Born in New Zealand and now resident in Western Australia, Juliet Marillier is an award-winning author of historical fantasy. Her novels for adults include the Sevenwaters series and the Bridei Chronicles. She has also written two books for young adults, Wildwood Dancing and Cybele’s Secret. Juliet’s novels are published internationally – her most enthusiastic fans live in Portugal. When not writing she tends to a small pack of needy dogs.
1. Your latest novel, Heart’s Blood, came out last year. Where is it set? Is it the start of a series, or a stand-alone novel?
Heart’s Blood is a stand-alone novel set in twelfth century Ireland (at the time of the Anglo-Norman arrival.) It has elements of ghost story, romance, historical novel and fantasy. The story is loosely based on one of my favourite fairy tales, Beauty and the Beast. It also owes a little to one of my best-loved classics, Jane Eyre.
2. You’ve written a number of series now: Sevenwaters, Saga of the Light Isles, the Bridei Chronicles …. Do you still think about those worlds, and imagine new adventures or characters, or do you try to make a clean break in order to write new stories?
I do think about the worlds, and I have a good idea of what would have happened to the characters in later life – they are entirely real to me. I never completely rule out returning to a series in the future, perhaps to follow a new generation of characters. That’s what happened with Sevenwaters. I finished the trilogy in 2000, thinking I wouldn’t go back there. Seven unrelated novels later, my American editor asked me for more Sevenwaters. I wrote Heir to Sevenwaters (published in 2008) and Seer of Sevenwaters (to be published in December this year) and will be doing one more in the future.
When I’m actually writing a book, my mind is fully focused on that setting and those characters. Unlike some writers, I can only work on one project at a time.
3. What are you working on at the moment? Do you have long-term plans and story ideas, or do you work more in the short to medium-term?
I’ve just finished Seer of Sevenwaters and I’m waiting for my editor’s comments. I’ll be revising the manuscript in March. And I’m planning a new series, but that’s still under wraps as there are some commercial negotiations involved. Because I earn my living as a writer, I have to think long-term. Generally I sell my books to a publisher on the basis of a proposal, and then write the actual book. At this point, I know what I’ll be writing for the next three years. I hope to slip in some short fiction between the big projects, including a story for the anthology that’s coming out as part of Au Contraire in August. As for story ideas, generally I have far more of those than I have time to write.
4. With Aussiecon4 coming up this September, there has been some buzz going around about nominating Australians for the Hugo awards. Which Australians have put out work that you would like to see on the Hugos shortlist of 2010?
As a reader, I tend to go more for general fiction / literary fiction, so I’m underqualified to answer this! I’ll go as far as to say I’d like to see Jonathan Strahan shortlisted for best editor – short, and Margo Lanagan’s Sea Hearts for best novella.
5. Will you be attending Aussiecon4? If you are, what are you most looking forward to?
I will be attending both Aussiecon4 and Au Contraire in New Zealand. This is highly unusual for me as I am happiest at home writing, in the company of dogs. The venues for these two cons allow me to visit family in Melbourne and Wellington, which is an added incentive. I’m looking forward to meeting readers, exchanging ideas with fellow writers and listening to Shaun Tan speak – I love the way he is so humble and down to earth despite his fantastic talent. In Wellington I’m presenting a writers’ workshop, which should be fun. I’d love to see more emphasis on the craft of writing at these events.