Marianne and I met at the very first VISION writing group meeting (when it didn’t even have a name). She had escaped from her family (3 small boys) caught a ferryboat across from Stradbroke Island and was determined to pursue her writing. The rest, as they say, is history.
After Orbit picked up the Parrish series, Marianne went on to write the Sentients of Orion series. Her contemporary, paranormal mystery series Tara Sharp is published with Allen and Unwin, and the first book of her new YA series Burn Bright will be released by Random House this year.
Marianne has a copy of Sharp Turn to give away. Look for the give-away question at the end of the post.
Q: All three Parrish books were short listed for an Aurealis Awards and White Mice made the concept into a game. This series was such a break neck adventure there was hardly time for the reader to draw breath. I see there is a We Want more Parrish Facebook group and you are writing a Parrish novella. Can you tell us a little more about this and do you see yourself writing more books in the Parrish universe?
I had always intended to write at least one more novel, if not another trilogy, but things didn’t work out that way. My publisher was keen for me to branch out, and frankly, at the end of Crash Deluxe, I needed a break from Parrish. She is rather intense to have in your life every day!
I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to finish Parrish’s story though, and I do believe one will come along eventually. Quite coincidentally, at the time Cels Jansink started the FB group, I was approached by an e-book publisher for a SF novelette. It seemed to be the perfect moment to revisit Parrish, so at the moment I’m writing a novelette (10K) which will be a prequel.
Q: Glitter Rose collection from Twelfth Planet Press. I always had the feeling that this collection grew out of your time living on Stradbroke Island. The reader is immersed in a dreamy sense of dislocation and otherness. What did you set out to explore with Glitter Rose?
Yes, Glitter Rose was inspired by both my time living on the island, and my love affair with JG Ballard’s collection, Vermillion Sands. Stradbroke Island has a very strong sense of mythology which I wanted to explore it my own way. Islands are often places people run away to, escaping their life elsewhere. When I began to write, Tinashi’s story came from nowhere, as if it had been waiting in the wings for the right set of circumstances to give it voice. I was searching for a sense of melancholy and tragic romanticism, and I feel that, to a degree, I achieved it in those stories.
Q: The first two Sentients of Orion books were short listed for an Aurealis Award and the next two have been nominated. (fingers crossed!) This series required a lot of research and took the reader far into the future across the universe into unfamiliar concepts. You must have a real love for vast space operas. When you started out writing this series, did you have any idea how far it would take you and your characters?
At the time I started writing Dark Space I was beguiled by the new wave of space opera and wanted to be a part of it. However, I felt there were still a lack of developed female characters in the genre, and definitely a lack of SF stories that portrayed a woman’s POV through events like childbirth and rape and war. To add to that, I had a strong sense of the scope and the philosophical underpinnings that I wanted to explore. What I didn’t realise was how emotionally draining it would be to guide the characters through that kind of landscape. The hardest thing I’ve ever done.
Q: Burn Bright is a dark look at teenagers in the near future. What prompted you to write this series and what was the inspiration for the world. (Can we assume you lead a dissolute life as a teenager? <grin>)
It’s actually not near future. It’s a fantastical world with SF underpinnings. The fantasy element is gothic and dark and more window dressing than anything else, while the plot functions well and truly as either far-future or far-past SF. The story has MANY themes running through it; dystopia masquerading as a utopia, the divide between youth and their elders, repression, patriarchies vs matriarchies. But the one thing that arose from my own past, that I particularly
wanted to explore, was the concept of pleasure within our moral and religious frameworks. Guilt seems to pay a large part in keeping society functioning within acceptable boundaries. I wondered what would happen if we removed guilt and let young people indulge purely hedonistic pursuits without it. Retra/Naif is the story’s moral compass but what happens to her when she discovers pleasure without guilt? Are moral values in any sense innate? Or are the purely a result of environment and upbringing? My belief is the society will self regulate. But you’ll have to read the book to find out if that happens!
One of the most exciting things about this project has been my collaboration with indie musician, Yunyu. She has written a simply mesmerising song to accompany the release of the book.
Q: The first book in Marianne’s Tara Sharp series, Sharp Shooter, won the Davitt Award (for Best Novel by an Australian female crime writer). You told me when you started writing this book that you were having so much fun with it. Is this why you branched into writing contemporary, paranormal mystery series based around Tara Sharp? And where do you see the series going?
I wrote it very much as an antidote to the Sentients of Orion which was exhausting, research heavy and demanding in every way. Tara Sharp was a balm to my rubbed-raw writing muscle. Tara’s character felt so natural to write and the world was contemporary – no difficult concepts to determine.
I’ve always incorporated humour in my writing, but usually it tends to black humour e.g. Parrish Plessis. I surprised myself by writing some decent slapstick in the Sharp books. I giggled my way through them and hoped readers would too.
Q: You write this series as Marianne Delacourt. Why are you using a pseudonym for the Tara Sharp series?
Out of respect for my science fiction readership really. I didn’t want them to pick up a Tara Sharp novel and expect them to find the same kind of emotional intensity and deep philosophical questions that underpinned the Sentients of Orion.
Q: Peacemaker Series looks like it will be a lot of fun. It grew from a Virgin Jackson short story and it brings together Australian outback, cowboys and urban fantasy (in the bush). You grew up on a wheat farm in Western Australia, how much of your childhood is there in the character Virgin Jackson?
I grew up on a diet of boy-hero/action/cowboy stories and was the youngest of a farming family. I had so much freedom and time when I was young and spent my days in imaginary worlds being one of those heroes. I used to practise with dad’s stockwhips, go bareback riding, spend too much time in trees and ride shotgun with dad when he chased sheep stealers off the property. If they aren’t the right ingredients for Peacemaker then…
As I turn 50 today and spend some time reflecting on my life, I realise how incredibly blessed my childhood was. Thanks mum and dad!
Q: You are certainly diversifying with the genres you write in and the publishers you are working with. I’ve heard publishers say that they don’t like writers to write across genres because it dilutes their reading audience. As a savvy writer who plans her career you must have a rationale behind your diversification.
When you choose to write across genres you have to be aware that you will need to build a unique audience for each identity – this takes time. From that point of view, it makes sense to consolidate and stay in one genre. But I hate creative constriction and believe diversification is healthy – if that’s what stimulates you.
Q: Back in 2001 when we set up ROR, we created the group to push ourselves and our writing craft. Do you feel that it has succeeded? I know some of us have very tight deadlines to deliver books and it is not always possible to get to ROR with a completed manuscript. Is there any direction you would like to take ROR so that it keeps pushing you?
I believe the current format we have in ROR is still very effective. The main problem is the logistics of trying to get seven people available at the same time with enough material. Often the timing doesn’t work out.
Q: What are you currently working on?
I’ll write it in point form to keep it brief J
Night Creatures #2 – Angel Arias (dark teen fantasy)
Peacemaker #1 – Peacemaker (urban fantasy)
Tara Sharp #3 – Too Sharp! (humourous crime)
Stalking Daylight SF screenplay collaboration with Lynne Jamneck (nearly finished)
Q: At ROR we always do our realistic goals and our dream goals. So what are your realistic goals (what are you currently working on) and what are your dream goals?
Oh and please, Alan Ball, can you pick up one of my books next time you’re in a bookshop!
Here are the chatrooms if you want to catch up with other MDP readers.
Follow Marianne on Twitter. @mdepierres
Question for giveaway: What’s the full name of Tara Sharp’s narcoleptic security chief?
The give-away will stay open until Tuesday of next week, when Marianne will select a winner.