Alison Croggon is an award-winning writer, editor and critic who lives in Melbourne. Her work includes novels, poetry, creative non-fiction and plays. Her best selling epic fantasy quintet The Books of Pellinor was published internationally in the 1990s, followed by The River and the Book, Black Spring and The Threads of Magic. She is currently working on the post-collapse cyberpunk series Newport City series with her playwright husband Daniel Keene, a play for the feminist theatre company The Rabble and another middle grade fantasy, The Spell that Worked.
1. Tell us about your recent publications/projects?
I’ve got a couple of books out this year. My first middle grade fantasy, The Threads of Magic, came out in the UK and Australia/NZ in March this year. Excellent timing – I literally came home from a schools tour and went into lockdown! and due out in the US with Candlewick Books in August.
This book has been a very long time coming: from go to whoah it’s probably about 10 years (although obviously I wasn’t working on it the whole time). It’s an adventure story which features a pickpocket, a princess who doesn’t want to be a princess, witches leading a revolution and some truly excellent villains.
I’m also imminently releasing Pinkers, Book 2 in Newport City (August 2020), a queer cyberpunk post-collapse series I’m co-writing with my husband Daniel Keene. I’m really excited about this one and we’ve loved writing it. Pinkers is the sequel to Fleshers, which came out in 2018 – it was supposed to be out last year, but then 2019 happened (2019 was a pretty tough year plus I was working on four books). We finished the first draft ages ago and coming to back to edit it has been disconcerting, because in just a year it seems to have become a lot more real! But maybe that’s what happens when you write dystopia in times like these.
2. What has been the best publishing experience of your career so far?
I’ve had a lot of great experiences. Maybe the nicest was working with Walker and Candlewick Books on my Books of Pellinor series, because they were so great to work with – the first British edition had brilliant covers (the current covers are still based on those) and the designer and I collaborated on those. Not that I had anything to do with the design, I have no visual imagination whatsoever, but he was constantly writing to consult me on his designs. In the end I asked him to design the letters of an alphabet that is central to the book’s plot, and he did!
Otherwise, self publishing has been hugely, hugely satisfying. I’ve put out a book of poetry and plays, basically because most of my poetry books are out of print. I didn’t want to go through the whole process of dealing with publishers and also wanted them in print. Putting 40 years of work together exactly the way I wanted was a really brilliant experience. ,We’re also self-publishing Newport City. There’s something about overseeing the whole process of a book from writing to page design to publication that makes holding the actual book so very, very wonderful.
3. Which recent Australian/NZ work would you recommend to international fans interested in expanding their Antipodean spec fic knowledge?
There are so many! I highly recommend Jane Rawson’s strange, unsettling From the Wreck, which is basically sui generis, a fabulous book, and Alison Evans Euphoria Kids, which is just beautiful.