Trudi Canavan

bestselling author of The Black Magician Trilogy

Trudi's Blog

The Inspiration for Doctor Who: Salt of the Earth

In interviews about my little Doctor Who novella, I am nearly always asked why I chose the setting, so I thought I’d write a blog post and provide some links about the sources of inspiration behind it.

SOTE_150px

Initially I only I wanted the story to take place somewhere very Australian, but not the sort of landscape you see in tourist ads. No huge red rocks or gum trees, white beaches or instantly recognisable opera house and bridge, but a different sort of outback.

I immediately recalled an episode of Catalyst, an Australian science show that has been running, in many incarnations, for decades. In particular, an episode where three of the hosts visited a Lake Lefroy, a salt lake, and tried land sailing before undertaking some scientific tests. The stark white landscape looks like the surface of another planet. Add land yachts and it looks like a science fiction setting.

That got me thinking about salt. I already knew about salinity, an environmental problem caused by european agricultural methods used on land they’re unsuitable for. I had pinned photos of awesome salt crystal caves in Pinterest, thinking I’d have to set a story in one, one day.

saltinhand2

So I considered the salt-related superstitions, stories, and sayings I could remember: tossing a pinch of salt over your shoulder, the story of Lot’s wife being turned to salt, the meaning of sayings like ‘the salt of the earth’, ‘rubbing salt in a wound’, taking something with ‘a pinch of salt’, whether someone is ‘worth one’s salt’. I also considered the properties of salt, adding flavour to food and its use as a disinfectant as well as for preservation (you could almost say it is time-travel for food). I looked up the health risks and benefits, and thought about all the living things that live in salty conditions.

Salt_book

To expand my knowledge, I bought Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky and discovered how important and valuable salt was in the past, and how salt has been harvested over the years. A fascinating read.

Salt and salty landscapes are such a rich source of ideas that the story came together easily. In fact, salt itself was as much a setting as the salinity-effected land and salt lakes – and you could even say it became a character in the story.

If you are interested to know more about salt, salinity and salt lakes, or just see some of my sources of inspiration, here are some links to follow:

This video/transcript of an article about salt harvesting from another Australian program, Landline.

The video of the Catalyst episode that first got me thinking of salt lakes as a setting.

This fact sheet from the CSIRO explains what salinity is.

These awesome Giant Crystal Caves in Mexico.

Learn about the Lake Peigneur Disaster, and why it’s a seriously bad idea to drill through a lake into a salt mine. This doco has some amazing footage.

And to buy Doctor Who: Salt of the Earth, go here and select an ebook format.

Doctor Who: Salt of the Earth Available Now!

I’m bouncing with excitement, because my Doctor Who novella, Salt of the Earth, is available from today!

BigSalt

The Third Doctor and Jo Grant arrive for a well-deserved holiday of sun and ‘blokarting’ on a salt lake in Australia in 2028. Weird sculptures adorn the landscape – statues carved from the salt. People have been leaving them in the salt lakes for years – but these look different. Grotesque, distorted figures twisted in pain. They don’t last long in the rain and the wind, but they’re just made of salt… Aren’t they?

Time Trips – groundbreaking Doctor Who adventures by some of the most respected writers in the Universe. Short stories that are bigger on the inside…

You can buy it here or via your usual ebook retailer.

Supanova!

supanova-logo

I love Supanova! I wish I had the time and energy to attend all six each year, and make fans happy in all the lucky cities that host Supanova. Since I can’t, I’ve concocted a plan to visit a different pair each year, cycling through them. Barring illness, natural or man-made disasters, deadlines and overseas tours.

This year I’m going to Supanova on the Gold Coast and in my own city of Melbourne. Which means all the fun is just a few weeks away!

I’ll let you know more details, like where to find me and the panels I’m on, the week before.

Website Plans…

Recently I did a bit of scheduling…

blogpic_schedule

With a new book and an e-novella coming out in the first half of the year, and three events to attend, there was a fair bit on my to-do list including plenty that needs to happen here.

I haven’t blogged in a while because I needed to concentrate on writing Angel of Storms but I want to return to my weekly posting habit now. To prepare, I have plotted a series of posts to write, timed to coincide with book releases and events.

The website needed updating, too, and thanks to the art of delegation, it’s almost done. There is now a page in the menu for the upcoming Doctor Who: Salt of the Earth e-novella (due out March 6th!), as well as pages for the Millennium’s Rule trilogy books (though the pages for the second and third are just place holders for now).

The Report-a-Typo page has been updated, too, and some corrections made to the site. I’ve made little tweaks like moving the Facebook fan page link up to a more visible position, and updating the Featured Titles widget. And I added a little countdown widget to the sidebar to let you know how many days, hours, minutes and seconds there are to go until Thief’s Magic ‘officially’ goes on sale.

So keep an eye on the site – there are exciting things to come!

Heat

After a late beginning, this year’s summer in Melbourne has been hot. I’ve been alternating between hibernating under the air-conditioner during heatwaves and obsessively writing during the breaks between. It doesn’t leave much room for anything else.

But with less than a hundred days until Thief’s Magic is released, I’ve been thinking about ways I might celebrate. Among the ideas I’m considering:

* a quote bookmark and badge
* character sketches and maybe a limited edition bookplate
* blog posts about my Millenium’s Rule playlist and some sources of inspiration
* an ARC competition

There will be exciting things happening over on my Facebook Fan Page, too.

What would you like to see me do here, or elsewhere? (A tour outside Australia isn’t planned, I’m afraid.)

And Thief’s Magic isn’t the only book coming out soon. My Doctor Who enovella, Salt of the Earth, will be out in March. Which is… really, really soon!