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2014 Snapshot Interview: Kylie Chan

SnaphotLogo2014When Kylie Chan returned to Australia after ten years in Hong Kong, she studied martial arts, Buddhist and Taoist philosophy, and brought these together in her Chinese mythology-based fantasy series published by Voyager-HarperCollins worldwide.

1. Demon Child, book 2 of the Celestial Battle trilogy, and book 8 in the ongoing story of Emma Donohue and John Chen has just been published in Australia, and you are working on the 9th and final (?) book now. How do you feel about getting so close to finishing the third trilogy and did your characters end up where you thought they would when you started?

Yes, the ninth book will be the final book of the series. Now that I'm reaching the end, there's no sense of sadness - I think because this story has been sitting there all along, from start to finish, and it was just a matter of putting the words on the page. It's more a feeling of accomplishment to have made it! The characters absolutely ended up where I knew they would, when I'm building a plot I start at the end and work backwards. This ending has been coming since I started the whole nine-book series.

2. You have a couple of short pieces set in the same world as ‘The Dark Heavens’ that you have published digitally. What was your motivation for writing and releasing these, and do you have plans to write more (short or long works) in the world?

The novellas were experimental pieces, to see how the digital self-publishing (and print-on-demand) process works. I decided to do this after spending a very informative weekend at Supanova hanging out with Colin Taber and Hugh Howey, who have both had success digitally self-publishing their works. Each was a story that just popped into my head and I wrote in-between doing everything else, and at the time I considered them something of a throw-away. (Both Apple and Smashwords have contacted me telling me I need to arrange better covers and asking me to do pre-orders for future ones!) I give them away at conventions on pre-printed business cards as a promotional tool. After each Supanova where I give hundreds of them away, there's a definite spike in interest on my Amazon rankings for my first novel.

I may write a spinoff series for one of the main characters in the current series, but at the moment I'm just concentrating on having book nine finished. As to other shorts - as they come to me I have no choice but to write them down. Like most writers I have a folder full of stuff that's borderline suitable for publication with just a few more tweaks and a better ending.

3. I understand you are currently completing a Masters in Creative Writing with Dr Kim Wilkins at UQ, investigating the impact of digital self-publishing on the traditional publishing industry. How fascinating! How did you decide on this topic, and how will you be undertaking your research?

My background in IT has a lot to do with the research. I'd been an IT consultant for many years, both in Australia and Hong Kong (it was my career until I threw it all in to be a writer). Kim's been incredibly supportive and encouraging. I have a unique perspective, being both an IT expert and a successful author. This combined with my existing university-level study in IT, as well as my strong research background, has made me the ideal person to investigate exactly what's happening in this new frontier of the publishing industry. I'll mostly be asking people - particularly authors - how the new publishing paradigm has affected the way they work, and their plans for the future. Right now is an incredibly exciting time to be an author.

4. What Australian works have you loved recently?

Alan Baxter's BOUND. I'm launching this at Avid Reader in Brisbane. This story has all the elements of a great seller. Trent Jamieson keeps teasing us all on facebook with talk of expanding his DeathWorks universe. KJ Taylor keeps saying that she's writing more stuff. And this is just the recent things I've been loving!

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 thought the digital/Amazon self-publishing thing would have more impact on me as a writer than it has. Five years from now I'll probably be doing the same thing as I am now, but perhaps more of it. I'll try to write shorter, more self-contained works, but everything else - I have no idea. If you'd asked me this question five years ago I would have been completely wrong in any prediction I made. The industry is in a very interesting place right now and I can't wait to see what direction it takes.



This post is 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. Snapshot 2012 is being conducted by Tsana Dolichva, Nick Evans, Stephanie Gunn, Kathryn Linge, Elanor Matton-Johnson, David McDonald, Helen Merrick, Jason Nahrung, Ben Payne, Alex Pierce, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Helen Stubbs, Katharine Stubbs, Tehani Wessely, and Sean Wright. To read the interviews hot off the press, check our blogs daily from 28 July to 10 August, 2014.