Interview by Belle McQuattie.
Kylie Chan married a Hong Kong national in a traditional Chinese wedding ceremony in Eastern China, and lived in Hong Kong for ten years as an information technology trainer and consultant. When she returned to Australia she studied martial arts, Buddhist and Taoist philosophy, and brought these together in her nine-book ‘Dark Heavens’ Chinese mythology-based fantasy series published by Voyager-HarperCollins worldwide. She is currently working with University of Queensland academic Dr Kim Wilkins on a research higher degree investigating the new wave of digital self-publishing. Kylie is based in Brisbane.
Black Jade sees the end of an epic series. How does it feel to close the door on a world that has been such a big part of your life for so long?
It was epic, and it felt very strange to not have any more John and Emma to write. That said, I’m planning a spinoff for one of the main characters, John’s daughter Simone, who will be a young adult in tertiary study having to deal with the aftermath of the end of the series and its consequences for her. My ability to create this is predicated on having enough access and research to be able to authentically and respectfully depict local Australian spirits – because the daughter of a powerful Chinese spirit would undoubtedly come across the locals. If I can’t do that then I won’t go there.
At Contact you spoke about The Bento Net as part of your Guest of Honour speech. For those that weren’t there, can you tell us more about it?
It’s all Queenie’s idea! It’s leveraging the new paradigm of print-on-demand in an extremely creative way. People originally thought that print-on-demand would be printing machines in bookstores – instead it’s turned out to be localised printing facilities that can print limited numbers of copies of selected books – instead of the huge offset print runs, these digital presses can print as few as a single copy of a book. The BentoNet (www.thebentonet.com) connects publishers who use the print-on-demand facilities provided by IngramSpark with bookstores who can act as distribution points.
A customer buys the publisher’s book through the BentoNet, and the BentoNet passes the order to the bookstore. The customer can then collect the book direct from the store (driving foot traffic into stores!) or have the book shipped directly to them. If a book is particularly successful then the store can order more copies to put on their shelves. Books are printed locally in the state or country where they are to be delivered to, so shipping costs are reduced. It’s a win situation for everybody.
We’re in our first month of production and it’s worked well so far – and now Queenie is setting up world-wide printing and distribution through IngramSpark’s print-on-demand service.
Congrats on the new contract with Voyager! What can you tell us about your new trilogy?
Exploding Space Dragons! It’s a straight-up science fiction romp, with space ships and aliens and interstellar political intrigue, set three hundred years in the future. I’m half-done with the first novel in the trilogy and having a lot of fun with it.
What Australian work have you loved recently?
I’ve been lost in Kate Forsyth’s Dragonclaw series, and Alan Baxter’s Alex Caine series.
Which author (living or dead) would you most like to sit next to on a long plane trip and why?
Can I sit between my two besties Isobelle Carmody and Marianne de Pierres? The three of us have an absolute blast at Oz Comic-Con together, we take photos of the cosplay and share our shopping. Being part of the writing community has made me so many terrific friends!