. As warring factions fight over territory in the kingdom of Donderath, Blaine emerges as a warlord trying to restore the rule of law, amid betrayal, intrigue and opponents who will go to any length to see him dead.
I’m not nice to my characters. It’s true. Blaine’s had a rum go of it. Raised by an abusive father, forced to make a choice no one should have to make in order to save his sister and younger brother, condemned by the king and exiled to the edge of the world—it hasn’t been a good seven years. Yet Blaine rises to the challenge, not because he covets power, but because he doesn’t want to live in the world as it is, and someone has to step up to make the difference.
Blaine doesn’t go looking to be a hero. In fact, when he kills his father, he fully expects to die for the crime to spare his sister and brother from further abuse. An act of ‘mercy’ commutes his sentence from hanging to exile, but the Velant prison colony is known for its inhumane, grueling conditions. But Blaine finds it within himself to adapt, and that ability to change lies at the heart of the series. Blaine and his convict friends, as well as the survivors back in Donderath, find strengths they never knew they had when confronted with challenges they never expected to face.
Blaine’s story is also about the power of ‘the family you make.’ In the brutal environment of Velant, and then later as colonists in the harsh environs of Edgeland, Blaine survives because of the ‘family’ of loyal friends who band together to protect each other. Back in Donderath, his ‘found’ family combines with what remains of his blood family, and several key people are added to the group. Blaine’s companion’s skills, courage and loyalty make the difference for his survival and for having a chance to fix the magic and set things right.
I’m also having fun looking at how a kingdom reacts in the face of overwhelming disaster, destruction of both economic and governmental infrastructure and continued instability. That ‘perfect storm’ combination affects everything from food production to religious identity to social cohesion, turning everything that people thought they knew upside-down. It’s a crucible from which everyone emerges changed—if they emerge at all. And whatever solution is found, one thing is certain: nothing will ever be the same as it was before the disaster.
Depending on your view, that’s either a terrifying statement or the glimpse of hope at the end of the storm.
War of Shadows isn’t the end to Blaine’s story. I’m working on Book 4, SHADOW AND FLAME, right now. So there is more to come. Because surviving is just the beginning of the journey.
My Days of the Dead blog tour runs through October 31 with never-before-seen cover art, brand new excerpts from upcoming books and recent short stories, interviews, guest blog posts, giveaways and more! Plus, I’ll be including extra excerpt links for stories and books by author friends of mine. You’ve got to visit the participating sites to get the goodies, just like Trick or Treat! Details here: www. AscendantKingdoms.com.
Trick or Treat: Enjoy an excerpt from Ice Forged, and a bonus excerpt from Reign of Ash.
- - October 28th, 2014
There are no words to express how excited I am to share the epic awesomeness that is Gail Z. Martin’s new cover! War of Shadows has it all—danger, mystery, hope, despair, and the aftermath of battle just finished… or a battle just begun. Basically, everything you could ever want in an epic fantasy.
Blaine “Mick” McFadden has scored a victory and restored the magic, but new threats rise from the wreckage of the kingdom of Donderath. While the magic remains brittle and undependable, warlords both mortal and undead vie for power, fighting for control of the ruined Continent. McFadden and his unlikely band of convict heroes must choose their allies wisely as renegade talishte take long-awaited vengeance and powerful mages seek to control Donderath’s next king. Blaine McFadden must protect those loyal to him against the coming storm, and find a way to bind magic to the will of mortals before it destroys him, because time is running out…
War of Shadows is the third novel in the fabulous Ascendant Kingdoms Saga. If you are unfamiliar with the series, be sure to check out the first two books—ICE FORGED (US | UK | AUS), and REIGN OF ASH (US | UK | AUS)
Praise for the the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga:
” The immediate action in this story pulls the reader in… And with more than a few unexpected twists, this easy-to-follow storyline will leave the reader completely surprised and ready for the next book in the saga.”
— RT Book Reviews
“There’s plenty of action and plot embroidery, and the pages turn easily.” — Kirkus
This week is Gail Z. Martin’s annual #DaysOfTheDead blog tour! Head on over to her website to check out the cool interviews, extras, and giveaways happening all week long.
- - October 9th, 2014
The much-anticipated graphic novel of THE WAY OF SHADOWS, the New York Times bestselling epic fantasy of thieves and assassins by Brent Weeks, comes out this week from Yen Press and Orbit UK.
We interviewed Brent about the process of turning his classic fantasy tale into a comic book, and asked him all about his favorite examples of the medium:
JH: Was there anything that surprised you about having your work adapted into comic book form?
BW: The first time I saw Andy’s depiction of the Gyre estate, I had to stop for a second. The rest of the process had been pretty gradual—when we did character sketches, we went through a lot of emails, and a couple iterations of drawings, so they didn’t have the same surprise factor for me—but when I saw the Gyre estate, it hit me all at once. I’d described all these details; this was what I’d written about, but I’d never seen it as a whole. When your artist is talented, there are things about seeing a place that are simply better than reading about it.
The other thing that surprised me was how much little things can matter. Andy does great work with characters’ expressions, hitting just the right tone. That little extra extension on that line turns that grin from amused to sarcastic, or what have you. Similarly, something like how tight an alleyway is, can suddenly be important, because a character in a tight alley feels trapped, and acts differently than in a wide open street.
JH: Which particular character do you think has been captured most perfectly by Andy Macdonald’s art?
BW: I’ll go for a less obvious one. Roth is just the right balance of handsome and creepy.
JH: Was it a strange experience, going back so closely over THE WAY OF SHADOWS, or do you often reread and re-examine your older books?
BW: As little as possible! I always want to edit my old books. Hmm, that sentence could be tightened, couldn’t it? It was very challenging. One of the pleasures of reading my books is that there’s a ton of foreshadowing that looks like throwaway world-building on a first read that ends up being important two thousand pages later. So I had to not only load three books into my brain, but I had to anticipate how each necessary change of adapting the first novel into graphic novel form would ripple through the second and third books. “Okay, this doesn’t happen any more, and that was going to pay off in book 2 when this happens, so now, in graphic novel 2, we’re going to have to do this other thing instead… But does that cause problems in book 3?” Oh, and I was finishing a not-so-simple little novel called THE BROKEN EYE. My assistant, Elisa, was invaluable in the process of keeping everything straight.
JH: Comics and graphic novels are an essentially collaborative medium, requiring a lot of co-operation between the artist and writer. Have you ever worked on something that involved this much collaboration?
BW: Never to this degree. We made a book trailer for THE BLACK PRISM, and I wrote lots of emails and script ideas back and forth (far more than you would think necessary for a two minute trailer, I guarantee!), but that was over about a month. This was a different level entirely.
I should point out, too, that it isn’t just collaboration between artist and writer! The original script adaptation was by Ivan Brandon, and throughout my editor JuYoun Lee was invaluable in the process, not only in feedback and scripting, but also in allowing me to be the difficult artist from time to time. I mean, editors have to make the business work, so a few times I wrote to her, “Look I just added a page to this chapter. I know we’re already over, but we need a full page for this reveal, or it will lack punch. Here’s the new script.” I’m sure she knew exactly how much that was going to cost—art costs, printing costs, extra thickness to the book, possibly fewer books per box which can hurt ordering, and so forth if you do it more than a couple times—and she let me get away with it when we needed to.
That said, I try not to play the diva, especially when it’s a medium I’ve got little experience in. I was lucky to be joined in the journey by people who know a lot more than I do.
JH: Who are your favourite heroes from comics and graphic novels?
BW: Can I confess something? I’ve always enjoyed comic books, but for a long time I had a fundamental reservation about them as art. I thought they were bad art. Partly this is the fault of the whole Death of Superman debacle. Since then (if not before, I’m not an expert), but since then they’ve felt like the ultimate playground for Plot Armor. No character will ever die. No character will ever settle down with one girl, and that’s it for all time. There’s no final story, no closure, even though they pretend there is constantly. And the reason there can be no final story is because money. You can’t kill Wolverine for good, because no matter how many copies of that final plot arc you could sell, you’d be killing the goose who lays the golden eggs. Wolverine is your year-in, year-out steady earner, and he will be for fifty years. A hundred if Marvel has its way. So the story has to account for reboots, and refreshes, memory-losses and reunions. (In some cases, they do that far better than others.)
So, to purist, younger me, comics in the Marvel vein were the biggest examples of art prostituted to money I could imagine. And yet they got a pass somehow—because it’s fun and well-done, I guess.
But I had an idea recently of Wolverine (a favorite since I was young), as a mythic character, rather than as a disjointed franchise. When you read Homer’s Odysseus, he’s a complete man, perhaps the ideal man in the Greek understanding of virtue. When you read Virgil’s treatment of the same character (Latinized to Ulysses, but ostensibly the same character), you realize they have very little in common. Virgil is trotting out the Greek hero to make him look tawdry next to the real stud, Aeneas. (Who just so happened to play for the home team, Rome.) They aren’t the same character—when Virgil handles Odysseus, he handles him as a mythic type, there to be useful in setting up the story that Virgil really wants to tell.
So when you ask “Who is your favorite character?” I have to politely say I don’t believe Wolverine as Wolverine is really a character anymore. Mark Millar’s Wolverine isn’t my favorite, but the idea of Wolverine is.
That said, things are simpler where we have only one writer and artist: I really like Bode and Tyler Locke of Locke and Key by Joe Hill (amazing art by Gabriel Rodriguez).
JH: Can you recommend any comic books which are ideal for fantasy fans?
BW: If you’ve never read a graphic novel and are skeptical about the kind of stories they can tell, check out I Kill Giants by Joe Kelly, which features a fifth-grader named Barbara.
Marvel’s 1602 is a fun re-visiting of the Marvel characters if they’d appeared in Elizabethan times (and goes nicely with my thesis above!). Locke and Key is a little more on the horror side, and though I don’t enjoy horror, I thought it was amazing. Literally the best graphic novels I’ve ever read. Peter V. Brett (of The Warded Man fame) has done a 6 comic book arc for Red Sonja. As for others… well, I’m always looking!
JH: The ultimate comic book question: who would win in a fight, Batman or Superman?
BW: I think Batman would know better than get in a simple fistfight with a bulletproof flying alien, so I like to think he’d change the rules of the engagement—a fight over who makes a tux look the best, perhaps, or who can destroy a villain first. Then I’d give an edge to the subtle thinker of the two.