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Sadly I can’t make it, but if you’re in Hobart tomorrow:

DrownedVanillaWHERE: Hobart Bookshop, Salamanca Place, Hobart Tasmania.
WHEN: 5:30-7pm, Thursday 20 November

Kate Gordon, author of Thyla and Writing Clementine, will be launching Drowned Vanilla by Livia Day at the Hobart Bookshop. Please come and join us! There will be wine, and books, and THIS BOOK IN PARTICULAR WHICH FEATURES MURDER AND ICE CREAM.

We’d love to see you there. No RSVP required, just bring yourselves

For more info, check out Tansy’s/Livia’s blog.

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October 27   New book cover!

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On Friday we released the brand new cover of the third story in the Cafe La Femme series being publishing by our crime imprint Deadlines and I realised I was remiss by not posting it here.


BlackmailBlend The Blackmail Blend by Livia Day (Tansy Rayner Roberts) is a mini mystery set between the first two novels in the series – A Trifle Dead and the newly released Drowned Vanilla. It will be released in ebook formats only and there will be more information soon on how to order it.

Meanwhile, here is the beautiful cover design by Amanda Rainey and a bit of a blurb of the book:

Six romance writers

Five secrets
Four poison pen letters
Three stolen manuscripts
Two undercover journalists
One over-complicated love life

Way too many teacups and tiny sandwiches

This shouldn’t be a recipe for mayhem and murder, but Tabitha Darling has been burned once before and she knows the signs that she’s about to fall into another crime scene. At least she doesn’t have to worry about love triangles any more. Right? RIGHT?

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Heads up: there’s a bonus Hugo edition episode incoming.

In which we approach Fringe from multiple sides, rant about Game of Thrones, muse about cake lit and Alisa is a PhD student again! Bonus supplemental awards chat (but not in depth about the Hugos because we recorded before the shortlist went public) and an invitation to CAKE OUT for our 100th. See you there…

Culture Consumed:
Alex: Fringe s1; A Million Suns, Beth Revis; The Crooked Letter, Sean Williams

Tansy: Game of Thrones rant, Jenny Colgan novels, Jago & Litefoot 7, Yonderland!

Alisa: Game of Thrones; Generation Cryo; The Cuckoo by Sean Williams, Clarkesworld Issue 91; the PhD Report

Aurealis Awards were awarded.

(sidetracked: Before the Internet from XKCD)

Hugo nomination
CAKE COMPETITION! For our 100th episode, we would like to have a new logo. On a cake. Designed by you. Send a picture of your creation and you could win… something… and you can eat the cake, too. (This is episode 98, so you’ve got 4 or 5 weeks to plan your creation.)
Please send feedback to us at, follow us on Twitter at @galacticsuburbs, check out Galactic Suburbia Podcast on Facebook and don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes if you love us!

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Guest Post by Tansy Rayner Roberts

Is Cranky Ladies of History going to be a SF anthology, a fantasy anthology or a historical anthology? I’m hoping all three. Historical fiction is a lot closer to SF/F than you might think – that delicate balance between research/accuracy/realism and imagination/wonder/liberty-taking. My recent obsession with historical romance author Courtney Milan took on a whole different angle when I read this review which pointed out that the heroine discovers the chromosome much earlier than in recorded history – which makes it science fiction, right?

Science fiction has a long history of allowing the alternative history and even more adventurous, the secret history, to “count” as part of the genre. Mary Gentle’s Ash is a brilliant example of this, a novel that looks and feels exactly like real history – as the reader you desperately want it to be real – but feels like fantasy and science fiction too. It’s too close and too far away at the same time – the uncanny valley of historical fiction, and thus it’s ours.

Then there’s that odd tradition we have in the SF genre of allowing historical fiction to “count” if it’s by an author we claim as our own. Karen Joy Fowler’s fiction often works that way, hitting the SF awards shortlists and causing controversy as fans and critics alike argue, does it count? Is it real?

hildNicola Griffith’s excellent Hild, a meticulous historical novel based around the young woman who would become St Hildegard of Bergen, was nominated for a Nebula, and critics are already divided on whether it’s science fictional or fantastical enough to “count.”

The truth is that, while we only tend to let the barriers fall for those authors who are seen as “one of us,” most historical fiction is also science fiction, or fantasy. And not just in that ‘all fiction is speculative’ way.

I spent most of my twenties immersed in Roman history, a period so full of gaps and lacunae and great gaping missing bits that you practically have to become a historical novelist to make sense of it all, especially if you want to talk about anything other than the handful of men in power who wrote things down.

And yes, when I did start writing fiction about the Romans, I added werewolves, because honestly they make more sense that way.

All Arthurian novels are closer to fantasy than history – even if they do ignore the blatant magic that runs through so many of the stories. But Marion Zimmer Bradley created a different kind of fantasy in which women had a greater importance and significance to the politics and religion of the day than had previously been assumed. The Mists of Avalon asked really important questions – like who the Lady of the Lake actually was, and why Guinevere and Lancelot didn’t just quietly run away together, and why a mysterious enchantress would even want to capture Merlin inside a tree.

She asked the same questions that social historians have to ask, all the time –  what were the women doing, while all the history was being written about their husbands and sons?

courseofhonorOne of my favourite historical novels of all time is The Course of Honour, by Lindsey Davis. Antonia Caenis, the former slave who became the beloved mistress of the Emperor Vespasian, was only mentioned twice in the history books. Davis, who famously brought the Flavian period to life in her Roman detective series featuring the informer Marcus Didius Falco, did a great job of fleshing out a romance between the coin-counting Emperor and the whip-smart woman who could never marry him, which fitted with the few facts we knew about Caenis and the many facts we knew about Vespasian.

My life was also substantially changed by the Masters of Rome series by Colleen McCullough – which I read through my teens and which sparked my first interest in Roman women. Her research was meticulous and thorough, though again it was often based on imagining lives of women based on sparse details.

I always skimmed over the chapters on politics and war, to get back to the womenfolk. And I was a little devastated to discover that, while Marius undoubtedly married the Julia who was the aunt to *our* Julius Caesar, it was a complete fabrication that she had a troubled, self-destructive younger sister who married Sulla.

MedeaKerry Greenwood’s Medea, on the other hand, plays with the notion that we know the end of the story, only to sock it to us at the end with the revelation both through fiction and a historical end note, that actually it was Euripides who was playing the alternative history game, and the real Medea (if she existed) was almost certainly framed for her terrible crime.

It’s one thing to think of alternative history as being the craft of changing the past, but what if you are using your story to bring it back closer to the historical truth? That’s the game that all historical writers play with us – the tease that this version is real, even if it contains magical islands and manticores, alien invasions or characters who never even made it into the footnotes of history.

BitterGreensKate Forsyth, known in Australia as a successful writer of epic fantasy for adults and children, had an international breakout success a couple of years ago with Bitter Greens, a novel which takes fairy tales, fantasy and women’s history and turns them into a marvellous cocktail of can’t-stop-reading.

The real live Cranky Lady of the story is Charlotte-Rose De La Force, one of the many ladies-who-salon of 17th century France, an author of fairy tales at a time when the genre was at its absolute hottest.

Kate didn’t just write a straight biography of Charlotte-Rose – though she immersed herself in her history even to the point of researching and translating some of her writings which had never before been translated into English – but tangled that story in with the fairy tale of Rapunzel, and an imagined history of the original witch of that tale. From the scandalous affairs of the French court to Italian courtesans, lovers and plague, and into the magical possibilities of fairy tales and witchcraft, the novel never quite lets up as to which layer is fantasy and which is history.

It’s all just wonderful.

I have no idea what we’re going to get for Cranky Ladies of History – you never do until the stories themselves roll in. I am hoping for fiction which illuminates historical women I know quite well, and others I have never heard of. I’m hoping for new perspectives, for stories that bring history to life as Lindsey Davis did for Caenis, and Kate Forsyth did for Charlotte-Rose.

But I would be lying if I didn’t say that I’m also rather hoping that a few witches and manticores and robot doubles slide into the stories too.

Cranky Ladies logo

This post is written as part of the Women’s History Month Cranky Ladies of History blog tour. If  you would like to read more about cranky ladies from the past, you might like to support the FableCroft Publishing Pozible campaign, crowd-funding an anthology of short stories about Cranky Ladies of History from all over the world.

A Roundup of all the other posts for this campaign can be found at FableCroft.

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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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I was trialling the website interface on Twitter yesterday and am told it works! Yay.

We’re in the process of converting all the Twelfth Planet Press books to ebooks and they will soon be available on the website and in various other online stores. Quality ebooks are fiddly and time consuming to produce and I’m very fortunate to have kind designers who have generously given of their time to make TPP electronically available.

The ebook process has been an interesting, and often frustrating one for me. I’m not a designer, I don’t do layout and I haven’t been able to help out on this project. The software to layout ebooks is not the same software as to layout print books and the conversion from one to the other, no matter what people say, is not an easy, simple, straightforward one. You can generate from one to the other but then you get nasty, messy files that are awful to read and people complain about. And the manual layout for a good ebook takes as long as it does to layout a print book. So that’s double the time or two completely different, and time consuming products. And in small press, where most of the people involved are pretty much donating their time and skills, it starts to all get a bit overly demanding.

Still, I am very fortunate. Amanda Rainey does such fantastic layout. She makes my books look like real books and good looking ones at that. And I know she is much of the reason our books are doing so well. And now, the unbelievably awesome Charles Tan has come on board to help out with our ebooks. I’m learning from him what makes a quality ebook and just how much time that takes. And considering how busy Charles is with all the other things he does, I am very lucky he is my friend!

Our very first ebook is now up and available for purchase from the Twelfth Planet Press webstore. Cheryl Morgan finessed this one from Amanda’s files and Charles took it to the finishing line. I’ve even read it on my iPhone and can attest it looks very beautiful. The rest will follow and we’ll make a bigger deal about that then.

Love and Romanpunk Ebookavailable for download now for $5.95

And in celebration, Tansy Roberts is Rocking the Romanpunk all this week!

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September 14   The Twelve Planets

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Gwyneth Jones has this to say on the Twelve Planets volumes so far, which she posted about on her personal blog:

I’ve been reading The Twelve Planets’ latest selections, and enjoying them very much, starting with Deborah Biancotti: police procedural with a sinister undertow of the weird, progressing through Tansy Rayner Roberts (Romanpunk), Lucy Sussex (Thief of Lives), and Sue Isle (Nightsiders). These collections, just four stories in a slim paperback, are an excellent idea, a tasting menu of Australasian female genre writers. Romanpunk has an intriguing twist on the noble vampire and mortal girlfriend* story (see, these vampires are really Lamia, they’re Roman in origin, and very well connected, but they find the C21 street has its uses). Ever wondered why pretty-boy Caligula was such an unmitigated horror in private life? Or why Nero was finally forced to kill his mother? Refreshingly, unlike Buffy, the mortal girlfriend is not allergic to education and actually has a life… Lucy Sussex I can safely say needs no introduction: I loved her beautiful story about modern and ancient Babylon, “Alchemy”. Sue Isle has created a daunting, yet not hopeless day after tomorrow Western Australia; linked stories all set in the same moment, the moment, for various characters, when you realise that climate change has won, and civilisation is not coming back. So you stop mourning, and you move on… Made me wish there was a novel.

Someone said, recently, the Finnish sf community gives me hope for the future of the genre… These Australians give me hope for the future of female, and even feminist, writers in sf.


I couldn’t hope for better feedback.

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If you haven’t yet donated to the World SF Travel Fund – to help send Charles Tan to World Fantasy Con and then other fans in years to come – now’s your chance!

We have teamed up to offer the next five people who donate $50 or more a signed copy of Marianne de Pierres’s Glitter Rose! This is in addition to the regular reward. De Pierres is the very successful author of the Parrish Plessis books from Orbit and the SF series Sentients of Orion.

We are also offering copies of Twelfth Planet Press books Nightsiders and Love and Romanpunk to anyone donating just $25 or more!

Please help us raise more money for the fund, towards a third year of operations!

To claim the offer, make a donation through the peerbackers project, then e-mail with your name, the amount of your donation and your choice of reward. Remember these rewards are in addition to the regular ones you’ll receive!






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1 comment

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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