Highlights from Trudi Canavan’s Reddit AMA!

Trudi Canavan, artist and multi-award-winning author of The Black Magician and Age of the Five trilogies, participated in an AMA on reddit!

She answered questions about both of her most famous series as well as her newest work, Thief’s Magic, the first installment in the Millenium’s Rule trilogy. Plus she shared some writing tips and thoughts on gender and fantasy. We’ve collected some highlights below!

Knurla kicked things off by asking, “Seeing how much you expanded on the original Black Magician trilogy, do you have any plans to visit the Age of the Five trilogy again as well?” Canavan responded:

“I don’t have any specific plans to return to the Age of the Five. If I do, it won’t be a sequel. The way I ended that series leaves deciding if the future is good up to the reader, and to continue would take that away. It would also mean writing about a faith-based monotheistic religion, which both doesn’t appeal and always spells trouble. However, fan suggestions that I write a prequel covering the Age of the Many do appeal. Auraya couldn’t be in it, of course, but Mirar, Emerahl, the Twins and the gods would be, and a host of new immortals and gods.”

Lurkylurkersome thanked Canavan for dealing with complicated sexuality in her books, and asked, “Do you intentionally include characters with different sexualities in your book or is it a natural process? It’s very common in your books and unfortunately not as common in others or at least it is not implied but said explicitly. Is there a reason behind this?”

“I guess at the most basic level, I was defaulting to reality – my reality has nearly always included knowing people of different sexualities. So it seemed as odd to me to read or write books without that, as it would seem odd to have only one gender or race in a book. It also seemed to me that it was silly to always have to make a whole book about sexual preference if you were to have it in there. As if you couldn’t write it in unless you had A Point to Make. Well, if I had A Point to Make – it was that I shouldn’t have to have A Point to Make. I just treated it as if it was just another aspect of those character’s lives, while acknowledging that the way society treats them can suck.”

Innerlambada and Mawich both wondered if Thief’s Magic and Age of the Five were set in the same multiverse.

“It’s so tempting to leave this one unanswered… but I won’t. They are two different universes. As the author, I have only two choices when considering if magic comes from without or outside the wielder. The variation in the Age of the Five and Millennium’s Rule systems lie in who can use magic, how it is perceived and how it is used. In Age of the Five every living thing can use magic, but humans can use more and only a few can do more than light a candle. Sorcerers can detect a lack of magic, but only if they concentrate – and the voids take a long time to fill in. It requires little more than a flexing of will to use magic. In Millennium’s Rule only some humans and some of the things those humans have created can use magic. A lack of magic appears as a blackness or darkness – and fill in relatively quickly even in world’s poor in magic. It requires more specific use of the magic – moving and stilling things, and moving or stilling a lot creates heat or cold. By the way, there are more actions than moving and stilling to be explored in book two…”

Jayce11 asked, “I was wondering what inspires you to write? And what keeps you motivated?”

“Hmm. Inspiration comes from so many sources. Music, other fiction, the non-fiction I read, TV shows, films, news reports, people I know, stories I hear, misheard words or lyrics, dreams… Motivation? The memory of the rush I get from a really good writing session – even on a bad day I know I’ll find that again if I keep going. Thinking of all the people who are going to have so much fun reading what I’m writing. And, when I’m really not in the mood to sit at my desk, remembering all the awesome people relying on me for their income, from my agent to my publisher, book illustrators and designers, and new authors who wouldn’t get a chance at publication if established writers like me weren’t generating the income that enables publishers to take a chance on them.”

23sawa talked about “strong women,” gender roles, sexuality, and fantasy, and received a thoughtful response from Canavan:

“When I started writing the Black Magician Trilogy there weren’t many fantasy series about with female main protagonists, and many of those were problematic (I swear, nearly all had the protagonist raped at some point as part of her ‘maturing’). There also weren’t many where the main protagonist wasn’t a royal, lost or otherwise, or wound up royal. So yes, the gender thing has always been relevant to me. I suspect the same lack, the same cliches, were a part of what led to so many female fantasy writers being published in Australia. Authors usually write the sort of book they like to read. Though I suspect that the attitude I grew up with that fantasy was for women and science fiction for men, played into that as well, perhaps giving women no reason to question that it was a genre they should write in. Whatever the reason, two thirds of writers of alternative world fantasy (not urban) here are women. AS for LGBTQ characters… you’ll have to wait and see!” 

There were also several questions about Trudi Canavan’s inspirations and early career!

Stillflying asked, “What are your favourite books/series to read?”

“It changes from day to day, moment to moment, so I’ll pick one of my top ten with the caveat that there are others I like just as much. So… A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula leGuin. By the way, I have recommended reading pages on my website, if you’d like a bigger list.”

Sazzer wondered, “How did you actually get into writing? How did you get to the point of being a professional author by trade? And what advice would you give to someone trying to do that these days?”

“I started writing after seeing The Empire Strikes Back (yes, I am that old) and deciding I wanted to make films when I grew up. The advice I got was to write my ideas down. I then decided I wanted to write a book one day after I read Lord of the Rings at fourteen. The advice I got then was to not aim for it to be my main profession, but see if I could get a well-paid job with the bonus of it being good fodder for writing, which I should do in my ‘spare’ time. I wound up studying art and design, got a job at Lonely Planet Publications as a designer, cartographer and illustrator. Which was a fabulous place for a would-be author to work. I still recommend reading travel guides as an insight to a traveller’s perspective on fantasy worlds. Nearly all characters end up travelling at some point, and they have many of the same needs and concerns covered in travel guides.”

Trudi answered many more questions, so check out the full AMA on reddit!

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