1. Your first Dark Brethren Novel, ‘Night’s Cold Kiss’, was published last year in Australia by HarperCollins and internationally via the Eos imprint, and was a finalist in the Aurealis Awards Horror category. Congratulations! Can you tell us how you came to write the book and also describe your journey to publication?
Thanks for having me and thank you so much for the congrats. The Aurealis nomination was one of the biggest highlights of my career so far. I’m not one of those writers who has written from childhood, I only started a few years ago. At school I loved science and maths, English was something I had to endure. Having said that, I’ve always read, losing myself in a far off worlds was one of my favourite past times. I’ve been to magical lands in the Magic Faraway Tree series by Enid Blyton, the shores of Africa in the pages of Wilber Smith’s books, ridden on the backs of dragons in Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series, and been to towns stalked by a crazy clown or vampires in Steven King’s novels. Stories have always been a big part of my life. So when I decided to write a few years back – I started with history, a colonial Australian family saga, which I will have to actually finish writing one day. But my heart has always been in fantasy and horror. One day I got an image of a girl stalking something in an abandoned warehouse and a dark mysterious male vampire watching her from the shadows in the rafters above. Night’s Cold Kiss was born.
I then started on a journey of discovery. You see I’m grammatically challenged in a BIG way. Remember I said I endured English, well, I wasn’t really good at enduring it unfortunately. I wish I had listened more, though by the time I went through school, they had stopped teaching much grammar in the classroom. So, I had a lot to learn, and not just grammar – but the craft of story telling too. After a few contest wins, I started my hunt for an agent and after several requests, I signed up in 2007 with my current agency. They then went on to sell Night’s Cold Kiss to HarperCollins EOS in a 3 book deal – a imprint responsible for some of my favourite authors such as Anne McCaffrey and Raymond E Fiest. To say I was happy would be an extreme understatement.
2. You present a new interpretation of vampires (the Aeternus) in ‘Night’s Cold Kiss’, where the role of vampiric blood as a drug seems particularly unusual. What inspired you to develop the world of the Aeternus? Why did you decide to introduce other ‘parahuman’ species into the world as well, rather than simply focus on the conflict between vampire and human?
I wanted to write of a world like ours but different, an alternate reality. I wanted to create a world rich and complex, and in my mind’s eye, I saw many different creatures that I wanted to write about. Actually, one of my characters, Oberon, really started that off. He was a bit part character, but he stomped his way into the story with and said “I’m here to stay, deal with it.” And who is going to argue with a seven foot Harley-riding bear shapeshifter.
I have always loved vampire stories. But some things just didn’t make sense. So I made my own version ones that don’t have to kill and aren’t undead – they’re a genetic melding of humans and an alien race. Other thing such as if species was reliant on living fresh blood to exist, why would they kill off their food source also didn’t make science. However, I really like the idea of a vicious throat ripping bloodthirsty killing machines. So I came up with a disease Necrodrenia, which turns into these Aeternus into bloody monsters if they succumb to it. It is like an addiction and the thought of having and emotion based blood-drug sensation just seemed to make sense. Now I’m delving deeper and am actually building on the original world, actually more like discovering it, like an explorer. I still have to more to write about the world from magic wielders, to mer-terrorists to elven drug lords. I love the complexity and the richness that seems yet to be discovered and look forward to exploring it.
3. You’re currently finishing the second Dark Brethren Novel, ‘Death's Sweet Embrace’ and I understand it will be out later this year. Can you tell us about the book? Have you got any other projects planned for 2010?
I’m just starting book three in the series. I’m in that nether world of wanting to be a full time writer and still needing to earn a living to support my family, so my books are a little slower at the moment. Death’s Sweet Embrace will be released early 2011 and focuses on another heroine who is very different to Antoinette, she has different strengths and different weaknesses. I still continue to follow Antoinette's progress and some other characters that appear in book 1. I planned a series that is sort of like a TV series based on a central group of people. Some episodes will focus on different characters at different times. The Dark Brethren series is kind like that, stand-alone stories with over arching plots threaded through them.
4. Which Australian writers or work would you like to see on the Hugo shortlists this year? What have you enjoyed reading?
I haven’t had much time to read in this last year. Keri Arthur – another great Australian Urban Fantasy author, is one of my faves, but I have a few Aussies on my to read list such as Kaaron Warren’s Slights and the winning Aurealis Horror Novel Red Queen by Honey Brown looks very good. I am looking forward to reading more this year.
5. Will you be at Aussiecon 4 in September? If so, what are you most looking forward to about it?
I’m not yet sure is I will get to Aussiecon 4. It will definitely be an experience I’d hate to miss, however, as I have said, I work full time and that time of the year will be extremely busy as I’m working on a major project to be delivered in September, so it may prove a little difficult. What would I most look forward to is having such an experience here in Australia and all that goes with it. The chance to meet like-minded people and hang out with other Aussie and international authors is just not something that happens every day.
This interview was conducted as part of the 2010 Snapshot of Australian Speculative Fiction. We'll be blogging interviews from Monday 15 February to Sunday 22 February and archiving them at ASif!: Australian SpecFic in Focus. You can read interviews at:
If you're involved in the Scene and have something to plug, then send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll see what we can do!