2020 Snapshot: Russell Kirkpatrick

Russell Kirkpatrick (born 1961, Christchurch, New Zealand) is a geography lecturer, cartographer and a novelist. He holds a PhD in geography from the University of Canterbury, and lectured at the University of Waikato in Hamilton until 2014. He is currently living and writing in Australia, and moonlights as a lecturer at the University of Canberra. He has worked on seven atlas projects, including the New Zealand Historical Atlas (1998), and authored the Contemporary Atlas of New Zealand (1999/2004). He also wrote and was photographer for a book about New Zealand waterfalls – Walk to Waterfalls (2011).

He has written two fantasy trilogies, Fire of Heaven and Husk. Across the Face of the World was the biggest selling debut fantasy in the United States in 2008. He won the Julius Vogel award in 2008, 2009 and 2010. His latest novel, Silent Sorrow, is to be published early in 2021. 

1. Tell us about your recent publications/projects?

2020 was supposed to see my decade-long fantasy passion project project finally published. I found a publisher willing to indulge my folly and was ready to launch it at Worldcon… but unfortunately that’s all been covided out. Looks like publication will be early next year. The book is called ’Silent Sorrow’ and it’s about the interaction between science and religion when confronted by a world-ending catastrophe. Is that relevant in this day and age? Probably, I don’t know. I have realised a long-held ambition to use maps as an integral part of the story. Decoding the maps reveals plot and character. You can read the book without them, but they make it richer. I’m extremely proud of this work, early feedback has been positive, and I’m looking forward to it finally getting into readers’ hands.

I’m also intermittently working on two other projects: a draft of a badly unbalanced YA SF novel which I need to bash into shape, and my goal of writing a work of historical fiction set in nineteenth century New Zealand, for which I’m still trying to develop the chops.

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

Without doubt it’s been the fellowship I’ve found in the Australian and New Zealand SF community. I’ve never come across such a wretched hive of scum and villainy, so of course it suited me perfectly. Thank you all.

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

Read Sam Hawke’s City of Lies and the upcoming sequel. Then read Catching Teller Crow by Ambelin and Ezekiel Kwaymullina, and everything by Glenda Larke and Kaaron Warren, then tell me how amazing Antipodean SFF is. I’m looking for a copy of Tamsyn Muir’s Gideon the Ninth and preparing to be wowed. There is so much wonderful work out there: having chaired the Fantasy panel for the Aurealis Awards a couple of times, I can testify to the depth and diversity of storytelling in this part of the world.

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