TRACI HARDING’s books blend the esoteric mysteries, time travel and quantum physics in adventurous romps through history, alternative dimensions, universes and states of consciousness. She has 18 books in publication with HarperCollins Voyager, Australia. The second book of her Timekeepers trilogy, The Eternity Gate, was released earlier this year along with The Ancient Future Trilogy Omnibus. Her books are published in several languages and regularly appear in popular book polls, most recently Dreaming of Zhou Gong made the Get Reading 2013 List of ‘Top 50 books you can’t put down’, and The Ancient Future was No.52 in the 2013 ‘Australia’s Most Popular Homegrown reads’ poll. You can discover more about Traci at traciharding.com and keep up with all her news at Traci Harding Fans on Facebook.
1. You were a guest at Supanova this year. What did you get up to, and how does being an author there compare to, say, a literary convention or festival?
Supanova must be one of the most fun and beneficial ways to promote yourself if you are a science – fantasy – horror fiction writer, or graphic artist or novelist. I love getting to meet so many other Australian and international writers and the other celebrity guests that Supanova attracts every tour.
As for what we got up to … well. the action never stops really. From the opening night ceremony on Friday, through the book signing, panels, workshops and Saturday night’s themed VIP cocktail party, it is just non-stop excitement and entertainment – with the patrons of the event as the real stars of the weekend – some of the cosplay is seriously amazing! And to top it all off there is always an author dinner Sunday night, where the authors can wind down and chat amongst themselves.
What I like most about this event is that 30,000–50,000 people come through these doors each day of the weekend, who are all my target audience. At the more mainstream literary festivals, only a small percentage of patrons are interested in my genre, where as at Supanova everyone is an enthusiast.
Ineke Prochazka, who shepherds all the authors around, always ensures you are escorted where you should be, you are fed, and well taken care of. Ineke also hosts all the panels, which are aimed at fulfilling the audience expectation of a lively, interactive panel – no boring 20-minute speeches, just lots of great
debate and insight into everyone’s different writing experiences.
2. You had a consultant help on Dreaming of Zhou Gong to ensure the Chinese elements were accurate, and they’ve since translated a short story of yours into Chinese. How did you make contact, and what kinds of things were they able to help you with that might otherwise not have been picked up?
The consultant in question is Lee Pou Lon, who I met online. As a Hong Kong native who studied in Australia for three years, Lon not only knows Cantonese, Mandarin, some French and English, but also has a sound knowledge of China’s long and colourful history. Hence he was the perfect person to proof read and consult on Dreaming of Zhou Gong, which was set at the beginning of Zhou rule – about 1046 BCE.
Through his guidance many of the titles, that I’d been using to address nobles, changed from the posthumous titles that had been used to refer to these nobles for centuries, to titles more contemporary to the time period. Some of the character names were more titles than actual names, so Lon helped me come up with names that were more appropriate. We completely rewrote the wedding scene to suit the customs of the time, and thanks to one missing word in a measurement, I nearly had a Qin (Chinese string instrument) that was 37 feet (more than 12m) long! In addition, Lon translated and sourced the Chinese calligraphy for the cover of the book, and designed a beautiful book mark to match, which we used when promoting the novel. We later decided to translate one of my short stories, ‘A Piece of Time’, from Ghostwriting into Chinese and renamed it ‘The Fob Watch’. It was posted for free on e-book in Hong Kong, and it was also published in one of the local online newspapers there.
I have previously had books released in Chinese, but the translations were poor, and after receiving a small advance from my Taiwanese publisher I never heard from them again. The company folded and yet somehow those books are still retailing and no one seems to be able to tell me who is supplying them.
A good translation and self publishing is certainly a route I would take in future, and the free e-book exercise, which was well liked and reviewed, was to test the waters. It is one thing to have a book translated and quite another to have one translated well. For unlike having a business document translated, a book requires the translator to have a certain amount of finesse and to be sensitive to the style and atmosphere of the story, so that it is conveyed as originally intended by the author.
3. You’ve recently finished writing your latest book of the Timekeepers series, AWOL. Where, and when, to from now?
AWOL is the last book in a trilogy that links back to three of my earlier time travel trilogies, thus I am very pleased to be heading into a couple of standalone novels next. These stories will aid me to do a little mainstreaming, whilst keeping one foot firmly planted in the fantasy genre. You know I cannot write a novel without elements of the supernatural in it, and I have tales tucked away half written, that are begging to be completed.
The first of these will be The Art of Story, which I have already written the first 10,000 words of. I started writing this on the side whilst writing my trilogies, but the timekeepers just took over and I had to put it aside. I am dying to know what is going to happen in this tale, so now I’ll finally get to find out. This story takes place in the present, and is about a ghostly tale being collaborated on by an aging author and her young male nurse. Their tale could turn out to be more fact than fiction, and hark to a time when the master writer was a mere novice. The Art of Story will be out early 2016.
4. What Australian works have you loved recently?
This year I’ve not had much chance to read for pleasure, but I am currently enjoying Scott Baker’s time hopping fantasy The Rule of Knowledge, and thanks to doing Supanova I have discovered a whole lot more Aussie authors I will be reading – the amazing artwork of DM Cornish has made me eager to sink into one of his novels ASAP. The new kid on the Voyager block, Alan Baxter, has just released Bound to rave reviews, so I think I will have to have a read of that one too. Kim Wilkins, my favourite holiday read, also has a few new novels I need to devour.
5. Have recent changes in the publishing industry influenced the way you work? What do you think you will be publishing/writing/reading in five years from now?
Fortunately for me, I am an established writer with a very loyal reader base, so I just keep writing a book a year, as I always have done, whilst exploring new mediums. I do spend more time doing the social network thing – self-promotion is vital for an author these days. But I only post when I have something relevant to say about my work, I don’t waste time tweeting and posting every little thought I have in a day, as basically social networking is only beneficial if it doesn’t detract from the writing. I don’t tweet, I don’t even own a mobile phone. For a writer, being able to disconnect is vitally important, and I think my readers would rather read books than tweets … and I know what I’d rather be writing 🙂
As for what I will be publishing/writing/reading in future? What a question! I don’t usually know what I’m writing about tomorrow, let alone five years from now! I just go where the muses and my own curiosity takes me. I can assure you I will still be writing however, and reading great Australian fiction – there are just so many talented writers in this country and I’m sure the ranks are only going to swell. It is my dearest hope that physical books are still the norm, so that the next generation of great Australian science – fantasy – horror writers get to know the thrill of seeing their books in print and on bookstore shelves.
THIS interview was conducted as part of the 2014 Snapshot of Australian speculative fiction. We’re blogging interviews from 28 July to 10 August and archiving them at SF Signal. You can read interviews at:
- Tsana Dolichva
- Nick Evans
- Stephanie Gunn
- Kathryn Linge
- Elanor Matton-Johnson
- David McDonald
- Helen Merrick
- Ben Payne
- Alex Pierce
- Tansy Rayner Roberts
- Helen Stubbs
- Katharine Stubbs
- Tehani Wessely
- Sean Wright