Australian Speculative Fiction (ASF) is all about showcasing Australian and New Zealander authors. One of the many projects currently under way is the Drowned Earth Novella series—a series of eight novellas written by different authors all set in the same scenario – a flooded Australia.
To get to know these amazing authors they have been kind enough to answer some questions.
Jo is ready to share all her secrets with us.
What can you tell us about your Novella?
After the rise, some of the survivors migrated in-land and created new settlements. My story, The Jindabyne Secret, begins twenty years after the rise in one such settlement in north-east Victoria and follows nineteen-year-old Jax. The harsh climate conditions means no access to fresh water, so the government brings in water rations. Unfortunately these rations are not enough. In desperation Jax seeks out a black market seller in hopes of making an exchange for some water. Instead he is given something far more valuable: a map to the government’s top secret fresh water facility. To steal water from the government would mean risking the death penalty, but Jax is desperate enough to risk it. What he discovers there is more than just fresh water.
The plot is very loosely based on Jack and the Beanstalk, if Jack had lived in a post-apocalyptic Australia and the giant was the Australian government.
It’s a story of corruption and despair, of bravery and love, of two different worlds colliding. Most of all, at its heart, it is a story of survival when survival seems impossible.
What drew you to submitting your pitch in the first place?
At the time I was just getting back into writing after a long hiatus and had been thinking about starting to submit some short stories again. I loved the idea behind Drowned Earth—as someone who is passionate about climate change and the environment it grabbed me straight away. Immediately it made me think of a scribbled idea I had in one of my idea notebooks that I thought would be the perfect story to submit and I knew I had to pitch it.
Opportunities like this are fantastic to really flex your writing muscles and collaborate alongside other fantastic authors. Is the collaboration that is necessary for a project such as Drowned Earth something that you have ever participated in before?
I have! This will be my third collaboration type writing project. Several years ago I worked on a collaboration called The Life and Times of Chester Lewis. Each author (there were ten of us altogether) wrote a different decade in the life of a fictional character named Chester Lewis. It was necessary for authors to link in with each other’s work to build on the character. It was a fairly similar process to the Drowned Earth series, except this time instead of focusing on a person, we are focusing on Australia.
I also worked on a different kind of collaboration project called The Lonely Wish Giver. It was a charity project that involved 300 writers from 27 countries.
Describe your writing style…
I tend toward character driven stories—I love getting inside my characters’ heads. I mainly write spec fic, so my writing is generally quite descriptive and imaginative. With my longer stories I would be considered a plotter as I do lots of outlines and character profiles before I start to write. With my short stories I am more inclined to just write without much plotting beforehand.
What kind of research do you do for your writing? How’s that google history looking…
It depends on the type of story I am writing. I write a lot of fantasy and other spec fic, so a lot of stuff comes from inside my head, but even then I tend to do research on things like geography, mythology, and weapons. I also google images to get a good visual of my characters, settings and creatures in my story.
My Drowned Earth novella has involved a LOT of research. It’s probably one the most research-intensive stories I have written. At any given time I have several tabs open on my browser to look up predicted effects of climate change on weather, flora and fauna, and geography. I have been reading a lot of science-based articles. I have several different maps of Australia open at all times. I even had a friend send me photos of Lake Jindabyne when she visited there recently so I had an accurate picture in my head of the flora and fauna there.
What has influenced you most as a writer?
Being a reader and lover of books. Reading good writing inspires me to write.
Also, being a part of writing communities—being able to share our knowledge and experience, encouraging each other, and challenging each other to become better writers.
Any advice you would give your past self or other writers just starting out?
Keep writing. If you love it, don’t let anything take it away from you (including your own self-doubt). The only way to move forward with your writing is to keep writing and to put yourself out there. Don’t be afraid to submit. Every rejection is a learning experience. Get involved in writing communities (there are lots online). Don’t be afraid of criticism—use it to make you a better writer.
Where can we learn more about you or follow you on social media?
You can find out more about me and my writing (including my previously published works) on my website: http://johartauthor.com
You can follow me on Facebook http://facebook.com/johartauthor and on Twitter http://twitter.com/gracefuldoe. I’m also on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5273500.Jo_Hart
Check out our kickstarter for more details about the novellas. They are all standalone stories that can be read in any order.