Today I have the honour of hosting the Eighteenth author showcase focusing on the awesome talent originating from Australia and New Zealand.
The idea came to me whilst seeing so many of the book community gathering at recent conventions in the US and UK. And once my FOMO had subsided, I got to thinking about who might be gathered together if we had similar conventions closer to home. Pending the master planning required to arrange a massive convention, I thought the next best thing might be to run an Australian & New Zealand author showcase. So, I sent out the call, with the only prerequisite for participating being the author had to have been born in either country or currently live there.
I’m thrilled to say that a huge number of authors have reached out to me, and I will continue to post their individual showcases at regular intervals. So hopefully you will enjoy these interactions with some very talented people. Please be sure to check out their work, sign up to their newsletters and follow them on their social media of choice. I make no apologies for any damage inflicted to your TBR’s!
Showcase No 18 finds me channeling my inner Vonvalt and using my “voice” to question the one and only Richard Swan (he maybe English but we won’t hold that against him)
- Do you feel that being an Aussie / Kiwi (or residing there) influences your writing?
It certainly has done. I like to slip little Australian easter eggs into my books. In my Empire of the Wolf trilogy, one of the demigods with the Neman pantheon is called Kultaar (which is taken from kultarr, a small Australian marsupial). In the second book the Emperor refers to a sixty year old bottle of red wine called a Klokanpolje which is Croatian for ‘kangaroo field’! I was delighted when a Kiwi fan with Eastern European heritage messaged me about it. I like to pay homage to my country of residence whenever I can!
- What are some of the challenges being located so far away from the rest of the world, do have any tips for overcoming these?
When I first moved to Australia I felt terrible sense of FOMO as so many of the meetings, conventions, events, et cetera were taking place on the other side of the world. I was able to ameliorate this by attending several (e.g. Cymera, Fantasy Fellowship Con, etc.) by video call, and of course there are wonderful events here in Australia (I was invited to Supanova Comic Con four times which has been an incredible highlight for me, plus I’ve had book launches and signings here in as well). I think if we were to stay here long-term — and the plan actually is to move back to the UK next year — I would pick one big international convention a year, either in the States or the UK, and fly to those, but that gets expensive quickly!
- How do you go about establishing connections in the book community? (any tips / suggestions)
I am pretty gregarious so I just messaged people cold. I was very good at just reaching out to people who I saw lived in Sydney, usually via Twitter DMs, and asking if they wanted to catch up for a coffee or beer. Writing is a very solitary profession and people are almost always keen to meet up and talk about the process, the craft, the industry. I also made friends with people I met as a guest at cons, or with booksellers and met at signings. Because we are all geeks at heart, everybody is very friendly!
- Do you have a favourite character to write? And conversely are there any of your characters that are the more of a struggle?
My Empire of the Wolf series is a very character-focused series and so it was important to me that each of the major characters had their own distinct voice. There are always challenges with making sure a character feels rounded and compelling to read about and not every reader is going to like every character you write. I really enjoyed writing Sir Radomir, the world-weary sheriff of Galen’s Vale who gets recruited into Vonvalt retinue at the end of book one. There’s always something fun about writing the so-called ‘straight man’, someone who acts as a foil to the drama, who sees the world and very black-and-white terms and who calls the other characters on their bullshit!
- So aliens finally reveal themselves to us and your work is presented to them as example of what humanity has to offer, what do you hope they will take away from this intergalactic exchange?
That it will never be possible to answer the question “do the ends justify the means?”
- Tell us something about yourself that not many people know?
I once appeared in a commercial for a Philips beard trimmer.
- What would you say is the best thing about being an author and the worst?
The best thing is I get paid to make up fantastical stories all day. The worst is the uncertainty. Very few authors are untouchable and we are all only a book or two away from failure.
- Any other Aussie / Kiwi creatives you’d like to give a shout out for? (let’s spread the love)
Jeremy Szal, Freya Marske, Devin Madson, Justin Woolley, Tim Napper, Adrian Collins, Jay Kristoff, Paige Belfield, Keshe Chow, Bronte Marie, Ryan Cahill, and many more!
- What’s your favourite quote or passage from one of your books?
“The common law is something that we Sovans have developed to give meaning to these natural laws. To codify the things that we know instinctively. The common law is a set of rules which provides certainty. Not simply a reference guide for moral behaviour, but a tool to enforce what is right and what is wrong. To bring structure and procedure to the resolution of conflict. The legal system is a system by which everyone, from the lowliest villein to the most elevated lord, can seek redress.
“These things are important, ladies and gentlemen, dry, philosophical concepts though they may seem. We are talking about the beams which make up the structure of our world. In the same way that we would not tolerate a man walking up to our house and smashing it down with an axe, so must we find intolerable the actions of a man who would destroy the scaffold about which we construct our society.”
- What can you say about your current project or what you are planning next?
I have two projects on the go, a flintlock fantasy trilogy and a political space opera series. I have news about one of those things to share in the near future!
Bonus Question: Lastly Vegemite* yes or no?
I am the only person in the world who is ambivalent about vegemite?
* An iconic dark salty spread that (most) Australians slap on toast for breakfast (NB explanation for the rest of the world)
Richard was born in North Yorkshire in the United Kingdom. He spent most of his early life on Royal Air Force bases in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, and attended St Peter’s School in York as a boarder. He studied law at the University of Manchester, and spent most of the following ten years as a lawyer specialising in multi-million pound commercial disputes.
Between 2015 and 2018, Richard self-published THE ART OF WAR trilogy, a sequence of epic military space operas, as well as a number of prequels, novellas and short stories.
Richard’s traditionally-published debut fantasy trilogy, THE EMPIRE OF THE WOLF, sold to Orbit Books in a pre-empt in August 2020, for a six-figure sum. The first instalment, THE JUSTICE OF KINGS, was released in February 2022, with the second volume, THE TYRANNY OF FAITH released in February 2023. The final volume, THE TRIALS OF EMPIRE, will be released in February 2024. He has also sold short stories to Grimdark Magazine and Black Library.
Richard currently lives with his wife and two small boys in Sydney, Australia.
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