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Thanks everyone for your responses to yesterday’s vox pop. I’m going to tally all the responses later because I think there were some interesting things in it.

Meanwhile. Today the Aurealis Award shortlist came out and I’m delighted to see the Twelve Planets series get a few nods. Namely, Bad Power by Deborah Biancotti, Nightsiders by Sue Isle and Love and Romanpunk by Tansy Rayner Roberts are all shortlisted for Best Collection. I’m so very proud of these three books. Additional nods came in the Young Adult category where both “Nation of the Night” (Nightsiders) and “The Patrician” (Love and Romanpunk) also got shortlisted.

Huge congratulations to all the other shortlisters. The full list is over at Tehani’s blog if you’re interested.

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It’s really exciting watching people start reading the Twelve Planets and hearing what they think about it. I’ve been working on these in isolation, with the authors, for ages but it’s so cool to see people reading the books for the first time.








Ben Payne has a great review of Love and Romanpunk in which he sums up with:

I have been thinking for a while about how to best sum up Love and Romanpunk. In some ways it delivered what I expected, but in others it surprised me. I expected this book to be smart, to know its history, to have a sense of fun, and some laughs, and some steamy romance. Those things are almost Tansy trademarks. And it does have all those things, but in the end, all of those things felt almost peripheral to the things I liked most about the collection.

What’s not often talked about, with Tansy’s writing,  is the fact that there is a real emotional courage to her best works, a sense that she is ready to get into her gumboots and rubber gloves and muck about in the messiest, ugliest, most confusing of human emotions and relationships, and to try to find a path through them. It’s that depth of emotion, sometimes sweet, but just as often brutal and painful, that drives the best of these stories into being something a cut above the majority of works out there. The fact that they are also smart, and fun, is just the icing on the cake.



Purchase Love and Romanpunk on its own or as part of The Twelve Planets series or buy the first three in a season’s pass.


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Yes, Every Book is a Special, Snowflake.

Every book is a hugely different experience. I’ve heard it said that writing a book doesn’t teach you to Write Books, it just teaches you how you wrote that book. And then you get to start again. It’s probably the truest piece of writing advice I’ve ever heard, or given.

I learned this lesson early on – my first (published) novel took eighteen months to write. The second took seven. The second is by far a better book. So there’s any idea of time = quality, right out the window.

I’ve written books that were agony every step of the way, and books that were incredible fun with every scene and both kind have failed to get to a significant end point (ie publication). Sometimes that’s because the book wasn’t good enough, and sometimes because the author wasn’t. (yes, sometimes there’s a difference)

Sometimes books break, and they can be fixed. Sometimes they break and are lost forever. I’ve only had one instance when an outside force has broken one of my books, and I still don’t know if that one’s irreparable. I’m certainly guarding against the possibility of that happening again, but sometimes there’s nothing you can do.

It helps if you love the book in progress. (ha, one of many ways in which authoring is like parenting) It makes it easier to sit at the computer on a regular basis, if the manuscript is calling to you with a seductive siren song. Sadly, no matter how much you love it, the hate will set in at some point. If you’re very lucky, you can get to the end of the first draft (or the second, or the third) without that happening, but it always hits you in the end, usually at the worst possible moment. Experienced authors know that this always happens, that you have to ride it through, and hopefully you will love it again someday soon (at least, when you see it on a shelf).

Books have different personalities while you’re writing them, too. Some require playlists and mood music. Others require a reading list, and even that you avoid certain books or albums during the writing process, so as not to mess up your own voice. Some can be written in tiny increments, while other demand huge tracts of writing time.

The Shattered City, Book Two of my Creature Court trilogy, was perhaps the least interrupted of all the volumes in the series, which is ironic because it came with one big interruption — the birth of my second daughter. But I planned and allowed for a set amount of time off and then, slowly slowly, returned to the book. Book Three, on the other hand, was constantly interrupted thanks to the needs of the previous books in the series – my writing time was so limited thanks to my mothering commitments that I couldn’t write AND edit at the same time. So every time edits or proofs came in for earlier books, Book Three had to grind to a halt – and grind it did. I discovered to my dismay that these books – and Book Three in particular – required writerly momentum, and that I had to work consistently for 3-4 weeks before getting up enough momentum to feel I was actually making progress. But for a while there, I had other commitments crashing in every 4-6 weeks, so it really felt like every time I got up momentum, I had to stop again.

It didn’t help that Book Two, which had been much “easier” to get written, turned out to need more structural editing than anyone had planned for, and that meant stopping Book Three again and again. At one point I was so desperate that I begged my editors to let me ignore proofs for a month, just so I could get to the END of Book Three – it felt like stopping one more time would make the whole thing crash and burn. Besides, I didn’t actually know yet how it all ended…

Then, after all those agonies, Book Three didn’t need structural editing (unheard of in my experience!) so we actually ended up ahead of schedule.

In and amongst all this was Love and Romanpunk, an entirely different experience. I took a month to write the stories for this four story collection, knowing it was all the time I could spare – and from that, only two of the stories I produced were really, really good. Alisa proved her worth as an editor and publisher (not that she NEEDED to prove herself to me) by only accepting those two, and making me lift my game. Those two stories, “The Patrician” and “Julia Agrippina’s Secret Bestiary”, belonged to the same universe, and it only made sense that instead of putting them with two other vaguely Ancient-Rome-themed stories, they should be part of a suite of four.

The books had to wait, and wait, but then I finished Book Three of the trilogy and had the summer to work on short stories in between the child-juggling that comes with school holidays. First came “Lamia Victoriana”, a story I had been wanting to write back in my original month, but which simply wasn’t cooked back then. I had been inspired by the story of Fanny Wollstonecraft/Godwin, half sister to the more famous Mary Shelley, after reading Death and the Maidens by Janet Todd, and I wanted to give Fanny a different fate. Not sure if being surrounded by lamia was an improvement, but it was certainly more fitting to the universe I had created!

The final story almost wrote itself – I knew all the elements from quite early, borrowing the title from one of my failed original stories (“Last of the Romanpunks”), and nothing else. As has now become fairly standard for me, however, the easier it is to write a piece, the more editing it will require later on! I took a leaf out of the book of Steven Moffat with his Doctor Who finale and made the story a sequel to all the others (though in some cases only tangentially) – something that could only be possible in this format, though I like to think the story can stand alone. It will certainly have more narrative resonance exactly where it is – the fourth in a collection of four.

Now my books are all done, but that means simply that it’s time to start again. I have received two grants this year to write Fury, a Nancy Napoleon novel, sequel to “Siren Beat” – and I’m definitely at the ‘why isn’t this easier, I’ve been looking forward to it for months’ stage. “Siren Beat” was one of the easiest pieces I’ve ever written – once Nancy’s voice came to me, the story just poured on to the page, and it required very little (for once!) in the way of shaping and editing afterwards. But I’ve written several books since then, and had another child, and finding Nancy’s voice is Actual Work, even with her playlist of music blaring in the background.

It will come, though. I will find the momentum and hit the sweet spot and the novel will unfold around me. I’m having to take actual thinking time with this one, turning it over in my head rather than letting it unfold as I write, and that is a shock to the system. Also, the story being set in my home town rather than an imaginary universe, I’m actually needing to GO PLACES and LOOK AT STUFF which is, again, hard to get used to. Once again, I have to come to terms with the fact that every book is different, and can’t be written the same way as any previous book.

You’d think I’d have learned that by now.


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Love and Romanpunk by Tansy Rayner Roberts has been released into the wilds. I can’t believe the second volume of The Twelve Planets project is already out. This year is speeding by!

I have a couple of copies up on Goodreads as a Giveaway and the widget below to show off the lovely cover by Amanda Rainey (of course!)

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Love and Romanpunk by Tansy Rayner Roberts

Love and Romanpunk

by Tansy Rayner Roberts

Giveaway ends May 31, 2011.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

And here’s what the back of the book says:

Thousands of years ago, Julia Agrippina wrote the true history of her family, the Caesars. The document was lost, or destroyed, almost immediately.
(It included more monsters than you might think.)

Hundreds of years ago, Fanny and Mary ran away from London with a debauched poet and his sister.
(If it was the poet you are thinking of, the story would have ended far more happily, and with fewer people having their throats bitten out.)

Sometime in the near future, a community will live in a replica Roman city built in the Australian bush. It’s a sight to behold.
(Shame about the manticores.)

Further in the future, the last man who guards the secret history of the world will discover that the past has a way of coming around to bite you.
(He didn’t even know she had a thing for pointy teeth.)

The world is in greater danger than you ever suspected. Women named Julia are stronger than they appear. Don’t let your little brother make out with silver-eyed blondes. Immortal heroes really don’t fancy teenage girls. When love dies, there’s still opera. Family is everything. Monsters are everywhere. Yes, you do have to wear the damned toga.

History is not what you think it is.



Julia Agrippina’s Secret Family Bestiary
Lamia Victoriana
The Patrician
Last of the Romanpunks

Love and Romanpunk is available for purchase at

And subscriptions to the Twelve Planets can be bought and upgraded at any time.

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