Narrative Transport. The official Michael Pryor website.
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  • February25th

    I’m extremely pleased to note that ‘The Laws of Magic’ series has been shortlisted for the inaugural Sara Douglass Book Series Award.

    all covers in a strip small

    From the Aurealis Awards website:

    This Award is named for one of Australia’s best known speculative fiction writers. Sara Douglass was the flagship author of the HarperVoyager Australian line, which launched the careers of many of our most popular writers, and paved the way for the vibrant and diverse speculative fiction scene Australia has today. Sara’s contribution to the state of speculative fiction in Australia cannot be underestimated, and we are proud to commemorate her in this Award.

    Needless to say, this is a great honour, and one that would have been impossible without the inestimable folk at Random House Australia and, in particular, ace editor Zoe Walton.

    The shortlists for the other Aurealis Awards can be found here. The award ceremony will be held on Friday 25 March.

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  • July3rd

     

    montage of all covers small

    At last – I’m excited to let you know that the entire The Laws of Magic series is now available as audiobooks!

    The fine people at Audible have turned the adventures of Aubrey, George, Caroline and Sophie into quality audio texts, and you’ll find them here:

    Blaze of Glory

    Heart of Gold

    Word of Honour

    Time of Trial

    Moment of Truth

    Hour of Need

    The books are read by the very talented Rupert Degas and here’s his bio:

    Rupert Degas can be heard reading True History of the Kelly Gang, PS I Love You, If You Could See Me Now, Lord Loss, Demon Thief, Slawter, and The Saga of Darren Shan. He is also the voice of Pantalaimon in Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights. He has lent his voice to numerous cartoons, including Mr Bean, Robotboy, and Bob the Builder and has performed in over thirty radio productions, including The Gemini Apes, The Glittering Prizes, and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. He spent eighteen months in the West End performing in the comedy Stones in his Pockets. He has also read A Wild Sheep Chase and The Wind-up Bird Chronicle for Naxos AudioBooks.

    He does a superb job.

    To help celebrate this audio launch, I’m giving away complete sets of the entire Laws of Magic audio series.  Just go to my contact page, scroll down to the contact form, leave your details and send me a message with the subject ‘LoM audio‘. I’ll run this promotion until the end of July. If you’re a winner, you’ll hear from me.

    Happy listening – and for more about The Laws of Magic, why don’t you spend some time at The Laws of Magic section of my website, with background, musings, and extra material!

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  • May21st

    Bold statement – writing Historical Fiction and writing Fantasy (of certain sorts) are almost identical undertakings. A Game of Thrones and Wolf Hall? The same thing, really.

    Think about it. Writers of both have to introduce and explain an unfamiliar world. Writers of Historical Fiction and writers of Fantasy can’t assume the shared knowledge that writers of contemporary fiction can.

    Writers of contemporary fiction can take a great deal for granted. They don’t have to explain the social mores, the political structure, the clothing, the standard layout of buildings, methods of transport, forms of communication, common technologies, and thousands of other details of life that affect and intersect with their characters.

    Not so with the writers of Fantasy and Historical Fiction. We have to help the reader come to terms with a world that could be alien in countless ways.

    The first step for both of us, of course, is that we have to be familiar with the world we’re introducing. Here’s where our jobs may diverge a little. The Fantasy writer has to work from scratch, whereas the Historical Fiction writer doesn’t.

    Let’s face it, most Fantasy secondary worlds are derived from history. Fantasy writers are always scouting around the world and going back and forward through time looking for fertile areas as a springboard into world creation. Take a time period and location that’s in turmoil, tweak the events and the names a little, add some magic and there’s the beginnings of a framework for a solid Fantasy trilogy or two, easily.

    Therefore, both Fantasy and Historical Fiction writers spend a great deal of time researching, in order to be utterly cognisant with the world we’re about to introduce.

    After this comes the delicate task of sifting in all this background detail. The challenge is to do this without boring the reader. After all, we’re writing fiction, not textbooks.

    There is a higher challenge, though. The higher challenge is not just to do this without boring the reader, it’s doing it without the reader even noticing and therein lies the art.

    The key term I use here in trying to define what writers in both genres are trying to do is that we’re trying to make our worlds convincing. Even though the world may be unfamiliar to the reader, we have to convince her/him that the setting is a believable one, one with a coherence and an underpinning that resonates with the human experience. The setting could be archaic, primitive, old-fashioned or exotic in unearthly terms, but writers need to give the reader entry into this world by making it a plausible one.

    Done well, this accounts for some of the allure of both genres. They both take readers somewhere different, somewhere outside the ordinary, somewhere fresh and exotic where characters can play out their dramas in ways that extend the range of human actions, interactions and possibilities.

    All in all, sometimes I think the only difference between writing Historical Fiction and writing Fantasy is that one has magic and one doesn’t. I’ll leave you to decide which.

     

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  • May6th

    And here’s the back cover for Leo da Vinci Vs the Ice-cream Domination League, with lots of teasers.leo back cover

    The fabulous Jules Faber does the illustrations, and the book is due out from Random House Australia in August.

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  • April14th

    And here it is, the cover for my next book, a zany fun adventure for younger readers. In a world very much like ours, 10 year old Leo da Vinci is an inventor, artist, dreamer, and dedicated fighter against supervillains …

    And don’t I just love Jules Faber’s illustration? Outrageously good!

    Look for it in August.

    leo front cover

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  • March2nd

    Keats said it, and said it best.autumn small Autumn is the ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’. I love the cool, dewy mornings. I love the way the hot air balloons arrive, happy in the calmer, cooler skies. I love the long, blue afternoons that fade into drowsy dusk. I love the changing colours of leaves and the smell of wood smoke in the air.

    Autumn, my favourite season.

     

    TO AUTUMN – John Keats

    1.

    Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,

    Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;

    Conspiring with him how to load and bless

    With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;

    To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,

    And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;

    To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells

    With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,

    And still more, later flowers for the bees,

    Until they think warm days will never cease,

    For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

     

    2.

    Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?

    Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find

    Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,

    Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;

    Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,

    Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook

    Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:

    And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep

    Steady thy laden head across a brook;

    Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,

    Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

     

    3.

    Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?

    Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—

    While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,

    And touch the stubble plains with rosy hue;

    Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn

    Among the river sallows, borne aloft

    Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;

    And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;

    Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft

    The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;

    And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

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  • February5th

    Leo da Vinci. Artist. Scientist. Inventor. Dreamer. Ten year old fighter against supervillains.

    As promised, it’s time to reveal some details of my new writing project. This is another departure from my writing for Young Adults, and I’m fairly and squarely writing for primary school readers this time with The Adventures of Leo da Vinci.vitruvian man

    To those small-minded people who might be prone to quibble and suggest that Leo da Vinci was actually an Italian Quattrocento polymath, I say ‘Pish’. As any fule no, Leo da Vinci is ten years old and engaged in an eternal struggle against evil, as long as he can fit it in around his school and other commitments. To this end, he has formed Fixit International Inc and gathered a cadre of eccentric and hard-bitten comrades, including a wood-burning robot and a talking pig. Leo invents, draws, sculpts and plans in a constant frenzy of creativity, while battling with the nuances of making friends and navigating the modern world.

    And if can just paint that Mrs Gioconda’s quirky smile right, he’ll be happy.

     

    The first book in this ground-breaking series will be published by the good people at Penguin Random House Australia. The first will be released this August, and the second early next year. Look out for them, buy them, discuss them, adore them, share them with friends, advocate them, nominate them for prestigious awards and, if you own a major Hollywood studio, option them for blockbuster movies, at the very least.

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  • November10th

     

    WoH audio book

    At last – The Laws of Magic is now appearing as audiobooks!

    The fine people at Audible are turning the adventures of Aubrey, George, Caroline and Sophie into quality audio texts. The first to be released is Word of Honour and the books will be read by the very talented Rupert Degas.

     

    Here’s his bio:

    Rupert Degas can be heard reading True History of the Kelly Gang, PS I Love You, If You Could See Me Now, Lord Loss, Demon Thief, Slawter, and The Saga of Darren Shan. He is also the voice of Pantalaimon in Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights. He has lent his voice to numerous cartoons, including Mr Bean, Robotboy, and Bob the Builder and has performed in over thirty radio productions, including The Gemini Apes, The Glittering Prizes, and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. He spent eighteen months in the West End performing in the comedy Stones in his Pockets. He has also read A Wild Sheep Chase and The Wind-up Bird Chronicle for Naxos AudioBooks.

    And he does a splendid job with Word of Honour.

    To help celebrate this audio launch, I have some copies of the audio Word of Honour to give away. Just go to my contact page, scroll down to the contact form, and send me a message with the subject ‘WoH audio’. I’ll run this promotion until the end of November.

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  • August20th

    Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep isn’t a perfect novel. doctor-sleep-the-long-awaited-sequel-to-the-shiningIt has inconsistencies, a few plot holes, some ‘What the …?’ moments, but they’re forgiven because King does something surpassingly well, something that drags us into the story and keeps us reading right through.

    Character. Stephen King does character like few others can.

    When I run writing workshops, I often bang on about the elements of story. Just as often, I then go on to declare that of all the elements of story, character is the most important. If a writer does character well, the story will work. If all the other story elements are wonderful, but the story’s characters are dull, flat, or unengaging, then the story is likely to fail.

    The key word here is ‘engaging’. If a writer creates engaging characters, readers will keep reading to see what happens to them, it’s as simple as that. King has a knack for creating engaging characters. Strike that, it’s not a knack – it’s something that he works at in a hundred different ways.

    The two main characters in Doctor Sleep are Dan Torrance and Abra Stone. Dan is the main Point of View character. Now, while remembering that King is a Horror Writer and Dr Sleep is a Horror novel, take note of how much time King spends on non-horror stuff. A good half of the novel has nothing to do with horror. We explore Dan’s problems with alcoholism, we see his search for solace, we experience his sense of dislocation, we work through his backstory – family, work history, episodes of violence and self-loathing. To balance this, we learn about Dan through his actions, where he acts selflessly but not without internal struggle. We see him undertake work, physical labour, and he does so with care and dedication. We see his relationships with others – sometimes fraught, sometimes difficult.

    And we come to understand Dan’s tortured feelings about his parents.

    King keeps us riveted in Dan’s personal struggles in a thousand different ways, like turns of phrase that belong to Dan alone, or the careful formality he uses when addressing the older women in the hospice he works at, or his childish enjoyment at driving the model train, or the mannerisms that are sifted in along the way, all contribute to a rounded, breathing character.

    Mannerisms. I’d really like to use an example here, but the most important mannerism in this book is a key plot point, and I don’t’ want to get into spoiler territory. Let it be said that the mannerism is deftly dropped in nice and early then touched on a few times throughout so that when the key moment comes you not only have a fine example of using mannerisms to establish and maintain character, you have a superb example of foreshadowing. King is a craftsman.

    King uses memories, too, and this is particularly important since this book is ‘many years later’ sequel to The Shining. Dan’s flashbacks and musings fill us in on what has happened in the years since the Overlook Hotel burned down, but the time he spends dwelling on these events serves another purpose – they show us that he’s a thoughtful, reflective person.

    All of this works independently from the horror aspects of the book. And, of course, when the horror elements are introduced, they are all the more horrific because they are contrasted with these everyday elements of a realistic life. Thanks to King’s careful characterisation, we keep turning the pages, on the edges of our seats because we care for Dan and Abra, we want to see if they will prevail or if they will succumb to the evil.

    King manages to do all of this subtly, with a lightness of touch that is masterly. We don’t see him at work because we are engrossed in the characters and the narrative. He doesn’t draw attention to his methods – they work away undetected.

    Doctor Sleep is a masterclass in character and characterisation.

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  • July18th

    Here ’tis, my mwfMelbourne Writers’ Festival appearance log. For more details, click on the links. See you there!

    Who’s Your Doctor? Thu 28th Aug 12.30pm
    Workshop: World Building Wed 27th Aug 11.15am
    A Brief History of Robots Tue 26th Aug 10.00am
    Do You Remember the First Time? Mon 25th Aug 7.30pm

     

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