Juliet Marillier is a hybrid Kiwi/Aussie writer. She lives in a 116-year-old cottage in Perth, where she writes full time. Her historical fantasy novels and short stories are published internationally and have won a number of awards, including the Sara Douglass Book Series Award for the Blackthorn & Grim series. Juliet’s lifelong love of mythology and folklore is a major influence on her writing. She also loves strong, complex characters. Her current series, Warrior Bards, was referred to by a reviewer as ‘MI6 in early medieval Ireland.’ When not writing, Juliet is kept busy by a small crew of rescue dogs.
1. Tell us about your recent publications/projects.
My current series is Warrior Bards, of which the first book, The Harp of Kings, is shortlisted for the Aurealis Awards this year. It’s an adult historical fantasy series, stand-alone but with a link to the Blackthorn & Grim books, and is a good crossover for older YA readers. I was a musician before I was a writer, and it was great to combine my love of early music with a story of trainee warriors and spies – who better to pick up secrets at a royal court than a hired musician? Who better to make contact with the Fair Folk than a bard? The second in this series, A Dance with Fate, will be out on August 1 from Pan Macmillan, with a US edition from Penguin Random House a month later. I also have a short fairy tale collection coming out in November from Serenity Press. It’s called Mother Thorn and will be illustrated by the wonderful Kathleen Jennings. I had a lot of fun with the fairy tales, which headed off in their own directions. For instance, in my version of The Tinder Box (soldier, witch, dogs, underground treasure trove) I decided to explore how the story might change if the soldier was female. My version of The Princess and the Pea includes lots of cooking, and a pea that speaks in rhyming couplets. I’m currently working on the third book of Warrior Bards.
2. What has been the best publishing experience of your career so far?
That’s so hard to answer. Hearing that Pan Macmillan wanted to publish my first series was pretty exciting – I was in a stressful public service job at the time and they called me at work to make the offer. I managed not to jump up and down squealing in front of my fellow workers, but only just! Top equal with that would be getting a US offer a few years later that allowed me to quit the public service and write full time. But really, the most rewarding thing about being a writer is positive feedback from readers. When people say they’ve been helped by the books in some way, or that my work has inspired their own creative efforts, that makes me feel I’m doing my job well. If awards count as a publishing experience, I’d add winning the Sara Douglass Award for the Blackthorn & Grim series to this list. That was pretty special.
3. What recent Australian/NZ work would you recommend to international fans interested in expanding their antipodean spec fic knowledge?
I have a fantastic recommendation: Snow, a YA fantasy by New Zealand author Gina Inverarity, published in a beautiful edition by Wakefield Press earlier this year. Snow combines dark fairy tale elements with a stunning post-climate change story. Beautifully written, utterly compelling, quite dark. I’m recommending it to everyone.