Brandon Sanderson at Supernova Sydney 2017

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OMG, OMG, OMG – I met Brandon Sanderson last weekend. I’m not usually one to fan-girl an author (who am I kidding – yes, I am), but meeting someone who’s written so many amazing books in my favourite genre, including being a part of one of my FAVOURITE SERIES EVER (The Wheel Of Time) – well, it was awesome.

I took two books for Brandon to sign – The Final Empire and A Memory of Light.

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Two personally signed books! Awesome!

He signed them both, smiled for a photo, and at the end asked me if I had any questions for him. I had about a million, but of course my brain ceased to function at that precise moment – so I thanked him for finishing The Wheel of Time, telling him it was a series my friend and I have been reading since we were thirteen-year-olds in high school. I speculated if Robert Jordan would ever have finished the series even if he had lived the lifespan of a functionally immortal dragon – which sounded very callous in hindsight – and please don’t get me wrong, I love Robert Jordan’s world and his writing. Even if I was frustrated at times by the meandering plot and sometimes slow pace, I never wanted the series to end. But I am ever so thankful that there was someone like Brandon Sanderson to step in and finish this series. Brandon was very gracious and told me to say ‘hi’ to my friend.

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Brandon Sanderson and me (cosplaying Wonder Woman)

I also had the pleasure of seeing Brandon Sanderson speak in a solo panel. He shared some amazing words of wisdom, and I just wanted to share a couple of take-aways (please note I didn’t take any notes while listening, so I am going from memory):

On completing The Wheel Of Time

I initially felt a bit sheepish taking a copy of A Memory of Light for Brandon to sign. I mean, he has so many other amazing series and is such a prolific writer, surely I could have found a couple of books that were solely ‘his’. But after hearing him speak, I didn’t feel any discomfort asking him to sign a book about a world that he didn’t create. He revealed that when Robert Jordan passed, he left only about 200 pages of work (mostly the material that became the prologues). Jordan was not a planner, and so Brandon Sanderson was left to develop the story line with plenty of autonomy. It might have been Jordan’s world, but it was Sanderson’s imagination that brought The Wheel of Time to its stunning conclusion.

On routine and family

Brandon has the following routine: sleep until midday, write for four hours in the afternoon, then spend the late afternoon / evening with his family. He gets back onto the computer at about 11pm and works through until 3am, giving himself an hour or so to goof off before bed around 4am. He spoke of the importance of being mentally present when you’re with your family – and I think this was such valuable advice – as writers we often suffer from constant guilt – guilt that we’re neglecting our family when we’re writing, and guilt that we’re not writing when we’re with our family. The importance of being in the moment when we’re enjoying ‘family time’ and not off in our writing world was something I’m taking with me, and echoes lots of stuff I’ve read recently about mindfulness and enjoying the moment.

On why he thinks fantasy is a great genre

Because it can include the best elements of any other genre – mystery, romance, action, literary fiction – plus dragons!

 

It was absolutely amazing to hear Brandon Sanderson speak, and I’m so glad I made it to his panel. He seemed so down-to-earth, so kind and humble, and just the right amount of book-geek to be totally, super-cool.

Thanks for coming to Sydney, Brandon Sanderson. I hope you stop by again soon!

Until next time xxxx

May Review Raves: Soulless by Gail Carriger and Mythmaker by Marianne De Pierres

I’ve got two books to add to your must-read pile this month (if you haven’t read them already). Both on these books sit on the fringes of the fantasy genre. Both are utterly fabulous and worth an immediate read. First up:

Mythmaker by Marianne De Pierres

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Genre: Urban Fantasy / Sci-fi / Western

Details: 320 pages, published 2015 by Angry Robot

Blurb: Virgin’s in a tight spot. A murder rap hangs over her head and isn’t likely to go away unless she agrees to work for an organisation called GJIC with Nate Sixkiller as her immediate boss. Being blackmailed is one thing, discovering that her mother is both alive and the President of GJIC is quite another. Then there’s the escalation of Mythos sightings, and the bounty on her head. Oddly, the strange and dangerous Hamish Burns is the only one she can rely on. Virgin’s life gets… untidy.

My Review: Virgin Jackson is back in the second instalment of Marianne De Pierres’ Peacemaker series. This one’s just as action packed as the first, as gun-toting ranger, Virgin, aided by the taciturn US cowboy Nate Sixkiller, her spirit animal and her possibly psychotic self-appointed bodyguard, Hamish, set out to discover the truth about the Mythos. She’s got a mystery to solve and her name to clear, and a bounty and a murder rap both hang over her head. Beautifully written and tightly paced, De Pierres’ novel takes us from wild, open spaces to cramped city slums and back again. Urban Fantasy meets sci-fi, meets western, this is a book that will grip you from start to finish. Yee-haa!

Grab it here (Amazon) or support local Australian bookshops, and grab it here (Booktopia)

You can read a stellar review of its predecessor, Peacemaker here.

 

Soulless by Gail Carriger

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Genre: Paranormal Historical Romance

Details: 373 pages, published 2009 by Orbit

Book blurb: Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette. 

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire — and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate. 

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London’s high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?

SOULLESS is the first book of the Parasol Protectorate series: a comedy of manners set in Victorian London, full of werewolves, vampires, dirigibles, and tea-drinking.

My Review:  A blend of Victorian, steampunk, regency comedy of costume, romance, horror, paranormal (werewolves and vampires) – Soulless is a librarian’s worst nightmare when it comes to deciding on a shelf to put it on. The storyline and concept, however, are both absolute crackers, and if you haven’t read this book (and I know I came to this party late) you really ought to!

Alexia Tarabotti is an outspoken, self-professed Victorian spinster who carries a cane just to beat up potential attackers. She’s attacked by a rogue vampire, who discovers (much to his dismay) that he’s messed with the wrong girl. Alexia has plenty of tricks up her sleeve (not the least of which is her Soulless ability which neutralises supernatural power)

Enamoured by the gruff, yet dangerously attractive Lord Maccon (who also happens to be a werewolf), Alexia must survive assassination and kidnapping attempts, her attraction to Lord Maccon (unsuccessfully), and her best friend’s terrible choice in hats. Written in a delicious Jane Austen style, there is enough absurdity in this book to make you laugh, and enough mystery to keep you turning the pages well into the night. Can you tell I’m Miss Carriger’s new number 1 fan?

Grab this book here.

Book Review: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum

 

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Paperback, Collins Classics, 178 pages
Published 2010 by HarperCollins (first published 1900)

 

Greetings Brave Adventurers,

I’m a big fan of ‘reading the book’ before ‘seeing the movie’ (even though it often makes watching the movie an incredibly painful experience), but in the case of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, I grew up on the 1939 Judy Garland film adaptation, never having read the book.

When I decided to purchase the DVD version of The Wizard of Oz for my kids, it came with a copy of the original book, and I thought it was time to put my ignorance of the original material to bed, and read L. Frank Baum’s ‘modern day fairytale’.

It’s a short read, intended for children, and supposed to be written ‘with the unpleasant elements toned down to suit American sensibilities’ (but a bit more on this later).

So, what did I think of the book?

It’s impossible to review this book without reference to the movie (for me anyway). So often, movies get it wrong, but in the case of The Wizard of Oz, Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer got it oh-so right, expanding the story in just the right places, and cutting down on scenes where the book tends to wander. For instance, in the book, Dorothy finds herself flying through the air within a matter of paragraphs, all of that beautiful conflict with Miss Gulch a work of the screenwriters. Similarly, the book includes a journey through the land of ‘Dainty China Country’, encounters with the witches of both South and North, an adventure down a river, and a meeting with the mouse-queen, all of which added little to the forward momentum of the overall story. While the movie adds scenes of tension and fear (The Wicked Witch of the West turning up every few scenes to scare the little band of heroes along), the book had some very unmitigated violence. The tinman hacked the heads off a number of animals, which although stated matter-of-factly, made for a gruesome picture in your mind.

All in all, I enjoyed The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and would definitely read some of the sequels. For a book originally published in May 1900, this is a remarkably easy read. The story is enjoyable, and the characters are just as they are in the movie, flawed, but ultimately good and very likeable.

I’m giving this book 7/10 timeless dragons

7 dragons

 

 

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5 things you might not know about The Wizard of Oz, if you’ve only seen the movie.

  1. The Wicked Witch’s shoes that Dorothy inherits are silver, not ruby.
  2. The tin man was once a real man – he was hacked apart, piece by piece by his enchanted ax, each part being replaced by a tinsmith. This is why he so desperately wants a heart – he was to be married the woman he loved, and when his heart was destroyed, he could no longer love her.
  3. The Winged Monkeys are controlled by a magic hat that can only be used three times. After the Wicked Witch of the West’s death, Dorothy gets control of the monkeys!
  4. Although the characters never say, ‘Lions and Tigers and Bears! Oh My!’ they do encounter the Kalidahs, monsterous beasts with bodies like bears and heads like tigers.
  5. To enter the Emerald City, you must wear green glasses at all times.
  6. Glinda is actually the witch of the South, and rules over the Quadlings.

Freecon: Calling all Sydney Sci Fi and Fantasy fans / writers / readers!

Greetings Brave Adventurers,

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Mark your diaries, Sydneysiders! FREECON is Sydney’s only free SF&F event, and its running 5th, 6th and 7th of December in Clempton Park, in Sydney’s Inner West and it needs your support!

Calling for the following: 

– Published SF&F Writers with a new SF&F book they would like to discuss (Sat & Sun, AM & PM)
– People would like to discuss the year’s Sci-Fi TV (Sat AM)
– People would like to discuss the year’s Sci-Fi Movies (Sun AM)
– People would like to discuss the year’s Sci-Fi Conventions and Meetings (Sat PM)
– People would like to discuss Writers support groups (Sun PM)
– People would like to discuss Libraries and Librarians, as the other source of SF&F (?)
– People would like to discuss Book Reviewing and Recommendations, pathways to better SF&F? (?)
– People would like to discuss SF and Fantasy in Music (Fri PM)
– People with improvisation skills and creativity for the Martian School of Archaeology panel (Sat / Sun, AM / PM)
– People would like to discuss Significant SF&F figures wo have passed on – The Kevin Dillon Symposium (Lunchtime Sat.)

This is a great opportunity to get involved in the Sydney SF&F community! If you are interested in participating, please contact Garry Dalrymple at jtfson@gmail.com.

To see the whole program, you can visit the website here

There are so few SF&F events in Sydney, it would be wonderful if you could spread the word!

Thanks!

Ends Today! Game of Thrones: George R R Martin Box Set ASOIAF Giveaway

George R R Martin, ASOIAF 7 Book Box Set

George R R Martin, ASOIAF 7 Book Box Set

LAST CHANCE!: Thanks to my wonderful friends at Bookworld I have a beautiful boxed set of George R R Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” to give away! This amazing prize features all 7 books, and is valued at $99.00 RRP!

HURRY! Winter is coming, and this competition ends midnight, Monday 14th July, so enter now!

Enter HERE!

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Ending Soon: Game Of Thrones George R R Martin Giveaway! WIN a Box Set of ASOIAF!

George R R Martin, ASOIAF 7 Book Box Set

George R R Martin, ASOIAF 7 Book Box Set

Just a reminder: Thanks to my wonderful friends at Bookworld I have a beautiful boxed set of George R R Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” to give away! This amazing prize features all 7 books, and is valued at $99.00 RRP! This competition ends Monday 14th July, so enter now!

Enter HERE!

 

 

HUGE Game Of Thrones George R R Martin Giveaway! WIN a Box Set of ASOIAF!

George R R Martin, ASOIAF 7 Book Box Set

George R R Martin, ASOIAF 7 Book Box Set

Greetings Brave Adventurers,
Thanks to my wonderful friends at Bookworld  I have a beautiful boxed set of George R R Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” to give away! This amazing prize features all 7 books, and is valued at $99.00 RRP!

Bookworld always offers free delivery Australia wide, so the lucky winner will have their shiny new books delivered right to their door!

HOW TO ENTER:

“I want it! How do I get it?!”

Entry is easy. All you have to do is answer this question:

What is your favourite quote / moment from George R R Martin’s ASOIAF series?

Leave your response in the ‘comments’ below, and include your state and suburb. This competition is open to Australian residents only, and this will ensure your entry is valid. Limit of one entry per person, please!

Credit: Courtesy of gameofthrones.wikia

Credit: Courtesy of gameofthrones.wikia

WANT MORE CHANCES TO WIN?

Share this blog post through your social media (twitter, facebook, your blog etc), and pop your details into the comments section of this post, letting me know where you shared it (please include a link/handle/pingback). Remember to include your state and suburb to verify your entry.

Each type of media you use to share will grant 1 entry (so if you share on twitter, facebook and your blog, you will receive 3 extra entries). That’s 3 more chances to win!

Get cracking: Winter is coming, and this competition closes midnight Monday 14th July AEST.

The winner will be announced on Tuesday 15th July.

T&C’s: Competition is open to Australian residents only and inclusion of your state and suburb for validation reasons form part of the conditions of entry.

High Fantasy Addict supports Australian authors, and Australian booksellers. The prize for this competition has been generously donated by Bookworld. For your next online book purchase, please consider showing your support of local industry by buying from an Australian-based bookseller.

 

About Bookworld

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Bookworld has millions of titles to choose from including great a range of fantasy novels, as well as Australian and international bestsellers. Bookworld is open 24/7 – browse and buy the latest books, films and CDs online in a few clicks. They deliver anywhere in Australia and it’s absolutely free. Sign up for a free Bookworld passport to receive discounts on a huge range of products. Bookworld feeds the imagination of every kind of reader.

Web: bookworld.com.au
Facebook: facebook.com/Bookworldau
Twitter: @book_world

Good Luck!