2014 Snapshot – Claire Zorn


Claire Zorn’s first young adult novel The Sky So Heavy (UQP) was published to critical acclaim in 2013. It has been shortlisted for the Aurealis Awards and the Children’s Book Council Australia Book of the Year (Older Readers) Her second novel The Protected (UQP) was released July 2014. Claire studied creative writing at UTS and has been published by Wet Ink, Overland and Peppermint. She lives on the south coast of NSW with her husband and two young children.

TheProtected1. Just days ago your second novel, The Protected, was published and released into the world. Could you tell us a bit about it?

The Protected tells the story of fifteen year-old Hannah. She is dealing with the aftermath of her sister’s tragic death, shunted from counsellor to counsellor by parents who are emotionally absent and lost in their own grief. For Hannah life was tough enough before her sister died as she was relentlessly victimised and bullied at high school. Now the bullying has stopped, only adding a layer of guilt to the muddled grief she feels for a sister she loved but did not like. Through all of this comes a glimmer of hope offered by the friendship of the cheeky, elusive, cross-word addicted Josh.

2. The Sky So Heavy is your first book, and it was shortlisted in the Children’s Book Council of Australia Award in the Older Reader category! Would you like to tell us a bit about the book, and how did that make you feel?

Surreal is a word I find myself using a lot! It’s amazing. I can’t quite believe it and I’m not sure exactly when it will sink in. It is an absolute honor.

3. So far you’ve written YA dystopian and contemporary, where do you feel you’ll go next?

Honestly, I don’t set out to write a particular type of story, it’s usually afterwards that they are put in categories. I naturally stick to narratives very anchored in reality though, The Sky So Heavy is probably as far from reality as I’ll SkySoHeavyever stray.
I’m always reluctant to talk about projects that are in the works, but I will say that I will be revisiting 1997 and it’s a coastal setting.

4. What Australian works have you loved recently?

Friday Brown by Vikki Wakefield is totally captivating and very unique. Also, of course, Eyrie by Tim Winton. He is a master storyteller and I would read his shopping lists if he were to ever publish them.

5. Have recent changes in the publishing industry influenced the way you work? What do you think you will be publishing/writing/reading in five years from now?

I don’t really think about that stuff when I’m writing. It gets in the way too much. I just try and focus on telling a good story. That said, I would like to explore the visual interdisciplinary potential of ebooks. My background is in video art and it would be cool to find a way to interweave a visual filmic element with the text.


This interview was conducted as part of the 2014 Snapshot of Australian Speculative Fiction. We’ll be blogging interviews from 28 July to 10 August and archiving them at SF Signal. You can read interviews at: 

2014 Snapshot – Tansy Rayner Roberts


Tansy Rayner Roberts is the fantasy author of the Creature Court trilogy and co-hosts two Hugo-nominated podcasts, Galactic Suburbia and Verity! She won the Hugo for Best Fan Writer in 2013. Tansy’s latest fiction project is Musketeer Space, a gender-swapped space opera retelling of The Three Musketeers, published weekly as a web serial.

1. Musketeer Space is a gender-bent take on the Three Musketeers by Dumas, which you’re releasing as a web serial, posting a chapter almost every Wednesday, with plans to release it as an ebook at the end. Would you like to tell us more about it?

musketeerspaceYou captured it pretty well! I decided to work on a serial to bring deadlines back into my life, and to ensure I actually finished something. Somewhere along the way I fell completely head over heels for the project – I’ve loved space opera my whole life and have never felt brave enough to write it before now. And of course my darling Musketeers – playing with different gender combinations is really interesting to me, as it means I’m telling a story about friendship and military camaraderie that is predominantly about women. It’s got me back in touch with writing as play and as creative challenge – and it doesn’t hurt that I have readers that are enjoying it week by week!

I’m supporting the project via Patreon, (http://www.patreon.com/musketeerspace) which allows readers to pay micropayments as a monthly subscription, and am very pleased with how that’s progressing. I’m hoping to raise enough to cover some of the costs of making the ebook at the end – artwork and editorial. The whole crowdfunding model is really interesting to me, and like the novel itself, it’s a grand experiment.

2. If some cruel, nasty person was holding a gun to your head, demanding you write a novel that continues or adds to one of your previous works, which would you choose and – if we may ask – what would you add to it?

I don’t think anyone would have to hold a gun to my head – I’d definitely settle for a modest advance cheque! I InkBlackMagiclove the world and the city I built for my Creature Court trilogy, and I deliberately left a few dropped stitches to pick up in a future series. It would be set ten or twelve years in the future, and the protagonists would be Ashiol’s little sister, and Lysandor and Celeste’s daughter, once the two of them are old enough to have their own epic adventure.

And then there’s Mocklore, of course. I can’t deny I haven’t been thinking about returning there, with the recent release of Ink Black Magic. Fablecroft will be publishing some of my old Mocklore short stories at some point, including a few that were never published back in the day, and… yes, still thinking about it. As was pointed out in a recent review, I did establish a Next Generation there too. I love Next Generation stories.

3. Do you have any plans for a future series, possibly in the epic-fantasy genre? If so, would you like to tell us any hints for what may be to come?

Now I have to wonder if you’ve been spying on my brain! I am noodling a new thing. I was so exhausted after the Creature Court (which was written and published around the birth of my second daughter) that the thought of starting another epic fantasy straight away pretty much made me want to sleep and cry. But I’ve been missing the genre a lot, and I’ve started reading it again as of last year, when I tore through the entirety so far of A Song of Ice and Fire.

So yes, I have a new epic fantasy world (well, city, because that’s how I roll) and I have the first story in my head. I’m thinking of experimenting with form again, though, because I really think we should have an option other than the Big Fat Trilogy or the Eternal Unfinished Saga (not that there’s anything wrong with either of those formats, but variety is the spice of life) – I’d love to write epic fantasy told over a series of novellas and short standalone pieces, and I think that’s how this particular world will serve me best. We’ll see… it might yet turn into a massive seven book story arc.

4. What Australian works have you loved recently?

I’ve been on a Regency Romance kick, so the Australian author I’ve read most of is Stephanie Laurens! So many books, it’s extraordinary. I’ve also enjoyed a couple of the Twelve Planets collections this year – Kirstyn McDermott’s Caution: Contains Small Parts, and I’m halfway through Rosaleen Love’s Secret Lives of Books. They’re both brilliant, and creepy.

5. Have recent changes in the publishing industry influenced the way you work? What do you think you will be publishing/writing/reading in five years from now?

tansycat2014They have very much influenced me. It’s a fascinating, horrible, inspiring, brilliant time for writers. I become a director of SFWA largely because of my interest in all the changes in the business models at the moment. And I have my own share of stories, both positive and negative – it’s not fun, selling a trilogy to a major Australian publisher a year and a half before we lost such a huge swathe of the country’s bookshops. But some of the changing technologies and distribution methods have been huge boons to me too – my tiny short story collection, Love and Romanpunk, has been read across the world and even taught in a Texas university. A lot of my international reputation is because of my successes in podcasting and blogging. And of course here I am publishing my own story as a web serial, funded via a platform that didn’t exist two years ago. Interesting times, in all possible meanings of that phrase.

The actual storytelling doesn’t change, though my working methods have always been pretty flexible. In five years time I will be the mother of a fourteen-year-old and a ten-year-old, not a nine-year-old and a five-year-old, and I suspect that’s going to have a much bigger effect on my writing habits and creativity than whatever the delivery vehicle for fiction is that year. (capsules! dehydrated fiction just add water!)

I suspect the future will be about hybrid readers even more than hybrid writers – we’ll be reading stories in all kinds of different ways, and overwhelmed by how much there is. I think our best chance at forming communities will be about figuring out ways to have whole groups of people read the same story at the same timen. And I really, really hope that paying writers for their work never completely goes out of vogue.



This interview was conducted as part of the 2014 Snapshot of Australian Speculative Fiction. We’ll be blogging interviews from 28 July to 10 August and archiving them at SF Signal. You can read interviews at: 

2014 Snapshot – Garth Nix


GARTH NIX has been a full-time writer since 2001. He has worked as a literary agent, marketing consultant, book editor, book publicist, book sales representative, bookseller and as a part-time soldier in the Australian Army Reserve. Garth’s books include the award-winning fantasy novels Sabriel, Lirael and Abhorsen and the science fiction novels Shade’s Children and A Confusion of Princes. His fantasy novels for children include The Ragwitch; the six books of The Seventh Tower sequence; The Keys to the Kingdom series; and the Troubletwisters books and Spirit Animals: Blood Ties (both with Sean Williams). His next book will be Clariel, a prequel set in the same world as Sabriel.

More than five million copies of Garth’s books have been sold around the world. His books have appeared on the bestseller lists of The New York Times, Publishers Weekly, The Guardian and The Australian, and his work has been translated into 40 languages.

Garth also produced the IF Award-winning and ACTAA-nominated short animated film The Missing Key, directed by Jonathan Nix; is a silent partner in the literary agency Curtis Brown (Australia); and is a co-founder of the online games developer Creative Enclave.

He lives in a Sydney beach suburb with his wife and two children. Find him online at www.garthnix.com.

1. The fourth book in the Troubletwisters series, Missing, Presumed Evil (also known as simply The Missing), came out earlier this year. This is a series you write with fellow Australian author Sean Williams, and you spoke with us about it last Snapshot. What plans do you have for the series, and is the process of co-writing still the same?

The co-writing process has remained the same throughout the series. It works well, so there’s been no need to change! We’re currently weighing up various options with Troubletwisters. We might continue the series or we might start something new. We do enjoy writing together so hopefully that will continue.

2. The first book in the Old Kingdom/Abhorsen series, Sabriel, came out in 1995. Now Clariel, a fourth book which is said to be a prequel, is due out in October 2014. What has the journey been like, and what does the future look like for the series as a whole?

Clariel is a prequel, it takes place about 600 years before the events of Sabriel. It deals with the early life of the necromancer Chlorr, who appears in Lirael, and I’ve been thinking about writing it ever since I was writing Lirael, way back around 1999 or so. I just had other things I ended up writing first. It’s been interesting for me going back to the Old Kingdom. I had to re-read all my own books and the two novelettes set in that world (‘Nichoals Sayre and the Creature in the Case’ and ‘To Hold the Bridge”) to remind myself about numerous details. I am currently writing another Old Kingdom book, which takes place not long after the events of Abhorsen. I do have notes for numerous stories set in the world of Old Kingdom, but I have no idea when I’ll get to them, since I also have a great many ideas for other stories as well.

3. What books do you have planned for the future, and what can you tell us about them? Perhaps something like Newt’s Emerald? Or perhaps another YA space opera novel?

I have a collection of my short fiction, named after the lead story To Hold the Bridge. That will be out next year, as will a print version of Newt’s Emerald, which I will probably expand a bit. After that, there will be the next Old Kingdom novel. I already have the title, but we’re keeping it under wraps for now. And there’ll be something co-written with Sean. And a bunch of short fiction.

4. What Australian works have you loved recently?

I haven’t read much fantasy and SF works recently, by Australians or anyone else. I enjoyed Sean’s TWINMAKER and am looking forward to the sequel. The story collection KALEIDOSCOPE edited by Alisa Krasnostein, which I read in proof pages recently, has some really good stories in it and overall is a strong anthology. I also just finished an ARC of AFTERWORLDS by Scott Westerfeld, which I thoroughly enjoyed, not least for its portrayal of the (US) Young Adult publishing world. He also made me look up the “parsley massacre”.

5. Have recent changes in the publishing industry influenced the way you work? What do you think you will be publishing/writing/reading in five years from now?

I don’t think the changes in the industry have had much effect on the way I work. I’ve always worked with the philosophy “write what you want to and then figure out what to do with it”, and I’ve pretty much stuck with that. What has changed is the “figure out what to with it” part, because there are more options now in terms of self-publishing, but at the same time, some of the old avenues have shrunk or become uneconomic. As always, keeping informed and educated about the business always pays off, as does working with the best possible partners, particularly agents and publishers.

I’m not a great predictor of the future, but five years is not far away. I suspect I’ll still be reading the eclectic mix I read now, which includes all kinds of non-fiction and fiction, and pretty much all genres. In terms of writing, probably much the same as well, though I might finally get around to writing a contemporary thriller by then. Publishing may have changed more, these next few years are going to be pretty challenging for everyone in publishing, whether they are part of the legacy system or self-publishers. Nothing is likely to stay the same, however you’re published or publishing, and those who expect it will might be in for a shock. But there will opportunities as well as threats.


This interview was conducted as part of the 2014 Snapshot of Australian Speculative Fiction. We’ll be blogging interviews from 28 July to 10 August and archiving them at SF Signal. You can read interviews at: 

2014 Snapshot: Karen Miller


Karen Miller was born in Vancouver, Canada, and now lives in Sydney, Australia. She’s been writing spec fic professionally since 2005, and since then has published 18 novels. Her first fantasy novel, The Innocent Mage, was the #1 UK bestselling fantasy debut novel in 2007. Empress of Mijak and The Riven Kingdom, the first two books of the Godspeaker Trilogy, were honour listed for the James Tiptree Jr award. She has also been shortlisted for the Aurealis Awards twice and her first Star Wars novel, Wild Space, was short-listed for a Scribe award.  As K. E. Mills she writes the Rogue Agent series. To date, her total books sold exceed a million copies worldwide.  When she’s not in lockdown in front of her computer, Karen enjoys directing at her local theatre. Her recent productions include The Crucible and Moonlight and Magnolias.

1. Last time you were interviewed for Snapshot you spoke to Alisa regarding your then future work, The Falcon Throne, first in the Tarnished Crown series – and now it’s due out August 26th! (Australian release date, September for UK and USA). Could you tell us a little about the first book, and your current plans for the rest of the series?

FalconThroneThe Tarnished Crown series is an epic historical fantasy saga which deals with the price of power. As my wonderful editor put it for the first book’s tag line: Every crown is tarnished by the blood of ambition.

Book 1, The Falcon Throne, is about three struggling dynasties sharing a common past. In the duchy of Harcia, Aimery frets over what will become of his land and his people when he dies and his heir, Balfre, is made duke. His lack of trust in his older son is the catalyst for events that are destined to change his duchy – and the known world – for ever. To Harcia’s south, beyond the buffering stretch of land known as the Marches, lies the duchy of Clemen. Its duke, Harald, is not loved. Desperate to end his tyranny, his barons seek to overthrow him and place his bastard cousin Roric on the throne – and in doing so set Clemen on a dark path. And across the narrow Moat, in the Principality of Cassinia, the widowed duchess of Ardenn fights to protect the rights of her daughter, Catrain, who should follow in her father’s footsteps and rule their duchy like any son born. But the alliances she’s made in order to see that done will have lasting repercussions for every nation within her reach.

And so the opening gambits of the greater game are played …

Right now I’m doing the detailed story breakdown of book 2, and into part of book 3. I can’t, and don’t even try, to see too far ahead with any detail because the story tends to build organically and I don’t like to pre-empt the process. I do know the overall story direction, and the fates of most of the main characters, and I have snatches of clarity regarding upcoming events. My aim is to surprise, horrify and delight readers with this story – and maybe, hopefully, show that it’s not only men who can write the big politics and war sagas.

2. Are there any plot ideas you still have for previous books that you wish you could have explored, or hope to explore sometime in the future?

Actually, no. Like most writers, I have themes that I’m instinctively attracted to so my hope is that I can continue to explore them, untangle them, in new and interesting ways that mean I can avoid repeating myself – or just rehashing work by other writers. It’s actually quite tricky, since the more you write the more you run the risk of doing just that. But my fingers are crossed that it’s so far, so good!

3. Are you already thinking of your next series, or perhaps for short stories to release alongside your current series?

Not so much thinking of the next series — it remains to be seen if I’ll survive writing this one! — but Rogue Agentcertainly, I have an idea for something I’d like to tackle when Tarnished Crown is done. It’s something I’ve been playing around with in the back of my head for a couple of years, but Tarnished Crown took precedence. Then of course there’s the Rogue Agent series, which has had to tread water a bit. I have at least one more adventure with Gerald and co. to write — soon, I hope. I really miss those guys.

4. What Australian works have you loved recently?

Tragically, my reading for the last long while has been almost exclusively of the research variety — medieval biographies and warfare and European history. However, I did read Glenda Larke’s new fantasy, The Lascar’s Dagger, and as always was impressed. I know it sounds cheesy because not only is Glenda a friend, she’s a fellow Orbit author, but nevertheless it’s true. I really enjoyed the book and I’m looking forward to finding out how the rest of the story unfolds. Glenda has no competition when it comes to world-building. I’ve learned so much about creating evocative, otherworldly environments from reading her work. Lascar’s Dagger is a distinctly individual, unique tale that takes fairly obscure elements of our world history and fashions them into a rousing fantasy adventure.

5. Have recent changes in the publishing industry influenced the way you work? What do you think you will be publishing/writing/reading in five years from now?

Really, no. Because I have zero control over any of that. I have a contract with Orbit, I’m writing the books covered by the contract to the very best of my ability, and that’s all I can think about. Once the contract is concluded, then I’ll see where we’re up to in the world of publishing. Maybe then I’ll change the way I do business. I don’t know. What I do know is that there’s every chance I’ll still be writing this series 5 years from now! It’s a huge undertaking, they’re big and complicated books, and I can’t rush them. So looking ahead for me is just a distraction. Fretting over business decisions I can’t affect is also a distraction, and emotionally counterproductive. It’s frustrating sometimes, for sure, and with the industry in such a state of flux it’s easy to get the wobblies. But all that does is knock me off course with the books I’m writing now, so I have to discipline myself to stay focused.

As for what I’ll be reading — well, I’m pretty sure I’ll still be reading the history books, but aside from that? New books by my favourite authors, I hope, and hopefully books by new writers who are destined to join my list of favourites. The only thing I am sure of is that I will be reading something. Because stories will never die.


This interview was conducted as part of the 2014 Snapshot of Australian Speculative Fiction. We’ll be blogging interviews from 28 July to 10 August and archiving them at SF Signal. You can read interviews at: 

2014 Snapshot – David McDonald


David McDonald is a Melbourne based writer who works for an international welfare organisation. When not on a computer or reading a book, he divides his time between helping run a local cricket club and working on his debut novel. In 2013 he won the Ditmar Award for Best New Talent, and in 2014 won the William J. Atheling Jr. Award for Criticism or Review. His short fiction has appeared in anthologies such as “The Lone Ranger Chronicles” from Moonstone Books and “Epilogue” from Fablecroft Publishing. David is a member of the Australian Horror Writers Association, The International Association of Media Tie-In Writers, and of the Melbourne based writers group, SuperNOVA

1. You’re currently revising the first draft of a fantasy novel – can you tell us about it, and what we can look forward to? Or what short stories do you have being published in the near future?

Haha accountability! The reality is that the fantasy novel is still at the first draft stage. I like to think that I have grown as a writer, and a person, and as part of that I have realised that a lot of the stuff in that novel is quite derivative, and there are also some aspects that I realise are rather problematic. I still think it is a novel worth writing, but it needs a lot of work and I have been focussed on other things. If I had to describe it I would call it urban fantasy noir – and if I was feeling particularly bullish, Raymond Chandler meets Stephen King.

I continue to write short stories as they are my favourite form, and I am excited to have just sold a story to Fablecroft for their “Insert Title Here” anthology. Looking at the lineup it is a huge honour to see my name there. I have a soft spot for Fablecroft, too, they published my first Australian sale. Plus, they are one of the best small presses out there.

I don’t normally like to mention things until I have signed a contract, but they announced all the accepted pitches so it won’t hurt! I am currently working on a story for the Cranky Ladies anthology. It’s a very competitive list so I am not getting my hopes up, but I’d love to be involved with such a worthwhile project.

2. Am I right in saying you currently have fourteen short stories published? Such as Set Your Face Towards the Darkness in Great Southern Land, and Homecoming in ReDeus: Native Lands – if you got the chance, out of all your short stories, if you could turn one into a novel or longer piece, which would you choose?

Epilogue-CoverThat’s right, though some have been translated and reprinted. I have to say that I never assumed I would even get one story published, so it is a wonderful feeling to have that many out there—though hopefully there will be many more!

If I went by the number of comments to that effect, I would have to say “Cold comfort” from the anthology, Epilogue. I have had a number of people tell me that they want to know more about the frozen, post apocalyptic world that Vanja travels through, and I have been encouraged to turn it into a novel. There is certainly scope for that, it just comes down to time (like anything). I think leaving people wanting more is the sign of a good story, so it is validating that people have responded that way. And, I was delighted when Clan Destine Press agreed to reprint “Cold Comfort”, hopefully it will continue to attract calls for more of Vanja’s adventures.

I do try and hint at larger worlds in most of my stories, so I’d hope that they all have the seed of a longer work contained within. “Venus Transiens” is set in the same universe as the sci fi novel I am working on, as is a completed but unpublished short story.

3. It seems you have a lot on the horizon! Your blog speaks of a science fiction novel and a YA novel written in collaboration with a US author – the real question here is, can you tell us about any of them?

I am in the enviable position of having had a number of exciting opportunities present themselves this year, the key is to actually put in the hard work and not let them go to waste. I hate to do the whole vague thing, but I don’t like talking too much about things that aren’t definites. But, I have had the opportunity to pitch for some big projects so we will see how much more exciting news I have to share at the next snapshot.

The science fiction is military sci fi, and has some interest from an agent. But, it still needs some work. I am hoping to have that in submittable form by the end of the year. It features a conquered Earth and a galaxy spanning alien Empire.

The collaborative YA novel is…sci fi/espionage I guess. It came about because the author I am working with wanted to set her next novel in Australia and told me she would either email me constant questions about Australia, or we could write it together. How could I say no? Collaboration is an interesting experience, and we are still feeling our way, but I have high hopes for the novel—it’s a lot of fun.

4. What Australian works have you loved recently?

I had the privilege of being a judge for the anthologies and collections category in this year’s Aurealis Awards, and there were some amazing books submitted. It made judging it really hard!

I particularly enjoyed Kirstyn McDermott, Cat Sparks and Jo Anderton’s collections, but they were by no means the only quality works we had a chance to read. If you read our judge’s report I think it would give anyone a wonderful place to start.

I haven’t been reading as much Australian spec fic as I should, though, and that’s something I hope to change. My TBR pile is huge, and most of it is Australian.

5. Have recent changes in the publishing industry influenced the way you work? What do you think you will be publishing/writing/reading in five years from now?

David McDonaldI find that I very rarely buy physical books anymore, which saddens me. I love the physical artefact of a book, and I don’t think they will ever disappear completely, but ebooks are so much more convenient when it comes to travelling and for the simple fact that they take up so much less space. Plus, I generally have more than one book on the go at any time. I find that for reading, I buy ebooks, and I buy most of my paperbacks at launches or other places where I want them signed so they can sit on my shelf because of their significance to me.

In terms of how I work I am not sure how much recent changes have affected me. I started writing when electronic submissions were already more common than snail mail, and I can’t imagine writing by hand! The big thing for me is that there are all of sudden more opportunities for short stories and, especially, novellas and novelettes. Because of the changes in the way books are produced and marketed, I think the risk factor for publishers has lessened.

There also seems to be a rise in the number of small presses producing work that is just as high quality as the major publishers, but perhaps more innovative and daring. This means that trying to follow commercial trends isn’t as important as it once might have been. Good stories will find a home somewhere, even if they don’t fit the normal mould.

The rise of online magazines has, again, increased the number of opportunities. For example, Lightspeed has become a market I aspire to, even though it doesn’t do print at all, and has risen to the top tier very rapidly.

Five years from now? Wow. That seems so far away! I hope that in five years I have a few novels out and that I have a number of professional short story sales under my belt. If I don’t, I will be more than a little disappointed with myself—I will only have myself to blame.


This interview was conducted as part of the 2014 Snapshot of Australian Speculative Fiction. We’ll be blogging interviews from 28 July to 10 August and archiving them at SF Signal. You can read interviews at: