2014 Snapshot Archive: Tansy Rayner Roberts

First published at Katharine Stubbs’ blog.

Tansy Rayner Roberts is the fantasy author of the Creature Court trilogy and co-hosts two Hugo-nominated podcasts, Galactic Suburbia and Verity! She won the Hugo for Best Fan Writer in 2013. Tansy’s latest fiction project is Musketeer Space, a gender-swapped space opera retelling of The Three Musketeers, published weekly as a web serial.

1. Musketeer Space is a gender-bent take on The Three Musketeers by Dumas, which you’re releasing as a web serial, posting a chapter almost every Wednesday, with plans to release it as an ebook at the end. Would you like to tell us more about it?

musketeerspaceYou captured it pretty well! I decided to work on a serial to bring deadlines back into my life, and to ensure I actually finished something. Somewhere along the way I fell completely head over heels for the project – I’ve loved space opera my whole life and have never felt brave enough to write it before now. And of course my darling Musketeers – playing with different gender combinations is really interesting to me, as it means I’m telling a story about friendship and military camaraderie that is predominantly about women. It’s got me back in touch with writing as play and as creative challenge – and it doesn’t hurt that I have readers that are enjoying it week by week!

I’m supporting the project via Patreon, (http://www.patreon.com/musketeerspace) which allows readers to pay micropayments as a monthly subscription, and am very pleased with how that’s progressing. I’m hoping to raise enough to cover some of the costs of making the ebook at the end – artwork and editorial. The whole crowdfunding model is really interesting to me, and like the novel itself, it’s a grand experiment.

2. If some cruel, nasty person was holding a gun to your head, demanding you write a novel that continues or adds to one of your previous works, which would you choose and – if we may ask – what would you add to it?

I don’t think anyone would have to hold a gun to my head – I’d definitely settle for a modest advance cheque! I InkBlackMagiclove the world and the city I built for my Creature Court trilogy, and I deliberately left a few dropped stitches to pick up in a future series. It would be set ten or twelve years in the future, and the protagonists would be Ashiol’s little sister, and Lysandor and Celeste’s daughter, once the two of them are old enough to have their own epic adventure.

And then there’s Mocklore, of course. I can’t deny I haven’t been thinking about returning there, with the recent release of Ink Black Magic. Fablecroft will be publishing some of my old Mocklore short stories at some point, including a few that were never published back in the day, and… yes, still thinking about it. As was pointed out in a recent review, I did establish a Next Generation there too. I love Next Generation stories.

3. Do you have any plans for a future series, possibly in the epic-fantasy genre? If so, would you like to tell us any hints for what may be to come?

Now I have to wonder if you’ve been spying on my brain! I am noodling a new thing. I was so exhausted after the Creature Court (which was written and published around the birth of my second daughter) that the thought of starting another epic fantasy straight away pretty much made me want to sleep and cry. But I’ve been missing the genre a lot, and I’ve started reading it again as of last year, when I tore through the entirety so far of A Song of Ice and Fire.

So yes, I have a new epic fantasy world (well, city, because that’s how I roll) and I have the first story in my head. I’m thinking of experimenting with form again, though, because I really think we should have an option other than the Big Fat Trilogy or the Eternal Unfinished Saga (not that there’s anything wrong with either of those formats, but variety is the spice of life) – I’d love to write epic fantasy told over a series of novellas and short standalone pieces, and I think that’s how this particular world will serve me best. We’ll see… it might yet turn into a massive seven book story arc.

4. What Australian works have you loved recently?

I’ve been on a Regency Romance kick, so the Australian author I’ve read most of is Stephanie Laurens! So many books, it’s extraordinary. I’ve also enjoyed a couple of the Twelve Planets collections this year – Kirstyn McDermott’s Caution: Contains Small Parts, and I’m halfway through Rosaleen Love’s Secret Lives of Books. They’re both brilliant, and creepy.

5. 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?

tansycat2014They have very much influenced me. It’s a fascinating, horrible, inspiring, brilliant time for writers. I become a director of SFWA largely because of my interest in all the changes in the business models at the moment. And I have my own share of stories, both positive and negative – it’s not fun, selling a trilogy to a major Australian publisher a year and a half before we lost such a huge swathe of the country’s bookshops. But some of the changing technologies and distribution methods have been huge boons to me too – my tiny short story collection, Love and Romanpunk, has been read across the world and even taught in a Texas university. A lot of my international reputation is because of my successes in podcasting and blogging. And of course here I am publishing my own story as a web serial, funded via a platform that didn’t exist two years ago. Interesting times, in all possible meanings of that phrase.

The actual storytelling doesn’t change, though my working methods have always been pretty flexible. In five years time I will be the mother of a fourteen-year-old and a ten-year-old, not a nine-year-old and a five-year-old, and I suspect that’s going to have a much bigger effect on my writing habits and creativity than whatever the delivery vehicle for fiction is that year. (capsules! dehydrated fiction just add water!)

I suspect the future will be about hybrid readers even more than hybrid writers – we’ll be reading stories in all kinds of different ways, and overwhelmed by how much there is. I think our best chance at forming communities will be about figuring out ways to have whole groups of people read the same story at the same timen. And I really, really hope that paying writers for their work never completely goes out of vogue.

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