2020 Snapshot: Ian Irvine

Ian Irvine has written 34 novels in various genres including epic fantasy, eco-thrillers set in a world undergoing catastrophic climate change, YA fantasy and humorous fantasy for children. He has also written extensively on writing, publishing and the craft of storytelling. Ian’s Three Worlds epic fantasy sequence has been published in many languages and has sold over a million copies. The first chapters of all his books and longer stories are on his website, http://www.ian-irvine.com. Contact Ian on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ianirvine.author

Ian has a Ph. D. in marine science and has worked in this field all his adult life. He is an expert in the environmental management of contaminated sediments, a global problem, and has written or contributed to more than 400 scientific reports and papers in his field.

  1. Tell us about your recent publications/projects?

I’ve been very busy over the past few years with my scientific work and haven’t done as much writing as I planned. And we live in the country, in the mountains of northern NSW, which meant that the bushfires of last spring and summer were a constant distraction. However I’ve recently finished The Perilous Tower and The Sapphire Portal, the final two books of my epic fantasy quartet, The Gates of Good & Evil, and this completes the 3.5 million word Three Worlds sequence that I began way back in 1987. This was an enormous juggling act, because my writing style has changed so dramatically over the intervening 33 years, however I’m modestly pleased with the way the story has ended up.

Over the past 7 years I’ve progressively taken back the rights to my out-of-print books and republished them myself in ebook, ebook box set, paperback and, for my biggest selling books, hardcover editions as well. This has been a massive and time-consuming operation, and expensive too, since in most cases I’ve had to have new covers done, but it’s been well worth it in terms of sales.

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

Most of my publishing experiences have been good ones, in different kinds of ways. I sold my first quartet to Penguin Australia in 1996 and it was a wonderful experience working with them. They gave me a great editor, Kay Ronai, and published the series to immediate success. Penguin also worked really hard to sell the series internationally and this resulted in many deals including the UK and Russia, where it sold brilliantly, and the US, Germany and other countries, where sales were less good. My UK publisher, Orbit, was also fantastic and all 16 of my books with them are still in print. Of course, sales these days aren’t anything like what they used to be, but … nothing lasts forever.

My books in genres other than epic fantasy haven’t been big sellers but the experience has been good. Simon & Schuster liked my eco-thriller trilogy, Human Rites, enough to do a revised and updated edition 5 years later, and it was great working with them. I think these are by far my most important books. I also did 8 books for kids with Scholastic, who were lovely to work with, and provided wonderful cover art/illustrators (DM Cornish for The Sorcerer’s Tower quartet and Martin McKenna for the Grim and Grimmer quartet). Their work was perfect for my books.

There have been a few downers over the years, of course, but I have to say my experience with publishers has been overwhelmingly positive. I’ve been very fortunate.

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

I don’t read much speculative fiction any more because I find it increasingly hard to read in the genres I write in, so my reading is mostly general fiction, thrillers and crime. However I’m currently reading Max Barry’s latest, Providence, and loving it. It’s a great adventure and he always has a new way of looking at things.


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