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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Book Review - Kim Falconer - Path of the Stray

The magical lands of Gaela are on the brink of war when Tryn Bistoria finds herself trapped in the taboo caves above Corsanon.
As she and her familiar escape, a terrible power is unleashed from another time. On a distant Earth, Janis the ′techno-witch′ must hide Jarrod from those who want to destroy him. But in the crossover to Gaela with the shape-shifting Lupins, Jarrod and a stray pup disappear.
In a desperate search, Janis′ daughter Ruby learns what must be done if everyone is to survive.

Really enjoyed the storyline and characters!! Kim has done a wonderful job at pulling the reader along the path and making them enjoy the ride. Ruby, Janis, Luka, Loni, Tryn and many more are all people who you could see in your mind's eye as 'real' they have depth to them.The astro part of the tale is very interetsing and makes you want to learn more about it. All in all a very well written book and I can't wait to read the second book 'Road to the Soul' 
Highly recommended!!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Book Review - Water for Elephants -Sara Gruen

Water for Elephants

A beautifully written tale set in the 1930 circus era. The story starts with a flashback to the past – a horrific event then slides to the now where the main character Jacob Jankowski is in a nursing home. Jacob then proceeds to flash into the past and back into the now as the story progress.
When Jacob joins the circus by accident – he jumped on a randomly passing train, he isn’t prepared for the force of nature that is August; charismatic but twisted animal trainer. Jacob is a veterinary student who hasn’t completed his final exams due to a tragic loss in his family. He becomes the person who is in charge of the circus menagerie as he is Cornell trained even if not diplomaed.
As the story progresses we meet Marlena, Walter, Big Al, Camel, Earl and many more people who impact on Jacob’s life and then we meet Rosie. She is the elephant that everyone thinks is useless until Jacob figures out her secret.
A very touching and vivid novel that people will enjoy reading. It has warmth, humour and passion that comes through in the author’s writing.
Hard to put down!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Review Patricia Briggs - River Marked

Here is a review that Tamara has written up for us on Mercedes Thompson #6 River Marked - Patricia Briggs

Car mechanic Mercy Thompson has always known there was something different about her, and not just the way she can make a VW engine sit up and beg. Mercy is a shapeshifter, a talent she inherited from her long-gone father. She's never known any others of her kind. Until now. 

Patricia Briggs has recently published her sixth book in the Mercedes Thompson series called River Marked. This book is one I have been looking forward to for a while. Being number six in the series, a lot of things have changed except for one thing, Mercedes Thompson herself. Patricia Briggs really brought a twist I wasn’t expecting in the sixth book, and that for me was what made it a great read. Join Mercedes in her unusual life as she conquers enemies, makes new friends and learns to love; I know you will all enjoy it!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

More Worldbuilding

If you have any ideas, comments or gripes about worldbuilding then head over to Bothersome Words Blog where they have a post going on the subject!

Bothersome Words Worldbuilding

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Publishing in Australia

Publishing in Australia

I have written this article and compiled a few posts from various authors on this subject as we get asked about it a lot. How does one get published? Is it better to self-publish? How do I publish an E-book? Who will stock my book?

All these questions we are faced with and we can only discuss from the book store point of view. Where we get books from, what you need to know if your a self published author seeking for us to stock your books.

We decided to go to the people who would know more and put a call out for authors to tell us their tales of how they become published and what route they would recommend for first time writers.

Marianne de Pierres– author of the acclaimed Parrish Plessis and Sentients of Orion science fiction series and Tara Sharp crime series has this to say.

Getting published is in many ways much easier than it used to be. But being noticed and selling your work is actually getting harder.

The advent of internet publishing and publicity has been a double edged sword for writers. Major publishers are tightening their belts because of the competition. And while there are so many online markets now, and self-publishing in e-book form is about to explode, with that has come the intense competition to be heard/seen/read.

My advice to any writer starting out is not to settle for second best in their own work, merely to get content out there. The temptation is strong ... I mean you can publish perfectly viably on your own blog if you wish, but that doesn't mean the content is always as good as it can be. The current publishing system is full of checks and balances. Many sets of eyes see a novel before it hits the shelves, much thought and work goes into it. Don't forget that if you're considering going the self-publishing route.

However, if you're struggling to be looked at by major publishers, there are some quality small press publishers around who are definitely worth pursuing. That can be a rewarding and profitable experience, but be prepared to roll up your sleeves an help out with your own publicity and marketing. The time of the reclusive, luddite writer is over.


We can attest to the fact authors need to be more active in promoting their books as well. Most book stores will be putting up banners, signs, staff cards and other promoting materials but sometimes it just is not enough. Then you get the small majority of book store staff who really don't care what they are selling. Authors need to take a more active role in promoting – which most are starting to do. The internet is a wonderful thing these days.

Ian Irvine has written 26 novels to date, including the international bestselling 11-book fantasy sequence, The Three Worlds, an eco-thriller trilogy about catastrophic climate change, and 11 books for children and young adults. He has this to say:

Every year, the major Australian publishers each receive thousands of unsolicited fiction manuscripts, and literary agents are also deluged by them. But very few of these manuscripts are ever published, probably less than 1%. Why is this, and is it easier to get published in Australia than it used to be, or harder?

It’s always been hard to get published, anywhere, and it was especially hard to get fiction published in Australia until 15-20 years ago, because until then most of the big publishers preferred to import books from their overseas operations rather than fostering local talent. This situation began to change in the late 1980s, and changed dramatically during the mid-1990s, when Australian popular fiction authors in certain genres, and notably in fantasy, began to outsell many of their big-name international counterparts. These early authors included Sara Douglass, Traci Harding, Kate Forsyth, myself, Jennifer Fallon, Sean Williams, Cecilia Dart-Thornton and Trudi Canavan, and Garth Nix for slightly younger audiences, among others, and all went on to considerable success internationally.

The success of these authors established a golden age for Australian speculative fiction both here and overseas. A large number of other authors have been published in this field in Australia since, and many of them have also had success in the international arena. And it’s certainly true that there are a lot more books being published in Australia today than there were ten years ago, so it’s difficult to argue that it’s harder to get published than it used to be.

But the problem is, the number of titles published in Australia has increased a lot faster than the number of readers. The same situation prevails with English-language publishing internationally. This means, for most authors who do get published, that the probable sales of their book are rather less than they would have been a decade ago. Because individual book sales are less, and also due to the increasing tendency of publishers to ‘pick winners’ and spend most of their marketing budget on these authors’ books, most books published today are not promoted in any meaningful way. And because they’re not promoted, most of these books do poorly, and their authors find it hard to get their next book published. One can’t blame publishers for this. Publishing is a difficult business and becoming more difficult every year, and they have to make a profit to survive.

And the future? Given the difficult international situation, allied to the deluge of self-published books, particularly ebooks, and competition from the internet, games and other new forms of entertainment, it can only become harder for authors old and new to gain enough sales of their books to stay in print. A lucky few will be picked as winners, and many (though not all) of them will succeed. The other winners will be those who either have a natural flair for, or a ruthless determination to succeed at, self-promotion. And the rest? Well, pray for luck.

With those figures you may feel what is the point? Some people though have pushed on and have gone the self publishing route.

Colin Taber writes:

I self published The Fall Of Ossard about 18 months ago (the title broke into the Borders Top 20 in mid October 2009). With a cover by Shaun Tan and a cover quote from Sara Douglass, the dark fantasy went well. Book 2 comes out in September (Ossard's Hope).

Kathryn White another self published author says:

A writer may be interested in self-publishing for a number of reasons. I chose to self-publish as I wished to have a few copies of my book to give out to family and friends and perhaps make the odd sale via my blog. Non-fiction authors who have a small but ready-made market, an author of a local history or a person who runs seminars in a niche area, may consider self-publishing.
I chose to publish my book with Createspace, a Print on Demand [POD] publisher. For me, POD was the logical choice as there is no minimum print run or upfront costs. Createspace assigned my book an ISBN at no charge. The interior of my book was uploaded to the site as a PDF document. Createspace offers templates and royalty free pictures that can be used to create a cover. Users have the choice of uploading their own cover.
When my cover was ready, Createspace set a minimum price for my book. I then set the cover price. The difference between the minimum price and the cover price is paid to the author as a royalty. POD authors who sell their books at a competitive price make very little profit. A physical copy of the book is only printed when one is ordered via the internet and then mailed to the purchaser.
Self-publishing may not be advisable for all writers. One of the major drawbacks to self-publishing is that there is no quality control. It is up to the author to ensure their work is formatted properly and free of errors. A self-published can be difficult to market. I advise writers interested in self-publishing to think about their goals and potential market. My experience of self-publishing is positive. It was inexpensive, fun and as I suspected, I have made a few sales from my blog.

However most authors go through the mainstream and small stream publishers like Harper Collins, Hachette, Pan Macmillian, Random House, Penguin, Wakefield Press and many many more other publishers.

Other ways of getting noticed is the writing programs. These you can enter and you may get 'discovered' that way like Phillipa Fioretti

I was selected for the 2008 Hachette/QWC Manuscript Development Program for my novel The Book of Love. Hachette Australia subsequently offered me a two-book contract. I thought that as I’d only taken up writing in 2006 I’d be wandering in the wilderness for years, and probably forever, so I was very surprised. I have been very fortunate because getting published anywhere these days is hard, not just in Australia.
Writing is hard work and the work doesn’t stop once you sign that contract, it intensifies and your energies are directed away from getting a publisher to building a readership, working with editors and publicists and so on. My publishers are very professional, as you’d expect, and have been supportive and consultative - and as publishing a book is a collaborative thing, that’s just what you’d hope for.
I would never consider self-publishing. Ever. I have no head for business and no heart for the relentless self-promotion involved. But I’m comfortable promoting my published books because there is a team advising and working with me. I made a deliberate choice to write commercial fiction with the aim of being published because I know my limitations and I don’t believe self-publishing a good way to be picked up by a commercial publishing house. Others disagree with this view but when I started to write, I had a clear objective and a time frame of five years. I never had a need to see my words in print no matter the cost. And having worked as a visual artist for a number of years I know the cost – both to the wallet and the soul.
Being a published author gives me the space to keep writing, that’s what is important to me. And seeing the chaotic, sprawling mass of ideas shaped into this neat and concise book on a nice clean shelf is a very satisfying feeling. Any sort of creative life has highs and lows, but this erratic life seems worth it when people smile and say how much they loved the book. I know it’s a business, but it’s also something I’ve given and they’ve received it with pleasure. That’s a good feeling.

Now we get to the awards aspiring writers can enter. These are things like the HarperCollins Varuna awards for manuscript development, The Allen & Unwin The Australian/ Vogel Literary Award. There are more awards to research as well – too many to list here. Just remember getting picked doesn't mean you automatically get published – it just increases your chance a little.

Candice is someone who entered these awards and here is her experience,

I would be very happy to share my personal experiences if they're relevant. I have had one children's book published, however, I've found the publishing process very difficult. The market seems extremely tight. With a lot of my submissions, I've received very positive comments on my writing from publishers, ending with an inability to find a place for my work in their lists.

One example is an unpublished adult novel I wrote that received a commendation in a well-recognised awards program. I received the award in 2007, yet I haven't managed to find a publisher for it. One publisher recently said they'd like to publish the work but that the list for this year is already full, so they may come back to me for a potential 2012 publication.

It is a great idea to enter these awards and also write short stories as these increase your footholds in getting noticed.

One last way of getting published is to go outside of Australia. Here is Karly Lane's story:

Most major Australian publishing houses don't accept unsolicited manuscripts, so if you haven't got an agent, it's very difficult to get your work in front of an editor. The process of trying to obtain an agent is another nightmare in itself, because there are so few of them here, that finding one to represent you is almost as long and drawn out, as submitting the manuscript!
When I began my publishing journey, I chose to submit my romantic suspense titles to a US e-publisher as a way to gain experience. There wasn't any main stream publishers who were interested in shorter, 65K length romances at the time, and it was the best thing I ever did. Not only did it give me valuable experience with the publishing process, it helped me gain the confidence to believe in, and further my writing.
However if you keep up to date with what's going on in the publishing world, you can find opportunities with Australian publishers. I eventually submitted to Allen & Unwin via their Friday pitch sessions I'd heard about. You don't need an agent for this and I was lucky enough to have my soon to be released novel, North Star published by them.
Publishing in Australia is not easy- but having finally achieved my dream, and it's one of the most rewarding things I've ever experienced.

Anyways I hope this blog post helps and people are prepared for the hard slog to getting published. It is no easy thing, but if you have the drive for it and the dream – then MAKE it happen. You decide what route you want to go through and make it work for you!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Guest Blog - Fiona Palmer - Where Fiona finds her inspiritation

In celebration of Fiona Palmer's new release 'Heart of Gold' we have asked Fiona to write us a short post on where she finds her inspiration. Now this is a question most authors are asked many times but we felt that as Fiona is an Australian outback writer, she would have a wreath of information that not many people from overseas would know.

Where do I find my inspiration? From the land and the people around me. It could be the next sunset or thunderstorm, the hot wind swirling dust around the paddocks or it could simply be the wildlife going about life. It could be something as simple as hauling dead wood into a pile, setting it alight, sitting around the flames on old milk crates and drinking a cold one. The smell of smoke, which weaves its way into your clothes and hair, and the crackling warmth from the orange glow of embers all add to the experience. Something so simple can be so enjoyable and memorable.
Such simple things like these bring me great joy and with that comes energy and passion. Standing outside as the first rain comes down after a long hot summer can rejuvenate the senses and its these senses which help me to write. And in the next breath I could be sitting with the locals, chatting, sharing stories and someone will tell a ripper of a yarn that seems too good to be true. We'll all have tears in our eyes and our bellies hurt from a decent laugh which cleans out your soul. Its these little stories which can ignite another branch for my stories or help spur on a whole new one. Its these yarns that I like to fit into my books as much as possible, as sometimes you just can't think up stuff as perfect as them. 
So now i give you my books and see if you can tell which bits are real. Its also the characters of the bush. Not just one person but all of the people have parts that end up in my characters. She could be made up of ten people I have met or heard about. The courage of one, strength of another, humor of many...the list goes on. I think for a writer you need the ability to draw in your surroundings, experience them and then be able to share them.
Fiona is from Pingaring, in Western Australia, and she’s a real country girl, with a range of work experience including rouseabouting, tractor driving, and working on the grain silos – all great experiences shared by the heroine of her debut novel, The Family Farm. 
If you would like to know more of Fiona Palmer then you can go to her blog

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

KGI #2 No Place to Run - Maya Banks Review

The last person Sam Kelly expected to save was Sophie Lundgren. Once they shared a brief, intense affair while Sam was undercover and then she vanished. She's spent the last few months on the run, knowing that any mistake would cost her both her life and that of their unborn child. Now she's resurfaced with a warning for Sam: this time, he's the one in danger.
I love this series. Book 2 picks up not long after the events of book 1. This time it is Sam who has to risk everything for the woman who has just been fished out of his lake. This series has the addictive quality of Lora Leigh's elite and black ops series. Maya has written well geared characters and it nearly had me in tears a few times.
Very addictive and I can't wait to read the next one, which is in my bag ready to be read!!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Tymon's Flight - Mary Victoria Review

Tymon's Flight – Mary Victoria

The world is a great gigantic tree where people live, breath and die. They never see the ground – it is the subject of myth and legend. We meet Tymon, a young indentured novice who dreams of becoming more. In a time where science and religion are clashing - a young boys chance meeting of a Nurian slave will change the Great Tree.

Tymon is then banished to the boughs of the drought ridden colonies and is caught up in a war that is coming between the Nurian people and the Argosian people.

A very good read, it took me a few chapters to get into the story but once I was there, I was swept away by the language, the characters and the wonderful story of Tymon and his coming of age.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Guest post - Ian Irvine on writing children's fiction

We asked Ian to tell us what his inspirations were for writing his latest children's series 'Grim and Grimmer'

Grim and Grimmer #1
The Headless Highwayman

The Fey Queen, Emajicka, is stealing the children of Grimmery for her Collection. She bathes in their nightmares to relieve her own. There is one nightmare she wants most of all.
If Ike had stayed home that Tuesday, he would not have betrayed a princess or robbed a murderous queen. He would not have been tied to an insane imp desperate to eat his liver. He certainly would not have floated across a strange land on an impossible rescue mission, powered by exploding manure. Nor would he have tried to escape via that disastrous troll-bum door.
But can he ever escape the Nightmare Queen?
Grim and Grimmer

Ian Irvine

What were my inspirations for this series? It takes a bit of remembering. When I began writing many years ago I wasn’t interested in telling stories for children. I’d always loved epic fantasy – huge books set on vast canvases that deal with the grand themes of life and death for whole nations and worlds. That’s how I came to write my 11-book (so far) Three Worlds fantasy cycle which begins with A Shadow on the Glass and ends 2.3 million words later with The Destiny of the Dead. I’ll be writing more books in this series in a couple of years.

I dedicated several of these books to my older children, but my youngest daughter was only 12 then and I wanted to write some books for her. That’s why I began the Runcible Jones quartet seven years ago, and I enjoyed writing these books so much that I continued with the Sorcerer’s Tower series, and now Grim and Grimmer.

With Grim and Grimmer I wanted to do something different – for me anyway. I’ve never written humorous fiction before (well, not intentionally, LOL). There are a lot of great fantasies for the age group I’m writing for, 9-14, and plenty of humorous writing too, but often the humorous stories don’t have strong plots and the well-plotted stories aren’t funny. I love strong, driving fantasy plots so I thought I’d have a go at funny fantasy.

Who to be the hero, though? I wanted a kid who wasn’t a natural hero but a real duffer, a hopeless boy forced by circumstances to rise above himself and become a hero. Awkward Ike is useless at everything except drawing and making crazy contraptions, but one day, when he touches an odd-looking pen, he hears a girl cry:

They’ve killed the queen and they’re coming for me. They’re breaking the door. Help!

Ike is drawing on the wall of a shed when a door appears there. He goes through and ends up in the magical world of Wychwold, where war is raging between Feyrie and the human land of Grimmery. And where everyone seems crazy.

Ike is befriended by Lord Monty, a headless highwayman who talks through his bottom. But Ike ignores Monty’s advice and, in trying to save the princess from what he thinks is a band of robbers, accidentally betrays her to her enemy, the Fey Queen, Emajicka.

Soon Ike is a prisoner, chained to the ferocious guard-imp, Nuckl, who wants to eat Ike’s liver. He’s determined to escape and make up for his blunder, and with the help of Mellie, an overconfident thief girl whose magic often gets them into worse trouble, and Naggerly, Lord Monty’s philosophy-reading carnivorous horse, he gets away.

Ike doesn’t realise that Emajicka is hunting him. For years she has been stealing the children of Grimmery for her Collection. She bathes in their nightmares to relieve her own and she wants Ike’s nightmares most of all.

In his quest to rescue the princess and save Grimmery, and himself, Ike will have to match wits with the monstrous firewyrm, Grogire, and fight a deadly night-gaunt. He’ll float across a strange land on an impossible rescue mission in a balloon powered by exploding manure, then carry the princess and Mellie to safety via a disgusting troll-bum door. He’ll be struck blind, forced to eat maggot soup and be carried off by an enraged demon called Spleen. After one of Mellie’s failed spells, Ike will end up bobbing around the ceilings of the dwarf city with a backside the size of an airship, cruelly mocked by angry dwarves. Boy, does he suffer!

My inspiration for these books was the traditional world of children’s fantasy, with its goblins, trolls, dwarves and so forth, but I didn’t want the characters to be traditional. The wicked queen is also troubled by a terrible fear for her country. The cunning, greedy goblins of Gobbeloon have been bewitched to hopeless gamblers who will bet on anything, even Ike’s death. And Con Glomryt isn’t a brave and noble dwarf but a lying, cheating huckster.

Writing these books was the first time I really let go and indulged my own wacky side. Grim and Grimmer is the most fun I’ve ever had writing, and I hope you enjoy them too.

Book 3, The Desperate Dwarf is out now.

Book 4, The Calamitous Queen, will be published in June.

Ian Irvine is a marine scientist who has developed some of Australia’s national guidelines for the protection of the marine environment. He has also written 27 novels, including the internationally bestselling Three Worlds fantasy sequence, an eco-thriller trilogy and 12 books for children.

Ian is giving away signed books and other prizes every week on his Facebook site,

Guest post Duncan Lay - World Building

Duncan Lay has written us a post on how he world builds for his novels - what is involved? How he goes about it. Duncan has just been contracted for a new series which the first one, will be released in 2012.

One of the ways in which my second series will differ from the first is in the world the characters inhabit.
At first glance this might not seem to be so, for they are actually in the same world ... the same rules of magic apply, the same theology and the same lack of woodland pixies and other ``magical'' folk.
But where my desire in the first series was to throw readers into the story and the characters' problems, in this series there was more of a need to develop the world.
This was for two reasons: the culture and development of each country becomes a vital plot point as the series moves on and, secondly, part of the story is about an "elf'' banished into the human world, so the contrast between what he knows and how the other humans live is a vital part.
In The Dragon Sword Histories, most countries had a similar level of technology and I concentrated more on the differences in attitude among the people. Thus the Norstalines took some inspiration from America between the two world wars; insular, arrogant and certain that they were the only place of importance. The Berellians took some inspiration from Nazi Germany and the indeed other totalitarian regimes. The Tenochs were a rough mix of Aztec and Mayan.
But in the new series, I needed a different approach.
Each country has its own culture - but a culture muddied and often forgotten thanks to what the "elves" (really Elfarans - humans who think they are the elves of legend) did to them centuries ago.
So what they have is a ghost of a culture, memories or fragments really, which are not important to them but become so as the series moves on.
The Velsh, from The Vales, are - perhaps obviously - based loosely on the Welsh.
Part of my fascination with this comes from the battle of Pilleth, one of the major inspirations for The Dragon Sword Histories. Popular culture has made much of the Scottish struggle for independence - there have been many books and movies, most famously Braveheart.
But the Welsh are the Britons, driven west by the Saxon invasions, and their story has not had the same prominence. Yet it is the story of Arthur, the - supposed - historical British warleader who stopped the Saxons.

I also found it fascinating for they lived among the faded glories left them by the retreating Romans. The idea of seeing technology far beyond your own, buildings you could never hope to make and the effect that would have on a people really resonated with me and, by substituting my "elves" for Romans, adapted this.
Research into my Velsh meant going into Celtic history and daily life. Obviously the Internet makes this much easier but books such as Horrible Histories also throw up some fascinating, quirky insights into life then.
Huw, the bard, is Velsh and his journey unlocks the hidden secrets of the Velsh/Welsh culture.
Next come the Forlish, loosely based on the Saxons. Their leader wants to return Men to the glory he sees around him every day in the "elven" ruins - by uniting every country under the one flag and pooling their knowledge. He just chooses to do this by the sword.
Rhiannon, the dancer, is Forlish and her journey includes discovering that humans can do magic, not just elves, a discovery that will change everyone's future and fate.
And the elves. Theirs is a bastard culture, partly the Elfaran culture we met back in the Dragon Sword Histories, which was loosely based on the Roman culture, and partly the culture their forebears adopted when they left the dragons' service and found themselves wives, and families among a people called the Nippon (loosely based on the Japanese).
Sendatsu, the "elf" has been banished for not having magic and he is the key to unlocking these mysteries, as he knows some of the secrets of the elves, as well as the story of the humans.
So we have a series of cultures, all bastardised by the "elves" at first wanting to help the humans and then in fact stealing their culture, their magic and religion, leaving them nothing more than hollow memories.
The search for the truth behind these memories is a vital part of the story.
Obviously there is much more to it - the journeys of my three main characters, as well as the underlying heart of the books - but in this series, far more than my first, world building plays an important part.

Even the placenames, based on real names, tell a story.
All through the first book, particularly, are little clues and fragments that hint towards future revelations and, while they may not seem like much at first, will prove to be vital.
I look forward to sharing it with you! 

Duncan Lay is a fantasy author, published by HarperCollins (Voyager)
Check out his blog HERE

Friday, March 4, 2011

George R.R. announces A Dance with Dragons out July!

Harper Voyager has blogged that George R R Martin has announcedthe date of A Dance with Dragons!!!

Here is the link to Voyager Blog  for more information!!

Guest post - Raymond E Feist - Approaching the End

Approaching the End

The lovely folks at A&R asked me to reflect a bit on bringing this all together after thirty two years of work, this Midkemian opus, what I've come to call the Riftwar Cycle.  To do so, I have to go back a little to the beginning.

Midekmia is a gaming environment, a world developed by many friends at university to which I contributed a bit. I'll skip over pages of narration about how the world developed save to make one observation: it was created by a bunch of graduate student science majors who rarely were inclined to take "because I said so" as a reason for the way things happened.  As a result, Midkemia as a game and world was a "system," an oddly successful virtual world that had a lot of quirky rules and odd conventions.  As we played, stories were spun about why things were the way they were.  Many events in the game resulted from "back in the time of the Riftwar, when the greater magic came to Midkemia . . ."

When I decided to take a hand at writing fantasy, it seemed logical to me to do it in Midkemia, given it spared me a lot of world-building.  But when you jump into an objective, albeit virtual, world, you inherit the conventions and rules.   So, I don't write about the era in which we gamed, but rather the "back in the days" stuff, the virtual "past" of the place.  Hence, when asked, I tell people I'm writing historical novels about a place that doesn't exist.

When I wrote Magician I had no idea if anyone would buy it, let alone dream it would still be in print thirty years later and eventually have twenty nine sequels.  I set out to tell the story of the first Riftwar, how the greater magic came to Midkemia.  But as fate was kind and people wanted to read more, I continued on, knowing there were five Riftwars in total, the Riftwar, the Serpent War, the Dark War, the Demon War, and the Chaos War.  It wasn't until I finished the Serpent War I realized that I was going to have to keep at it to the end.

Now I'm almost there. It's been an amazing experience and one I never anticipated.  The readers have been wonderful, welcoming, and enthusiastic about the entire narrative. When the last book is closed, I hope they'll still look back as fondly as I do on the entire process.

It most likely won't be the last of Midkemia, and certainly won't be the last book I write. I'm already entertaining ideas for more fantasy in different settings, as well as some thing I might take a hand in back on familiar territory, and I'm sure some people might be interesting in seeing what Midkemia's like after I get done with it in the current series.  Whatever I choose to do, I hope the readers are as enthused about it as I am.

Raymond E. Feist
San Diego, CA March, 2011
 Raymond E. Feist (full name Raymond Elias Feist), is a Southern Californian by birth and a San Diegan by choice. He was educated at the University of California, San Diego, where he received his B.A. in Communication Arts with Honors in 1977. Hobbies include collecting movies on DVD, fine wine, books on the history of Professional Football, and the works of American Illustrators.
For more information here is Raymonds website.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

REVIEW Evernight #4 Afterlife - Claudia Gray

Here is staff member Tamara's review on Afterlife.

Afterlife is the Fourth book in the Evernight series by Claudia Gray, and probably one of the best endings to a series I have encountered for a while.
The third book in the series Hourglass ended on a cliff hanger, leaving readers to wonder how she would end her last book with the many options she had for her characters. The path that Claudia Gray has chosen for them will simply amaze everyone that reads the series from the start. A gripping series, Afterlife is one book where you won't know how the ending will turn out, and I loved it!

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