Monday, March 16, 2015

The best advice Game Of Thrones author George RR Martin gave Joe Abercrombie

I was lucky enough to interview Joe Abercrombie for The Sunday Telegraph while he was touring Australia. The truncated interview appeared on March 15. Here's the full version:

Never become famous. It's one piece of advice British fantasy author Joe Abercrombie hopes to live by.
It's one thing that Game Of Thrones author George RR Martin told him although Abercrombie, whose works combine plenty of violence, sex and moral ambiguity, may have to put that to the test if, as rumoured, his books are turned into the "next" Game Of Thrones TV series.
"I think (fame) would be lovely when you haven't experienced it," Abercrombie, who was out in Australia to promote his latest book Half The World, said.
"But it can't go back in the box. George Martin told me, never become famous, never become recognisable. It's done great things for him and his series but he does regret it. He has reporters camping out the front of his house."
So how is Abercrombie going on the fame scale?
"The paparazzi run me over in their rush to get to the real celebrities," he said.
"Being recognised is extremely rare. It has happened but it is very rare and is often quite random, which is one of the nice things about being a writer. You can still go about your routine." 
He is realistic about the jump to television, which has catapulted Game Of Thrones into the consciousness.
"There is some nibbling going on but if I had signed up, I'd have to say 'no comment'," he said.
"So maybe I should say no comment!
"It all moves with incredibly wintry slowness and anything could fall apart at any moment."
Strangely for an author who made his name with ultra-violent, non-heroic fantasy books with lashings of sex, his latest series is aimed at teenagers.
"I think I did it to avoid boredom," he said.
"It seemed like a good opportunity to expand to a slightly different audience. It was quite liberating to write something without the encumbrance of my previous books."
How did his existing fans react to the change of pace.
"Generally very good, although there have been a few malcontents. Some people were surprised, most pleasantly surprised but it's not so much different in terms of its edge and moral ambiguity."
And for those younger readers who decide to pick up his MA-rated earlier works? At age 13, Abercrombie said he was reading "everything" and although he admits hearing that children aged as young as 10 have read his adult books is a "little surprising", he hopes young adults  will appreciate reading something that isn't "morally simple".
"I've never talked down to readers. Young adults are young but adult and the last thing they want is to be spoon-fed shiny, optimistic stuff."
Abercrombie was touring around Australia and is heartened by how well some bookstores are doing, in contrast to the UK.
"It makes you feel sad," he said.
"But a business model that doesn't work can't be sustained.
"I fear that people of my kids' generation will not get the experience of wandering into an Aladdin's Cave of books and enjoying that sense of community with a bookseller.
"But I'm not sure what to do to reverse it. The pricing genie is out of the bottle."

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Guest blog with Momentum author Amanda Bridgeman

Amanda Bridgeman was kind enough to let me waffle away and guest blog for her in February, so now I am delighted to return the favour as this fellow Momentum author guest blogs her way on a grand tour!
So who is Amanda Bridgeman...?

Born and raised in the seaside/country town of Geraldton, Western Australia, Amanda hails from fishing and farming stock. The youngest of four children, her three brothers raised her on a diet of Rocky, Rambo, Muhammad Ali and AC/DC. Naturally, she grew up somewhat of a tomboy, preferring to watch action/sci-fi films over the standard rom-com, and liking her music rock hard. But that said, she can swoon with the best of them.

 She lived in ‘Gero’ for 17 years, before moving to Perth (WA) to pursue her dreams and study film & television/creative writing at Murdoch University (BA Communication Studies). Perth has been her home ever since, aside from a nineteen month stint in London (England).

She is a writer and a film buff. She loves most genres, but is particularly fond of the Spec-Fic realm. She likes action, epic adventures, and strong characters that draw you in, making you want to follow them on their wild, rollercoaster rides. She has so far released three books in the Aurora series -Aurora: Darwin, Aurora: Pegasus, and Aurora: Meridian. The fourth book will be released this month.

Want to know more?
Follow Amanda here:

Facebook: Amanda Bridgeman

Twitter: @Bridgeman_Books

And of course her books can be found here:

Today Duncan has invited me to chat about being a female writer and writing from a male perspective. I guess when I started writing the Aurora series I never stopped to think about it like that – specifically me being a woman writing a male character and being inside his thoughts. Nor that I was also writing an African-American PoV – as a white woman. When I started writing, first and foremost I saw Harris as a lead character in a particular story, and a very human character at that. After all, that is essentially what we all are: human. Whether male or female. And I think that’s the first step in nailing a character – understanding the fundamental basis of them.
Of course it’s important to get the gender mindset right... If your readers don’t believe the character, their actions, their thought processes, then a writer is in a spot of trouble. So Duncan’s question got me thinking.
I’m not the most girly of girls. I tend to think of myself as 50/50 mix: 50% tomboy, 50% girl. I grew up with three older brothers – the oldest being 8 years old than me – so it’s fair to say they had a heavy influence on my upbringing. My brothers liked the ‘usual’ blokey things like footy, boxing, and rock ‘n’ roll. As a kid I watched the same TV and films they did. From The A-Team and the Alien series, to Rocky, Rambo, Jaws, and The Thing – they were all (what was considered then) male-dominated genres and I’m not sure whether I was ‘conditioned’ to like them because they did or whether I just inherently did.
So, as the youngest, it was only natural that I would look up to my brothers a lot. Whether it was just a kid sister thing or whether it was actually the observant writer in me taking note, I like to think that I just kinda became familiar with how guys act and think. At least in a non-romantic sense. And that is what Saul Harris is to Carrie Welles. He’s her captain, he’s a colleague. It’s a platonic (yet incredibly important) relationship. And I guess my upbringing made me an expert in that (and probably assisted with writing the Carrie Welles PoV too) – growing up in a male dominated house, with blokey brothers and an ex-farm boy for a father. Even my mother isn’t overly girly. She’s the practical kind, and probably stronger than all of us put together. But that’s another blog post…
Plutonic relationships aside, my brothers are all very heterosexual men (all three married and two of them with kids). They were also never shy about pointing out actresses and models they loved growing up (Elle Macpherson, Elizabeth Shue, Demi Moore, etc), so again, perhaps I was ‘conditioned’ to understand/see things from a male perspective in that regard, listening to their comments and conversations, and these observations could only help with writing the actions and dialogue of the rest of the male characters in the series.
I didn’t realise it until recently, but I have always been a people watcher. Everyone I speak to, have any kind of dealings with, I tend to subconsciously observe them. I notice facial/physical features, speech, and mannerisms, etc. More importantly, I always find myself analysing why they are the way they are. Especially people I know well. Sometimes I’ll question why someone is stubborn or afraid or catty or a tight-ass, etc, etc, and I look at their upbringing, or the stress on their life at the moment, and through this analysis I seem to understand why they are acting the way they are acting – how all the little pieces of their life come together and make them up in that very moment. And I realise now just how useful this observation is as a writer – whether writing male or female characters. Humans are complex, period. We are made up of a thousand different experiences, each one different, and it’s important to capture that in your writing to make your characters feel real to the reader.
So when I started writing Aurora: Darwin, the first book in the series, I didn’t really consciously think about having a main character that was male (or African-American for that matter). I just suddenly had this image of a tough but fair leader, and (male, African-American) Captain Saul Harris was born. So the image of him came to me first. When it came to writing him and fleshing him out, I guess the ‘conditioning’ to understand the male mind (to a certain point) was thanks to having three older brothers, but I also drew from my general ‘observation’ tanks to bring him to life - derived in part from every other male I have met, or seen on film/tv, or in interviews, on the news, etc.
Of course I didn’t get everything right the first go. One of my brothers was actually a beta reader and I distinctly recall him saying to me once: “There is no way Harris would use the word ‘buff’” (in reference to another soldier’s physique). So I scrapped that and used another word instead. Anything that bordered on ‘a little too soft for a military man’ was quickly pointed out and altered. After all, if my ‘average man’ brother thought it was too soft, it was definitely going to be way too soft for a tough captain, right?
That said, I think it provides a great disservice to military personnel everywhere to portray them as cardboard cut-out, action-packed, emotionless, indestructible heroes. Because they’re not. They’re humans doing an incredibly tough job (rightly or wrongly), but they are human none-the-less. Humans, who have families and friends, who will feel the same gamut of emotions that everyone else does, regardless of whether they are male or female. Humans, who bruise, bleed and die. Humans that hurt, just like the rest of us.
So, did I get Captain Saul Harris and the other male characters right? I certainly gave it my best shot based on my experiences and observations in life.
But ultimately, I guess that’s for the reader to decide.