Watch out for the give-away question at the end of the interview.
Q: The Undivided is the first book of your new series, Rift Runners. Can you tell us a little about this series?
It’s set across alternate realities and involves psychically linked twins separated went there were toddlers. One world is similar to ours, the other is a world where magic permeates everything and the druids rule the world.
I am having an illegal amount of fun writing it.
Q: I see Voyager, Harper Collins are releasing your Second Sons series with new covers. This must be exciting. Did you have any say in the covers?
I had quite a bit of say, actually. I’m very pleased with the result.
Q: When I look at the volume of work you’ve produced in the fantasy genre, (as well as the Rift Runners and the Second Sons series, there is the Demon Child, the Tide Lords and the Hythrun Chronicles), I’m impressed by your productivity. Do you find yourself exploring similar themes in the different series, or do you explore completely new concepts?
I like to explore new themes with every series. Some lend themselves better than others to particular themes, so that sometimes influences the type of world I build.
Q: I remember when we were doing our Masters together you were saying that if someone is immortal, then they are immortal and they can’t die, otherwise they aren’t immortal. You had one character who was an Immortal Virgin, (her hymen kept growing back). LOL. Are you ever tempted to write satire?
To be fair, it was Valerie Parv who suggested that, and I thought it was an awesome complication so I ran with it. I’d love to write satire, but I fear I wouldn’t do it well enough to warrant it. There are much better satirists out there than me. I believe I am descended from an Irish satirist, however, who was executed in the 18th century for saying rude things about the English.
Q: I see your best selling fantasy books have been shortlisted for the Aurealis Awards, the David Gemmell Legends of Fantasy Award and the Romantic Times Best Fantasy award. That must have been a real buzz. Do you think these awards help bring your books to the attention of new readers?
Here’s my thing about awards – who won the World Fantasy Award last year? The Aurealis in 2005? I bet you can’t say.
Do I think they’re useful? Maybe. They are certainly a boost to the ego, but in my experience, getting your books in the shops in large displays by the door is more useful than an award, when it comes to expanding your reading base, unless winning the award makes the booksellers buy more of them, and put the large display bin out the front.
Q: You also write for Stargate. Does this mean you are a dedicated Stargate Fan? I’m sure people would be interested to hear how you started writing for Stargate and a little about the process.
To be fair, I co-wrote one tie-in novel. I’m not sure if I can claim the moniker “writes for Stargate”. I am a fan, which was why I was asked, and the process involved my co-author sending me the manuscript, me changing all the things I didn’t like, adding the snappy dialogue, and it going back and her changing the changes I made. I believe most of the snappy dialogue survived.
I was an interesting project, though and I have now written a Zorro story for Moonstone, too, which was fun. I do find tie-ins to be quite limiting, because you are playing in someone else’s sand pit and you can’t always build the sandcastles you’d like.
Q: In the last couple of years you’ve moved to New Zealand’s South Island and renovated the historic Reynox House, which you’ve established as a residential writers’ retreat. (Honestly, running away to write sounds heavenly to me). Is this a dream you’ve always had, to run a writers’ retreat?
I’m not sure I’ve always had it, but certainly for the past few years I’ve wanted to do it. It has all come to a grinding halt at present because of the Christchurch earthquakes. The house sustained some damage in the first quake and the repair bills have been quoted as ranging from $375K to $3m. We are currently at the mercy of insurance assessors and quantity surveyors. Last I heard we were 65th on the insurance company’s priority list and it’s taking them months to settle each claim. Do the math…
Q: I see you have also started a mentorship program. How do you get the time to do all this?
I limit the number of mentorees so that I don’t have more than I can handle at any one time. Right now, because I am working to a very tight deadline, I don’t have any. I should be picking up the program again in a couple of months.
Q: I was prompted to start this series of interviews because there is a perception in the US and the UK that fantasy is a bit of a boy’s club. Do you think there’s a difference in the way males and females write fantasy?
To be honest, I’m not sure. I think female writers tend to be a little more character driven, but there are great male character-driven fantasies out there too. I think it’s up to the individual writers. Remember, there’s a large number of people out there who don’t realise Robin Hobb is a woman, so I guess, in many cases, if the reader doesn’t know the gender of the writer, they can’t necessarily pick it, so I’d have to so no.
Q: Following on from that, does the gender of the writer change your expectations when you pick up their book?
Not at all.
Q: And here’s the fun question. If you could book a trip on a time machine, where and when would you go, and why?
I’d go to the past, just before I was first published and change my name from Jennifer Fallon to John Fallon. Then all the boys out there who assume that all female fantasy writers write soppy romance fantasies would pick up my books and read them and I’d be much, much richer.
Jennifer will give-away a copy of her new book Undivided. Here’s the question: One of Jen’s series revovles around a number of immortals. How would you kill an immortal?