Interviewed by Helen Stubbs
Rowena Cory Daniells’ speculative fiction stories have appeared in magazines and anthologies including Dreaming DownUnder which won World Best Fantasy and Dreaming Again. In 2015 her story ‘The Giant’s Lady’ appeared in the David Gemmell ‘Legends 2’ anthology. This story went on to win an Aurealis Award for Best Fantasy Story.
She has supported the writing community by serving on the management committees of two national genre awards, the Queensland Writers Centre, the Brisbane Writers Festival and Fantastic Queensland. She lives by the bay with her husband and has six children. In her spare time she has devoted five years to studying each of these martial arts Tae Kwon Do, Aikido and Iaido, the art of the Samurai Sword.
When she sat down to write The Chronicles of King Rolen’s Kin, she set out to write the kind of book that you look forward to after a tough week at work, the kind of book that carries you away. The KRK series was a finalist in the Inaugural Sara Douglas Fantasy Series award in 2016. Her trilogy The Outcast Chronciles was released in 2012, with absolutely fabulous covers by Clint Langley again. It was shortlisted for the Hemming Award in 2013. This award is the exploration of race, gender, sexuality, class and disability in Australian speculative fiction.
In 2016 Rowena was stunned when she was awarded the Peter McNamara Achievement Award for services to the speculative fiction genre.
You recently won an Aurealis Award and the Peter McNamara Award. Please tell us all about it.
Both awards came as a complete surprise. I’ve judged for the Aurealis Awards and I know how hard it is to whittle down your long list to a short list so I was delighted when my story, The Giant’s Lady, made the short list for the Fantasy Short Story award. I certainly didn’t expect to win, not when Tehani asked me to co-host the event with Marianne. (We themed our presentation on Thelma and Louise, because that’s what we felt like when we used to escape our families and go to writing events).
Then, a couple of days before the 2016 Natcon, Marianne asked me to keep her company at the Ditmar Awards. It never occurred to me that she was secretly making sure I would be there to accept the Peter McNamara Achievement Award. I thought she just wanted someone to hang out with and I was perfectly happy to be that someone. So you see, the whole weekend was a bit of a thrill for me.
During the Aurealis Awards my series, King Rolen’s Kin, was a finalist in the Inaugural Sarah Douglas Fantasy Series Award. (Kudos to Glenda Larke for her well deserved win). I kept my publishers informed about the awards and before I knew it, they emailed me to say that they are going to re-release the KRK series as a Solaris Classic in the large format in the US. Naturally I’m delighted, especially as they have included the novella, the King’s Man, in book two, before this the novella was only available as an ebook.
I have a big project that I have been developing off and on for fifteen years. I’ve had several short stories set in The Shallow Sea published during this time and now I’m taking a two book series, developing it into a trilogy. It is lovely to be inspired to write again.
What Australian work have you loved recently?
My (long suffering) husband and I have moved interstate, so the last six months have been very busy with the move and several family crises. Sitting here, answering these questions is the first time my computer has been properly set up in the new house and I’m still missing one box from my old office back home. LOL. I’ll have to go through all the unopened boxes to see if it was mislabeled.
Which author (living or dead) would you most like to sit next to on a long plane trip and why?
I think I would avoid a long plane trip if I could. If I couldn’t, I would like to sit next to Fritz Leiber or Joanna Russ, both writers inspired me when I was in my early twenties. They had refreshingly different world views in a time when a lot of books could be generic. Both of these writers are no longer with us and I will never get a chance to tell them how much they meant to me.