Trudi Canavan

bestselling author of The Black Magician Trilogy

Frequently Asked Questions

When will your next book be released?

Rough dates are noted next to the titles on the Books page. I will post updates on release dates on my blog when I know about them. Otherwise, check online bookstores.

Will there be more books set in the world of the Black Magician Trilogy?

After I finished the Black Magician TrilogyI didn’t have enough ongoing story to write more books in that world, but after a few years inspiration came and ideas developed until I had the foundations for a prequel stand-alone novel (The Magician’s Apprentice) and sequel trilogy (Traitor Spy Trilogy) and a novella called “The Mad Apprentice”, published in the anthology Legends of Australian Fantasy. So I won’t say ‘no’ to the possibility of more Kyralia books, but it will probably take a few years for the few small ideas to develop – if they do at all – into something big and complex enough to encompass a book, or three. Between the Black Magician Trilogy and the prequel and sequel I wrote the Age of the Five trilogy, and I’m now creating a whole new universe with the Millenuim’s Rule trilogy. I have many, many stories to tell and worlds to create, so I hope you’ll join me in exploring them.

Will there be a film of the Black Magician Trilogy?

Though I have a film agent, and there has been some interest, so far the rights haven’t been sold. I have no intention of making a film myself, though I’m always flattered by the innocent exhortations by fans that I should try. Since I lack the training, experience, connections and funds to do it, and I firmly believe that nobody would like to see 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.

It would be wonderful to see my stories made into films, and even better if they were made into good films. But let’s be realistic. Few fantasy series have been, and those were considered classics (Lord of the Rings) or are immensely popular children’s fiction (Harry Potter, Narnia – which is both children’s lit and a classic). Compressing the Black Magician Trilogy story into one film would be difficult. Still, it’s great to hear readers think it is worthy of the Big Screen.

If I ever sell the rights and someone makes a film, believe me, I’ll be blogging about it!

What inspired the Black Magician Trilogy?

Strangely enough, the Barcelona Olympics inspired the first chapter of The Magicians’ Guild story. I was watching late night news and saw a report that 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). But I didn’t. Later it fit with a world I’d created 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 what I imagined might evolve from a vaguely classical Roman past – an empire that had slowly diminished, but through magic was able to sustain a form of slavery.

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.

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 give 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 starts to feel 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?

Taken literally, this is really a rather silly question, but 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 the key is: most 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. 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. Assuming that all made up animals are like 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?

When it comes to people predicting how something turns out, somebody will always expect things to turn out the way they do. It’s most common when something could be one way, or another. 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?

Actually, nobody has ever asked me this, but having stumbled on a few amusing reader reviews that assumed they were, I thought I better point out the obvious: The Black Magician Trilogy 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 told me all about it, in 2000. I loved it. 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 the rest of us!

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 at least three bookshops, and not all 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. They can’t rely on their databases to tell them they have none left 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, and more orders tells publishers how much interest there is and therefore what size print run to do next.

Sometimes the publisher has run out and hasn’t printed a new run yet. A good bookstore chain will have a service where they’ll search to see if other stores in the company have a copy left, then order it in for you.

Otherwise you could order from an online bookstore. But do remember that, if you don’t buy 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 pages on this site to see which books have been printed in which languages. I’m afraid the list will always be incomplete, as 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, though it may take a while before an audiobook of a new books comes out. Some are available in both abridged and unabridged versions. There area also German and Polish audio books.

Are there electronic editions of your books?

Yes. Check the web page of your favourite ebook reader. You have my sympathy if a book is unavailable in your country. As an Australian, I encounter this problem as well. It isn’t a territorial rights issue. All of the rights of my books in the english language have been sold and my publishers have endeavoured to make them available. Research I did in 2011 revealed that the problem is most often technical, and lies with the format and the seller. It’s new technology that became very popular quickly, and these issues will be sorted out eventually.

Do you have any control over the price of your ebooks?

No. And I don’t think enough time has passed to judge what the right price is, yet. Occasionally a reader will email to complain that the print edition is cheaper than the ebook. The reason for this can be complicated. Often it’s because 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?

I have received several emails over the years from enthusiastic amateurs wanting permission to write a screenplay, make a roleplaying or computer game, or other creative projects using my worlds. While I do like to see other creative people inspired by my work, I can’t give such permission. Rights for these sorts of things 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).

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 a lawyer around to your door, 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’d love to visit, but I’m afraid I don’t have time to visit all the forums out there dedicated to my books. There are also legal reasons why I avoid reading other people’s story ideas relating to my books. Good luck with the forum, anyway. I hope it is a success.

Why don’t you set up a forum on your website?

Because I don’t have time to maintain it.

Are you on Twitter?

Yes! Follow @TrudiCanavan for links to new blog posts and Twitter silliness.

Are you on Facebook?

There’s a page there, set up by one of my publishers, but nobody can remember who set it up and what the password is. I don’t mind, because I don’t have time to play in more than one social network.

What is your stance on fanfic?

Go to Fan Fiction.

Can I have an autographed photo? Can I send books to you to sign?

I used to sign photos and books posted to me, but I don’t any more. I was in danger of spending more time going to and from the post office than writing. I do sign books at bookshops and conventions, so keep an eye on my blog for notifications of such events.

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

Spoiler Questions and Answers

This can be read only after reading The High Lord

Spoiler Questions and Answers