Interview – Rowena Cory Daniells
Featured this month on Draumr Kópa are ‘The King Rolen’s Kin Chronicles’, a series written by Rowena Cory Daniells and published by Solaris Books. An excellent opportunity to interview the author! Read on and meet the lovely Rowena, who has created wonderful worlds for us to lose ourselves in and has written characters that you can’t help but fall in love with. If you haven’t read any of her books yet, I strongly suggest you do, because I’m certain you’re going to enjoy them.
Welcome on Draumr Kópa!
Let’s start at the very beginning: what books made you fall in love with the SFF genre?
I loved this genre before I even knew there was such a thing as genre. As a child I was fascinated by any book, movie or TV show that included magic or aroused my sense of wonder.
Was the road to publication long/scary for you, or did it all go rather smoothly?
Publication is a rocky road… I started writing in my early twenties, wrote 10 books before I was twenty-five but I didn’t send them out because I figured I was too young and didn’t have the life experience to write anything worthwhile. (One of those books Price of Fame is published now and the original part of it only needed a few small tweaks).
Then I put the books away and had 6 children in ten years. When I came back to writing at 36, I sent out The Price of Fame and it made the long-short list for the Harper Collins $10,000 Fiction Price, so I felt more confident about my abilities. Just after that I sold my first children’s book off the slush pile. Then I sold my first fantasy trilogy without an agent. (Once I had the offer of publication I had no trouble getting an agent). After the third book of the trilogy was released the publisher closed down the line and didn’t offer me another contract even though book three had sold out. I spent almost 10 years ‘orphaned’ without a publisher, just writing because I loved it. Halfway through this time John Jarrold offered to represent me. He sold King Rolen’s Kin to Solaris.
The landscape of publishing has changed greatly in the last twenty years. Writers can self-publish and reach an audience but in some ways it is harder to get noticed because there are so many books out there and so many authors trying to get noticed.
The best thing to do is write what you love, write a really good book and hope that readers tell their friends about you. That’s why sites like yours are so powerful, Cindy, and why I’m so grateful for this interview.
When you started King Rolen’s Kin, were you planning on writing 4 books about King Rolen’s children?
I just wanted to write a fun fantasy. I wanted it to be the kind of fantasy that made me fall in love with the genre when I was growing up. I wanted it to sweep me away to a land of daring-do, but I felt the genre needed to grow to appeal to the modern reader. As for the length, how long is a piece of string? The story dictates the length.
The King Rolen’s Kin (KRK) series is a little bit confusing because the publishers asked me to write an exclusive e-book novella, The King’s Man. It was a 200 page manuscript, which in the old days would have been considered a book in its own right. You can read the KRK print books without reading the e-book but The King’s Man does add to book four’s enjoyment.
This is the way the KRK books unfold:
How does the writing process go for you? Do you go with the flow or do you have a complete outline ready before you actually begin?
I’m a ‘discovery’ writer, meaning I jump in with a general idea of what I think will happen, then let the story go where it will. My books are character driven and there is no point trying to make characters do what they don’t want to do.
Have you ever written something different than Fantasy? Would you like to venture out more and write in a totally different genre some time?
In my early twenties I started out writing fantasy and SF and horror/mystery. In my mid-thirties (when my kids were little) I had around 30 children’s books published. These books were across the genres and aimed at different the ages. Now I tend to write fantastical stories. You could argue that the world building in The Outcast Chronicles is the equivalent of building an alien society in and SF book. In fact, one reviewer said that the T’En, people with magical abilities, felt like aliens (in a good way).
The story dictates the genre.
On your website it says that you also do some artwork. Can you tell us a bit more about that?
My (long-suffering) husband and I both do artwork. (We designed the cover for Price of Fame together). At one point I ran a graphic art studio, my specialty was photo-realism and colour. My husband has moved with the times and now does 3D animation. He did the book trailers for my books and for some of my writing friends.
When Solaris wanted ideas for the KRK covers, I sent them my resonance file for KRK which contained photos for settings, costumes that people would wear. That sort of thing. (See the OC resonance file).
After Clint Langley did the cover for book one, he asked for more ideas so we also set up photo shoots with our adult children in costume and Clint based the covers on these. He did a brilliant job. We did the same thing with the OC.
Is there any new work in the pipeline? If so, what can you tell us about it?
I have a secret project which I am quietly working away on in the background.
Meanwhile, my original trilogy, Fall of Fair Isle, is coming out mid 2015 with Solaris. Back when I wrote it, I also wrote book four and this was what I used as a basis for the world building for The Outcast Chronicles. So when Solaris asked for Fall of Fair Isle I updated the trilogy including some of the information that was included in the unpublished book four. It’s only a couple of sentences, but it helps tie the trilogy in to The OC.
Which Fantasy books would you recommend to the Draumr Kópa reader?
I like to keep up with how the genre is developing. As readers become more sophisticated, they look for more challenging books. For instance KRK is a fun, rollicking read but the OC is for the long-time fantasy reader who is looking for more.
There are authors out there who push their genres. I like to read Joe Abercrombie because he’s very gritty.
Where can fans meet you this year, any conventions or signings coming up?
I usually do the multi-media conventions in Australia but this year is going to be challenging, so I’ve taken a step back from attending conventions. I’m always happy to chat via my blog.
Do you have any tips for aspiring authors out there?
There is a page of writing posts on my blog. Read a great deal in your genre and in associated genres. Read the classics of your genres, the books that are winning awards and the books that Indy Press publishes because they find the most interesting and challenging books. Also read factual books and historical books. By reading broadly you bring fresh insight to the genre.
Join a writing group of like-minded people who love the craft of writing and make their meetings (virtual or physical) a safe place to explore creativity. I have belonged to several writing groups over the years and really value the friendships and support of my fellow writers.
Lastly, write what you love.
Thank you so much for this lovely interview, Rowena, it was a joy having you here.
About the author
Rowena Cory Daniells is passionate about writing. Her speculative fiction stories have appeared in magazines and anthologies including ‘Dreaming DownUnder’ which won World Best Fantasy and ‘Dreaming Again’.
She has supported the writing community by serving on the management committees of two national genre awards, the Queensland Writers Centre, the Brisbane Writers Festival and Fantastic Queensland. She lives by the bay with her husband and has six children. In her spare time she has devoted five years to studying each of these martial arts Tae Kwon Do, Aikido and Iaido, the art of the Samurai Sword.
When she sat down to write The Chronicles of King Rolen’s Kin, she set out to write the kind of book that you look forward to after a tough week at work, the kind of book that carries you away. KRK is published by SOLARIS. She is delighted with Clint Langley’s artwork.
Her new trilogy The Outcast Chronciles has come out in 2012, with absolutely fabulous covers by Clint Langley again.
Her agent is John Jarrold.