News & Plans

Trudi Canavanappearances, website update

Last week I finished polishing the first draft of Maker’s Curse and sent it off to my lovely beta readers. I have a couple of weeks to catch up on a few matters before tackling their corrections. That includes a few announcements, and making some plans for this website.

First, the announcements.

Once again, I’ll be going to Speculate, a speculative fiction writers festival here in Melbourne, on the 16th of March. Last year’s inaugural festival was fantastic and I’m looking forward to taking part again.

And I’ve been invited to Pyrkon in May 2020. That’s the release month of Maker’s Curse in english and it’s very likely to be out a few other languages as well, so I’ll probably also do some appearances in other countries in Europe during the same trip.

Now the plans:

Orbit passed full responsibility of this website back to me in the middle of last year. I’ve always been in control of and paid for the hosting, and composed the blog posts, but for a while they did the design and most of the updating like adding book covers and such.

What with social media being the first place people seek information these days, I have wondered if this site is redundant now and I should delete it. I had to shut down comments ages ago because I was getting an overwhelming amount of spam comments, and once GDPR came in I removed all forms and today I removed all past blog posts. Since I didn’t design the site and couldn’t find out if it is GDPR compliant, it’s going to have to be replaced and I don’t have time to do it right now.

However, having a website does have two big plusses for visitors: it has (as far as I can tell) no ads, and you don’t have to sign up to anything to access it. It’s handy for me, too, as it’s easier and faster to answer common questions by giving someone a link to a FAQ page, and I can provide up-to-date publicity information.

So when the editing of Maker’s Curse is done, I will be replacing the current site with something new. Maybe something very basic, maybe a whole blog, but something new.

Thief’s Magic Inspiration: Handcrafts

Trudi Canavanon writing

One of the ideas behind the Millennium’s Rule trilogy was “what if creativity generated magic?”.

Rulers often commission fancy palaces and beautiful artworks, to display their wealth and good taste. What if another reason was to make them more powerful, magically?

It would mean magic would be a byproduct of human civilisation.

It would mean the amount of magic available in any place would be variable.

It meant I could incorporate another of my passions: art and handcrafts, into my stories. 

In Thief’s Magic, Tyen visits a printer, where he sees books being made. A few years ago I did a bookbinding workshop, and since then have tried many binding techniques. Making books gave me the idea for Vella, a book that was conscious, could collect and store knowledge, and communicate to the reader.

Rielle is a painter. Initially I intended to show her drawing and painting to demonstate the difference ways male and female artists are regarded in her world, and for her own sharpened sense of observation to communicate information to the reader. But the scene where she grinds paint while she thinks about what has happened to her wrote itself, a perfect metaphor for her circling thoughts. Though I have never made my own paints, I researched methods and ingredients in order to make that scene more authentic. In her world and culture, old water-based painting methods are used, but having her meet someone who has developed the first oil paints, gave me two catalysts for change and conflict.

At the time of writing this I was working on book two, Angel of Storms. Two other creative disciplines found their way into the character’s lives and setting: tapestry weaving and calligraphy. One was planned, the other unplanned. I’m looking forward to seeing what other creative pursuits manifest in this series, and in what way. In Successor’s Promise one of my earliest hobbies – pottery – is featured and one of my newest – mosaics.

I am certainly not the first writer to incorporate art and craft into a book. It was Lloyd Alexanders Chronicles of Prydain that inspired me to try pottery as a child, a handcraft that I practised for five or six years and revisited as both a teen and an adult. The Harry Potter and Sookie Stackhouse books feature knitting, Juliet Marillier’s Daughter of the Forest features spinning, weaving and sewing, Glenda Larke’s Water Giver series describes a kind of painting done on water with magical effects.

In this day and age these creative skills seem like frivolous indulgences, but in the past – in the kinds of eras fantasy worlds are usually set – making and decorating objects was and essential part of life for most people. If not for their own survival, then for their income. I’d like to see more than just blacksmithing mentioned in fantasy settings, because it is often the small details that make a world seem real and believable.

2016 & Beyond

Trudi Canavanon writing

It’s been a rather testing year. At the beginning, the troubles I’ve had with my neck for nearly 20 years abruptly escalated to the point where I couldn’t write. Physiotherapy and an MRI later and it seems like the problem is both a worsening of muscular issues along with the new complication of a slightly compressed disc and nerve.

Writing is the main culprit. It’s easy to tell it is. I can still paint and draw, if I stand up. I can dig in the garden. But if I sit or extend both of my arms for more than an hour even the strongest over-the-counter pain killers can’t cut the pain. Sitting and extending is worse.

(I should add: I’ve tried dictation software before, and it doesn’t work with the way I write. Please don’t sent me emails suggesting it.)

Keeping away from the computer for all but an hour a day for eight months has helped. So has reducing tweeting to a minimum – mostly just reading and replying to notifications. But it hasn’t cured me, and it’s likely this is a long-term problem that will only go away completely if I never write again.

That’s no fun.

I figure that, since I managed to write the last half of Successor’s Promise in an hour a day over about seven months, then polishing over another month, producing books is still possible. They’ll happen a lot slower, but that does give me more planning and plotting time. But before I launch into the next book, I’m having a rest for a few months (if you call physio, pilates and other exercise-related treatment a ‘rest’) to see if that helps as well.

I hope you’ll find it worth the wait.