The continuation of a conversation with Australian author, Tahlia Newland. (The first part is here.)
Last time, among other things, you spoke of stories – both real and fantastical – being in ‘another dimension’, which can be accessed through meditation, so here’s a hard question to pick up the thread. I’m intrigued by the term ‘transrealist’ you use to describe some of your works. Can you give us an idea of the ‘reality’ you (and/or your characters) inhabit when you’re writing them?
Wow, that’s quite a question! Wikipedia defines transrealism as: “a literary mode that mixes the techniques of incorporating fantastic elements used in science fiction with the techniques of describing immediate perceptions from naturalistic realism.” R Rucker in his transrealist manifesto says it more simply with: “The Transrealist writes about immediate perceptions in a fantastic way.” In practice, transrealist literature generally takes place in worlds where characters have access to many dimensions or realms, and this is usually found in science fiction, but multidimensional worlds can also be found in metaphysical fiction and fantasy.
In the books I mentioned last time, the many dimensions that Prunella Smith can access are memories, dreams, the worlds of the characters in her writing, and meditative and past life experiences. Each of these are handled as if they are a presently existing reality, and the door between the real world and the fantastic ones is her immediate perception. It’s only in the present that you can enter other realities. So I write very much in the present, and in the present of whatever ‘other’ world my characters may be in. I see and experience what I’m writing as if it’s happening right then in my present moment. It’s a very powerful place to be.
OK, let’s move to the more practical aspects of the business. Do you think the whole writing/publishing industry is making things harder or easier for writers?
It’s easier to get your book into print, particularly eprint, if you’re willing to self-publish, but it’s harder in that in order to do that you need to become a publisher, and that’s a lot of time and effort spent learning a particular skill set.
You can, of course, pay someone to do the publishing for you, but you need to be pretty savvy to avoid those without quality control who may put your book out in a state that is not very good for your career as an author.
Authors today, whether mainstream or indie published, also need to have some skills in marketing, and a lot of authors simply aren’t very good at that, or particularly interested. This is the area I and many other authors find the most difficult.
Me too. I know it’s essential but I hate having to do it. Now, we started with a hard question; let’s end with some easy ones. Do you have a favourite author (dead or alive)? If yes, why him or her? If no, why not?
I haven’t had a favourite author for ages, but I just found Lindsay Buroker who is an indie author who writes fantastic traditional fantasy, and I’m gobbling up her series with great relish.
And finally, what are your top three bits of advice for young writers?
- Study your craft, and research the publishing industry, especially the traps to avoid in both traditional and self-publishing.
- When you think your book is finished, get a professional manuscript appraisal.
- Work with a line editor so you can get your prose in good shape. The money is well worth it.
Couldn’t agree more. Thanks very much, Tahlia, for some excellent, thought-provoking reflections.
Thanks for having me over. Your questions were really good.
And here’s a reminder of Tahlia’s details.
She’s written and published nine books, three of which have won a BRAG Medallion and an Awesome Indies Seal of Excellence.
She writes inspirational magical realism and fantasy, and also makes masquerade masks and steampunk hats and accessories.
Her wardrobe is full of steampunk clothing which she wears every day because beautiful clothes deserve to be worn.
She works as an editor for AIA Editing and AIA Publishing, a selective, author-funded publishing company. She also co-ordinates Awesome Indies Books’ accreditation service for independently published books. She lives in an Australian rainforest with a lovely husband and two cheeky Burmese kittens.