Rhiannon Hart YA paranormal romance author talked to Dark Matter in 2011 and 2012, the day before the launch of Blood Storm. This is the interview in 2011, only in text format because Tivali, Rhiannon’s cat, kept interrupting. When I have some spare time and I’ve learnt how to do all my own sound editing, this interview might become available in MP3 format. Until then, read on…
Just before the start of NaNoWriMo in November 2011, Rhiannon Hart talked to Nalini and Edward Haynes from Dark Matter, with her brother Rory making sound effects in the background and Tivali, a beautiful cat with personality, joining in.
Nalini: Hi Rhiannon. Thanks for agreeing to talk to Dark Matter. The bios on the Internet all mention you making up words to go with stories before you could read. There is a long journey between that point and getting published; how did you get from there to here?
Rhiannon: The making up of words was probably because I have an older brother, Rory, who you’ve just met. He could read before I could because he’s 3 years older than me. We’re quite competitive or maybe that’s just me, I felt like I should be able to read when he could. I remember staring at these little books like Jeremiah and the Dark Woods, looking at the words and making up what they meant in my head to go with the pictures.
When I was in high school I wrote fan fiction which was a lot of fun, like Labyrinth and Xena. I was really popular and cool, as you can probably tell from that. I really loved doing that. I never really thought about being a writer as such until probably the end of my degree, which was a major in psychology. I really loved it, but I couldn’t see myself being a psychologist. I was really interested in behavioural neuro-psych, which involved working with a lot of people who’d had strokes and car accidents. It is interesting theoretically but practically I think it would really get to me working with people who’d had that sort of experience.
I can’t remember why exactly, but I enrolled in RMIT’s professional writing and editing course. It was great; I did three years there. I was supposed to finish after two years of a full-time load, so I sent an e-mail through saying I’d like to graduate now. The coordinator came back and said ‘you don’t have enough points.’ There’d been a misunderstanding with one of the subjects: it was only worth one unit instead of two. So he said I had to do another unit. I looked at the syllabus, and the only thing that was left that looked interesting was writing for young adults. So I enrolled in that begrudgingly and I picked up Vegan Virgin Valentine by an author I used to read as a teenager.
I remembered how much I loved young adult fiction when I was a teenager although I hadn’t been reading it since high school. I’d been working on various novels throughout the RMIT diploma and none of them had stuck. I’d get to maybe 20,000 words and then just run into a hole and I wouldn’t know what to do next.
Then I started working on Blood Song a couple of weeks into the course. It all came pouring out. Thirty-nine days later I had a first draft and I was just astonished. Basically the story is the same as what you read now, like the sequence of scenes, the way the story goes, nothing has changed there. But still, in the beginning it was a big mess because I wrote from start to finish. By the time I got to the end of the book I knew why she was doing what she was doing and I had to go back and push that into shape to make it fit. My editors really helped with that as well: I had two wonderful editors, one of whom was a specialist fantasy editor, Abigail Nathan at Bothersome Words, and she did an amazing job.
So when I finished the book I edited it for a couple of months. I thought it would suit the American market more than the Australian, because a lot of the stuff I read when I was a teenager came out of America, like Tamora Pierce and Tanith Lee. So I got an agent in the states in New York, Ginger Clark, and she ended up selling it back to Australia. I was really happy actually and it was great to be picked up by Random House Australia, which is such an amazing house and has such a wonderful publisher, Zoe Walton.
Nalini: Who has encouraged you along the way?
Rhiannon: My family has been really supportive; we’re all really bookish. My parents always had a lot of books around the house. My mother taught me to read and my dad used to read to me a lot. My brother is very bookish as well. We all read a lot of speculative fiction, lots of sci-fi, fantasy, lots of biography and things like that. And I was always encouraged to go and look words up in the dictionary: they wouldn’t just give the easy answer.
My friends have been really supportive as well, they’ve been really lovely. I had support from a couple of writers in particular who read my work and gave me lots of encouragement, like Amanda Ashby who wrote The Zombie Queen of Newbury High and also her latest one Fairy Bad Day. We
started e-mailing back and forth and I asked her to read my opening chapters. I know it’s a presumptuous thing to ask. But she did and she wrote a recommendation to put on my query letter. She has been really supportive.
Online it’s just such a wonderful community, the young adult community in particular. I noticed that as well when I was at RMIT and I was doing novel writing for adults and attending the classes. Everyone was a little bit standoffish and reserved, and everyone took it very seriously. Everyone who writes for teenagers has such a sense of fun and is so much more easy-going and very enthusiastic. I found since I switched to writing for young adults it’s been so much more fun.
Nalini: That’s good. Who has influenced your writing?
Rhiannon: I’ve read a lot of Tamora Pierce and Tanith Lee. I really loved Tamora Pierce’s Alana series of course and the Immortals Quartet which is probably my personal favourite. I did base a lot of Rodden, my main character, on Numair from the Immortals Quartet. I had him in mind when I was writing Rodden, the physical picture in my mind. His character came out very differently, but he was my inspiration. And I really loved Isobelle Carmody’s Obernewtyn series.
Nalini: I hear the last one is being released on Monday.
Rhiannon: Last or second last? I think it’s split into two in the States and is one here. I need to reread them all and then get that one, so it’s going to take me a while. I really loved Vivian Van Velde and Jean M. Auel’s The earth children series, Clan of the cave bear and so on. I read a lot of those I was a teenager. And Anne Rice. Since then I’ve been reading a lot of dystopian fiction, like Aldous Huxley and I looked at Orwell and looked at John Wyndham and people like that. I read mostly speculative fiction.
Nalini: And yet you write fantasy.
Rhiannon: I do. I love Graceling, I loved all the Kristen Cashore books. I don’t read a lot of fantasy for grown-ups. I guess I have a very low boredom threshold, I start reading it and… [Rory laughs] I guess I just take a lot of what I loved from when I was reading as a teenager. People like Tamora Pierce are still writing and it’s still popular. It’s probably after Graceling we’re going to see a lot more of that sort of thing coming out. I hope so anyway.
Nalini: You have a day job as well as writing: how do you manage both?
Rhiannon: Lots of early mornings. [Laughter] Last year I was getting up at 4:30 to finish book two, Blood Storm. Getting up at 4:30 and writing. I probably wasn’t the most amazing employee at the time but it was good. I have a job where I can leave work and I can just forget about it. I try and write in the evenings as well and have nice train trips so I try to write on the train as well.
When Blood Song was on submission I was falling asleep at parties a lot. It would get to midnight and I would say I was going to check my phone. I would fall asleep on a couch in another room. There’s been a bit of that, but not so much this year. I haven’t written heaps this year: it’s been a lot of publicity work. Also I was travelling for 6 weeks and then I was recovering from travelling, then I was recovering from my release.
Now I’m just starting to get back into it and am going into NaNoWriMo for November. I set myself the goal of 50,000 words. I have 10,000 words for a ghost anthology to write. So as long as I get to the end of the month with 50,000 words and a good chunk of Blood Queen,
book three, done, I’ll be very happy.
Nalini: You’ve already written book two?
Rhiannon: Yes, book two’s done. I finished last December I think.
Nalini: A year ago?
Rhiannon: Yes. So, this year, as you can see, not a lot of novel writing. I did write 25,000 words
of sci-fi earlier in the year and I’ve worked out since then how to finish it, but I haven’t gone back to finish it yet. Hopefully next year.
Nalini: So there have been a few distractions.
Nalini: You belly dance and sew as hobbies; this is a real contrast.
Rhiannon: Yeah, yeah. The belly dancing is a lot of fun. I did classical ballet when I was a kid and tap and jazz and I loved it. Then I’ve done nightclub dancing and things like that. But I’ve been trying to stay in a bit more and still exercise at the same time, so belly dance is a lot of fun. And
sewing – oh, sewing has been worse than writing this year. It’s been my last priority. I’ve got to make a few Christmas presents tomorrow but that’s about it.
Nalini: What is the publishing process like from your perspective as an author?
Rhiannon: I’ve had a wonderful publishing experience. You hear horror stories along the line of ‘I’ve got the worst cover and my publisher doesn’t listen to me’ and stuff like that. Random House have been wonderful and Zoe has been lovely ever since I first talked to her on the phone. They went through the editing process and were making suggestions rather than telling me what to do. Before I signed the contract they did say they wanted a name change, but that was the only thing that they were insistent about. I didn’t mind so much and Blood Song was actually my
second choice. I’d written a long list of different options and that was right at the top. I am still fond of the title Lharmell, when I chose that I was thinking of Isobel Carmody’s Obernewtyn, which is a place name with strange spelling. But it worked well with the two other books with Blood Song, Blood Storm and Blood Queen. The content itself, I feel, is exactly what I wanted it to be.
When the cover arrived I had the most heart pounding moment when I got the e-mail. I was at work and I found myself going bright red and I turned around to everyone and I am like, ‘Oh my god, my cover’s here!’ I hugged everybody. There were two choices but that was the one it had
to be. Originally it had Leap, the cat, on the front cover, but he wasn’t quite fitting in well. They were sort of looking at each other but their eyes were missing each other. So he was put on the back.
Nalini: I love the cat.
Rhiannon: Isn’t he lovely? He was actually inspired by a real cat. My brother was house sitting this Singapura breed of cat. They were thought to have evolved in the sewers in Singapore, which is how the drain cat became involved. In Blood Song, I’m not sure if it says that Rodden was from Verapine … that might be in book two. I think it is alluded to. I’m not sure why but I thought yeah, Rodden can come from there too, the same place as Leap. That’s how that whole other continent sort of came about, inspired by this cat that my brother was housesitting. A very big
personality cat with beautiful big eyes. Very striking.
The whole process has been amazing. Seeing it in bookshops and things like that has been wonderful. All wonderful and glowy and rosy.
Nalini: Were you concerned about the cover being similar to other covers like Passion by Lauren Kate? Were you concerned about it being overlooked?
Rhiannon: No, I wasn’t at all. The most important thing to me was the words. I was worried that they would make me change how the story evolved, whereas the cover is a marketing tool. I work in marketing so I know how it’s supposed to be something that grabs people straight away.
I knew that it was being massaged into a particular look, the appearance of it. There’s a whole slew of books with girls in pretty dresses in forests and I haven’t read a lot of them. Like Fire by Kristen Cashore. That one I have read. My publisher asked me to write a list of the book covers that I really loved. Fire was up there and she is in a pretty dress. I haven’t read any of Lauren Kate’s books. I’m not even sure that the main character ends up in a pretty dress in a forest in Lauren Kate’s books, but she does in mine even though it’s the wrong colour.
Nalini: The difference is that Lauren Kate’s book appeals to fans of Twilight, it’s marketed that way and she talks about it that way. Your book I think would appeal to those fans but would also have a broader appeal.
Rhiannon: One of the things that I wanted on the cover was a bow and arrow. That was probably more important to me than a pretty dress, but it didn’t come out that way.
Nalini: I love that scene where she is shooting and she is getting really tired.
Rhiannon: I was like ‘can that be on there please?’ It didn’t get on there and I didn’t mind so much, I think because Griffin got on there. When I saw it I was like: yes! I love the way she is looking over her shoulder. When she is in that place and she is getting burnt and scared—it evokes that. And she sort of does look a lot like I imagined her as well. All the movement in the hair as well. The cover is nice but it was more important to me what’s inside.
Nalini: I think the cover is beautiful. I was just thinking that the cover puts your book in a particular category that maybe your book does belong in but I think you have broader appeal.
Rhiannon: I would be interested to see if it does get picked up by other territories what they would put on the cover. Because it is quite an American cover. I’m not sure if I have seen any other Australian covers that look quite so – I don’t want to say it’s generic as such but I know it
has been put into a particular category. I’ve seen one or two reviewers on Goodreads say that it is un-Australian, the book itself which I think is an interesting thing to say.
Nalini: Why did they say that?
Rhiannon: They don’t give reasons. I suspect that maybe it’s because it’s a little bit frivolous. Compared to a lot of Australian fantasy by Marina Marchetta and Isobel Carmody, for instance. My book, it has its serious moments, but it is quite quick paced and fun.
Nalini: I started reading your book and I couldn’t remember where you’re from. I got to the point where they’re going north and it’s getting warmer, so I think the author’s Australian. I went frantically looking, and then yep, she is Australian, cool.
Rhiannon: Yes, my dad said that as well. He said you do realise that if it does get published in North America then people will be going, why is it getting warmer when she is going north? Well, I said, they can figure that out. [Laughter]
Nalini: Talking about North and South, I think that because a lot of what I read does come from the northern hemisphere, it gets colder as you go north, warmer as you head South. Even as an
Australian reader, because I read so much that comes from the northern hemisphere, this adds to the otherworldliness. Blood song is obviously a story about vampires but they’re not sparkly.
Rhiannon: No. I love my monsters. I read a few synopses of books with zombies, like kissable zombies, for example. And I like my monsters to be – well you don’t kiss zombies, you run away from them as fast as you can. Double tap. Things like that.
Nalini: I thought the whole point of zombies was to be gross.
Rhiannon: I know. I know. And the point of vampires … All sorts of monsters to me are meant to represent our struggle to retain our humanity. That is the important part to me, so I wanted a character who suspected she might be a monster but she can’t tell anyone. They might think she was crazy or she might find that she actually was a monster and then everyone would know. And I wanted her to be going somewhere. She was going somewhere with someone and it was going to be more important to her than the other person. And this horrible thing was going to be creeping up on her, and she was going to put these people in danger. She is going to put her sister Lilith in danger. That was the first stroke of inspiration I had for the story. As soon as I decided that the monsters were going to be scary monsters, what were they going to look like? They are going to have needle teeth and they are going to slither, they’re not going to walk. They’re going to be ultrafast. They’re not going to be able to speak. I’m not sure where the singing came from, but I thought I’d give them something that made them eerie and beautiful
while at the same time being horrifying.
Nalini: So your vampires are actually deadly.
Rhiannon: Yeah. Deadly and fast. The weather thing was – I’m not sure where that came from – I was thinking about climate change. As the series progresses there is going to be more about the weather and a little bit of politics, but it is basically about the monsters.
Nalini: With your main characters, they are struggling with a sense of how much a monster are they.
Rhiannon: The main tension between Zeraphina and Rodden in book 2 is because Rodden has this past, and not a first-hand experience with what he is. He is very reticent about anything physical that is not involved in pursuit of holding onto his humanity. He is very closed down in that respect, whereas Zeraphina has never had a lot of bad experiences so it’s hard for her to understand why he is like he is. Zeraphina’s main aim for holding onto her humanity is to fight what she is and to pour everything into her struggle against the Lharmellins. They are both quite
closed minded like that, whereas she is a little bit younger and she hasn’t really had any bad experiences; she is a bit more open to new things whereas Rodden is more closed down.
Edward: That sounds like a good point of conflict.
Rhiannon: Yes, that is the main source of conflict, which leads naturally into the romantic side. It obviously doesn’t work well for any romantic resolution. I do like my long drawn out sexual tension.
Nalini: You can’t get it all over and done with in five minutes.
Rhiannon: No, exactly, and even in Blood Song originally there was no kiss at all. My agent when she first called me and said she’d like to offer me representation, she said two things. Just cut maybe 1000 words of the beginning and put a kiss in there. I’m like, oh my god that changes
everything! Where the hell am I going to put this kiss? She didn’t tell me anything about where the kiss should go. I didn’t ask at the time and then I got off the phone. Then I am like, right, I’ve got to find a place to put a kiss.
A kiss is a very nice thing of course I was open to putting it in there. I sort of played around; I put it in the scene when near the end where they are going back into the LharmellianLharmellin lair because they have to get a bird to get out of there. And I put it in the scene where they have a fight (spoilers everyone for book one) when he says to her ‘you could have told me what you’re doing’ when she kills an important figure and becomes possessed almost and so he has a go at her for that, and then they kiss. But no, a kiss doesn’t work there because that changes things at the end of the book and if you leave the book when a kiss has just happened, everyone is going to think when you come to book two it will be all lovely and shiny and happy but that is not the case at all. So (spoilers again) I put it in the ballroom scene and then she runs away from him and I thought that almost undoes the resolution that the kiss brings about. I wanted to completely undo it and I didn’t want anything to change, so that’s why I put it there. It was lovely, the ballroom scene, with a pretty dress, and I do like my pretty dresses. Putting the kiss there then it’s almost like this big violin scene.
Nalini: You never mention the word ‘vampire’. Why not?
Rhiannon: It’s another world. There’s no witches, there’s no werewolves. There is an alchemist in book 2 but there’s no wizards, no magic at all. It’s a world governed by physical laws, there is no magic as such. Even the Lharmellins and the powers they have over the weather are very much
grounded in the physical environment so there’s no religion in all. It’s a secular society; no one has gods or goddesses. There’s the Lharmellins, the way Rodden speaks of them sometimes and the way they speak to each other … it’s a bit like a cult. Like they say ‘Praise the blood’ and the
new initiates are called converts. Those are the only religious overtones the story has. There would obviously be folk tales in the story but the way that I wrote it I did not want there to be a lot of back story like there is in a lot of fantasy novels. I wanted it to be quite tight, quite focused. To have the word ‘vampire’ in there, if I had just put it in the way the story was I think it would have jarred. I would have had to create a lot of other mythology to go along with that, which I didn’t want to do.
Nalini: Isn’t there any magic? I had the impression that Zeraphina’s country was getting colder because of magic.
Rhiannon: Yeah it is a sort of magic I guess. I guess it’s a sort of earthly grounded magic… The Lharmellins can influence the weather patterns and there are psychic overtones. I guess telekinesis and things like that come in to it and influence the physical world in that sense, rather than saying the magic word and a candle bursts into flames. I was very much thinking of the physical reaction when I was planning the supernatural elements of the world.
Nalini: It’s more subtle?
Rhiannon: Yeah, I guess it’s more subtle. I guess I wanted it to be non-magical but with slightly magical elements. I didn’t want the magic to overtake the monsters.
Nalini: I have a thing about magic. I like books with magic in them but Magic needs to have limitations.
Edward: It needs to be anchored. It sounds like it’s almost mystical rather than magical.
Rhiannon: Yes. As I go further into the series it is explained more, but I wanted it to be limited as much as possible. This is why I didn’t go into a lot of folklore and other magical creatures, I didn’t want them to exist at all. Also I wanted Zeraphina to have no source of reference when she starts feeling like a monster. It’s like, no one else in the world talks about feeling like this, so what’s going on? And the way that the people in Pergamia have it going on in their back garden basically, and they’re all so repressed and they just don’t talk about it, they just let the soldiers deal with it. And the consequences for that come out in book three.
Nalini: How are your vampires different to normal vampires?
Rhiannon: The ones we have at the moment are on the way out, it seems. Vampires today – you might talk about the Twilight ones, and Anne Rice is still highly influential and hers are the vampires that I love the most. They’re these sexless creatures who are almost purposeless and just envy what humans have which is not like mine at all. I’m not sure I could say any vampire as such inspired the Lharmellins. But then there are the harmings, which is what Zeraphina and Rodden are, and they’re very much the teen angsty vampire trope where it’s like ‘I want to overcome my monstrousness’. Then again, maybe in that they’re a bit different; a lot of teenage books are about embracing the vampire side and using the powers to their advantage, where Zeraphina and Rodden want to get as far away from theirs as possible. I guess that is more comparable to a zombie plague where you want to distance yourself as far as possible
from the virus. The things that are bad are going on in the world; it’s about getting away from that. So I guess they were similar to other sorts of monsters rather than vampires.
Nalini: Blood Song seems to be a coming of age story in that Princess Zeraphina is finding who she is, finding her place in the world. I was concerned that she was going to be passively waiting
for Prince Charming.
Rhiannon: No, certainly not. There was going to be none of that. I was very conscious of it. There were times when I would wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat where I was like ‘oh my god, is she active enough, is she her own person, I haven’t made her into one of those passive heroines have I?’ I have to say that she doesn’t seem to have turned out that way. I was speaking to a friend of mine who is also a writer about a week ago and he was also telling me the main theme in his book. He asked me at what the main theme was in my book. I guess you could say it is nosiness; that insatiable curiosity. I’m like that myself when people are telling me a story, I’ll interrupt them and be like ‘I need this information’ and ask them a lot of questions, and then ‘okay, now you can continue’. It’s this insatiable nosiness I have myself and it just came out in Zeraphina. It was not a conscious decision. I guess when you write your first novel you don’t really think too much about it, it just comes out. If you’re a nosy person you can be quite impulsive and she is quite impulsive. She is very much in charge of her own fate, which has
consequences, of course, for her family and her sister especially.
Nalini: She got rescued but I like the fact that she wasn’t being a passive victim.
Rhiannon: [spoilers] Yes she was definitely doing her best to get out of there. When she does get rescued she thinks to herself ‘I wasn’t expecting it’ but she does give Rodden that jibe, ‘You took your time’, as if she had been expecting it the whole time, even though she didn’t know that he was a good guy. I don’t know if she would have got out of there without him, but he did show up at the 11th hour, at the right moment.
Nalini: Blood Song almost seems a normal young adult romance between Zeraphina’s elder sister and the prince, but it’s told from the lower levels perspective with a whole different angle. Why tell the story from that perspective?
Rhiannon: What do you mean?
Nalini: It’s a bit of a Star Trek reference with the lower levels. You have a core group of people and there was a particular episode where you’re told the story from the perspective of the ensigns and the younger group of people, the not-so-important people.
Rhiannon: As in Zeraphina is telling the story of Lilith and Amith and it’s almost like they should be –
Nalini: That would be more traditional.
Rhiannon: Yeah. They were just falling in love and getting married, it was a bit boring. It was definitely important for the story. When I first thought of the story it was Lilith’s maid, not her sister. Then I’m like – she’d have a lot more freedom to be nosy and to be an almost foot stamping sort of teenage girl if she is a princess and she is expecting to get her own way a lot. When she was seeing her sister and Amis fall in love, she is on the one hand going ‘this is a stupid’ and on the other hand it’s actually really lovely. When she stops to think about it, she does love her sister and she does think Amis is a good person. It’s almost like an afterthought. It’s like it’s been going on in the background the whole time and she’s been so wrapped up in herself and it comes to her: ‘I am actually really happy for my sister’. If there was nothing else going on in the background, it would make the story a bit repetitive. The older sister who is doing the right thing, the mother had something to hold up, ‘why aren’t you more like your sister?’ Even though she doesn’t say it, there is that overtone, it comes out more and more as the trilogy goes on.
Nalini: What can you share about the rest of the series?
Rhiannon: The second book is going to be a lot more of a journeying sort of story, getting out there in the world. Exploring what’s going on. It’s much more of a quest story, getting out there, discovering exactly what would be the result of their killing who they did kill in book 1 and whether that it’s made a difference or not. And a lot more about Rodden, because there’s very little about his past. He has a big sordid past that has to be gone into, which I had lots of fun writing. I grew up in Western Australia in the Pilbara region and that’s a big influence on this. It’s more like the desert that you’d find in North Africa but it was definitely inspired by what I saw and felt as a child. Also the belly dancing came from there as well. All of my books have an element of dance in
them. I thought, I’ll have to put some belly dance in this. I was watching videos on YouTube and I thought ‘Wow, that looks amazing, I’ll have to try that.’ So I ended up taking it up myself.
Nalini: This bit of competition between Zeraphina and Lilith. How much do you think that’s a reflection of –
Rhiannon: Me and my brother? Probably a lot actually. I guess, because I never had an older sister. I guess that’s why I wrote Lilith, because I always wanted an older sister.
[Raspberry from Rory] Definitely the dynamic between the two, even though my brother is not remotely like Lilith at all. But Zeraphina is quite competitive with everyone, with Rodden and with her sister, so I guess, along with her nosiness that’s probably something she got from me.
Nalini: You have two more books planned for this trilogy. Do you have any other books planned?
Rhiannon: Yeah, I’m working on some fantasy set in Melbourne that I probably won’t talk about. It’s been coming on for about two years based on a Grimm Brother’s fairytale, one of the more obscure ones, and it’s very unlike the other Grimm fairytales. There are no princes or princesses. I really wanted to get away from princes and princesses after Blood Song. I read it and I knew it was something I wanted to try out.
Then a sci-fi which I’ve been working on this year. They’re both about 30,000 words in and maybe a third done. The sci-fi is inspired by Patty Hearst who you might have heard of because of Stockholm syndrome. She was kidnapped by a people’s army in the 80s. She was the daughter
of a millionaire socialite. I guess she was a bit of a Paris Hilton. She was kidnapped by this army and ended up robbing a bank with them. There are these photos of her on the CCTV with an AK- 47. How do you go from daddy’s little girl to robbing a bank and sympathising with your captors?
So the sci-fi is sort of Patty Hearst with lasers and a lot of other stuff. Colonisation and terraforming. She is not a daddy’s little girl character; it’s quite a different sort of character, but that was the inspiration. There’s a lot of stuff about journalism and the media and their responsibility. I’ve been following the Occupy Melbourne stuff for the last fortnight. It’s like ‘God, I need to work on that book again.’
Nalini: I read your post about the occupy Melbourne. Do you have anything else you’d like to add?
Rhiannon: No, I don’t want to talk about it. That basically sums it up.
Nalini: How much do you think the sci-fi you’re working on is influenced by your study of psychology?
Rhiannon: Probably a lot, definitely the Stockholm syndrome part. I loved doing my degree, I loved all the things I found out. I find there was always a little bit in my books that is drawn from the degree. The sci-fi is my most cobbled together piece; a lot of things have been swirling around in my head that I just pushed together, whereas the urban fantasy: the sources are more singular. The Grimm brothers’ fairytale and one or two other things. Something I did for Inside a Dog, the State library blog, was I listed these things that I was interested in and I found I could smoosh them together into a story. A lot of my personal interests come out in the story.[Tivali, Rhiannon’s cat, decided that she wasn’t getting enough attention and that she needed to assert her dominance over these guests she hadn’t invited. It was very entertaining but also distracting.]
Nalini: Are you going to be signing books at bookstores upcoming conventions?
Rhiannon: Not anything planned at the moment no. I had my book launch here actually, I wanted it to be quite family and friends oriented. Next August I will probably have a launch at a bookstore but I haven’t done any appearances yet. I haven’t done any speaking in public, I’m still trying
to psyche myself up for that.
Nalini: According to Trudi Canavan it gets easier. She said she is very shy.
Rhiannon: Oh good. I’ve had to speak a couple of times for work and I’ve managed that okay. As long as I know I’ve got something to say. Tuesday night I was at the Inky Awards and these authors spoke and they were just amazing I was like ‘Oh God…’ The quality that is out there – and hearing Isobel Carmody speak and hearing Justine Larbalestier and all these wonderful authors I’ve got to have a good think about what I’d like to say.
Nalini: Supanova will be back in April. I mention it because you’d be in really good company. This year Dymocks was there with Trudi Canavan, Jennifer Fallon, Marianne de Pierres, Robin Hobb – Robin Hobb was the one with the longest queues – Margo Lanagahan, Isobel Carmody… Did I mention Rowena Cory Daniells and Marianne de Pierres? I can’t forget them.
Rhiannon: Did you meet Marianne? I haven’t met yet but we have talked.
Nalini: I’ve interviewed her.
Rhiannon: Cool. She is such an interesting woman.
Edward: Who was it that wanted the picture with Capt Jack Sparrow?
Nalini: Isobelle Carmody. She asked me to take a photograph of her with that guy who dresses up like Captain Jack who looks like Johnny Depp.
Rhiannon: He does.
Nalini: He really does.
Edward: He really does and his outfit and mannerisms: he’s got it all really slick.
Nalini: Yes, so I have a bragging point that Isobel Carmody asked me to take her photo with Capt Jack.
Rhiannon: I saw a couple of pictures of you on your Facebook page as Dark Matter dressed up like storm troopers and dressed up as rebel pilots and stuff.
Nalini: Yes. Borrowed costumes, yes.
Rhiannon: Oh, amazing. And there were all these Star Wars characters, the girl with the blue.
Nalini: The Twi’lek.
Rhiannon: Amazing. Unbelievable. That must have been for a convention. Nalini: Us as storm troopers and with the Twi’lek was with Glamour Puss studios, a tap dancing studio, was doing an end of year Christmas do, they were doing Killer Queens so they wanted some help. April couldn’t get anyone else to do dress up so we were the bodies that filled the costumes
Edward: It was great. We went to a few rehearsals and the main performances.
Nalini: The very first time I dressed up was at Armageddon last year when I wore April’s X Wing costume.
Rhiannon: That looks like Luke Skywalker when he was in the orange jumpsuit.
Nalini: Heaps of fun, but I don’t know about this whole making of costumes thing, it’s a huge amount of effort.
Rhiannon: It is, and I was just reading in Dark Matter: the gun importation; you can be charged like it’s a real gun. [Tivali interrupts again] Tivali is asserting her dominance; we will grovel before you, we will grovel.
Nalini: I don’t know what the charges would be, but it does seem serious. And the police wouldn’t talk to me. Basically said they’re going to do their own information campaign in coming months and they wouldn’t give me any extra clarification. What else does the future hold for you?
Rhiannon: This ghost anthology that I’ve been asked to be a part of through Australian literature review. Auslit is their acronym; their editor has asked me to be part of an anthology, and it is coming out next March. I’ve been planning a fantasy series that will have a bigger scope than Blood Song and probably won’t be a trilogy. I really love the way Tamora Pierce and Kristin Cashore have created a universe that they can set a lot of different books in. So I want to work on one of those myself. I will probably finish my two standalones, my urban fantasy and sci-fi, and then get stuck into that. So I am very excited about the new fantasy series. That’s about it for my plans for writing at the moment. I’m looking forward to finishing a book. I haven’t finished one for almost a year; it’s a good feeling to get the first draft and hugging it straight from
Nalini: NaNoWriMo should be a productive time.
Rhiannon: Yes I hope so, it should be a productive month. It’s my birthday month as well, so I’ll try not to celebrate too much.
Nalini: Thank you for talking to Dark Matter.
Rhiannon: Thank you so much for coming round.
Interview with Rhiannon Hart on 31 July 2012, the night before the launch of Blood Storm