Interview by Helen Stubbs.
Cheryse Durrant’s love of story and landscape evolved from a childhood spent alongside rustic characters on a property in central Queensland. She pursued her passion of newspaper journalism for 15 years before the oddly dark but often enchanting world of speculative fiction compelled her to write her debut novel and nationally shortlisted The Blood She Betrayed. Durrant’s picture book My Big Bear Story is used in classrooms and counselling rooms throughout Queensland and was recently showcased at a global conference in Prague. Durrant is the inspiration behind What If and Creative Dragons, hubs of exploration for young people. Visit her at creativedragons.com.au or cherysedurrant.com
What are you working on at the moment?
The Sweet Life is my latest bread-and-butter (journalism) contract and captures the people and history of Bundaberg’s sugar industry. The interviews are fascinating, but I keep sneaking off to work on my latest WIP, Curse of Rathorne, a sequel to my Pool of Rathorne novella. 2016 is a year of new adventures for me. I’ve just moved from balmy Bargara to chilly Toowoomba and, when not teaching creative writing to children, I’m tossing out photos, knick-knacks and old manuscripts in favour of new inspirations – fabulous new ideas that are re-igniting my love of story-telling and the spec fic genre.
Tell me about your most recent publications?
In Pool of Rathorne, released earlier this year, Tash Severin hides her perpetually bleeding face behind the crimson robes of a wiccan guild. She embarks on a journey in the hope of curing her affliction when she meets Raoul Duberger, an aristocrat harbouring his own lies and secrets. Their chance meeting thrusts Tash into danger, and almost costs Raoul his life, but gives Tash a new hope of freeing her people, crippled and ostracized by tyrannical rule. Curse of Rathorne follows Tash’s political and physical struggles to crush the Empire.
The Ghost She Killed is the sequel to my debut novel, The Blood She Betrayed, part of my YA Heart Hunters series. Shahkara is a half-Taloner from another world who arrives on Earth to find the Elnara, a death lantern that can – in a single blast – kill the heart-devouring Taloners ravaging her world. She and her Earthern friend, Max, are searching for a pathway back to her world when her anatomy is altered by a deadly retro-virus and Max is forced to make his own hero’s journey.
When you look back on yourself starting out as a proto-writer, are there any tips you would give past-you?
Don’t agonise over the unimportant details. Don’t let fear paralyse your work. Take your work seriously, but don’t take yourself seriously. Sometimes, those lessons only come with experience and time.
What Australian work have you loved recently?
I’ve been devouring a lot of books for children and YA of late and one that’s a ripper read for young teens is SD Gentill’s Hero Trilogy. It’s a fabulous retelling of the fall of Troy with simple prose, memorable characters and lots of myth and magic 🙂 If you enjoy crime (as most spec fic readers do), you’ll also love her Australian crime novels under her Sulari Gentill adult crime author name.
Which author would you most like to sit next to on a long plane trip and why?
I’m inspired by so many modern authors but the click of a mouse often makes it easy to find out what makes them tick and what powers their craft. Instead, I’d love to have coffee with some of the old literary greats – Agatha Christie, Mary Shelley, Jules Vern, John Christopher and Dorothy L Sayers – and ask them questions that historians haven’t been able to answer. I’ve always envied Tolkien’s and CS Lewis’ Inklings meets. If either of them, or their fellows, were happy to leave their mouldy graves for an inflight gathering, I’d send them invites & pay for their air tickets. Then again, they may not show when they were told about our modern no-smoking rules J