Today I have the honour of hosting the ninth author showcases 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 be posting their individual showcases at regular intervals over the coming weeks. 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!
I’m pleased to be grilling Aussie author Jed Herne just as he is about to launch a new Kickstarter (more that below)
- Do you feel that being an Aussie / Kiwi (or residing there) influences your writing?
Living in Australia has given me the incredible fortune of visiting some truly amazing and unique places. Whether it’s snorkelling beside turtles in Exmouth, exploring canyons in Karijini, or driving across the desert as the blood-red sun sinks below the flat, endless brown land, with no other cars in sight – this is a country of wild and sometimes brutal natural beauty. To say it has affected my writing would be an understatement. To me, I approach my fantasy stories with the goal of transporting readers to vivid, stunningly unique worlds, and the experiences I’ve had through the wild places of Australia has undoubtedly helped me do this. It’s easy to write about these unique fantasy worlds when it feels like you live in one!
- What are some of the challenges being located so far away from the rest of the world, do have any tips for overcoming these?
I live in Perth, which is the most isolated capital city in the world. For context, it takes about 5 hours to fly to Sydney, which is one of the few Australian cities that most overseas folks have heard about. I suppose that’s the biggest challenge – the travel. I recently visited the USA for a few weeks, and I spent about 30 hours on various planes and airports to get there. But I feel lucky to enjoy even the more frustrating parts of travel – probably because I feel fortunate to be living in a time where you can get to anywhere in the world within a day or so. That didn’t exist a hundred years ago. So in that sense, I don’t feel like there’s too many drawbacks to living so far away from the world, especially when most of my friends and almost all of my family lives here. Technology, too, has made vast distances far more manageable. I feel lucky to be putting out YouTube videos that beem out to people from all across the globe, and I’m regularly in contact with writers from thousands of kilometres away.
- How do you go about establishing connections in the book community? (any tips / suggestions)
In the early stages of my career, podcasting played a pivotal role. I launched the Novel Analyst show in 2018, and used it to dissect my favourite books and distil essential writing lessons. As time progressed, the show evolved into an interview format. It was astounding to realize that I could chat with some of my favourite authors from the comfort of my own room. I enjoyed this so much that in 2020 I created the Wizards, Warriors, and Words podcast, along with Rob J. Hayes, Michael R. Fletcher, and Dyrk Ashton. This podcast became an incredible platform to connect with many of my favourite authors, like John Gwynne, Joe Abercrombie, Adrian Tchaikovsky, and so many more.
For those just starting out, a podcast is an excellent method to engage with your literary heroes. If you’re an good listener, an avid reader, and adept at posing thoughtful questions—ones that authors haven’t heard a million times before—you might be surprised by the caliber of guests eager to join you. Authors often lead solitary lives, spending long periods locked up in our offices, immersed in writing. Coming on a podcast to discuss the ideas, themes, characters, and events of their stories with an enthusiastic fan is an opportunity most authors would leap at in a heartbeat.
- Do you have a favourite character to write? And conversely are there any of your characters that are the more of a struggle?
My favourite character to write is usually the one whose perspective I’m currently in. When you shift perspective to a new character, you inevitably dive into their worldview, backstory, and values, and this deep understanding leads to a close identification with them.
Saying that, however, there are absolutely some characters that immediately resonate with me, and are easier to write than others. It usually comes down to their voice. When their voice is clear, writing about them feels natural and effortless.
Kef Cutmark, the protagonist of my ocean-punk fantasy story, *The Thunder Heist*, is a prime example. She’s an adept, witty, and sarcastic pirate who’s always fixing for a huge score. Her lighthearted, roughish behaviour makes her a delightful avatar to explore the Twisted Seas — a world where floating cities struggle to survive among monster-ridden waters.
A character’s voice is pivotal, but another aspect that makes writing enjoyable is seeing a part of myself in them, or exploring my own curiosities through their experiences. *Kingdom of Dragons*, my upcoming novel, dives into this.
Zora, a ranger’s apprentice, craves revenge against the Sunwarden who killed her father. Her life changes when she discovers a dragon egg, bonds with the dragon, and heads to the floating academy of the dragon riders to train – hoping to finally get her justice.
Meanwhile, Rovan, haunted by the death of his best friend at the hands of the dragon riders, joins the Sunwardens, steals a dragon rider’s egg, and infiltrates the same academy to destroy it. Both are young characters, just over the cusp of adulthood. They start with firm beliefs about the world. But as they grow closer, they realise their understanding might be limited. This idea resonates with my own life experiences of altering deep-seated beliefs and empathising with people I once deemed irredeemable. The evolving beliefs and relationship between Rovan and Zora form the heart of the story, and gave me a rich vein of tension and intrigue.
- 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?
If aliens reveal themselves to us, they are likely far more technologically advanced. My hope is to show them that humanity is worthy of study, friendship, and alliance. Through my stories, I aim to showcase the remarkable depth of human imagination and our capacity to empathise, even with people who aren’t real.
Stories, in my view, represent the pinnacle of human achievement. They guide us through unforeseen tragedies and help us celebrate moments of triumph. We have been storytellers since the dawn of our existence.
I would hope, then, that that these aliens recognise the value of our stories. Perhaps they might see them as a reason to consider us worthy of continued existence.
- Tell us something about yourself that not many people know?
I’m a lucid dreamer, often remembering nearly every dream upon waking. In most, I can fly. In the particularly vivid ones, where I’m fully aware I’m dreaming, I use this state to explore settings, characters, or even scenes from my stories. Several book ideas and scenes have sprung from these dreams.
I’ve also conversed with some of my favourite authors in my dreams. It’s an odd experience, essentially a dialogue with myself, but it feels profound. As I age, my lucid dreaming abilities seem to diminish, likely due to less sleep. Despite this, these dreams continue to fuel my creativity and sometimes offer valuable insights into my writing.
- What would you say is the best thing about being an author and the worst?
Have you ever read a story and wished it took a different turn? Being an author lets you steer the story your way. Often, my stories start just like that. I might love a book or movie but wish for a different twist, or find a sidelined character intriguing.
The best part? The freedom. Both from a creative aspect, and also, I was recently lucky enough to become a full-time author, which has amplified this freedom even further.
But there’s a flip side. If the uncertainty and challenges of writing don’t appeal to you, think twice about making it a full-time commitment. Writing involves wondering if anyone will read your work and coping with negative reviews, even if most feedback is positive. Yes, these moments bring stress, but they’re part of the deal. They’re the price for a life driven by passion, for the chance to delve into worlds and lives that captivate you. I see these challenges not as burdens but as privileges of the craft.
Life is about the journey, not just the destination. I know authors who find joy only in a finished, successful book. Yet, during the writing process, they’re miserable. Writing can be tough, but I remind myself to love the process, not just the outcome.
- Any other Aussie / Kiwi creatives you’d like to give a shout out for? (let’s spread the love)
I’m a big fan of Garth Nix, known for his Keys to the Kingdom series and Across the Wall. But my favourite work of his is A Confusion of Princes. This sci-fi, coming-of-age story, often compared to Dune and Foundation, resonates deeply with me. I’ve read it multiple times. It revolves around young Prince Khemri, navigating a vast galactic empire filled with countless privileged, augmented princes. As the empire’s ruler prepares to step down, princes across the galaxy vie for the throne. Amidst this power struggle, Khemri uncovers hidden truths about the empire and its mysterious leader. What strikes me most is not just the grand ideas but the heartfelt love story woven in, where Khemri, for the first time, connects with commoners, leading to an unexpected relationship.
On a lighter note, Garth Nix’s Down to the Scum Quarter is one of the funniest pieces I’ve read. It’s a hilarious take on the choose-your-own-adventure genre. You’re thrust into medieval slums, embarking on a quest, in a world where everything is absurd. It’s reminiscent of Discworld’s tone, poking fun at fantasy tropes while being an excellent story in its own right. Nix wrote it at a young age, and you can feel his youthful energy and humour in it. It even inspired me to write my own spoof at 16, The Affable Agent, parodying the spy genre, akin to James Bond and Jason Bourne. It’s still floating around online somewhere, a testament to my teenage years.
- What’s your favourite quote or passage from one of your books?
I’m particularly drawn to a scene in *Kingdom of Dragons* where Zora and her dragon, Dapple, share their first flight alongside Rovan and his dragon, Gleam. It’s a scene of profound connection. Not just between riders and dragons, but also between Zora and Rovan. They glide over a calm lake, its surface mirroring the night stars and twin moons above.
This moment of flight fosters a deep bond between them. Afterward, as they sit on a small island, talking late into the night, something real and profound seems to blossom. I relished writing this scene. It’s a blend of quiet magic, combined with the thrill of a first flight—elements I always enjoy in dragon rider tales. Yet, I believe I infused my own touch through the unique emotions Rovan and Zora experience.
Oh, and as a nice bonus — the book includes a stunning piece of interior artwork depicting this very moment.
- What can you say about your current project or what you are planning next?
My fourth fantasy novel, Kingdom of Dragons, marks the beginning of an epic saga. It intertwines the tales of a vengeful dragon rider, a destructive spy, and two nations teetering on the edge of war.
The story centres around Zora, driven by a thirst for revenge ever since her father’s murder by a Sunwarden. Her life takes a dramatic turn when, after saving a town from bandits alongside her fellow rangers, she stumbles upon a dragon egg, giving her an opportunity for retribution.
Meanwhile, Rovan, haunted by the death of his best friend at the claws of dragons, commits himself to their eradication. Under the tutelage of a Sunwarden, he seizes a dragon egg and infiltrates Alegium—the legendary floating city of dragon riders—with a mission to destroy it from within.
As Zora and Rovan embark on their respective journeys, training dragons, mastering new magic, and unexpectedly growing closer, they start to question the truths they once held dear.
But when the moment for vengeance arrives, can they reconcile with the burdens of their past?
The book’s launch is set for November 2nd on Kickstarter. We’re aiming to produce a premium edition featuring at least four interior artworks and more if possible. Each physical Kickstarter edition will also bear my signature.
My aspiration for this novel is to evoke that nostalgic sensation akin to reading Eragon or the Dragonriders of Pern series, but with a contemporary twist. Feedback from early readers has been overwhelmingly positive—they’ve even called it my best work yet. I’m hope everyone else can share that same sentiment when they dive in!
Bonus Question: Lastly Vegemite* yes or no?
* An iconic dark salty spread that (most) Australians slap on toast for breakfast (NB explanation for the rest of the world)
No, unless I am sick — in which case I will be consuming liberal amounts of the stuff to purge the germs from my body. It’s pretty much engine grease and my suspicion is that the bacteria can’t run away from it fast enough.
Jed Herne is a full-time fantasy author from Perth, Western Australia. His novels include The Thunder Heist, Across the Broken Stars, Fires of the Dead, and Kingdom of Dragons. He also wrote Siege of Treboulain, an interactive fiction novel published by Choice of Games. His YouTube channel features writing advice and a behind-the-scenes look at his process, with over 2 million views and 36,000+ subscribers.
Links to current book/ series:
Kingdom of Dragons Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jedherne/kingdom-of-dragons?ref=9739r6
My other books: https://jedherne.com/stories
Website / Social media links: