Woo Hoo! I got me some representation

Today I am one very happy Author.  I’ve been signed to the John Jarrold Literary Agency in the U.K which I hope will make selling future books so much easier.  Hoooray!  Woo Hoo!  Squee! and other delighted noises.

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Here’s John’s Press Release.

PRESS RELEASE –  JOHN JARROLD LITERARY AGENCY TO REPRESENT AWARD-WINNING AUSTRALIAN FANTASY AUTHOR JANE ROUTLEY

 

The John Jarrold Literary Agency now represents Australian fantasy novelist Jane Routley. Jane has won the Aurealis Award for Best Fantasy Novel twice – for Aramaya and Fire Angels. Her story “To Avalon” was nominated for a both an Aurealis and Ditmar Award.

 

Jane’s new novel, Shadow in the Empire of Light, is Fantasy meets Chick Lit, with a touch of Steampunk.  Shine, the heroine of the novel is an orphan without magical gifts in a powerful family of mages. She is stuck in the country managing the family estates with only an eccentric aunt and a telepathic cat for company.  The Family are descending on the house for the annual Fertility Festival. While helping one cousin find a compromising letter and rescuing another male cousin from an unwelcome alliance, Shine stumbles on a murderous plot to depose the current Family Matriarch and a smuggling ring that puts her life in danger. Soon she is forced to run for her life through an enchanted forest full of magic  and wild cats.  It’s the first in a three-book series.

“Jane’s writing has wit and immediacy – and a strong soupcon of darkness,” said John Jarrold. “I enjoyed this novel immensely, was totally involved, and love her characters and setting.”

Contact John Jarrold for further information:

John Jarrold: e-mail: j.jarrold@btinternet.com  phone: 01797 227426.

 

photo courtesy of Trudi Canavan

photo courtesy of Trudi Canavan

 

Guess what I did on my holidays!

Sorry for the sudden silence.  I’ve been up north in Townsville, Queensland, chasing the sun.  While there went on the best whale watching trip. Really enjoyed zooming around the place in a little rubber boat (150hp RIB) and the guide Chris knew all about the reef and other Marine type things and was happy to answer lots of questions.  Lunch at Yanks Jetty was subway sandwiches and a chance to float around the coral gardens teaming with fish. So many colourful fish it was like swimming in a jewel box. But the whales! The waters between Dungeness and Orpheus were full of humpbacks.  We sighted at least 14 and one breached (leapt up into the air).  I was so excited I took a picture of my thumb, but fortunately Chris took a successful one and was happy to share.  We were late home because we got caught up watching about eight whales taking part in a jostling head butting rumble.  You couldn’t see much of the action, but every now and again groups of three or four would surface in an exciting flurry of fins, tails and spouts or you could see a couple swimming in close formation.  A fantastic sight and well worth missing my homeward icecream for.  Whales5

Clench!

One of my regulars, a lady in her early 60’s, is always telling me about her exercise regime.  Apparently these exercises, relayed to her father by a Chinese doctor, have cured her of leukemia.  Her skin has the yellowish tone of someone who’s very ill.

Her exercise regime is to do two thousand arm swings every day.  They’re exactly like the hundred arms exercise in Pilates only standing up.  I don’t blame her for being obsessed, but sometimes when I see her outside the station swinging her arms, I suddenly think of something I have to do in the office. I‘ve known her to miss trains because she hasn’t reached two thousand yet.

Being so ill must be a lonely business.  So today I’m listening and so are a couple of social workers up from the hospital waiting to catch the train who want to hear all about this life saving exercise.

“Clench your bottom,” cries the lady. “And tuck in your belly.  Clench your bottom and swing your arms.”

Such is the authority in her voice that I see the social workers begin to swing their arms and, I suspect, clench their bottoms.  Oh no!  I’m doing it too.  As the train rolls in, there are the four of us swinging our arms in the autumn sun while the lady yells “clench your bottom.”

I see less of M and C now but this is a good thing. An NGO has found them a place to live.  http://www.hanover.org.au/

C is pregnant and I had terrible visions of them being homeless with a newborn. I suspect they did too – though they made tough noises about it. M is delighted with his new backpack and wears it everywhere.  A profound thank you to the people who offered them.

 

Interview with Michael O’Brien – Vice President of Chaosium Games

 

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I’ve always loved Chaosium games – the rich cultural backdrop of Runequest and the dark gothic horror of Call of Cthulhu. Most of my roleplaying has been done in these two worlds. I was thrilled to discover a friend has become part of a new management team to reinvigorate the Company.


Michael O’Brien, could you tell us about the history and products of Chaosium, Inc?

Chaosium is an iconic company in roleplaying games – it’s one of the oldest publishers still around (founded in 1975), and has had a long track record of publishing interesting, innovative and often ground breaking material in tabletop gaming.

Chaosium’s most famous product lines are Call of Cthulhu, the horror investigation game set in H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos, and the fantasy RPG RuneQuest. Both games were and still are pretty revolutionary in their approach. RuneQuest changed the paradigm of fantasy RPGs by having a gritty, realistic combat system where even a mighty warrior could be felled by a lucky bowshot (an outcome that becomes increasingly impossible in level-based games like Dungeons & Dragons). It is also set in Greg Stafford’s richly-imagined campaign world of Glorantha. Call of Cthulhu is of course distinctive because it’s the one RPG where characters who are librarians and the like are the heroes.

We’ve just published the seventh edition of Call of Cthulhu, and are bringing out a new edition of RuneQuest later this year.

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One of the things I love about Chaosium games is that they seem to be founded on the idea of Order versus Chaos. Would you say this is true and do you agree that this is a more palatable world view to the modern player than the idea of good versus evil?

The RuneQuest RPG deliberately eschewed the concept that the player characters are “good” and the monsters they encounter are necessarily “evil”.  In his earliest published adventures, Greg Stafford pointed out to Game Masters that if the adventurers turn and flee screaming, to not forget that the monsters get experience rolls too. In other words, the creatures they encounter have their own lives, motivations and connections, and intelligent ones have societies and cultures. This was ground breaking stuff in the early days of RPG, where even “good” characters seemed to just go round a dungeon killing monsters and taking their stuff.

“Chaosium” itself gets its name from the Oakland Coliseum, which wasn’t far from where Greg Stafford was living at a particularly chaotic time in his life. I look after our newsletter “Ab Chaos”, which includes the note (originally written by Greg) that it is “planned to be informal and irregular: we are, after all, not the Orderium”.
How does an Australian come to be Vice–President of Chaosium, an American games company?

Chaosium has always been something of a boutique company, and has come close to financial disaster several times in its long history. I, and several colleagues from Moon Design Publications, came on board at Chaosium mid-last year to help the company out of its latest troubles. This stemmed from two Kickstarters that had been badly mismanaged. A recent article at Geek & Sundry (with the clickbaity title “Cthulhu Company Kickstarted Itself to Death, Then This Happened”) tells the tale of how we turned things around, if anyone wants more detail: http://geekandsundry.com/cthulhu-company-kickstarted-itself-to-death-then-this-happened

Was Moon Design Publications set up especially for Chaosium?

Moon Design Publications is a company set up by my colleague Rick Meints in the mid-1990s, which began by reissuing RuneQuest material under license. Later Moon Design actually acquired the rights to the game RuneQuest and world of Glorantha from Greg Stafford, and in 2015 won the Diana Jones Award, one of the gaming industry’s highest accolades, for the coffee-table book The Guide to Glorantha.

Moon Design consists of Rick, who lives in Ann Arbor Michigan; Jeff Richard, who is American but lives in Berlin; Neil Robinson, who is originally from Canada, but lives in Seattle; and myself, in Melbourne, Australia (although I lived in the Middle East for many years until recently). We first met at games conventions in the UK.

I gather some of Chaosium’s founding fathers have returned with your team.

Yes, Greg Stafford and Sandy Petersen returned to lead in the company in June last year in an announcement titled “The Great Old Ones have Returned…” They were both shareholders before this, but had not been actively involved for many years.

Greg said he was “puttin’ the band back together” – and four of us in Moon Design later came on board both as part-owners and as the new management of the company. We have known and collaborated with Greg and Sandy on creative projects for many years. (I first met them in the mid-1980’s). Sandy cheerfully greeted this with the statement “I for one welcome our new Lunar overlords”. He and Greg are now members of the company board (Greg is chair) and creative consultants to the company, but day-to-day management is in our hands. Our first priority was sorting out the Call of Cthulhu Kickstarter.

 

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Tell us about the latest Kickstarter campaign.

It was a lot of work (and money) turning the Call of Cthulhu 7th edition Kickstarter around, but backers have just started receiving their books, three years after the Kickstarter was launched. In contrast, last December we ran another Kickstarter to reissue RuneQuest 2nd Edition. Unlike the protracted Call of Cthulhu debacle, we had the rewards printed and ready for shipping in just over three months. We thought this was a very practical and capable way of instilling confidence in our fans that the new management of Chaosium is doing things very differently to the old.

Do you write or hope to write as well as manage?

I am involved in the creative side of the company, as well as being part of the management team. At the moment I’m working on a couple of board games which we’ll be releasing later this year, and have a hand in some projects for Call of Cthulhu and the new edition of RuneQuest.

Are there any opportunities for writers to become involved? 

Certainly! We are not currently taking submissions at the moment while we review our processes, but this will soon change. We’ll be actively seeking out writers for our fiction line, as well as the game lines we support.

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Can you tell us about any future plans for Chaosium Inc.?

I definitely think we’ve turned the corner and the future is looking bright for Chaosium – among other things, this year we are launching the new edition of RuneQuest (and even have original author Steve Perrin back on board with the writing team, along with Ken Rolston), are partnering with Sandy Petersen’s own game company to bring out The Gods War, a sequel of sorts to his Cthulhu Wars, set in Glorantha, and German games mastermind Reiner Knizia is working with us to bring out two new board games. This is in addition to the production schedule for new Call of Cthulhu stuff, Jim Lowder‘s sterling efforts as our consulting editor to restore the fortunes of the Chaosium fiction line, and our recently-launched Organized Play program.

Chaosium website: http://www.chaosium.com

Michael O’Brien also hosts a Podcast @

Tales of Mythic Adventure Podcast: http://www.glorantha.com/mythicadventure

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Check out all the great Australian Genre Fiction.

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My publishers

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The wonderful Russell B. Farr and Liz Grzyb aka Ticonderoga Publications showing off The Dion Chronicles by  yours truly at Swancon

http://ticonderogapublications.com/web/index.php

http://www.indiebooksonline.com/catalog/product_info.php/products_id/125

Many thanks for the photo Michael O’Brien

 

Narrelle M. Harris – Interview

 

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Prolific fantasy and erotica writer Narrelle Harris is my interviewee today.

Her new book from Improbable Press The Adventure of the Colonial Boy  (A Holmes/Watson romance set in Australia in 1893. Murder! Dangerous sea voyages! Deductions! Snakes! Honour, angst, and chases! Unrequited love, requited!)

is due to be launched next Wednesday (March 30) 6.30 for 7.00 at the Penny Blue Bar Drivers Lane (off Little Bourke Street, near Elizabeth St) Melbourne VIC 3000

 

Tell us about The Adventure of the Colonial Boy. What inspired you to write the actual adventure element of the story?

When I’m writing romance, I’ve always got an action/adventure element of the plot around which the characters are interacting – I love for my people-in-love to be having adventures together. This being a take on a Sherlock Holmes story, I’ve always loved the mysteries as much as the friendship, so it was natural from the start that there should be a mystery/adventure part of the story.

I wanted to set it in Australia for a couple of reasons – easier for me to research, for a start – but primarily it was because I thought that if they’d been repressing their feelings for each other for a decade in the framework of London, then something had to change dramatically to allow those feelings to surface. There had to be emotional triggers, but also for them to be in an environment which was new to them, to shake things up.

As for the plot itself – Conan Doyle’s stories suggest that John Watson lived for a time in Australia (he refers in The Sign of Four when he sees the Sholto’s yard dug up in search of treasure, that he’d seen diggings like it in Ballarat).  So I worked out a history for Watson that informs the choices he’s made and the person he’s become. The title refers potentially to a couple of characters, actually, but primarily, the Colonial Boy is John Watson.
I knew I wanted to include elements of non-white history in Australia, hence the Chinese connection. I also looked to Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories (which I’d read in full before writing The Adventure of the Colonial Boy) for some of those mysteries that were only ever hinted at. The red leech and the horrific death of Crosby the Banker were mentioned in the same sentence and sparked some ideas, so they became the prompts to inform the plot.

Then it was a matter of folding in themes of identity and repression, a splash of Moriarty’s old gang and the idea that John Watson is an unreliable narrator. Conan Doyle notoriously had no damns to give about continuity, and I worked that in as a deliberate choice on Watson’s part.

I wonder if writing same sex male erotica is about women secretly wanting to be as sexually free as men but not being able to express it with a female character. What do you think?

It’s certainly one possible element, but not the only one. There are ideas about sexual freedom there; ideas about two characters having equal agency that sometimes we feel can’t be quite achieved between a hetero couple, though that depends a lot on the writer and on the couple! I think there are ideas in it about women liking to see men in touch with their emotions together. I think there’s just an enjoyment of two hot men being in love and sexual together. I mean – it’s just sexy! ImprobablePressfull

There’s certainly a long history of queer readings of Holmes and Watson. That has really come to the fore since the BBC Sherlock series, which plays with that idea so much, though they’re not the first to tease with queer subtext.

Basically, though, I think it’s valid to read the relationship as Epic Best Friends OR as Epic Lovers. Their friendship and relationship has fascinated people for over 120 years, and this is just another iteration of that – that people like to read about an epic love story of different-but-equal characters, and their gender doesn’t really matter in that respect. We just love to see two people in love. And having adventures together.  Well, I do. And of course queer history means that people had to look for hidden representations of queerness, since those relationships were generally not openly represented (and not necessarily positively) until the last few decades.

(Seriously, people who say ‘Watson wasn’t gay – he got married!’ are deliberately ignoring the realities of hundreds of years of queer history.)

What else are you working on at the moment?

I submitted an urban fantasy to one publisher, I hae a queer paranormal romance submitted with another, I’m working on a couple of short stories submissions (one for a queer romance collection, the other for a Sherlock Holmes anthology with the Best-Friends interpretation) and I’ve started work on co-writing a new book for Improbable Press!

What’s your writing process for books? Do you throw a lot away? Do you write every day? Are you a planner or do you fly by the seat of the pants?

I used to just write by the seat of my pants – get an idea and start writing to see what happened. It worked for a while, but then it stopped working and it threw me for a six. Now I tend to get an idea, sketch it out, fill in the sketch a bit and then start. I’m not a rigid planner – plenty changes or gets dropped as I go – but I have a basic framework and then fill in the gaps. I think I once equated it to throwing up a frame for a house, but then how the house is fashioned and decorated, and whether you build on an extra room, is fluid and responsive to the ideas going on at the time.

I’d love to write every day, but I have to earn a living too (fiction doesn’t pay that well!) and I want to spend time with my family and friends. But I expect that even on days I’m not sitting down to write in a solid chunk, I’m emailing ideas for dialogue and prose to myself. My brain never stops writing, even when I’m not at the computer. I get antsy if it’s been too many days, actually. I was discussing this with fellow writers on Twitter recently – that itchy feeling in your skin of words building up that can’t get out.

How do you go with social media?

It can be a challenge to find the time. You can’t just plaster links and say Buy My Book. I mean, you do send out those links as well, in due course, but the main thing is to build communities and connections, to participate and engage with people.

It’s great, because you find work and people and ideas you love, and hopefully they’ll also love you and your work and ideas, but you can’t enter into it thinking it’s just an advertising wall. It’s more like a party where you get to mingle, make friends, and you all talk about the cool stuff that’s going on – not necessarily your own, in fact.

I spend a lot of my social media time ALL CAP SHOUTING about other people’s work that I love. So while we’re here, please everyone, read Thrive by Mary Borsellino. Read The Night They Met by Atlin Merrick. Read The Creature Court trilogy by Tansy Rayner Roberts. 😀

 What do you do to increase interest in your work and how much time do you spend on it? Any tips?

I write about things that interest me that pop up in my work, and then the hope is that people who also like those things will follow me to see what else I’m doing. I blog about things that spark my imagination or intellect, and I review things as well. I’m always happy to talk to people about things.

With Colonial Boy, I’ve actually been active in Sherlock fandom for a number of years now, which has included writing fanfiction for fun, to deal with writers blocks and to experiment with ideas and styles. A lot of my lovely readers in that sphere have supported me because they like my work already, and have gone and bought the ebook which is already available, and a number have pre-ordered the paperback. They’ve been just wonderful. That’s an environment where people habitualy give encouragement and engage with you by reading the comments. I’ve met some lovely people through those sites, and made some wonderful friends.

But as I said, it can’t just be talking about yourself or your own work all the time. You have to engage with others, share ideas and resources, engage with others about the things they do that interest and excite you. It’s a community and a network of ideas and enthusiasms, not just a Shopping Channel.

What 3 artworks (books, music, visual arts, films) have most inspired you?

I pick up inspiration from so many places – including people I meet, landscapes and cities, that it’s hard to narrow it down.

I listen to music a lot when I write, and the type of music Iisten to changes with the type of book. I do listen to Fall Out Boy a lot. I love their combination of happy melodies and angry lyrics, and musically they change and grow with each album, and I love that capacity in them.

An artist I found inspirational was Lin Onus, an indigenous artist who did work that was likewise angry/funny. His X and Ray series is fantastic. He did beautiful work, and funny work, and work full of rage, as well as whimsy. He died much too young and is a huge loss.

Of course there are a lot of books I find inspirational. The original Sherlock Holmes stories and the great Holmes-Watson friendship, which can be interpreted as a great love story is an obvious case in point. I’ve also been very inspired and influenced by Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan series, and the humanist philosophy behind it.945576_10151655974443035_1062582870_n

 

Find Narrelle at the following sites:

Or you can email.

The Adventure of the Colonial Boy

Paperback Available for Pre-order now!

Ebook released on 29 February!

Already got your copy? A review of one or two sentences onAmazon and/or Goodreads can really help!