Today's Darklight On... is with Rowena Cory Daniells. Welcome, Rowena!
How did you come to write speculative fiction? What attracted you to the genre?
I've always loved the genre, even before I knew it was a genre. When I was about nine I watched Forbidden Planet, a 50s SF movie. (TV was a desert in those days). The core concept was that you could create a monster from your subconscious. I was hooked, have been ever since.
Please tell us a little about your road to publication.
Extremely rocky. LOL. I sold my first children’s book from the slush pile and my first fantasy trilogy without an agent. Then I spent ten years in the cold as my agent retired, my publisher closed down the imprint, my editor moved on and my personal life became very complex. But I’m back now and I never stopped writing, so I feel I’ve grown as a writer. Whereas before I did things intuitive, now I know why I do them intuitively!
Your latest release was the trilogy, The Chronicles of King Rolen’s King. Can you describe these books for us? Also how was it having them released one month apart (July, August, September 2010)?
Solaris released KRK a month apart and they’re doing the same with my new trilogy The Outcast Chronicles (OC). As a reader I love this because I hate waiting for books. As a writer it means I have to have the complete trilogy finished. When I wrote KRK I set out to write the kind of book I loved when I first discovered fantasy, the kind of book that you rewarded yourself with on a Saturday afternoon, after a hard week at work. I’ve had people say: I hate you. I was up till 4 in the morning finishing your book!
You have been blessed by the cover gods, or should I say, your cover artist, Clint Langley. Do you get consulted for the look on your covers?
When I write I create a resonance file (KRK, OC). When it is time for the cover artist to start work, I collate this. I send artwork to the artist, this includes: the look of the world, the way the people dress, and pictures of people who could be the characters. I also send a description of the characters and their personality traits. Plus because Clint is happy with input, I set up photo shoots with my adult children and send him a selection of photos. I have been blown away by the covers he’s produced. (The cover fairies have been good to me!)
You are very active in the speculative fiction community. What is it about this community that keeps you involved?
When I was 18 I went to Melbourne with Paul Collins, we set up a second-hand book shop that specialised in spec fic and I assisted him with an Indy Press. In SF fandom I found people who could have a conversation on any topic. It was wonderful. So I have friends going back 35 years. Back in those days if you read spec fic you were part of a very small minority. Now 19 of the top 20 top grossing movies are spec fic. TV shows have spec fic elements and people just accept it. So rather than me still belonging to a sub-set I think of fandom as having gone mainstream!
Are you a plotter? Pantser? Or somewhere in-between?
I did a survey on this for the ROR blog and found that people who were plotters in novels, tended to be pantsers with short stories. While people who were pansters with novels tended to be plotters for short stories. Weird, I know. I’m a pantser with novels. I have an idea where the book will end and a feeling I want to convey, then I let my characters tell their own story.
Do have a favourite of your characters?
I love each of my characters while I’m writing them. But I do have a soft spot for Piro (aged 13). She is so naughty but good hearted and she gets herself into trouble. Just thought I’d add here that I’m not writing YA. But people of all ages get caught up in great events. If you look at George RR Martin’s Game of Thrones, the children are people in their own right, trying to cope with what the world throws at them.
What are you currently working on?
I’ve just handed in The Outcast Chronicles, now I’m working up a new KRK trilogy. To do this I had to re-read the first trilogy and create a ‘bible’ to make sure I didn’t contradict myself. I’ve been dabbling, writing small scenes from the different POVs to find the right place to start the trilogy.
What is your favourite part of the process of writing?
Some days the book just writes itself and I have to type as fast as possible to keep up with it. Those days are magical. Then there are the days when I know something isn’t working and I have to let my subconscious come up with the reason and the solution.
What can we expect from Rowena Cory Daniells in the future?
I’d like to think that life will settle down and I can spend more time writing. LOL. My dream goal would be to write the books I want to write, without having to work a second job.
Who are your favourite authors?
I am really impressed by Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling series. Great world building, strong characters, sustained sensual tension within each book. I also read hard edged fantasy like Joe Abercrombie, SF like Ian McDonald’s Brazyl and horror like Simon R Green’s Nightside series. And I read a lot of non-fiction for research.
What are you currently reading?
I have a book called Saltwater in the Ink: Voices from the Australian Seas. It is edited by Lucy Sussex. It’s a collection of letter and diaries written by people coming out to Australia about the journey. I’m reading it for research and out of curiosity.
Do you have a favourite spec fiction movie or tv series?
I’m a big Firefly fan. I love Doctor Who, and Alan Ball did a brilliant job with True Blood. I think Being Human is a fascinating series and I’m looking forward to seeing what they do with it now that they’ve killed off Mitchell’s character.
Do you have advice for emerging writers?
Write the book you want to read. Plus I have a list of useful posts on writing on my blog, here.
Thanks for having me on DSDU!
Rowena's The Chronicles of King Rolen's King is out now.
Be on the look out for The Outcast Chronicles.
You can visit Rowena at her blog.