Interview by David McDonald.
Rochelle Fernandez completed a Bachelor of Writing and Contemporary Cultures at the University of Technology, Sydney, and a postgraduate diploma in editing and publishing at the University of Macquarie. She has worked as an editor of various books and magazines, and is currently the Associate Publisher for International Fiction and Voyager, the speculative fiction imprint of HarperCollins Australia.
The last Snapshot (in 2014) found you in the role of Commissioning Editor at Harper Voyager Australia. How has your role changed as an Associate Publisher, and what has changed for the Publisher and industry in the interval?
My role has expanded to include looking after International Fiction, so as well as finding and publishing Australian voices in speculative fiction, I’m managing the general fiction titles coming in from Harper US and Harper UK. The acquisition of Harlequin was probably the biggest thing to happen globally at HarperCollins. We’ve also become a lot more focused as a business and selective about the books we publish and the activity we do around our titles. Industry-wise, I think ebooks haven’t achieved the exponential growth that they have in the past.
Do you feel that there are different things that publishers look for in books targeting the Australian market, as opposed to international releases? What are some of the qualities that transcend geography?
A well written, original story with fantastic characters is something that all publishers look for. Especially in speculative fiction, where the world is often fictional anyway, geographical boundaries don’t apply to good writing. I wouldn’t say there’s something specific that Australian publishers look for that, say, American or English publishers don’t, it’s more about what certain publishers identify with or relate to, it’s more a matter of taste.
As someone who is so involved in the industry, do you find it hard to read simply for pleasure as opposed to reading with your publisher hat on? Do you have a “go to” genre?
Absolutely not. I still read before I go to bed every day. I don’t have a go-to genre, I’ll read anything that sounds interesting. I love a good epic fantasy, but I read everything.
What Australian work have you loved recently?
I love, love, LOVE Nevernight by Jay Kristoff. It’s breathtaking. I’m also incredibly excited about A Shattered Empire, the third book in Mitchell Hogan’s Sorcery Ascendant Sequence. I loved the first two books in the series and this one is just so satisfying.
Which author (living or dead) would you most like to sit next to on a long plane trip and why?
This is a very difficult question! There are so many! Probably George RR Martin, so that I could ask him questions about the upcoming book and find out before anyone else!