Interview with Glenda Larke – winner of the Inaugural Sara Douglass Series Award.

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.

Glenda Larke with friend

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.

If you want to know more about Glenda try:


Twitter: @glendalarke

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/groups/105625628881/

 The Burghley Nef saltcellar, 1527 from The Victoria & Albert Museum, London
The Burghley Nef saltcellar, 1527 from The Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Interview with Aurealis Award winner Trent Jamieson



Congratulations on winning the 2015 Aurealis Award for both Best Fantasy and Best Horror novel! https://aurealisawards.org/

That’s amazing.

Thanks! I was completely surprised, and delighted.

It’s about Mark – a Day Boy who works for a Vampire, running chores, protecting his master during the day. It’s his last year as a Day Boy and he must decide how he is going to enter adulthood as man or monster or something not quite either. And, things don’t go smoothly at all. I kind of pitched it as To Kill a Mockingbird meets Dracula – which is a bit cheeky, but kind of the mood that the book went along. My mum didn’t like it because it was too violent – and she’s read all my stuff. I’ve promised her the next book is very different – but you never know with books.

Can you pin-point an initial inspiration for the book?

A very strong image I had of two boys smoking in a crypt flicking cigarettes at a coffin. I knew at once that they worked for vampires, but I wanted to know what they were like, how they had gotten so comfortable, even brazen, in their job. Everything sprang from that.

What are you working on at the moment?

A novel called the Stone Road. I’m just picking through a messy first draft and trying to work out what it’s about – which I think I know, now, but we’ll see. There are many drafts ahead.

You’re clearly a fan of Lovecraft and also devoted to Brisbane where you now live. Brisbane is nothing like the gloomy windy shores of New England. Is Brisbane a gothic place in your mind? What makes it so?Trent-Photo

Funnily enough I’m not that into Lovecraft other than the cosmic horror, though I tend to play around with it a lot less seriously in my work. But I adore Brisbane. It is not a gothic place in my mind at all, in some ways, like most cities, I guess, it’s a blank slate. But that’s just an invitation to artists. Brisbane is a place that drives some great fantasy writing. You’ll be seeing new fantasy and horror novels set in Brisbane by Angela Slatter and Gary Kemble in the next twelve months or so, and that excites me. I think it’s a city worth writing about, and you know, what makes a city great comes down to the community that lives in it, and the stories they tell. The more stories and art we have the richer the place we live in. Brisbane sings with stories, and I’m proud to be a part of that.

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 slow and non-linear. And I slap scenes together and see how they work. I write thin – my early drafts are whisps – and then too thick, and then have to thin again. I don’t plan, but I do a lot of rewriting, structural and line-by-line – I don’t know if you’ve noticed here, but my punctuation is awful! I try and write every day, even if it’s only a few words. I don’t tend to do marathon sessions until I am editing and deadlines come into play. Otherwise it’s just chip, chip, chip and see what you end up with.

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?

I have gotten worse at this over the years. I’m a bit weary of social media as a platform, or maybe just weary of the sound of my voice. As a place to have fun it’s great, but as a selling tool for me, I’m not so sure. I don’t spend nearly enough time on increasing interest in my work. But I am always open to anything interesting when it comes along, promotion wise. What I do do, I try and have fun with. If you’re going to promote you need to be creative, honest, and have fun. Writing books is the thing that interests me, and reading. Everything else is just waving flags (unless, you’re great at it, and there are some really wonderful self promoters out there) and hoping someone notices.

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

I am terrible at narrowing things down to favourites. They always change, because I keep reading and listening, and you forget your favourites (well, I do, anyway), and then you encounter the work again and you remember that, yes, you listened to that album non-stop for a year. But there is a constant churn of inspiration. Currently it’s Ursula K. Le Guin’s Tombs of Atuan, N.K. Jemisin’s book The Fifth Season (which I am reading at the moment), and Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian.

All of which are feeding into the new book whether I want them to or not.

List of Hookup Websites & Dating

Trent can be contacted at teacupthrenody at hotmail dot com

Trent Jamison 2


Sophie Masson – Interview

Prolific French-Australian author Sophie Masson has charmed both children and adults with her richly beautiful fantasy stories.  Her most recent book is Trinty Book 2 – The False Prince.



Tell us about your Trinity series.

The Trinity series is a duology which is set in modern Russia, against a background of hard-nosed corporate skulduggery, dark historical echoes and supernatural and magical elements that thread themselves in and out of the story. It’s a fairly unique series, I think, in that what I’m attempting to do is paint a kind of metaphorical portrait of the extraordinary nature of Russia and its culture while telling a gripping, genre-bending story with vivid characters and unexpected elements. Trinity–Book 1, The Koldun Code; and Book 2, The False Prince, are centred around the viewpoints of main characters Helen Clement, a young Londoner who by background is part French-part-American; Maxim Serebrov, an experienced, disillusioned Moscow homicide detective, and in the second book, another couple of characters who are very ambiguous but very interesting too(don’t want to say exactly who they are for fear of spoilers!).

What initially inspired you to write the Trinity books?

Russia–and a fascination I’ve had with that country and its culture since I was a child–and the two visits I’ve made there, in recent times, really increased that and also gave me the rich texture for Trinity as well as opening me up to some unexpected discoveries–such as the fact that magic and the supernatural are very present not only in traditional pre-Revolutionary culture, but very much today as well. You can read more about that aspect of it here: http://firebirdfeathers.com/2014/10/31/trinity-inspirations-old-magic-and-new-psychics/

What are you working on now?

I;m working on a novel called The Ghost Squad, a speculative fiction YA novel. It’s part of my PHD work–I’m currently enrolled as a PHD student in Creative Practice at the University of New England, and part of the project is writing that novel, plus an associated exegesis which is looking at YA speculative fiction with the theme of the afterlife! It’s really fantastic and I’m much enjoying both the reading and the writing. As well, I have several picture-book texts I’m working on(two have already been accepted) as well as a book of light fantasy short stories for younger readers.

You’re also very involved in Eagle Books translation of Jules Verne’s Mikhail Strogoff which is due out in April 2016.  How did that happen? Will Eagle bring out more Jules Verne translations? 


I’m one of the co-directors and founding partners of Eagle Books, which is a new imprint of small publisher Christmas Press, which we founded in 2013. Eagle Books will specialise in wonderful adventure novels for readers 11 and up, that can also be pleasurably read by adults. Our launch title is the wonderful limited edition of Jules Verne’s Mikhail Strogoff, in a fantastic new translation by Stephanie Smee, and illustrated by David Allan. That book is very important to me–in its original French(titled Michel Strogoff), I read it at age 11, and it was the book that made me fall in love with Russia and that has really marked me both as a writer and reader. But the English translations of it(from 19th century) were stodgy and dated and did not fairly represent the original book. Stephanie is a friend–I had first met her when she translated some fantastic classic French children’s fiction by the Countess de Segur, bestselling translations published by Simon and Schuster–and it was just so wonderful that she agreed that Eagle Books should publish her wonderful translation of my favourite childhood book! It really is a dream come true. I edited the book as well as writing the foreword–a real privilege to be helping to bring back to English speaking readers a book that in France is considered to be Verne’s masterpiece and very influential there.

We might bring out more Verne translations–we’ll see! There are many that he wrote that are not well known in English speaking countries–but Mikhail Strogoff, which some critics have called the ‘best adventure novel ever written’, is clearly the most exciting!

Many of your books are have background in folk and fairy tale.  What do you like about using fairy tales as a source material?

Fairy tales are wonderful because they are both so deep and so wide–so capacious of meaning but also light on detail so that you really have a wonderful framework to work on from the start. They have a great richness  about them and yet a great simolicity which I find very appealing.

You write for both adults and children.  Which group do your prefer writing for?

I like writing for both–depends on the story! That said, I feel freer in a sense when I write for children and young adults–there are not so many categories and restrictions in terms of genre–nobody minds if you blend them, whereas in adult fiction, it seems sometimes that people don’t like it if you do that!

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 write at least a chapter or two a day–go over the previous day’s work before I start the next–so that the book is built up in such a way that I’ve already revised by the time I get to the end of the first draft. I do write most days, and I always write more than I need and am happy to cut, then. I’m not a planner as such but I do know where I want my story to end up, and I do know the first few chapters pretty well before I start. And because of the way I work, I do a kind of reverse planning process which means that things slot in very nicely as I’m going.

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?

My main social media activity is with my blog, www.firebirdfeathers.com where I don’t just post about my own work but in fact mostly do lots of interviews and feature guest posts. It’s got quite a few readers, which is great! I also use Facebook a lot and Twitter is linked to that and that seems to work well. Tips? Well, I think, with a blog, it’s a good idea to have a variety of things you post about, don’t make it wholly focussed on your own work(for your own sake as well as readers!) And with FB/Twitter etc, my experience suggests it’s best to link FB to Twitter rather than the other way around.

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

Jules Verne’s Mikhail Strogoff; the Tintin books–as works of art as well as stories–I adore Herge’s work and other French ‘bandes dessinees’ which I was brought up on, that ligne claire style especially; and The Godfather (film) as well as Shakespeare in Love. If I can squeeze in another artwork, I love an unusual little Renaissance portrait of a little boy(attached), son of the artist Francesco Caroto(1480–1555) –the little boy is showing off his own stick-figure artwork in a most endearing and delighted way. Really makes the centuries fall away…caroto painting

In terms of music, I am very eclectic and like all kinds of genres, from folk to jazz to rock to medieval and baroque; but I guess, sticking to the Russian theme, that The Song of the Volga Boatmen(as sung by the Red Army Choir!) has resonated for me down the years since I first heard it as a kid–my dad being very fond of the music of the Red Army Choir. When I heard it sung in Russia itself, in a lovely little room in a small kremlin(citadel) by the side of the Volga in the ancient town of Uglich(where much of the first Trinity book is set) I just burst into tears, it was so magnificent and so resonant with my own past as well as that of the place I was in…



Sophie Masson

Continuum 11: Southern Skies

Faded images of Continuums past Thanks to Terry Frost
Faded images of Continuums past Thanks to Terry Frost

I’ll be attending Continuum 11 this Queens Birthday weekend.

I’ll be on panels about Sherlock Holmes, about whether we can forgive our favorite writers when they turn out to be horrible people, about whether we should remove the Golliwogs from Noddie and whats good in Comedy SF fiction.
I’ll also be helping to launch Ticonderoga’s new Anthology Hear me Roar.
which is full of Female Superhero stories, including one by me called Barista.
And I’ll be joining the happy throng Welcoming Jason Nahrung to the Clan Destine Press family which his two vampire novels Blood and Dust and The Big Smoke.
How much can a Koala Bear?
If you see me there come up and say hello.

Great new anthology from Ticonderoga Publications
Great new anthology from Ticonderoga Publications