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Guest blogger: Rowena Cory Daniells

15 April 2012

Why do writers write?

Well, I can answer for myself and I suspect many writers when I say we all start out as readers, voracious readers!

I used to have a second-hand book and record shop. I’d read a book in the morning, another after lunch and another after dinner. (This is back in the days when a book was only 200 pages long). If I didn’t have a book to read I’d wander around like a lost soul until I found one.

In desperation I’d re-read my favourite books until I started to see the mechanics of the writing. For me, writing books was what I resorted to when I couldn’t find any more books by my favourite authors.

What I wanted from a book was:

Great characters – I really had to care about the characters.

Interesting setting – I loved the way Georgette Heyer brought the Regency period to life. But it didn’t have to be Regency.

Challenging plot – I’d get really frustrated if the plot was too predictable.

I love discovering books that leave me thinking about the characters. If I find myself days later, thinking why didn’t she do this? Or what happened after the book ended? Then I knew I’d found an interesting writer. If I did, I’d hunt up everything they’d written and try to read it in order of publication. In my innocence back in those days, I thought I was reading it in order of when the books were written. Now, as a published author I know this isn’t so.

For instance, my paranormal crime The Price of Fame comes out next month. The first draft of this book was written when I was twenty-three. I dug it up again when I was in my thirties and submitted it to the Harper Collins $10,000 Fiction Prize where it made the long-short list. Then, when I was in my late forties, I redrafted it, created a second contemporary time line and Ta Dah! Award-winning author Lindy Cameron had selected it for her new line of books with ClanDestine Press.

There’s a girl, a ghost and cat, but there’s so much more. And it’s great to see the cover, which captures the feel of the book.

But I don’t just write paranormal crime. In fact I mostly write fantasy trilogies. When I go to events like Supanova people still come up to me to talk about The Last T’En, which came out over ten years ago. More recently the King Rolen’s Kin trilogy has been released in Australia, the US and the UK. I had so much fun writing this trilogy. There’s mythical beasts, a kingdom in peril, three brothers, a crown at stake and a younger sister who keeps her brothers on their toes.

The nice thing about this trilogy is that I’ve had somone comment on my blog saying their husband has dyslexia, but they enjoyed the books so much they zipped through them. My DH (darling, long-suffering husband) did a wonderful trailer for the series.

The last few months I’ve been neck deep editing The Outcast Chronicles, which is due out in July, August and September of this year.

This trilogy took over my life. There’s an inexperienced leader, a disinherited prince, a king a step away from madness and nations forged by magic yet sundered by war … Gives me goosebumps!

I guess you can tell I’m still a voracious reader, still looking for that book that is going to sweep me away to another world and leave me wanting more. What have you read recently that swept you away and why?

You can connect with Rowena via her website and her blog.

Comment on Rowena’s post by telling her the latest book you’ve read that has swept you away and one lucky commenter will win all three books of Rowena’s King Rolen’s Kin Trilogy.  The winner of the giveaway is Laine!  Congratulations.

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20 Comments
  1. 15 April 2012 1:04 pm

    What have I read that’s been engaging? (This is me, answering my own question).
    JR Ward – Black Dagger Brotherhood
    Nalini Singh – Changling-Psy Series
    Melissa Marr’s Faery series.

    How about you?

  2. 15 April 2012 4:02 pm

    The most recent book that has swept me away (at a time I really needed sweeping away) was Helen Lowe’s The Gathering of the Lost. I do like epic fantsy!

    • 17 April 2012 8:13 am

      Yay, let’s hear it for Epic Fantasy.

      have you been watching Game of Thrones, Gillian?

      • 17 April 2012 9:07 am

        Of course I have! I borrowed the DVDs from a friend, since it hasn’t come to my TV screen yet and I decided taht waiting was not going to happen.

  3. 15 April 2012 4:43 pm

    hi Rowena, hmmm lately i read many books but i remember one in particular that manage to swept me away right from the start is kylie griffin debut book vengeance born. I love the fantasy world that she created ;)

    • 17 April 2012 8:13 am

      Go, Kylie. Thanks for supporting Australian writers!

      • 17 April 2012 8:15 am

        As in go ‘Kylie Griiffin’ and thanks to Aretha for supporting Australian writers.
        7am and I’ve already been up for 2 hours writing.

        Then I must dash off to work to mark first year UNI asignments.

  4. maryde permalink
    15 April 2012 4:54 pm

    Hi Rowena,
    Oh Aretha you stole mine LOL :)
    I too loved Vengeance Born, now am anxiously waiting for Book 2.
    I also read Joey W Hill, Something About Witches. Delving into the magical realm is as fascinating as the fantasy and futuristic. I love them all.

    • 17 April 2012 8:16 am

      Maryde, I love it when a writer constructs a multi-layered world. Is this waht Joey W Hill has done, taking our world and weaving witch society into it?

      • maryde permalink
        19 April 2012 10:27 am

        Actually I feel it is a bit of both, just as I love your fantasy worlds for the same reason too.
        When an author brings his/her Paranormal/fantasy characters alive in our world and still but lets us dip or toes into theirs. I love the mystery and magic of it all ….. otherworldly

  5. Anonymous permalink
    15 April 2012 6:51 pm

    Hi Rowena,
    Great blog. I write for a living – commercially – and spend every spare moment reading and often think that i should get my act together and apply my skills to writing a romance. But then I try and come up with a clever, ingenious plot peopled with larger than life heroes and heroines who sprout witty dialogue and I come to the conclusion that I’m better off leaving it to the experts and just buying, borrowing or stealing (not really) ready-made books with ingenious plots, to-die-for heroes and brilliant repartee.
    As for a book that’s rocked my world lately – I’ve just finished Lover Reborn, JR Ward and it was a good ‘un. And before that I devoured Lothaire by Kresley Cole. And before that fell in love with Ted Beaudine in Simply Irresistible by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. And before that….
    Cheers, Shiona

    • 17 April 2012 8:19 am

      Shiona, I teach writing at UNI, both academic writing and creative writing, so I know how hard it is to wear both hats. (Not that I’ve done commercial writing, but I’m guessing it has constraints like academic writing).

      I ilke to look up the books that made the RITA and R*BY short lists and read them to discover new writers. Plus authors that friends suggest are always worth a read.

  6. 15 April 2012 7:16 pm

    Hi, Rowena

    I’ve just read ‘Intruder’ the 13th in CJ Cherryh’s fantasy series that begins with ‘Invader’. I’ve written a lot of books, but I don’t think I’d ever manage to write a series that still hooked people after 13 books! I can’t even wait for them to come out in paperback, but have to have the hardback ASAP. I think most writers are readers too. I read three books a week, though, not three a day!

    Hope your new series does well!

    • 17 April 2012 8:20 am

      Hi Anna J,

      Still reading fantasy. Are you going to write some more fantasy of your own? My son re-read your Shannah Jay books recently.

      Didn’t you release them into the wilds as e-books?

  7. Mary Preston permalink
    15 April 2012 11:57 pm

    I’m totally engrossed with George RR Martin’s series A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE. From the very beginning of GAME OF THRONES I had a vested interest in the characters.

  8. 16 April 2012 8:37 am

    Hi Rowena,
    I’ve really enjoyed the Harlequin Teen series, ‘The Iron Fey’ by Julie Kagawa — Iron King, Iron Queen, Iron Daughter and Iron Knight. The books bring the world of humans and the realms of the fey (Fairies) into interaction. The characterization is terrific. I particularly like the character of “Puck”. I understand that a movie has been made out of the last book “Iron Knight”. There are plenty of twists and surprises for the reader. The pacing is well done. Over the course of the 4 books, the reader sees the development of the character arc for Megan Chase (half human/half fairy) and Prince Ash (Ashallayn’darkmyr Tallyn) of the Unseelie Court. Also, the classic Shakespearean fairy characters of Oberon and Titania are given a wonderful reinterpretation. All in all, this is a wonderful series but each book could stand on its own and offer a great read.
    Lesley Lawrence
    Montreal, Canada

    • 17 April 2012 8:21 am

      Hi Lesley, looks like I should hunt up Julie Kagawa’s books. They sound like something I’d enjoy.

  9. Laine permalink
    16 April 2012 3:46 pm

    Hi Rowena,
    I enjoyed your King Rolen’s Kin trilogy. I’ve got it in tree and e. (Read the e version,) Looking forward to the next one.
    I also enjoyed following your posts when you were part of Mad Genius Club blog.
    I enjoy many different kinds of books. Thinking about it, at the moment I seem to prefer to have books with mixed genres. Like romantic suspense as opposed to romance or suspense on their own. I enjoy series when you have characters introduced in early books who get their own book later.
    Just had to delete the typing of my cat who wandered across the keyboard. Hope your beautiful white cat is well too. Are cats a requirement for authors?
    Laine, Sydney

    • 17 April 2012 8:23 am

      Laine, I fear I may become the mad cat lady. Every time my daughters move out of home they get a kitten. Then they move back home and bring the cat with them, then they move out again and leave the cat behind. So we have a tribe of cats who think they rule the house!

      And the white cat (aka Sassy cat) came in wet from the rain at 6am this morning, tried to walk across my key board then sat on my lap.

      Who would have though we were just heated cushions for cats?

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