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Over the labour day long weekend, I attended Conflux SF Convention. It was a local SF convention with a nice, cozy crowd. On the Saturday morning, I was being the timelord for the pitching sessions. This means I wrangled the editors taking pitches and the authors pitching novels. It was a really good space to be in. Full of hope and anticipation on both sides. It also stopped me being nervous about my launch.

Just after that was my scheduled book launch for Shatterwing. Shatterwing is a dark, epic fantasy, set on a post-apocalyptic world where mankind is at its lowest ebb. It has dragons, but maybe the humans are the worst kind of beast on this world.

In the lead up I wasn’t sure I was going to get books. But they arrived on Friday. I was so excited I couldn’t sit still. Yes, I almost wet myself. A guy I work with helped carry the boxes up to my office and then he bought the first copy. I liken it to receiving my first degree. Something I’d never thought would happen to me and a great personal achievement. So publishing Shatterwing is up there with that.

I’ve had ebooks published before, and that was amazing. The launch for Rayessa and the Space Pirates was so much fun and real highlight in my life. Here is the picture of the UFO cake I made for that launch.

ufo cake 1

There are two things that make this launch extra special for me. This is Dragon Wine. The book I’ve been working on the longest, the book that I poured a lot of myself into. It is special to me.  Don’t get me wrong, I love all my stories and the characters, but this has my blood, sweat and tears in it. The other thing is that this has a print copy! Like wow! I can hold this, wave it about and I can see it. This is useful when you know a lot of people who don’t read ebooks, don’t get ebooks and don’t really think you have published anything.

Me with the first copies of Shatterwing

Me with the first copies of Shatterwing

So even though I didn’t think there would be books, I wanted to have the launch anyway to celebrate with my spec fic buddies, because well why the hell not. As it turned out there were books. Thank you to my publisher Momentum Books. They look lovely btw.

In a previous post I talked about the launch shoes. I didn’t quite organise the dress so I wore this lovely retro dress.

Launch shoes from the UK (Irregular Choices)

Launch shoes from the UK (Irregular Choices)

Me in my dress and shoes

Me in my dress and shoes

I stole Keri Arthur’s shoe mojo when I got those. I was also inspired to buy them by Nik Vincent in Maidstone, Kent. The dress is my own kind of weakness. The swing style hides a lot of flaws.

The launch was heating up. The books were on display. The drinks were arriving. My son, Taamati and my daughter Shireen (Beans) came along. Beans isn’t in the photo as she looked liked she’d been a the gym. My friend Deb Kelly came down from Queensland to be at the launch. Waves to Deb. That was an amazing thing for her to do. Thank you so much Deb.

Taamati and me

Taamati and me

The wonderful Cat Sparks agreed to launch the book for me and good buddie Nicole Murphy was the MC and my lovely partner manned the receipt book.

Nicole, dragon, me and Cat (photo by Robert Hood)

Nicole, dragon, me and Cat (photo by Robert Hood)

Cat just happened to have this amazing dragon at her house, which matched the colours of Plu in the book. Here is a shot with Cat and her dragon. It is beautiful and enormous and I have envy.

Cat Sparks and her dragon

Cat Sparks and her dragon

 

 

Cat launched the book, highlighting some of the world building elements and stuff about me. She gave people a warning about the darkness in it. Nicole made me read while people got their drinks and pizza.

Me signing Shatterwing (photo by Cat Sparks)

Me signing Shatterwing (photo by Cat Sparks)

 

Then came the signing. People bought books and I signed them. People who I knew and some of whom I didn’t and that was very touching. Thank you all for coming and celebrating with me.

Me reading a scene from Shatterwing (photo by Cat Sparks)

Me reading a scene from Shatterwing (photo by Cat Sparks)

Nicole chose a scene for me to read because I hadn’t prepared anything and I couldn’t decide in case it was a spoiler. A bit pathetic of me I know.

Donna-dragonAnd to finish a shot of me signing again. A great photo by Cat Sparks. I am very grateful to Cat for reading and launching Shatterwing. I know she is very busy with her PhD and writing so I appreciate it, heaps. Many thanks to  Nicole Murphy for MCing and being a great support. Hugs to Russell and Kylie for making the launch. And Keri Arthur and Tracey O’Hara! Thank you to my Canberra Speculative  Fiction Guild buddies. Thank you to those of you who attended who were too many to name. I really am humbled by your support.

Donna Maree Hanson (photo Cat Sparks)

Donna Maree Hanson (photo Cat Sparks)

One of the topics I thought was interesting was the types of characters one sees in fantasy and science fiction, that is that they are mostly white. While I’ve not read ‘all the fantasy’ out there, there are a number that I’ve read that do. Some exceptions to this are NK Jemison and Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin among others. My Dragon Wine series features people of mixed race. This is because it’s a post apocalyptic world and because of the destruction people intermarried to survive, so only a very few people would be all white or all black or Asian etc. My main protagonist Salinda is brown skinned and of mixed race. I didn’t consciously try to make my characters non-anglo it was just the result of the world setting.

Today I’ve invited Patty Jansen to the blog to talk about her use of non-anglo characters. Take it away Patty.

Patty Jansen

Patty Jansen

When Donna asked me to blog about what inspires me to use non-Anglo characters, my first thought was: do I need inspiration for that? They’re part of society, part of my life. They have pasts, and because I write SF, I’m interested in their futures. They’re people.

If we can say one thing about the future, it’s that it won’t be “more of the same” of what we have today. It has never been that way in all of humanity’s messy history. History is made up out of interwoven strands that sometimes don’t make sense until you understand the context.

Far too often, science fiction tells the author’s view of the future from a one-sided perspective, usually American, white and male. In my fiction, I strive to make it less monolithic. There are many segments of society whose histories deserve to be pondered on, extrapolated and told.

The majority of people in the world are non-Anglo. I use them in my fiction in hopefully the same way they are used in Harry Potter. For example, nowhere in all of the seven Harry Potter books is it mentioned out loud that the Patel twin sisters are Indian. Of course you can see that they’re Indian. Their name gives it away. So why point at it when it’s not a plot point, as if saying “Hey, LOOK! I’m using a non-Anglo character!!” That sort of pointing out, when done to any minority character, just annoys the crap out of me. As if minority characters are only allowed in a book when they’re a plot point. What rubbish.

Non-Anglo characters play an important role especially in my ISF-Allion interlinked series of novellas and novels. In this world, the future goes like this:

When various problems (disaster, wars, lack of money) forces western countries to scale down the space program, a group of normally disenfranchised people picks up the ball and runs with it: a conglomerate of applied sciences students who study in western countries, but who come from the poorest and most repressive/repressed countries and societies in the world. This group would never have gotten off the ground without two people: the brains and drive of Fatima “Ally” Al Alamein and the financial backing of heiress Marion Gluck. The company they form is Allion Aerospace, the name a combination of their names. They are the first to put a person on Mars. That person is Chandra Lee, a woman, half Indian, half Chinese, not a drop of western blood in sight. The company with a 90% female workforce operates on a shoestring budget (relatively speaking) and makes huge strides because it attracts smart people for whom even the risk of dying in a Mars mission is better than their current lack of opportunities. Within a short time span, Allion has a huge work force, space bases and some ingenious hardware.

Meanwhile the western countries and their International Space Force are forced to do a huge catch-up mission. Their mantra is big and cumbersome, and when they can’t find enough people to crew their huge space stations, they resort to “resettling” people from the poorest, dilapidated cities in the world at that time. They are the people from low-lying areas (Jakarta, Bangladesh) and victims of desertification in India/Pakistan and Africa. Parts of the world that, even today, white men in power do not care about. Here we have colonial behaviour all over again.

These two groups of non-Anglo characters end up on opposite sides of the spectrum. The Allion women, mostly Africans, Indians, Chinese and Arabs and their high-controlled, high-tech environment, versus the raw hardship of the displaced mining workers. While the ISF methods sound akin to slavery, Allion has some very “interesting” ideas (not in a good way) about what constitutes a human being and also about free choice and privacy. There are no angels in this world.

Shifting Reality is a novel that takes place on a giant space station at Epsilon Eridani, amongst second and third generation forced migrants from the slums of Jakarta. Seventy years after their forced departure from Indonesia, they’re no longer Indonesian, but they’ve morphed into something else through circumstance and the tyranny of distance.

I did a lot of reading to construct this society. It is not faithfully cultural and was never intended to be. But there are plenty of weird, quirky and mostly just plain different customs that have morphed into a multi-pronged, diverse Indonesian-based cultural melting pot. There are the political groups, the gossipy block associations where ground-level politics happens between men who want power and old women who hold said power, there are the gay and transvestite bars, there are the religious hypertechs, where men and women both wear face veils, who abstain from “pleasure” and who are a fertile breeding ground for unusual technological, uhm, solutions, including hacking, spyware and other illegal stuff. While the cliché has us see Indonesians visit temples, Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in the world, and my characters adhere to the Indonesian brand of Islam which is fairly relaxed and has a good deal of traditional stuff thrown in. Did you know that the spread of Islam to Indonesia dates back to the 1400s?

I wanted to construct a possible future culture that was not based on western ideology and western values. Because often when writers use non-Anglo characters, they still operate in an Anglo cultural framework. I’d encourage other writers to think beyond their borders. Not only is not every person who matters in the world Anglo, not all cultures aspire to be Anglo either.

Patty Jansen is an author of 15 novels and numerous short works of science fiction and fantasy. Find out more about Patty’s fiction here. Find out more about the novel Shifting Reality here. Patty is also on twitter and Facebook and talks about writing, photography and other random things on her blog Must Use Bigger Elephants.

ShiftingRealityprint

 

Publication news

Just  a quick post. I’ll blog the launch later and stacks of other stuff. (BTW the book looks so lovely! Momentum Books have done an amazing job. So pleased!)

Skywatcher is out now! Both books are available in print. You can order them online or ask your bookshop.

Meanwhile the ebook of Shatterwing is free for a short time on all platforms. It has two five star reviews so far!

Cover of Skywatcher

Cover of Skywatcher

More over the weekend. I have to go to my day job now.

A quickie post

I’m still settling in after the jetlag. Still in transition from being on holiday in lovely historic Britain to being at home again in Dweebenhiem in Canberra.

Here is a shot of Dweebenhiem with peach blossoms! I hadn’t seen those before as we saw the house in late Spring before we bought it.

Dweebenhiem in Spring

Dweebenhiem in Spring

Yesterday it was a fab Sunday roast with friends and some family. I even did stuffing to go with the pork. I’m still trying to hang onto the threads of my trip.

Last night I had the grandchildren over. They’ve just left actually and peace has descended. Tomorrow I go back to work. Mind you I’m not sure how I’m going to get there as Action Buses took my express bus away. No more 788 or 785. I’ll just have to transition to the more convenient but expensive car and leave the inconvenient but cheap public transport along. Mind you before the bus timetable was imposed it was convenient and cheap. Thank you ACT Government! Not!

As I’ll be back at work I won’t be able to do much promotion and writing time will be these treasured moments when time, inspiration and energy levels combine. I’m entering a busy reporting stage of my project that should keep me stressed out until Christmas and maybe beyond. Then again maybe it won’t be that way.

As I may not have books for my launch on Saturday 12.30 at Conflux SF Convention, I’m getting these postcards printed. Provided they make it in time. They will have a discount code for the ebook, which will be fab.I’ll also be on a couple of panels at the convention.

. Along with the fabulous launch speaker Cat Sparks and awesome MC Nicole Murphy. The wonderful Matthew Farrer will be doing the book selling (or preorders).  So for the launch reading there will be just me, raw, everyday me. I was going to say naked me, but not your your life! I’ll be wearing my special launch shoes. I haven’t thought about a dress yet. And I may not do a reading but I’ll need to work that out pretty soon won’t I? I mean there will be people and everything like that.

So the postcard!

Dragon Wine Series Book 1 and 2

Dragon Wine Series Book 1 and 2

Then the special launch shoes! (this is my excuse for buying a third pair of shoes in that store on that day in Maidstone, Kent).

Launch Shoes

Launch Shoes

Everyone needs special shoes on a special day. Now I just have to find something to wear.

Wish me luck. I may have real life print books sometime soon. But the ebook is awesome. Did I mention it had maps? I’ll do another post on the Donna and the map drama later. Why waste a good blog topic? Also, I’m still working on the Four writers on a canal boat for a week post. It’s complicated.

Blogging lag

Hi there

Well I am back from the UK and I have jetlag. It’s getting better day by day but it means I’ve been a bit slack about blogging. I have some trip blogs to do and I’m organising a blog tour for October to spread the word about Shatterwing.

Meanwhile if you haven’t seen them, there are a couple more reviews out. One amazing one by Tsana, who really delved deeply into the story and picked up on some interesting points. She also applied the label grim-dark. I’d not really thought of it as such but I guess it is in that it’s brutal, a bit realistic (gritty)  in places and with just a hint of optimism.

That review is here.

Then there was one by Liz Murphy here.

There are others on Goodreads. I appreciate the reviews and comments.

Skywatcher will be out on October 9 and I think that will balance Shatterwing nicely, but then I’d say that because I’m biased and I know what happens.

Now a random photo from the trip because…I have lots.

Scotney Castle

Scotney Castle

I’ve been to the UK four times. To Spain once and to Italy twice for long visits. I had never visited France so this time around we took some time out to catch the Eurostar and head to Paris for three days. We travelled with the fabulous Cat Sparks and Rob Hood, our buddies from Wollongong.

To tell the truth I was worried about going under the English Chanel in a train, in a tunnel but I had been told it would be a good experience and of course, Paris!

So we were on the train (lugging great loads luggage Ugh!) and I was doing edits still and I looked up and said this must be Dover and we’ll be in the tunnel soon. He said I think we are already in France. So we looked out the window and after a while I realised he was right. We’d been through the tunnel and I didn’t even notice.

We nearly got conned at the station by these guys saying ‘want a taxi?’ only to be led to a private car offering to take us at 3-4 times the going taxi rate. Cat said no way and we were in the taxi cue. An American lady came over and said. Some guy wants to charge me 120 Euro to take me to my hotel. Does that sound right? We told her she was being scammed and she joined the taxi queue.

Our hotel was in the Saint Germain De Pres area, the Millesime hotel was lovely and quaint and we loved it so much and so reasonably priced for a very swish part of Paris. We went walking about. Notre Dame, the Seine and just the buildings were all so lovely. I had tried to learn some French from an app on my phone but I’d been too busy with edits to really study hard. I’m also shy with languages so oops! But we got on okay without the French and people were lovely and polite.

Notre Dame, Paris

Notre Dame, Paris

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

 

Sign along the Seine

Sign along the Seine

Black canal boat Seine, Paris

Black canal boat Seine, Paris

Travelling with a bunch of writers (and geeks) is great. We thought this black canal boat was a supervillan lair.

Cat managed to book us tickets to a concert of Vivaldi music at Saint Chapelle, a amazingly beautiful church. We had front row seats. We also shopped, got lost, tried the metro, the tourist boat thing up and down the river, the museum Art De Metier (and the steampunk themed metro station), the modern art museum of Pompadou and the Arc de Triomphe. We crammed a lot in, including marcons in those three nights and two days. I’d love to go back to Paris and France.

Arc de Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe

Inside Saint Chapelle, Paris

Inside Saint Chapelle, Paris

Cello player playing Vivaldi

Cello player playing Vivaldi

The concert

The concert

Art de Metiers metromstation

Art de Metiers metro station

Matthew on the steam punk station

Matthew on the steam punk station

astrolabe

astrolabe

Steam powered airplane

Steam powered airplane

1895 typewriter, Art de Métier

1895 typewriter, Art de Métier

Pompadou, modern art museum

Pompadou, modern art museum

 

I managed to get pick pocketed in the metro and lost a credit card and drivers license withsome cash. But I coped with that and had made sure my stuff was split up. Luckily I had my phone in my hand because that would have killed me to lose that.

I took this lovely shot of Cat Sparks and Robert Hood, pity Matthew photobombed them.

Cat Sparks and Robert Hood, photo bombed by Matthew Farrer

Cat Sparks and Robert Hood, photo bombed by Matthew Farrer

 

And we were across the road for a Lauduree shop. We had cake but then was told via Twitter that this shop makes the world’s best macrons so we bought a supply to take on the canal boat.

Cake from Lauderee

Cake from Lauderee

One mustn’t forget the two tiered carousel in front of the Eiffel Tower.

Two storey carousel

Two storey carousel

Or some shots from inside the Notre Dame, because no flash it was hard to take piccies.

Stained glass window, Notre Dame

Stained glass window, Notre Dame

Death taking Jesus, Notre Dame

Death taking Jesus, Notre Dame

And this post is a bit short really when you consider what an excellent time we had. I’d be going back to Paris one day and maybe explore further. The world is such a big place and I feel eager to know it all, to see it all, but that’s a bit like reading books isn’t it? There are too many books to read in one life time. I’ll have to make sure I come back again.

View across the Seine to the Notre Dame

View across the Seine to the Notre Dame

Next travel post will be the canal boat trip.

I’ve been thinking through the notion raised in the first review of Shatterwing that an editor or copy editor made a mistake on  because it contains ‘sexual brutality’, that they somehow overlooked this, or that they failed to warn me in some way or that it should have been removed before publication.

I think there is a confusion here about what an editor and copy editor do. To my mind, editors assist in improving the content, the expression of the ideas but are not censors of content. I believe a commissioning editor exercises that role when they decide to commission a work or not or accept a work with a proviso…say I’ll take this if you change x & Y and or Z. They may do this for a variety of reasons. This was not the case. Shatterwing was acquired as a dark fantasy and it deals with some gritty and less than savoury aspects of the world setting.

The inclusion of any such content is entirely my decision. My name is on the cover after all.

I wrote Shatterwing (and Skywatcher) a long time ago, when some pretty nasty things were going on in the world. To some degree the content is me processing this through the narrative. When I was doing the copy edits I did stop, think and question. Some parts of the narrative are not comfortable to read and I may have deleted a line here or there voluntarily, but I didn’t change anything materially.

I have no issue with people liking or disliking this aspect of the work as that’s entirely a matter of taste. I am grateful that people are willing to review and discuss the books.

 

 

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