2007 Snapshot Archive: Karen Miller

Interviewed by Alisa Krasnostein

First published at ASiF!

Kingmaker, Kingbreaker, Karen’s first fantasy duology, is currently releasing in the UK and US. Locally, Empress of Mijak, the first book of her new series Godspeaker, has just been published. It’s out internationally starting next year.

Q1. You write both in your own original fantasy series as well as media tie-ins for the Stargate franchise. Do you find one more enjoyable than the other? And conversely, do you find one harder to write than the other?

Each kind of story-telling has its own challenges and rewards, which means I honestly don’t prefer one over the other. I consider it a luxury to have the chance to play in the Stargate universe. Even though a lot of the work has been done for me, insofar as worldbuilding and character creation is concerned, to do the show justice I have to know that stuff really, really well – as well as if I had created it all myself. It’s an enormous challenge to keep my stories consistent with the aired material, knowing that the fans are truly dedicated and don’t like it when you mess with what they love. I’m always going back and rewatching episodes to make sure I’ve got the voices right and their actions believable within the parameters of what’s been established. So that’s hard work. On the whole though, my originally created books are tougher since I have to do everything from scratch. Don’t get me wrong, I love it! But certainly, the Stargate novels aren’t quite as draining.

Q2. You write both fantasy and science fiction. Do you have a bias/preference for one over the other? And why/why not?

Absolutely I have a bias towards fantasy. And to be honest, as far as the Stargate novels are concerned, I don’t really consider what I do to be true sf, not compared with the likes of Justine Robinson and Greg Bear and Iain Banks and Charles Stross, sf writers of that calibre. I consider Stargate to be sf-lite, as it were, and that’s about as far as I can go with all of that because I’m not a scientist. I start thinking about hard science and maths and I break out in hives, I swear. My background, my tastes, run to history, and that’s where I go to mine stuff for my fantasy novels. I passionately, passionately love history and I think that’s what fantasy naturally aligns with.

Q3. How much time and freedom do you have to plan and write your own fiction with your Stargate commitments? Do you have any plans for your next projects?

At the moment I’m managing to keep the two fiction streams on the go. I’m slated for 3 Stargate novels in total (writing #2 at the moment) and something like 6 more fantasy novels, so the focus is most definitely more on the original fiction. The Stargate books slot in around the edges – not because they’re ‘less than’ but because they’re shorter and less complicated to develop and write.

As far as the next projects are concerned, right now I’m putting the finishing touches to Godspeaker bk 2, The Riven Kingdom, then I’ll swing into first-draft mode on bk 3, Hammer of God, while also working on Do No Harm, the second Stargate novel. Then I look at bks 2 and 3 in the Rogue Agent series, which launches April next year. Bk 1 of that series (and I hope it will be a series, not a self-contained trilogy) is called The Accidental Sorcerer. After that is a new project which hasn’t been officially announced yet … so that’s all I can say about that! But basically I’m going to be writing like the clappers for the next 2 years. By that time my brains will probably have melted and be dribbled out of my ears.

Q4 Do you read much of the Aus spec fic scene? What’s the best thing you’ve read this year?

To be honest I’m not reading much of anything at the moment! After 8 hours a day, 6-7 days a week, in front of the computer playing with words my brain struggles to take in anything more complicated than an old Georgette Heyer or Nora Roberts novel, pre-loved and easy on the grey matter. And if I do get the itch to read something new it’s more likely to be a crime novel, since that’s using a different part of my imagination.

But, having said that, I have recently enjoyed Sons of Heaven by Kage Baker. She’s bloody amazing, that woman. On the Aussie scene, I recently re-read (in final version, I read it in draft before) Glenda Larke’s Song of the Shiver Barrens, bk 3 of her Mirage Makers trilogy. I think Glenda’s an extraordinary voice in fantasy fiction, absolutely world quality. In fact, a great many of our local writers are world quality. We fight way over our weight in this, just as we do in the world of sport.

I’ve also read some other great stuff recently that I can’t talk about because I’m judging the YA category in the Aurealis Awards this year and that’s how I got hold of it … let’s just say, the YA scene’s looking pretty healthy too!

I struggle with reading short fiction, it’s not a literary form I’ve ever really been drawn to. God knows I can’t write it! I know there are some truly spectacular short fiction writers in Australia, being so wonderfully nutured on the small press scene, but with my reading time severely curtailed just now, I’m afraid it doesn’t get a very fair look-in from me.

Q5 And finally, if you had the chance to get it on with the fictional character you fancy most, who would it be?

Francis Crawford.

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