As I mentioned yesterday, I first got to know Mary through Tales for Canterbury. A little known fact is that she actually wrote TWO stories! After submitting the first, she started working on a second – ultimately that one was a better fit for the anthology, and was the one that appeared (Daughter of the Khan).
From an editor’s point of view, I was impressed with Mary. She worked hard at getting her stories in, and then went on to tweak it until it was just right. She’s the kind of person who works until she is sure it’s the best she can possibly get it, and I really admire that quality in writers.
From a personal point of view, I discovered not only a dedicated author, but also a lovely person. She always responded to emails quickly, she was super friendly and just so great to work with.
For me, the only thing more exciting than finding a new author whose work you love, is finding an author who you also admire as a person. I definitely found that in Mary. She kindly answered a few questions for me this week, so I’ll shut up now and get on with that
The world in Tymon’s Flight is quite amazing. So completely different from anything I’ve ever read before. Where did you get the idea for an entire world based on a gigantic tree?
As the story goes, my husband woke up one morning saying he’d dreamed of floating cities in the sky. I said, ‘Well, that’s an interesting basis for a fantasy world.’ But the more I thought about those floating cities, the more I saw roots and branches growing between them, connecting them. And eventually I realised the whole thing was set in one big tree – so big that it resembled a continent or mountain range, rather than a single plant.
I’m going to be reading the second novel in the series shortly. I’m curious, did you know it would result in a series when you first had the idea? Or is that something that occurred to you while writing Tymon’s Flight?
The books were always going to be a series, a trilogy. Really this is a single story spread over three books. Each volume has an arc and a natural stopping point, but you have to read all three to get the full picture. What starts off as a fairly straightforward adventure/coming of age story turns into something quite different by the end! So yes – I always had that overall theory. I just didn’t know how exactly I was going to get there, which is part of the joy of writing in the first place – discovering the story the characters wish to tell.
The third book, Oracle’s Fire, is coming out in the near future. What’s next for you? Will we see more novels set in this world, or are you working on something else?
I’m already working on a new project. Yes, it’s set in a different universe entirely. And nothing will induce me to tell you more at this point!
As this week is all about New Zealand, and Spec-Fic – what would you say are of the positives and negatives of being a writer in New Zealand?
Positives include a rich local culture and landscape on which to draw for inspiration, and a pretty darned fabulous community of fellow writers. Seriously: I have had nothing but support and real practical help from other NZ authors (maybe we’re nice to each other because everyone knows where the other guy lives, heh heh.)
Negatives are simply to do with being far away from other English-speaking countries: it’s hard to launch a book tour outside NZ.
What is one piece of advice for newer writers in NZ that you would offer up?
Don’t give up. People will tell you nonsense like: ‘the book is dead’, ‘you can’t make a living as an author unless you write urban fantasy/self help books/celebrity memoirs’, and so on. Stick to your guns. Write what you love. Write what you love even if you’re eating Spam and crackers and working two day jobs. Find an agent if you can. Publish, then write some more. Don’t stop. It’s worth it.
Fantastic advice! Thank you so much for sharing with us, Mary. I’ll look forward to reading the rest of this trilogy, and whatever else you put out in the future