If you want to go somewhere you’ve never gone before – try Adam Browne’s writing. I’ve plunged through the solar system in glorious adventure with Cyrano De Bergerac in Pyrotechnicon, watched a wonderful animation by Adam Duncan based on one of Adam’s short stories called The Adjustable Cosmos (Hapsburg Emperors in the stars) and now I’m all prepared for the launch of his next book The Tame Animals of Saturn on June the 9th.
It was inspired by the writings by and about Jakob Lorber, a 19th Century Austrian mystic who was given to know the animals and plants of the Solar System. It’s richly illustrated.
I hope to revive interest in him, not as a Christian or a theosophist – he was both – but as a beautiful and tireless fabulist.
What was your initial inspiration for the book?
Thirty years ago, in The Book of Imaginary Beings, I read of Lorber’s ‘Leveler’. Borges writes with great dry wit of the immeasurable service the Leveller does man. Its pyramidal legs are made by God to stomp out roadways in preparation for the tarmac-layers and so on. It’s only with difficulty that I acknowledge there might be some people who aren’t immediately captivated by things like this. Lorber has stayed with me ever since. The book was a side-project, but it was one I had to do.
You love to explore the odd laneways of speculative fiction. How do you find your way into these laneways?
When I was young, science fiction seemed to be about freedom. There seemed to be few rules – just a playground for ideas. I remember being disappointed when a writer or filmmaker borrowed from elsewhere.2001: a space odyssey was a model of originality, but rather than copy its example, filmmakers copied the film itself. It’s still happening now, likely under the guise of homage – but it’s antithetical to the whole sf ethos. Anyway – I dunno – I don’t see my writing as weird anyway, to be honest. I haven’t admitted this before, but I was surprised when people called my stories New Weird or whatever. For me, they were just the stories I wanted to write.
What’s your writing process? 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?
My stories start at the start. There’s some initial idea – with an old one, for instance, called Neverland Blues, it started with the idea that Michael Jackson had fled his problems by turning himself into a spaceship. The story accreted from that. I write from the seat of my pants. And yes, I throw a lot away. Each story has a discards file which is inevitably much bigger than the story itself.
How do you go with social media? What do you do to increase interest in your work and how much time do you spend on it? Any tips?
Yeah social media. It’s such an easy way to advertise your work but maybe not so effective. Still, although there must be better ways to do it, the urge to become skilled in marketing remains a velleity.
Facebook is my guilty obsession. At its best it’s a wunderkammer, and a way for me to vent excess imagination and gags – also an excellent way to resume or maintain friendships … but I suspect the reason I find it so seductive is because it’s all about me. Almost everything I read on it is in some way related to something I’ve already said. That’s the way it’s designed. It’s the equivalent of those kids’ books where your child’s name is inserted into the text. It enables my narcissism.
What artworks (books, music, visual arts, films) have most inspired you?
I’ve been thinking recently about how 80s art-pop was a sort of gateway drug into the arts. Devo, Talking Heads etc etc. I remember being delighted by a performance art piece that made its way onto Countdown – a pingpong game with people’s heads sticking out of the table, players in whimsical dress, a bit of a ceremonial vibe. It wasn’t the piece so much as that such stuff was possible… My father took me to all the great art films of the 70s too. 2001, Satyricon, Tarkovski etc etc. There was 2000AD, the British comic antho – then Heavy Metal magazine – and Raw. There was the French comic book artist Moebius. And Fantastic Planet – then the art of Roland Topor, who designed that film – I’m afraid I’m just listing the usual suspects here – in which case I might as well mention PK Dick, whom I discovered when I was 15, on a trip to the Northern Territory: the first story of his I read was ‘Nanny’. Such a gem. It’s hard to find writers these days who delight me as much as he did. Martin Amis is one, but I have to be careful not to copy his style. Another usual suspect: WS Burroughs – a ‘writer of good bits’, as Amis called him – for me, the good bit, the inspiring bit amid the dross, was the vignette with the Sailor, in the bar, an astronaut, it felt like, purchasing a drug stored in dull grey tubes of lead, cracking it open, his face melting to absorb it…
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This fortnight’s interviewee, Aurealis Award winner Glenda Larke brings her lifetime experiences of living in exotic places to the creation of wonderful fantasy worlds.
Congratulations on winning the inaugural Sara Douglass Series Award for the best Australian speculative fiction series completed between 2011 and 2014 with your Stormlord trilogy – The Last Stormlord, Stormlord Rising and The Stormlords Exile. https://aurealisawards.org/2016/03/25/the-winners-of-the-2015-aurealis-awards
Could you tell us something about the Stormlord Trilogy?
The first book, The Last Stormlord, introduces a world where it never rains, at least not naturally. Stormlords — men or women with power over water — use their magical control to bring water to the desert land. Unfortunately, the Stormlords have been dying off and water allowances are being reduced, prompting unrest and rebellion. As the land is torn apart by war, the unscrupulous attempt to control the only two young people who might one day just have enough power to provide solutions. The story continues in Stormlord Rising and concludes in The Stormlord’s Exile. Along the way, there’s love, battles, bravery, betrayal, tragedy, compromise, and ingenious use of water magic…
Can you pin-point an initial inspiration for the books? Reviewer Jason Nahrung suggested your experience of living in arid climates like WA and Tunisia may have influenced your use of the theme of water in these books.
As a kid, I remember a West Australian summer on our farm when a rat fell into the rainwater tank. That was our only drinking water. We had to drain the tank and rely on the generosity of neighbours while we waited for rain — so I’ve always known how precious water is.
We lived in Tunis in North Africa for two years. When the wind blew from the south, there would be sand heaped against the outer walls of our house — sand from the Sahara. I visited a town in Algeria where, when it rains, they distribute rainwater from the wadi when it flows according to how many people in each household. We were there on the first wet day they had that year; it was in December. Now we live near Perth W.A., where the waterflow into the dams that serve the city has decreased from an average of about 400 gigalitres a year prior to 1975, to last year’s 12 gigalitres.
We take two minute showers now, and don’t plant a lawn.
All that is what inspired me to write the Watergivers trilogy. It wasn’t difficult to think of a scenario. Control of water has already been a weapon of war; the dictator Sadam Hussein quashed criticism and destroyed the culture and livelihoods of the Marsh Arabs in Iraq by draining their marshes. Control of water is already an economic weapon. Who has the right to water in California: the cities or the farmers? Who can use the water of the Rio Grande: USA or Mexico? Israel controls much of Palestine’s access to the water of the Jordan River basin — imagine how well that works out!
I hope readers immerse themselves in the story and care about the characters. I hope they find the can’t put the books down because of the tale of adventure it tells. But I also hope that some readers think about the issues, issues which are already shaping the world we live in. Unfortunately we don’t have magic to fix things. We only have ourselves.
What are you working on now?
I’ve just finished another trilogy, The Forsaken Lands, based on the idea that if the Spice Islands of Asia had possessed magic when Europe tried to colonise them to control the spice trade, there may have been a different outcome. The first book is called The Lascar’s Dagger. (“Lascar” is a word given to Asian sailors who worked on European ships…) The trilogy has everything from pirates and sea battles to conniving queens, sorcerers — and a very sneaky dagger.
I’m working on a standalone fantasy now, as yet untitled, which might be the first in a series, if it’s successful. (My only other standalone was my very first published book, Havenstar.)
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 am a very messy writer. I did try meticulous planning once, but by the time I arrived at Chapter 3, I was way off the plan. I kept on thinking of better directions for the plot to go in!
Before I begin a book, there are three things I must have: an understanding of what makes the main characters tick; the ending (although it may change); and a vague theme — i.e. something that keeps the plot from running away in too many directions. I usually have a strong visual impression of some of the early scenes. But apart from that, I’m an explorer without a map, and yes, sometimes I get lost, I have to backtrack, or throw away the useless diversions. I rewrite a lot. (I always smile when neophyte writers ask, “How many times do you re-write? Two? Three?” The real answer to that is: “However many it takes.” Some parts will be perfect as soon as I write them; other parts might have 30 rewrites.)
As for how often I write: that too depends. Most of my books were written in between a day job and family commitments. I worked on a project basis, so when my day job was tough, writing was laid aside, sometimes for weeks. When job and publishing commitments clashed, things could get interesting. I remember reading the proofs of a novel at night in a pup tent in the rainforest during a tropical rainstorm — by candlelight. I wrote part of one of the Stormlord books chugging along on the deck of a slow fishing boat on the Kinabatangan River.
How do you go with social media? What do you do to increase interest in your work and how much time do you spend on it? Any tips?
Social media devours much more of my time than it should! I have no idea whether it’s terribly helpful with regards to selling books, although I try to keep people informed of what I’m up to. It’s so hard to assess what generates sales, and anyway, nowadays there is so much noise out there on social media that the occasional peep from an individual author just gets lost in the roar.
For me, I think social media is more important as a means of information and help (e.g. from fellow authors) to me. I value my online friendships because I find people can be so supportive and inspiring, even if we’ve never met. This is especially true of the Australian spec fic scene — readers, writers, industry professionals, convention organisers, etc — fabulous folk. Without them, I might have given up years ago.
You worked as a field ornithologist in Malaysia. Did this career have any influence on your writing?
Absolutely. Birds had a big part to play in The Isles of Glory books, and also in The Dagger’s Path. I think those avifaunal story lines succeeded only because I know my wild birds…
As well as that, when I worked in the field on bird conservation, I saw wonderful places — islands, cliffs, swamps, rainforests, mountains, lakes, rivers — scenes that inspired parts of different books.
What 3 artworks (books, music, visual arts, films) have most inspired you?
It’s always been books, books, books with me (although I love classical music, especially 18th and 19th century symphonies, which I play while writing. I once lived just beside a path called Beethovengang…)
It’s hard to pinpoint special books out of the thousands. Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising was probably one of the first to set on a path to writing fantasy, although I actually decided I was going to be a writer when I was about eight and still into Enid Blyton’s Famous Five! Oh, and Lord Juster’s present to the King in “The Fall of the Dagger” was inspired by the Burghley Nef saltcellar of 1527, which you can see in the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.
Looking back over my blog posts, I’ve noticed the station stories are much darker these days. In the old days it used to be about getting cakes from men in wheelchairs.
This Thursday when I got to the junction they were running all the trains through Platform 4 until the ambulance came for the man who had passed out right on the edge of Platform 2. The police arrived and recognized him as someone they’d just booked for assault, which made the ambo’s a bit jumpy. But when he woke up he went away quietly enough, though with a police escort in the ambulance. The trains switched back to Platform 2
The saga of M and C continues. C has disappeared again and M has reported her missing to the police. He used my phone to call her father who denied knowledge of her whereabouts but said he’d look. M worries that she has gone back to her violent ex. I worry full stop. Who knows what goes on between a couple?
I like them both especially M who is outgoing and personable in a kind of larrikin way. He seems to have a tremendous urge to take care of people which is sad because I see in him a nurse or elderly care person wasted. I’m not sure how he comes to be living on the street and can’t find out without seeming to pry. Perhaps it’s the lunchtime bourbon and cokes. Certainly from the stories he tells me it seems that when he has had choices to make, he’s always made the wrong one.
Still this is a judgement free zone so I give him change for the phone and store his spare iced coffee in my fridge (the kind of thing lots of station staff do) At the moment I’m asking around to see if I can get him a new backpack because the straps on the old one which holds all his worldlies is broken. I have a strong sense that you should be the change you want to see, as the saying goes, but if I was a truly good person I’d invite him to live in my spare room. I want to be helpful but at the same time I’m worried – about not crossing boundaries and about whether I’m being a fool to trust M as much as I do. My bosses would certainly not be pleased if he set up house in my waiting room.
I interviewed Jane on my blog and she asked me to answer my own questions for her blog. I thought this was rather funny, a bit of ‘what about a taste of your own medicine.’ Jane answered the questions so candidly that I found it inspiring. Maybe it will loosen my tongue.
Your new novel is coming out. Can you tell us a bit about it?
Technically, I have two novels coming out, albeit short ones. Under Donna Maree Hanson (my own fantabulous name) is Rae and Essa Space Adventures, which is a sequel to Rayessa and the Space Pirates
People tell me Rayessa and the Space Pirates is a fab title. I’m pleased to hear that because it was the name I came up with in despair, a sort of place holder until someone with more genius than me thought up a better one. Rayessa and the Space Pirates is a bit of fun, a rollicking adventure with SF, crime and a bit of romance. If you haven’t read it, then you really should because Rae and Essa Space Adventures will be a spoiler for you. So I’m going to cheat here. Rae and Essa Space Adventures starts about a year after Rayessa. It’s got a different protagonist and it’s slightly more mature in voice than Rayessa was. It’s more traditional romance in structure, with SF and adventure thrown in. I really like it but that’s quite natural for the author to say. Both are novellas and you can get through them pretty quickly. Links to the publisher’s website are at the bottom of the post. But in case you’re wondering it’s Harlequin’s Escape publishing.
The other novel is by the ‘other’ me. Yes, the pseudonym where I write paranormal romance. I’d like to keep them separate but in my citation for the A. Bertram Chandler Award it’s clearly spelt out so there’s not much point in trying to be coy any more. Hopefully, I won’t get googled in my day job. This month a prequel to my first published paranormal romance book (Bespelled) is coming out. Called Spiritbound it takes place before the events of the first book. http://www.escapepublishing.com.au/product/9780857992437 (Spritbound)
I’m not trying to twist your mind, it’s just now the ideas came to me. To summarise, this is a light paranormal romance (steamy) set around Balmain in Sydney and features witches, who are part of the folk, the folk being magical creatures of many descriptions to be explored in other books that are yet to be imagined by me. Spiritbound is the story of Grace and Declan. Grace is an accidental necromancer and powerful witch, who freaks out the coven by raising her dead cat by accident when a child. Because of her ability she is ostracised and can’t get a date. In rocks Declan, newly returned from overseas and the story of her life gets interesting. Grace is lovely and I loved writing her. She may fart rainbows and sunshine but that can’t be helped, she’s just so nice. The other thing I like about this story is the female relationships: Grace and her mother Elvira and with Elena, cousin/adopted sister. It’s so strong and fulfilling. Spiritbound is a short novel. It is also due out with Harlequin Escape in April.
Donna, tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m from Sydney originally but live in Canberra. Have done for near 20 years. I lived in New Zealand from the age of 17 to 25, where I had three kids and married a Maori. Not in that order but you can shuffle it a bit. I came back to Bondi in Sydney with three young kids, then studied at university, got a degree, a job and then came to Canberra.
I started writing at age 40, when I had time to pause and think about my life. I have had short stories published over the years but my main focus has been on novels. It is only in 2013 that my first longer work got published. By May 2015 I will have had seven novels published, four with Escape, one with Harper Impulse and two with Momentum. Momentum published the work of my heart, Dragon Wine as two books, Shatterwing and Skywatcher. Needless to say after writing for nearly 14 years I have a bit of a backlist and have more books on the boil. Rayessa and Dragon Wine were older works but everything else is newly written since 2012. Gee, I just realised how fast time goes when you’re having fun.
Donna, what do you find so attractive about speculative fiction? In what ways do you find it fulfilling?
I have written across the spectrum of science fiction, fantasy and horror and into paranormal romance. I’ve even dabbled in contemporary romance but struggle to keep out werewolves, vampires, ghosts and aliens. I like spec fic because I like the ‘other’, the things that are different and I like the ‘what if’ questions and now fantastical adventure can make an individual shine. I like how, as a writer, I can take the issues and events in the world and recast them and explore them. Sometimes, I don’ t know why things are the way they are in our world or I think about what can be and then I put them in a constructed setting and explore. Not everything I write is deep and meaningful, some of it is plain fun, but I like the spec fic. canvas so much.
What are you working on at the moment?
Hahahaha! What a question! I feel hyperactive and lazy at the same time. I have been drafting a Regency Romance and enjoying it. I’m sort of playing in the water here, because I’m not sure if it will see the light of day, but it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. When I was writing straight SF and Fantasy, I wondered if I was a better writer of paranormal romance but never tried my hand at it. Now, I’m doing the same thing with Regency romance. By the way, I do consider Regency Romance to be a type of fantasy. And as well as that, I’m currently revising the next instalment in the Dragon Wine series. I may feel like I have achieved something if I get that ready to go when needed. I have loads of other things on the boil, like Invoked, which is back to me for reworking and revising. (Because it did a belly flop on submission to the editor). Invoked is a sequel to Bespelled, featuring witches but ones that live in and around Lake Macquarie.
What is your writing process? (planner, panster, write every day, write sporadically, writer’s block etc).
Can I say that I am all of the above? Go on laugh, but it’s true. I used to be a panster, write every day and be so focussed that I really wasn’t interested in anything else. I repine about not being that enthusiastic anymore. I was definitely in a hurry to hone my craft in those first years. Trouble was I kept going in sideways directions with publishing, convention running and editing etc. These days I’m likely to plan, even if it’s just a few paragraphs outlining the overall story. This is because I don’t remember things as well as I used to and because I don’t like wasting time by making mistakes. I like to know the story is going to work out in the end. Because I’m planning more, I tend to put way too much plot in my paranormal romances as a result, but I’m learning more about character to balance it out. I think I do character better when I don’t plan.
These days I write sporadically. I am easily put off and distracted. Jane mentioned 8 hour Buffy sessions. I put up my hand. I do that. I do worse. I watch Pride and Prejudice (all of the versions I own) when I want to avoid writing. It’s not writer’s block exactly. It’s a distracted, diffuse attention span thingy and trying to do too much all at the same time. I counted and I had about 13 manuscripts in various stages of construction. Some just need a revision and to be sent out, others need reworking, others need the first draft to be completed.
I don’t know how I got myself into this, but I had big plans for writing at the end of last year and this year and they’ve done a belly flop. This is mostly due to work being busy and stressful and my mum dying. I write when I make time, usually a writing date where I find it hard to shirk and writers’ retreats where I’m very productive. Having confessed to all that I can say that I’d like to write every day even if it’s just a paragraph and I’m going to strive to do that. I’m taking lessons from Jane.
What do you prefer drafting the story or revising and reworking?
As you can tell from the above, I think I like drafting rather than revising or reworking, but that’s not entirely true. I’ve just painted myself into a corner here. I get a buzz from creating new work and I love the discovery of a new story, new characters. It’s a drug and I’m addicted. The real work for me is the revision and the reworking/editing. That’s where I have to sit down and work through it. I may get lucky and have a discovery or an insight that makes the work better but essentially I’ve discovered the ending and I know how it pans out. If I have issues then I can set my mind to fix them and that gives me a buzz too. I think it’s an attention span thing and maybe I get bored. I can’t say what my problem is…it’s all the pretty shiny things I want to do, like craft and to read… I will find a cure eventually.
What part of writing do you find hardest?
I think I’ve spelled that out above, but I will add…waiting….waiting…It’s waiting for beta readers to give you feedback, it’s waiting for an editor to get back to you and waiting for the cover and for the book to come out. It’s the long wait for submissions to be seen, rejected and resubmitted. It’s waiting, waiting and waiting….arghhhhhh. Waiting can be disheartening, it can make you crazy, that’s why writing-drafting and revising are so good, because you feel like you can control your life while you wait for something.
What do you plan to work on next?
The big ticket item I have to do, that I really want to do, is write the last two books (or one big book) in the Dragon Wine series. The books in the series I’m working on now are essentially written but the finale –I have to write that…and it scares me…because when I had all the cool ideas I didn’t write them down and it was a long time ago. Don’t worry, I know how it ends…I think. I may change my mind. I also have ideas for prequel and sequels but then again I always do…I can’t confine my imagination to a mere trilogy! .
Donna Maree Hanson is a Canberra-based writer of fantasy, science fiction, horror, and under a pseudonym, paranormal romance. She has been writing creatively since November 2000.She has had about 20 short stories published in various small press and ezines. In 2006, she won a Varuna Long Lines Fellowship for her novel in progress, Dragon Wine and was also shortlisted for the Varuna Manuscript Development Award that year. Donna has also had two of her short stories receive honourable mentions in Datlow’s years best horror.In January 2013, her first longer work, Rayessa & the Space Pirates, was published with Harlequin’ s digital imprint, Escape (link here.) This novella length work is a young-adult, science-fiction adventure/romance (space opera). A sequel to Rayessa & the Space Pirates will be out with Escape in early 2015.Dragon Wine is to be published by Momentum (Pan Macmillan Australia’s Digital Imprint) in two parts, Shatterwing and Skywatcher, in September and October 2014.In 2015 she won the A. Bertram Chandler Award for lifetime achievement in science fiction.