2010 Snapshot Interview: Tansy Rayner Roberts

Tansy Rayner Roberts is the author of the Creature Court trilogy (HarperCollins: Voyager) which will be published from June 2010.  Her novelette "Siren Beat" (Twelfth Planet Press) and short story "Like Us" (Shiny) were shortlisted for Aurealis Awards in 2009. See her online at http://tansyrr.com/

1. I’ve been avidly following your blog leading up to the forthcoming release of the first book of your Creature Court trilogy with HarperVoyager – can you tell us a little about your feelings leading up to the release of Power and Majesty?

Excited, of course – I’ve been working on these books for so long, and the gap between signing the contract and seeing publication has been quite long too.  My friends and I have a tradition of rampaging through Hobart hunting my new book in various bookshops, plus high tea.  And of course I’m scared stiff, because a Voyager trilogy is such a big deal, and it could lead to so many good things to me – as long as people actually like them.  I really hope they find an audience.

I finally got to see the first cover draft this week and it’s starting to finally feel real.  The first book is done and print-ready apart from one more word that needs to be added to the maps.  Soooo close now.  The countdown to June begins!

2. We’ve seen quite a lot of short work from you in the past, and of course your Mocklore books are part of your publishing history. Is there anything about your publishing journey you would change if you could?

I go back and forth on this one.  There are times when I feel that I was maybe published too young, and it was certainly disappointed at the time that my early debut didn’t translate instantly into a "real" writing career.  But I learned so much from my early publications, and it opened up all sorts of opportunities for me – teaching creative writing throughout my twenties, joining the ROR group, arts grants… it’s a lot easier to be happy about the journey you took when there’s a brand new publishing contract in your hands! 

The one thing I would do differently is that I wouldn’t sign a book contract without having an agent.  You don’t realise when you’re starting out that even if you made the sale to the publisher yourself, bringing an agent in at that stage is the best thing you can possibly do, to protect your interests and your rights.  If you don’t have an agent, then the week that your contract arrives for the signing is a *really* good time to get one.  I’ve signed two book contracts in my life without an agent’s involvement, and regretted it both times.  Never again. 

3. What’s next for Tansy Rayner Roberts? What do you hope to achieve in the next five years in your writing?

In immediate terms, we have the Creature Court trilogy: Power and Majesty in June 2010, Cabaret of Monsters in December 2010 and Saturnalia in July 2011.  I also have a mainstream YA novel about soccer and blueberry farming that I wrote with Kaia Landelius over a year ago, but with our busy schedules we haven’t been able to sit down and do that last rewrite it needs before we start shopping it around.  That’s going to happen very soon.  The most exciting thing for me is that in July of this year I have to turn in the manuscript for Saturnalia and then I get to figure out what I want to write next!  There are many possibilities.  The one that’s looking most likely right now is the Nancy Napoleon novel, as I’ve had so many people asking me for one after reading "Siren Beat"!  But there are a couple more burning holes in my brain, so we’ll see.

Ha, that didn’t answer the five year part of the question, did it?  I want to be selling books as fast as I can write them.  I want to be challenging myself, and writing across different areas – I’m very into dark fantasy with shades of urban fantasy right now, but I also long to be a YA author, and at some point I do hope to be able to write something funny again that’s also marketable.  I’d like to be earning a steady income from my writing – it doesn’t have to be a full time income, I have other things on my plate too!  But being able to throw occasional cheques at the mortgage and fund my family’s travel habits would be pretty good.  My baby will be in school in five years, think of all the time I’ll have to write! 

4. Which Australian writers or work would you like to see on the Hugo shortlists this year?

I’ve said this before, but I’d really love to see Paul Haines’ "Wives" on there.  It’s an extraordinary piece of work, and certainly stacks up against the best novellas by US and UK authors, as well as being so very Australian, and so very Haines.  If we only got one Australian on the Hugo ballot, it should be that one, though it would be awesome to see Peter M Ball duke it out with Haines, if "Horn" made it on there too.  I always like to see Margo Lanagan on a shortlist – my favourite of hers this year is "Ferryman," which looks like a sweet little YA story until you realise halfway through that oh yes, it’s MARGO.  Jonathan Strahan should be nominated as editor (short form) of course, and I’m entirely biased on this score but I think Alisa Krasnostein should be on there too for the little indie press that could.  Shaun Tan for artist…  Kaaron Warren’s Slights was one of my novels of the year, and I join Trent Jamieson in reminding people about Marianne de Pierres’ Mirror Space – the third volume of her Sentients of Orion series.  Peter M Ball for the John Campbell… oh, and The Secret Feminist Cabal by Helen Merrick for best Related Book.  That’s enough to be going on with, yes?  

5. I know you’re heading to Aussiecon in September – what are you most looking forward to about it?

Getting to see everyone!  It’s been a long con drought for me, what with all that babygrowing I was doing last year.  Mostly I want to grab on to all those friends that I so rarely see in person and talk until the sun comes up.  There will also be some book releases there I am looking forward to, and of course it will be my first big event as a Voyager author which is scary and exciting all at once.

Also I’ll have both my girls there – Raeli has been coming to cons on and off since she was five months old, but Jem will be a newbie.  It will be nice to show them off.

This interview was conducted as part of the 2010 Snapshot of Australian Speculative Fiction. We’ll be blogging interviews from Monday 15 February to Sunday 22 February and archiving them at ASif!: Australian SpecFic in Focus. You can read interviews at:


Will we beat 83 this time? If you know of someone involved in the Scene with something to plug, then send us an email at 2010snapshot@gmail.com.

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