- When will your next book be released?
- Which order should I read your books in?
- Will there be more books set in the world of the Black Magician Trilogy?
- What inspired the Black Magician Trilogy?
- Did you base the Black Magician Trilogy on an era or culture of this world?
- Spoiler Questions for the Black Magician Trilogy
- What inspired the Age of the Five trilogy?
- Will there be more books set in the Age of the Five trilogy?
- My parents have heard that there is sex in the Age of the Five trilogy. Is this true?
- What are you writing now?
- Do you want to know about typos/errors in your books?
- Do you need proofers or beta readers?
- Will you read my manuscript/story idea/suggestion for future books?
- Can I have some tips on writing?
- Where do you get your ideas from?
- Are any characters based on yourself?
- Are any characters based on people you know?
- How are the names/landmarks pronounced?
- Why all the invented words for animals, etc.? Why not call a cow a cow?
- Was x, y or z supposed to be a surprise, because I guessed it would happen?
- Was the Black Magician Trilogy influenced by Harry Potter books?
- Will there be films made of any of your books?
- Could you recommend other authors?
- Could you recommend other Aussie authors?
- Could you recommend some non-fiction books?
- Why isn’t x, y or z author in your recommended reading lists?
- I can’t find your books anywhere! What should I do?
- Are there editions of your books in other languages?
- Are there audio editions of your books?
- Do you have any control over the price of your ebooks?
- Can I write a screenplay/roleplaying game/computer game based on your book/s?
- Can I use images or text from your site?
- I’ve set up a forum for discussion on your books. Do you mind? Could you come and visit?
- Why don’t you set up a forum on your website?
- Are you on social media?
- What is your stance on fanfic?
- Can I have an autographed photo? Can I send books to you to sign?
- Can I have a free book/copy of your unfinished book for a sick/dying friend/relative?
- Could you come to my home town to sign books?
- How many books can I take to a signing?
When will your next book be released?
Rough dates, when I know them, are noted next to the titles on the Books page. Keep an eye on the preorder page for the book at online bookstores, as release dates tend to be added or changed there first.
Which order should I read your books in?
I’ve included a handy Reading Order guide in this website.
Will there be more books set in the world of the Black Magician Trilogy?
Yes. I am planning to write another sequel trilogy, set around twenty years after events in the Traitor Spy Trilogy.
What inspired the Black Magician Trilogy?
A late night news report about preparations for the Barcelona Olympics inspired the first chapter of The Magicians’ Guild story. The report claimed the city authorities had sent trucks around the city, into which all the homeless were loaded and then taken them to other cities. That night I dreamed that I was one among hundreds of people being driven out of a city… by magicians. We started throwing stones and instead I threw magic. I woke up and wrote down the dream, sure that in the morning I’d read it and laugh (most dreams make for bad stories). Instead I saw it had potential. Later it fit with a society I’d imagined where magic was latent and required expert tuition, so the teaching of it became a privilege only available to the rich.
Did you base the Black Magician Trilogy on an era or culture of this world?
Not really. I’ve found that some people think the Black Magician Trilogy is ‘medieval’ (as in European Medieval) simply because it’s fantasy. I deliberately set it in a more technically advanced era. Sonea’s world lies somewhere between late Medieval and Victorian times, with the development of technology skewed by magic: the lack of warfare for a few hundred years and the presence of powerful sorcerers meant nobody was motivated into creating guns and cannons. A rich intellectual elite control knowledge, so printing presses have been invented. For the architecture, food and furniture I took inspiration from Japanese culture. The Sachakan culture is vaguely inspired by classical Rome – as an empire that has faded but, in this case, through magic was able to sustain a form of slavery.
THE FOLLOWING ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ARE SPOILERS – WHICH MEANS THEY’LL GIVE AWAY THE PLOT OF THE BLACK MAGICIAN TRILOGY IF YOU READ THEM.
This can be read only after reading The Novice
This can be read only after reading The High Lord
What inspired the Age of the Five trilogy?
I have to dig a long way back into my memories to answer this one, as the original story was sketched out when I was about 14 or 15. The most obvious source of inspiration was classical era mythology. I tried to imagine what it would be like to live in a world where gods were real, had bad tempers and interfered in human affairs – usually to the human’s detriment. At the same time I was inspired by science, especially biology. I tried to imagine what a mermaid would really look like, or if it really was possible for a horse to have wings. Not all of these imaginings have ended up in the trilogy, but I’ve tried to incorporate magic into the ecosystem as if it was just another force upon which animals and plants — and humans — could call upon for survival.
Will there be more books set in the Age of the Five trilogy?
I don’t have any plans to write a sequel, for two reasons: unlike with the Kyralia world no ideas have developed since I finished it, and the way I ended that story (in the epilogue) allows the reader to make up their own mind what the future might be like. If I write a sequel, I will have to choose one of the options.
My parents have heard that there is sex in the Age of the Five trilogy. Is this true?
Yes, it is true. I was aiming for an older audience with this series. There isn’t a lot of sex, however. Tell your parents to find a copy of Priestess of the White in a bookstore or library and read the first half of chapter 20 – just a few pages. If they feel that scene is too adult for you, then you had best wait until you’re a little older before reading the trilogy.
What are you writing now?
The Millenium’s Rule trilogy.
Do you want to know about typos/errors in your books?
Yes, please. Out of the hundreds of thousands of words in my books, despite rigorous editing processes, it’s inevitable that a few mistakes will make it to printing. And the ebooks have their own formatting issues. Corrections can be made to reprints and ebooks, so head over to Report a Typo and let me know what you’ve found. Bear in mind that there are spelling differences in different regions, and that I need more than a page number to locate a typo in an ebook.
Do you need proofers or beta readers?
No. Publishing companies arrange proof reading, so it’s not something I get to decide. It also happens at a stage in the process where there is no time for outside proofers to have a look at it.
As for test readers, I’m very choosy about who I seek feedback. As you can imagine, I don’t want to show messy, unpolished versions of my books to anyone but those I know and trust!
Will you read my manuscript/story idea/suggestion for future books?
No. There are two reasons: firstly, it puts me in an awkward position legally if your ideas turn out to be close to mine; secondly, when someone suggests I do something a certain way it instantly becomes too predictable, and if lots of people gave me suggestions there’s soon be no options left.
Can I have some tips on writing?
Yes. Go to Writing Advice.
Where do you get your ideas from?
I figure you’re really asking what inspires me. Lots of things do: books I’ve read (fiction and non-fiction), the news, tv, radio, films, music, people I talk to — be they friends or just some stranger I struck up a conversation with. There are stories everywhere. I think for me stories are about people — what happens to them and what they do in reaction to it.
Are any characters based on yourself?
No. In many ways Sonea is what I’d like to be. She’s smarter and stronger. Never assume that a character’s story reflects the author’s life or that their opinions are the author’s. Even if the author has put bits of themself in, you can’t be sure which bits they are. And why would you assume the hero/heroine is based on the author when you wouldn’t assume the bad guy/gal is?
Are any characters based on people you know?
No. I use character types but not specific people. A friend of mine once begged me to put him in my book. Eventually I gave him a choice: he could be the gay mage or the guy who didn’t get the girl. He declined both. Another time I used a friend’s name, but that character unexpectedly turned evil and I vowed never to do that again!
How are the names/landmarks pronounced?
I really don’t mind how other people pronounce the characters’ names. Every person who reads the books automatically decides how the names sound as they read them, and correcting that would only change their experience of the book.
Why all the invented words for animals, etc.? Why not call a cow a cow?
Because it’s not a cow. It’s an animal that fills the same ecological niche as a cow. Naturally, humans are going to domesticate animals that are useful to them, so those animals of another world that happen to be used for fur or meat or transportation will be similar to those of our world used for the same purpose.
What amuses me about this question, is that nobody ever asks me why I didn’t call a llama a llama, or a wallaby a wallaby. Assuming that all made up animals are just copies of European ones is not unlike taking it for granted that all fantasy worlds are “medieval’ or that all characters are ‘white’.
Was x, y or z supposed to be a surprise, because I guessed it would happen?
The more people who read a book, the more likely it is that somebody will predict how things turn out. It’s most common when there are only two ways a situation can turn. I call these outcomes ’50/50 twists’. (50/50 as in there are two possiblilities, and so you always feel ‘half right’ when you find out the answer.) Occasionally people email me who guessed everything and feel cheated. Don’t be. You’re a rare and clever reader!
Was the Black Magician Trilogy influenced by Harry Potter books?
Occasionally someone who hasn’t done their research asks me this. The Black Magician Trilogy first draft was completely written by 1996. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was first published in 1997. I didn’t read HP1 until my agent raved about it – in 2000, which was about the time the books started to become famous. I loved them. JK Rowling has done all writers a great favour by encouraging a whole new generation to read – which can only be a good thing for both them, and all other writers.
Will there be films made of any of your books?
It would be wonderful to see my stories made into films, and even better if they were made into good films. Though I have a film agent, and every time one of my books gets on the UK Times Bestseller List we get enquiries, so far I haven’t sold any film rights.
I have no intention of making a film myself, though I’m always flattered by the innocent exhortations by fans that I should try. I firmly believe that only a small number of people would enjoy a film made with a cheap hand held camera on badly made sets in my back yard with my friends as actors, I’m happy to wait and see if someone with the right credentials comes along with a serious proposal.
If I ever sell the rights, believe me, I’ll be blogging, tweeting and doing a little dance of glee about it.
Could you recommend other authors?
Yes. I have Recommended Reading pages.
Could you recommend other Aussie authors?
Yes. I have a 10 Australian Authors Recommended Reading page.
Could you recommend some non-fiction books?
Yes. I have a 10 Non-Fiction Favourites Recommended Reading page.
Why isn’t x, y or z author in your recommended reading lists?
The answer is on my Recommended Reading pages.
I can’t find your books anywhere! What should I do?
First, check with at least three bookshops, and not of the same company. Look for stores that specialise in fantasy and science fiction books. If these bookshops don’t have the book you’re after, ask them to order it for you. Sometimes they haven’t realised that the stock has run out, and their databases won’t tell them if the books have been stolen. The best part about you asking a bookshop to order in my books is that they’ll often decide to order a couple more at the same time, which tells the publishers that maybe they should do a bigger print reprint run next time.
And remember that, if you don’t buy at some books from bricks’n’mortar shops, they’ll close down and there’ll be nowhere for authors to do signings.
Are there editions of your books in other languages?
Yes. Check each title under the Books menu on this site to see which languages they have been printed in. I’m afraid the list will always be incomplete, as often the only way I know if a book has been published is if I receive a copy and some publishers are slow to or forget to send them.
Are there audio editions of your books?
Yes. Some are available in both abridged and unabridged versions. There area also German and Polish audio books.
Do you have any control over the price of your ebooks?
No. Occasionally a reader will email to complain that the print edition is cheaper than the ebook. Usually the reason for this is that the print edition has been discounted, not that the ebook price has been hiked.
Can I write a screenplay/roleplaying game/computer game based on your book/s?
From time to time enthusiastic amateurs contact me asking for permission to write a screenplay, make a roleplaying or computer game, or other creative projects using my worlds. While I love to see other creative people inspired by my work, I can’t give such permission. These rights have either been sold already (as part of publishing contracts), or are part of a package someone else is selling on my behalf (my film agent, for example). However, if you are really keen and have the right credentials, by all means contact my publishers.
If you are considering creating something based on my books, or anybody else’s, you owe yourself and the author the time and respect to research international copyright law and follow it. And remember, it probably won’t be me sending you a summons to court, but the big, powerful publishing or film companies.
Can I use images or text from your site?
My author photo and biography, the book covers and the back cover blurbs are available for use, but all other text and photos belongs either to me or my publisher and is not available for use outside this site without permission.
I’ve set up a forum for discussion on your books. Do you mind? Could you come and visit?
You’re welcome to start a forum to discuss my books. I don’t have the time to chat on forums, however, and I’ve heard that sometimes members prefer the author stays away so they can speak their mind freely. There are also legal reasons why I avoid reading other people’s story ideas relating to my books.
Why don’t you set up a forum on your website?
Because I don’t have time to maintain it.
Are you on social media?
What is your stance on fanfic?
Go to Fan Fiction.
Can I have an autographed photo? Can I send books to you to sign? Can you send a birthday/wedding/etc. message to someone I know?
I used to do this, but I was in danger of spending more time going to and from the post office or writing messages than writing. I prefer to sign books at bookshops and conventions, which benefits the people who support authors, so keep an eye on my blog for notifications of such events. If you want a birthday/wedding/etc. message I’m happy to sign cards at these events too.
Can I have a copy of your unfinished book for a sick/dying friend/relative?
This is a difficult one. I am contractually obliged to not give out copies of my books before they are published. Also, I’m reasonably certain that someone tried to scam an early draft out of me with a made-up sad story some years ago, so I’m wary of such emails now.
Could you come to my home town to sign books?
I’d love to, but the chances are you’re going to have to travel to meet me when I’m next signing in your part of the world. Going on publicity tours means taking time away from writing. It’s simply impossible to sign enough books to cover travel and accommodation expenses – whether I’ve travelled interstate within Australia or halfway around the globe. I finance most of these trips, so to make sure it was worth the cost and time, and to have a chance to recover from exhausting tour schedules, I always add some holiday time to a trip. So to reach as many fans as possible, it’s better for me to go to central locations – usually capitol and large regional cities, but also festivals and conventions.
How many books can I take to a signing?
I wrote a blog post about Book Signing Etiquette that covers this, and most other questions about signings.