Daily Archives: August 16th, 2007

Snapshot 2007: Glenda Larke

Glenda Larke is the author of many published novels, including the Isles of Glory trilogy. She can be found online here.

Q1: You are heavily involved in rainforest conservation issues in Malaysia, where you live at the moment: is this something that you have tried, or would like to, include in your novels? Do you think issues such as this can, or should, be brought into fantasy?

Certainly I have dealt with issues of the interconnectivity of the natural environment and humankind in my books – particularly in the Isles of Glory trilogy, and yes, I believe that fantasy is uniquely situated to bring home such important issues to readers. A fantasy/sf writer can say things without sounding too dogmatic or personal because it is all set in a fantasy or future world. I love a many-layered story, and this is one of the ways I try to achieve this. I haven’t – yet – dealt with a tropical rainforest, though. I believe it is possible to write stories which both entertain and have a message, without sounding didactic.

Such stories can be read on any level – I’ve had readers comment on the entertainment value and remark that’s all there is, and I’ve had readers say they love the many layers…and they are talking about the same book.

Q2: You’ve moved around a great deal: WA, Malaysia, Austria and Tunisia…. Has this moving around made writing easier or harder? And has it influenced what and how you write? As well – if it’s not a rude thing to say – you’ve started to be published “later in life,” as they say. Has this influenced your writing?

Writing is never easy, at least not for me. It is always hard work, but where I am matters not one whit. Having lived in so many places has given me an enormous amount of material and insight into other cultures, though. I tend to think in terms of the complex as a result, and rarely see things or people in terms of black and white. Or is that all part of growing older, or being an older (and one would like to think – wiser) writer? And if I know one thing, it is what it is like to be an outsider.

Q3: What do you see yourself doing in five years’ time? You’ve written non-fiction, as well as fiction: is this an area you would like to work in more?

I enjoy writing non-fiction, certainly, but not as much as fiction. So given the choice…

In five years time, I would like to see myself receiving accolades for writing the great fantasy of the 21st century…ok, one can dream, right?

Q4: Do you get much time to read, amidst all the other stuff that you do? What’s the best thing you’ve read this year?

I used to read more before I had deadlines, that’s for sure. But I can’t imagine not reading at all. Right now most of what I read is by my fellow Voyager authors, often in MS form. (They do the same for me). And there’s is some fantastic writing there – Russell Kirkpatrick’s new Husk trilogy is a stupendous epic that deserves international accolades and far more recognition than it is getting. Karen Miller is the most versatile of us all, writing equally well in different sub-sets of the genre and making it all look so very easy, when of course it is not. I love Jenny Fallon for sheer exuberant entertainment and its “can’t-put-it-down” nature. Her latest trilogy is her best yet. On the international scene, I’d have to say Naomi Novak’s Temeraire books were one of the highlights of the year for me.

Q5: And, since surely you’ve thought about it… which fictional character would you most like to get it on with, and why?

If you mean one of my own characters, it would have to be Kelwyn Gilfeather…such a lovely, compassionate and totally confused man. Of someone else’s characters? Hmm…Tyrion Lannister. Because I’m curious, and I like to live dangerously.

This interview has been undertaken as part of Snapshot 2007. The other interviews can be read at:

http://girliejones.livejournal.com/
http://benpayne.livejournal.com/
http://kaaronwarren.livejournal.com/
http://cassiphone.livejournal.com/
http://kathrynlinge.livejournal.com/
http://rosies-travels.blogspot.com/

Snapshot 2007: Grace Dugan

Grace Dugan is the author of the novel The Silver Road and numerous short stories. She can be found online here.

Q1: You’ve been working on an MA in Creative Writing. What’s your focus there, and do you think it will be of benefit in your novel-writing career? And if not, why are you doing it?

I started the MA because I was interested in teaching creative writing as a sideline to writing, ie. a day job. There’s been a lot of side benefits along the way. The week I enrolled, someone offered me some tutoring work in a short story subject. That’s been my main income over the last 18 months, as well as a quite enjoyable and interesting part-time job, basically critting stories for a living. I’ve also had a wonderful time working with my supervisor, Nike Bourke, who’s been a great mentor to me.

My project was what they call practice-led research, where you write a novel (or some other such creative thing) and then write a relatively short academic exegesis which relates in some tenuous or not-so-tenuous way to the creative work. My exegesis was about novel writing processes and strategies. You know some people say they plan everything out and how could you do it any other way, and others say they “work organically,” &c. It’s something I’ve experimented with over time and I wanted to shed some light on it, because it seems to be a slightly loaded topic and people talk a lot of rubbish about it. So I surveyed about twenty novelists over email, and then I got kind of ill and I haven’t done anything about it since. I took as much sick leave as I could, which was a year, but really my heart has gone out of the whole thing and I’ve just withdrawn from the program. In fact, I’ve decided to go off on a bit of a different course and I’ve spent the last little while trying to get into a medical degree. I’ve jumped through most of the hoops and with any luck I’ll start next year.
I’ll still finish the novel I was working on, of course, but I won’t finish the exegesis or the pesky coursework that I had left.

Q2: You wrote The Silver Road while you were still at high school, but it took a while for it to be published. How much changed in that time? and was it all for the good?

I started it in the last few months of high school. It’s gone through a lot of changing and mooshing around. At first it was two books, a pair running concurrently, that would be published as part of a series. That presented a lot of problems, to reconcile the dramatic aspects with continuity between both books. When I was at the Varuna Manuscript Development workshop, Linda Funnell from HarperCollins suggested slicing the two books up and combining them. I think that worked pretty well, but it took about a year and was a real slog. In case you were wondering, the original two books followed Yelela and Zuven respectively, and I wrote Haga, the third character, at the same time that I was combining them. That was the version Penguin bought, and then it went through a very substantial structural edit, and a line edit which was as heavy as some people’s structural edits, and proofs which had five things marked up on every page. I’m exhausted just telling you about it.

It was definitely all for the good. I basically rewrote that novel as I learned to write better, but because it took such a long time, by the time I finished I was quite distant from the story. About once a month I get an email asking me to write a sequel, or even an epilogue, but I really can’t imagine doing it. The expressive impulse for the story was from long ago, and most of the work I did in the last few years was just making it work.

Q3: Your next novel will ‘probably’ be called The Motherland Garden. Any hints as to what it will be about?

It’s a fantasy set in a world which is industrialised but relatively low-tech. The protagonist lives in a women-only hermitage studying magic, in a country which is a subject nation of a much bigger empire. She falls in love, gets her heart broken, works in a mailroom, fails to learn magic, gets involved with guerillas, &c. Plus there’s lots of weather.

Q4: I’m sorry to hear that you’ve had some medical issues recently – I hope it’s left you more time for reading! On which note, what’s the best thing you’ve read so far in 2007?

I try to get Small Beer Press books when I can afford them, (which is often, as many of them are pretty cheap). This year I’ve absolutely loved both Howard Who?, an old Howard Waldrop collection, and Travel Light by Naomi Mitchison. Some friends of mine in the US have also started a new press, Blind Eye Books, and their first book, Wicked Gentlemen by Ginn Hale, was really great, too. I also loved Sixty Days and Counting by Kim Stanley Robinson, and recently picked up one of his older ones, Escape from Kathmandu, which was more fun than it had any right to be. Last one: I read “Houston, Houston, Do You Read?” by James Tiptree Jr, which was really compelling and persuasive.

Q5: Finally, on a completely different tangent: if you could get it on with any fictional character, who would it be, and why?!

I had a lot of trouble with this question. I scanned my bookcase and thought about all the heroes, but they’re mostly troubled, in a way which arouses sympathy but is not really attractive; or enigmatic loners who I might like reading about but who, in real life, would be those people who take themselves too seriously; or they’re those comfy-love-interest fellows that you feel good about the protagonist ending up with, but I wouldn’t necessarily go for them myself.

This interview has been undertaken as part of Snapshot 2007. The other interviews can be read at:

http://girliejones.livejournal.com/
http://benpayne.livejournal.com/
http://kaaronwarren.livejournal.com/
http://cassiphone.livejournal.com/
http://kathrynlinge.livejournal.com/
http://rosies-travels.blogspot.com/