Rowena Interviewed by Marianne. Watch out for the give-away question at the end.
KRK is a rollicking fantasy. You just jump on the magic carpet and it sweeps you away. I’ve had lots of people tell me they started reading one evening and didn’t stop until they were finished, and had to go to work the next day!
The T’En trilogy was about a clash of cultures. It explored trust and overcoming prejudice. The KRK trilogy is more of a traditional fantasy. A kingdom is in peril, there’s forbidden magic, the heir resents his twin who is more popular than him, there’s feisty princess who doesn’t want to be married off, and a prince who has been sent to serve the church because he’s cursed with forbidden magic. But it is really about friendship, trust and believing in yourself, so the core elements are similar in both trilogies even though the settings diverge.
Being a bit of a nerd I love inventing societies. I’m always reading about other cultures and collecting obscure bits of information. For instance, did you know that there is a New Guinea tribe where the women cut off a knuckle from a finger each time a family member dies. By the time the woman are very old they have a hardly any fingers left. I find this fascinating. And I don’t mean this in a frivolous way. Think what it says about love and sacrifice.
Q: Heroic fantasy is enduringly popular. What role do you believe it plays in peoples reading lives? What attracts you to it as a writer?
Heroic fantasy presents us with a world as we would like it to be, as opposed to the world as it is. We live in a world where politicians make promises that aren’t core promises and terrorists kill people who are going about their daily lives, then run away and hide.
Faced with a reality where shades of grey abound, who wouldn’t love epic/heroic fantasy? The good guys set out to right a wrong. They might not be perfect but they try. They overcome obstacles and, in the end, they succeed so the world is a better place!
Q: Many people believe that publishing a first novel is the Holy Grail and that after that it all gets much easier. What would you say to them?
You can write a good book and jump through all the hoops to get published, then editors leave, lines get cancelled and bad covers kill sales which means all your work goes down the drain and you have to start all over again.
Really, you write because you love writing. If you don’t expect fame and fortune, you won’t be disappointed. Then when readers email you to say they enjoyed your books it’ll be a thrill!
Q: You won several awards for your debut adult fiction novel The Last T’En. What affect did that have on your career? What is your opinion of awards in general? Do they serve a purpose?
It’s always nice to win awards. It’s like this big hand reaching down out the sky, patting you on the head and saying, There, there. You really can write.
I know that the Children’s Book Council wins or short listings are great for sales. Libraries buy the CBC books, and they get used in classroom (which is the holy grail of children’s book sales), all this makes your publishers really happy. I don’t know that genre awards make a big difference to sales, which is really the bottom line for your publisher.
But it is really nice to win an award. In Australia we have the Aurealis Awards, which are peer awards. The entries in each speculative fiction sub genre is read by a panel of dedicated readers who agonise over their decisions. (I know because I’ve been involved in the process). The AAs have been going for fifteen years now and everyone in the genre knows about them. The wider community is less well informed, but then most reporters would not know what a Nebula or a Hugo is, and these US awards have been around for 44 and 71 years respectively. So I suppose it is evidence that SF still being ghettoised to a certain extent. The only other genre that cops more flack is romance, yet it is by far the largest selling genre.
Which brings us back to awards and sales. The readers decide what they like, but only if they can find the books. An award should help draw the reader to the book.
Q: Can you tell us in a little detail what future projects you have planned?
Currently, I’m working on The Outcast Chronicles. This is a family saga fantasy about a group of mystics, who are banished from their homeland. It follows four key individuals as they as they struggle with misplaced loyalties, over-riding ambition and hidden secrets which could destroy them. Some make desperate alliances only to suffer betrayal from those they trust, and some discover great personal strength in times of adversity.
As soon as I hand this trilogy to my publisher, I need to start on the new King Rolen’s Kin trilogy. I’ve had so many emails from readers wanting to know what happens next, that I’ve already started planning the next three books, while finishing the current series.
Q: You’ve been involved in many, many projects in the creative industries over the years; running countless workshops and pitching forums to help others. How do you know when to draw the line and say, I must have time for my own work? What advice would you give others about finding balance?
I’ve enjoyed all the projects I’ve worked on and, over the years, I’ve met lots of wonderful aspiring writers and lots of generous, inspiring professionals. Many of these aspiring writers have become published. Now that I’m working (I lecture on story, scripting, storyboards and animatics), as well as writing (and renovating the house), I’m struggling to squeeze in the time to complete the books I have under contract. Yet, I LOVE writing.
I think the best thing you can do, is realise that without writing (or what ever creative outlet is your passion) you won’t be a happy balanced human being. You need to be kind to yourself. Imagine that you are your best friend. If your BF was doing all the things you’ve been doing and running her/himself into the ground, what advice would you give them? Now, give that advice to yourself and take it.
There is no shame in looking after yourself. After all, a lot of people depend on you and you need your emotional and creative well to be replenished so that you have something left to give.
Q: What would you like to have achieved in ten years time?
Finish renovating the house. LOL. It’s a bit like painting the Sydney Harbour Bridge, by the time you finish at one end, the other end needs to be painted again.
Apart from that, I would love to be living quietly somewhere with my DH, and writing away, knowing that the books I write are all under contract and readers are looking forward to them.
In reality, I will probably be run ragged between my six children and their kids. But I like a challenge!
My give-away is a set of King Rolen’s Kin trilogy (If you already one or two of the books I’ll fill the gap with the missing book/s).
My question is: If you could take a holiday in an invented secondary world, where would you go and why?