Justine Larbalestier is the author of the Magic or Madness trilogy and two non-fiction books (Daughters of Earth and The Battle of the Sexes in Science Fiction).
And talk about awards. Daughters of Earth was awarded the William Atheling Jr. Award this month. The book won the Susan Koppelman Award, was shortlisted for a British Science Fiction Award, and nominated for 2 Ditmars.
The Battle of The Sexes in Science Fiction was short-listed for the Peter McNamara Convenors' Award, the William J. Atheling Award and the Hugo for Best Related Book. That's not all. Locus listed the book as one of the 15 Top SF and Fantasy Anthologies, Collections, Non fiction books, and Art books of 2002. This book was also an editor's pick at Fantastic Metropolis.
Magic or Madness, the first book in the trilogy, won the 2007 Andre Norton Award. It was shortlisted for the Ethel Turner Award, one of the New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards for 2006. Magic or Madness also received honors from the School Library Journal, Tayshas (the Young Adult Round Table of the Texas Libary Association), Magpies (Australian children's literature magazine), the ALA (American Library Association) 2006 Best Books for Young Adults list, the Locus Recommended Reading List, the CCBC Choices list and the Bank Street best teen books.
Magic Lessons was shortlisted for an Aurealis Award for best Australian YA book as well as a Locus award for best YA. Insideadog favored the book as a best book of the year selection. Other honors include the CCBC Choices List and 2006 Locus Recommended Reading List.
I even added Justine's trilogy to my Strong Girl Role Models in Children's Literature list. Very strong female characters.
Whew...how's that for some heady accomplishments? And now, without further ado, I give you Justine Larbalestier.
HWM: You've written two non-fiction books (
transition? Do you miss the non-fiction world?
Justine: The Battle of the Sexes was my PhD thesis and Daughters of Earth was conceived when I was still an academic. Getting both of them published was part of furthering my career, plumping up the old cv. I have never enjoyed scholarly writing nearly as much as I enjoy writing fiction. I made the transition because I am not cut out to be an academic. I'm WAY too lazy. I've written fiction all my life and have always wanted to make a living at it. I'm very lucky that it's working out for me.
I don't miss scholarly writing. I still do research for my writing, but now I don't have to footnote everything and second guess every possibly objection to every sentence I write. Nor do I have to write as though I have constipation.
HWM: What are the biggest similarities between you and Reason?
Justine: We both love food.
took a chance on me, she taught me so much about writing. Eloise is a brilliant editor. I was very lucky.
I wasn't a first-time novelist. Magic or Madness is the third novel I've written, but the first to be published. (I've now written six novels.) Having two novels (one I'm very proud of and the other that we shall not speak of) under my belt meant I knew---at least to some extent---what I was doing. I would never have tried to sell a novel from a proposal otherwise. Learning how to write a novel under deadline would have been terrifying.
It took years of writing and sending stuff out before I was published. Decades even.
Writing the third book was incredibly hard. I had to wrap up everything in a way that wasn't too obvious but at the same time didn't come out of no where. Some of the story threads kept unravelling on me, stubbornly resisting my efforts to make them all come together. Magic's Child wound up going through more drafts than the other two books of the trilogy put together and I'm big on rewriting. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to read it again. Too painful recalling the agony of writing it.
I've kept a diary since I was nine---a typically self obsessed angsty affair (which I hope no one ever sees until long after I'm gone)---so keeping a journal is something I've always done and enjoyed. I especially like the public aspect of blogging. It keeps me from being too whingey or self-indulgent. It's the corrective my diary always needed. And I adore all the comments. One of the loveliest things about blogging is that it's not just me crapping on there's my readers, who also chime in with comments, and then all the other bloggers. I'm part of a writing/reading/blogging community. I love it! I'm even more addicted to reading blogs than I am to blogging.
I actually wrote "how to write a novel" as a joke. While it does have some useful advice, I was mostly just being silly. I note that you should never write about unicorns which was a shout out to a friend of mine who's writing a novel about killer unicorns. The spreadsheet thing was me mocking my husband who tracks the content (action, talking, sneaking) of each chapter of his novels using one. And the thing about typewriters being evil was because another friend insists
on writing on one. So the whole thing was self indulgent silliness!
I was amazed by how useful so many people have found it. Gratified too. I was helped by a lot of writers when I was struggling to be published (still am) so I definitely want to do that in turn. And I loved that a bunch of other novelists were moved to write about their own novel writing method. I started a meme! Though it was amusing that people assumed that I was describing my own novel writing practise. Alas not. I'm not nearly that ordered or organised. Every novel I write seems to demand a whole new set of methods. It's very annoying. Why can't all novels be the same?
really hard. I still find it difficult. It was a shock to realise that even when you're published you still get rejected and it doesn't stop hurting either.
I've been reading and loving YA for years. Some of what I'd written and thought was adult was actually YA so the transition was an easy one. It feels very natural to be writing YA. And I love the YA community of writers, librarians, booksellers, bloggers, editors, publicists, sales reps etc. It's wonderful.
Thank you Justine for your time and thoughtful answers.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Battle of the Sexes in Science Fiction (2002)
Magic or Madness (2005)
Magic Lessons (2006)
Daughters of Earth (2006
Magic's Child (March 2007)
Where to find Justine
Excerpts from the Magic or Madness trilogy