2020 Snapshot: Richard Harland

I’m living the dream, because it was always my deepest wish to write Spec Fic novels – except 25 years of writer’s block got in the way. I’ve been a uni lecturer, a folk muso and a poet (who once did a poetry reading at the Sydney Opera House). But I’ve finally arrived where I really wanted to be all along!

I’ve had 17 novels published in Australia by Allen & Unwin, Penguin, Pan Macmillan and Scholastic, spanning fantasy, horror and SF, for Adult, YA and Children readers. My most successful books have been in the steampunk sub-genre: Worldshaker and Liberator and Song of the Slums. Not my first books published internationally, but the first to come out under big international imprints – in US, UK, France, Germany and Brazil.

I’ve won 6 Aurealis Awards for novels and short stories, the prestigious Tam Tam Je Bouquine Award in France, and the A. Bertram Chandler Award for lifetime contribution to speculative fiction.

(My author website is at www.richardharland.net)

  1. Tell us about your recent publications/projects?

For me, that means projects not publications. I’m totally absorbed in the big project I’ve been working on for a few years now – too absorbed to think about anything smaller. So, no stories since my story in Dreaming in the Dark anthology (How long ago was that?), no YA novels, nothing recently published at all. The only thing I care about is my big multi-volume adult fantasy, which is way, way more ambitious than anything I’ve ever done before!

  1. What has been the best publishing or SF community experience of your career so far?

Best experience as a boost to the ego would be my book tour of the US promoting Worldshaker – getting whisked around in limousines, getting put up at the snazziest hotels – closest I’ll ever get to being a rock star! Also, after Worldshaker won a big French award the following year, getting flown to France with Aileen and provided with an apartment in the middle of Paris while doing signings and talks with fans at Montreuil Book Fair.

Best as in most satisfying – maybe that would be the time I did a day visit to a high school in Sydney, and one hour of the day was a session with students who’d all read the Ferren trilogy. Instead of the talk I expected to give, it turned into a brainstorming session of planning and plotting what could happen in further volumes of the Ferren story. Twenty plus genuinely creative minds all contributing, all throwing out ideas – it was a huge buzz! (Alas, that the story didn’t go on past the end of the trilogy …)

Best as in best community experience … I don’t know, so many great cons, so many great panels, so many great room parties! If I have to choose one experience, then maybe my favourite conclusion to a con maskoballo – doing the Time Warp (again)!

  1. Which recent Australian/NZ work would you recommend to international fans interested in expanding their Antipodean spec fic knowledge?

For an international fan wanting to know about Aussie/NZ SF, I’d say you couldn’t do better than start with the obvious mags and e-mags: Aurealis, Dimension 6, Andromeda Spaceways, Midnight Echo.  Always good, and often some brilliant stuff in there – plus you get to see where our Spec Fic is heading ahead of the curve! Some great recent anthos too; I especially liked War of the Worlds: Battlefield Australia. Also should mention Journeys and Capricorn.

For novels, I liked Jack Dann’s Shadows in the Stone, Michael Pryor’s Graveyard Shift in Ghost Town and Thoraiya Dyer’s Tides of the Titans. But proviso! – my reading’s really, really random these days, I’m sure there are other superb books I haven’t caught up on!


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