A man of many waistcoats, Richard Harland is a great raconteur. (If you ever have to do a reading at an SF Con, try not to be slotted in after him). A writer of SF, fantasy, horror, mystery and the fantastical for all ages there doesn’t appear to be much that Richard can’t do.
Richard’s give away is rather quirky …
In an alternative 19th century, juggernauts are vast mountains of machinery rolling across the ground, one for each Imperialist nation.
The British juggernaut is Worldshaker.
The French juggernaut is La Marseillaise.
The Russian juggernaut is the Romanov.
The Prussian juggernaut is the Lebensraum.
The Turkish juggernaut is the Battle of Mohacs.
Worldshaker appears in Richard’s novel of the same name, and the others appear in the sequel, Liberator. The Italian and American juggernauts haven’t yet appeared. Think up a name for them (only one for each). Best name for the Italian juggernaut wins a copy of Worldshaker, and another copy goes to the best name for the American juggernaut.
Leave your suggestion in the comments section.
The French juggernaut, La Marseillaise.
Q: Worldshaker and its sequel Liberator are set in a delightful steampunk world. Worldshaker has been very successful and you did a World Tour (the UK and the US) last year to promote the book. Were you surprised when Worldshaker hit such a nerve with the reading public?
Well, I was surprised by the level of enthusiasm from my Australian publisher (Allen & Unwin), then blown away by the size of the advance offered by my American publisher (Simon & Schuster). That made me realise they expected great things from Worldshaker, and, yep, it’s all coming true. I was lucky to have written exactly the right book at exactly the right moment—quite by accident. Worldshaker was my mechanised version of a Mervyn Peake-like world, which just happened to be the same as steampunk. About as steampunky as a novel could get, at the very moment when the steampunk fashion was starting to take off.
The fact that Worldshaker and the soon-to-be-released Liberator are also the best novels I’ve ever written isn’t so accidental. I think steampunk is the genre I was born to write! I look back on my earlier novels, and I can see steampunky elements creeping into them here, there and everywhere.
Q: Is there a third book based on the adventures of Riff and Col?
Or maybe Septimus and Gillabeth, along with Riff and Col? As soon as there’s something to announce, it’ll be announced first on Ripping Ozzie Reads!
Q: The Black Crusade was a sequel to the Vicar of Morbing Vyle and won the Golden Aurealis in 2004. These are very quirky books. Are you ever tempted to revisit this world and characters?
No, those were cult novels, and I fitted the writing of The Black Crusade in between other writings. With my steampunk novels selling so well, I can’t see myself finding time to produce another gothic cult book—and I don’t have any ideas for one either.
Q: There are four books in the Wolf kingdom series for upper primary. What prompted you to develop this series and will there be more stories?
I was asked to produce a quartet of short children’s fantasy books, along with Ian Irvine, Kim Wilkins and Fiona MacInstosh. For me, it was the perfect opportunity to develop a fantasy world with wolves, which have inhabited my dreams ever since I was a kid. I finally wrote wolves out of myself with the Wolf Kingdom books, so no, no more in the series. The fourth book wraps up the story once and for all.
Q: You have a wonderful resource on your web site, 145 pages of writing tips. You must get lots of great feedback from aspiring writers. Did it take a long time to put together?
It took ages! Whenever I get feedback from writers who’ve been helped by the site, I feel it was all worthwhile, but at the time I was cursing myself for not doing any writing of my own for four whole months. The site just grew and grew, and I couldn’t stop until I’d covered every angle of becoming a speculative fiction writer—good writing habits, action, setting, dialogue, characters, story, momentum, style and getting published. It was 145 web pages in the end—I think it comes to 160 pages if you print out the download. And then there were all the little humorous pics to create and insert:–like …
Q: You have won in many different sections of the Aurealis Awards: best fantasy short story, best horror novel, best children’s/illustrated fiction, along with the Golden Aurealis for best in any category. All of this must have pleased your publishers. Were you ever afraid of diluting your reading public, working across so many genres and ages?
I’ve been indulged, hopping from sub-genre to sub-genre and readership to readership. It’s good for keeping the creative juices flowing, but it’s not good for building a loyal readership. Now I have to face the hard necessity of really developing a name in one particular area—which luckily coincides with the fact that I’ve finally discovered my very favourite area—steampunk!—just at the moment when there’s a growing readership for it.
I’ll still keep hopping about with short stories, though.
Q: There are the wonderful Ferren and the Angels series, Sassycat (which my son loved and read over and over) and the Aussie Chomps book, Walter wants to be a Werewolf. Do you just have so many ideas you can’t stop them bubbling up?
Ideas have never been my problem—I’ve always had plenty of them. My problem was turning ideas into words, and words into finished books. I had writer’s block for 25 years, when I couldn’t finish a single novel I started writing. Which now means I have a backlog of ideas as well as all the new ideas that keep coming. I’m planning to live to about 100—I reckon I should run out of ideas for novels clamouring to be written round about then.
Q: I read your Eddon and Vail series and really enjoyed it. It was SF, mystery and a love story all woven into one. It didn’t get the attention it deserved. Was this because it was such a mix of genres?
Yes, and bad timing. The market for SF was declining in Australia when the first Eddon and Vail book (The Dark Edge) came out, so the idea was to sell it as murder mystery as well as SF. That was no cheat, it really is both. Trouble is, you can get a murder mystery story to work for an SF audience, but you can’t get murder mystery fans to swap over to an SF setting.
Q: When Marianne and I approached you back in 2005 to see if you’d like to join ROR, you agreed and have been part of the group ever since. Did you find ROR helped you in developing or directing your writing? And if so, in what ways?
One of my greatest mistakes during my 25 years of writer’s block was that I was too proud to show unfinished or less-than-perfect work to anyone else. Now I’m mad for feedback—and there’s no better feedback than from a group of fellow-writers, all reading one another’s novels. The ROR group is very professional, very committed, very serious and—importantly–very tactful. (No raging egos!) And great guys too, even apart from writing!
Q: What are you currently working on?
I’m still doing the copyediting and final revisions on Liberator, which comes out in April (US), May (Australia, UK)—and perhaps as early as March in France. (Germany and Brazil will be later.)
The UK cover of Liberator, by Ian Miller
The (always very different) over for the French edition of Liberator
I’ve been working on short stories at the same time—not-so-short, novella-length stories, actually. There’s a re-worked Beauty and the Beast in The Wilful Eye, ed. Isabelle Carmody and Nan McNab; a steampunky, 19th century, supernatural story in Ghosts by Gaslight, ed. Jack Dann; and a story still without a final title for Anywhere But Earth, ed. Keith Stevenson.
I think I might write more short stories before the next big project. Over the last couple of days, I’ve been inspired by Ellen Datlow taking “The Fear” for her US anthology, Year’s Best Horror; the sale of another story to an American magazine; and the sudden realisation that the cupboard is almost bare—I have only one story still waiting to find a home.
Q: At ROR we always do our realistic goals and our dream goals. So what are your realistic goals and what are your dream goals?
My dream goal is to have a movie made of Worldshaker. That’s a dream with realistic elements, because there’s a Hollywood director who wants to make it and a top scriptwriter currently seeing whether she wants to script it. But anything to do with Hollywood is still a far-off dream until it happens.
My hopefully realistic goal is to see Worldshaker and Liberator sold to Japan. They love gigantic machines in Japan—I want them to love juggernauts!
My most realistic goal is to get more and more steampunk clothes. I just had a birthday a couple of days ago, and my presents included an aviator helmet and another old-fashioned waistcoat to add to my collection (23 so far …).
Don’t forget to enter Richard’s give-away. Question at the top of this post. Leave your suggestion in the comments section.
Meanwhile, you can find out more about Richard at www.richardharland.net. Or, for the US, www.worldshaker.info and for the UK, www.worldshaker.co.uk. His free guide to writing fantasy and speculative fiction is at www.writingtips.com.au