2020 Snapshot: Isobelle Carmody

Isobelle Carmody is a well known Australian author who has written many novels and short stories for children and adults and has a host of award winning novels to her credit. She began the first of her highly acclaimed Obernewtyn Chronicles while she was still at high school and worked on it while completing a Bachelor of Arts and then a journalism cadetship. Obernewtyn was accepted by the first publisher she sent it to and went on to be shortlisted in the “Older Readers” section of the CBC Book of the Year Award. The series and her short stories have established her at the forefront of fantasy writing in Australia and many of her works have been published overseas. Her most recent book is The Ice Maze.

After living in Europe for more than a decade, Isobelle now divides her time in Australia between her home on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, and Brisbane. She would go overseas again, if she could.

Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/user?u=18489457Website: www.isobellecarmody.net/

Blog: http://theslipstream.com.au/

1. Tell us about your recent publications /projects.

I have most recently submitted my PhD dissertation. This was a creative PhD, which involves the writing of a creative work and of an associated exegetical essay. The creative work is the larger portion of the dissertation and the essay is connected to it. In my case, the novel uses a technique for which I have appropriated the nautical/genre neologism slipstream. In essence, slipstream pertains to luminal energy, and I have used it to describe a technique which engages both realism and the fantastic as writerly modes, in such a way as to engage he energy between them. he essay talks about the technique and he novel demonstrates its potency in engaging profound real world questions. In the case of my novel, it is driven by questions about death as a fact and yet also a mystery we can never actually experience because death is the end of cognition. The PhD took seven years to reach the point of submission. In that time I also wrote and illustrated The Ice Maze, which is published, and The Velvet City, which was meant to be published this month, but has been postponed to July next year. I also wrote a 700 page novel called Comes The Night, which is with Allen and Unwin awaiting editing. That is my next project. I also have three short stories to write for three different collections. Once these works in progress are on their way, I will turn my hand to Matthew’s story, which is an Obernewtyn story, and Darkbane, which concludes the Legendsong series.

2. What has even the best publishing experience of your career so far.

There have been a lot of high points but the most recent is something I heard only today on Zoom. A novel of mine, which was optioned by a screen writer, who subsequently received Screen Australia development funding has successfully pitched it to a big Canadian production house, and the pilot is about to be written. I have had a lot of projects optioned and funded, but this is the first to have reached this stage. I wish I could say more, but the contracts are yet to be signed. Other than this, I think winning book of he year both times, were game changing moments. Without doubt, the most stressful and wonderful publication event was of The Red Queen – which I also incidentally wrote while doing my PhD. It was simultaneously stressful and wonderful because I loved the story, but I felt it needed editing and no one was going to allow that. It ended up being edited dramatically for the paperback edition, eve though I knew that perhaps many people would not get to it. If I could wish anything, I would wish that people who read the trade paperback version, would go back and read the paperback version. Or listen to the Belinda audio book version, which I recorded from the edited version.

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

I liked After Australia, edited by Michael Mohammed Ahmad which has some interesting reframing stories by Indigenous writers and writers of colour in Australia. Not all are spec fic. I also liked Omar Sakr’s White Flu, which us set in a pandemic setting though written before COVID. I liked A Wrong Turn at the Office of Unmade Lists which I was drawn to by its marvellous title. I have loved James Bradley’s writing and also Cat Sparks Lotus Blue. I also love Trent Jamison’s Death Works series, and Rob Hood’s Fragments of a Broken Land though that was a while back. I LOVED Paul Mannering’s Engines of Empathy. I love Kaaron Warren’s writing though it scares the hell out of me – actually anything from IFWG and Gerry Huntman is worth a look. Oh and Shaun Tan. I adore his work!


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