Wednesday, March 23, 2011

For Percy Bysshe Shelley

Instinctively, I loved the nature poets at high school, which are sometimes called the romantic poets -- Shelley, Wordsworth, Byron, Keats, Blake, Colleridge and probably a few more.

Here is my favourite Shelley poem: The Witch of Atlas, which forms a semi-metaphysical and derivative basis for ANIMAIA, the novel. And here is my favourite stanza:

"And first the spotted cameleopard came,
And then the wise and fearless elephant;
Then the sly serpent, in the golden flame
Of his own volumes intervolved; -- all gaunt
And sanguine beasts her gentle looks made tame.
They drank before her at her sacred fount;
And every beast of beating heart grew bold,
Such gentleness and power even to behold

Shelley was a vegetarian and probably a pantheist. This was, no doubt, a salute to the natural world.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Where are All the Male, Young Adult Fantasy Writers?

It's obvious: JK Rowling started it with Harry Potter, and Stephenie Meyer and Suzanne Collins kept the tradition of female writers doing young adult fantasy blockbusters going with Twilight and Hunger Games.

And now there are a dozen or so young adult fantasy books lined up ready to carry on  the tradition . . . and most of the authors are women. Yes, I know, there's Garth Nix (Abhorsen trilogy), Philip Pullman (His Dark Materials series), Christopher Paolini (Eragon), Orson Scott Card (Ender's Game), John Marsden (Tomorrow, When the War Began) and quite a few more including Shusterman and Westerfeld. Several of these books are somewhat old of course.

But when you look at the really big contemporary sellers, and those proposed for release, women authors seem to be kicking arse, or even ass!

It used to be that the male protagonist was the big seller, and that girls would read books with a male lead but boys wouldn't read books with a female hero. At least that's what the publishers said. But that seems to have changed with Lyra and Katniss at least, and no doubt many more strong female leads. Or are teenage girls reading more than teenage boys? Is it a simple as that? Perhaps young women authors easier to promote for publishers?

I should rejoice in James Dashner's Maze Runner I guess.

Friday, March 18, 2011

How to Deal With Cultural Differences in Manuscripts

As an Australian about to submit a novel to and Smashwords, and in the context of a fantasy, sci-fi realm that does not necessarily match any particular country or culture, deciding how to deal with language, idiom, spelling and other complexities of culture is not a trivial thing.

Now it's generally recognised that JK Rowling made an error, or at least was not in a position to make judgement about Scholastic changing the name of The Philosopher's Stone to The Sorcerer's Stone in the US to placate US readers. They made quite a few changes to cultural references in the text as well.

I asked successful Australian author, Vicki Tyley, and she was able to provide me with a few pointers. Okay, if you are writing about Australia and the setting is Australia or the UK or Europe for that matter, you would be mad to change too much because readers often expect the entertainment of exploring different cultures and ways of living. Changing spelling between UK and US English is pretty much a toss up in my view, unless some really obscure reference needs description.

In my case, the cultural reference point is more or less neutral, so I'm still considering the best way to go. I don't think I'll change too much.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Getting Ready for Publication

A few more readings, proofs, edits, external edits and reads, cover evaluation and fine adjustments before publication.

ANIMAIA (anim-eye-a) is 101,000 words and stands alone -- which means it has a great ending yet with hints of more to come in subsequent books in the series.

By the way, the fine art gorilla pic on the cover is from gifted wildlife artist and photographer Charles Alexander at

I haven't submitted to one agent yet. I'll think about that later.