Trudi Canavan lives in Melbourne, Australia. She has been making up stories about people and places that don’t exist for as long as she can remember. While working as a freelance illustrator and designer she wrote the bestsellingBlack Magician Trilogy, which was published in 2001-3 and was named an ‘Evergreen’ by The Bookseller in 2010. The Magician’s Apprentice, a prequel to the trilogy, won the Aurealis Award for Best Fantasy Novel in 2009 and the final of the sequel trilogy, The Traitor Queen, reached #1 on the UK Times Hardback bestseller list in 2011. For more info, visitwww.trudicanavan.com.
The first book of your new series, Thief’s Magic, came out not too long ago. It’s about an industrial revolution powered by magic, which is a bit of a departure from the settings of your other books. What made you want to explore that particular setting?
At Aussicon 4 I saw a panel on exploring other potential something-punks than Steampunk and Cyberpunk. I got to thinking about what magic-punk might look like. What if magic was used instead of coal? What if it had a grimy residue like coal? Tyen’s came together as a separate story, at first – a ‘one day I’ll write this’ novel. But while hashing out the synopsis for my next series I realised it needed a second story thread, and since that was set in a multiple-world scenario I could easily add Tyen’s story to it. As it turned out, the magic systems blended very well, and the two very different worlds give the setting contrast and texture.
Last year you had a Doctor Who novella come out in conjunction with the 50th anniversary celebrations, Salt of the Earth. Can you tell us how that came about? Also, did you get to choose which Doctor to write about?
When the email first turned up, on a Friday, my first reaction was doubt, because I’ve not written tie-in fiction and time travel and science fiction aren’t what I usually write. I decided to think about it, and by the end of the weekend I had a rough plot idea and setting. The process was very different to what I’m used to, with approval processes for each stage of story development. I wound up writing a story that could use almost any doctor and companion and left it to them to decide. I was happy when they chose Jon Pertwee, though not too sure about Jo Grant as I couldn’t remember much about her. So I borrowed as many dvds as I could of the third doctor’s series featuring Jo, listing ‘Third Doctorisms’ and facts about Jo in order to get their ‘voices’ right.
I assume your current plans are to finish up the Millenium’s Rule Trilogy, but do you have any plans beyond that? Can you tell us something about future books?
Bookwise, I’m planning to write another trilogy in the Black Magician Trilogy world. I’d also like to do a short story collection in future. And in my ‘one day I’ll write this’ list there’s a young adult horror novel that’s been patiently waiting for me to find the time to write, as well.
What Australian works have you loved recently?
I gave Jane Routley some feedback on a small novel recently that was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed Alan Baxter’s dark fantasy, Realmshift. I’m lucky to find the time to read 15 or so books a year, and a few of those are manuscripts, yet I keep buying books as if I read three times as fast so my to-read pile is enormous.
Have recent changes in the publishing industry influenced the way you work? What do you think you will be publishing/writing/reading in five years from now?
Actually, not much has changed in the way I work, but some things have changed in the way I interact with fans and other writers. I get my own swag printed and arrange some publicity events. I’m not going to as many conventions now, but I aim to get to a pair of Supanovas a year. Social media has taken over from blogging and forums – and I like it much better! The only way any of this has affected how I write is to make sure the first chapter of a book is a good length for a reading, and I keep an eye out for good quotes to put on bookmarks.