Spotlight on: Sara Douglass

With the sad passing of one of Australia’s favourite fantasy writers this morning, this week’s author spotlight will feature Sara Douglass.

Sara Douglass was born Sara Warneke in Penola in SA’s south east. Her first career was as a nurse, during which she studied for her Bachelor of Arts. The degree was followed up with a PhD in English history, an interest that is evident in her writing. During the 1990’s whilst lecturing at Bendigo’s La Trobe University campus, she penned her first fantasy novel, Battleaxe which was published by Voyager in 1995. This book was nominated for an Aurelius award, but didn’t win, however the sequels in the series took the prize in 1996.

Sara went on to write another 20 or so novels and a variety of short stories. She died at the relatively early at age of 54  from ovarian cancer.

Spotlight on: Tess Gerritsen

Tess Gerritsen was in Australia just a few weeks back, promoting her latest novel, The Silent Girl. Tess in a Chinese American who is actually named Terry, but decided to ‘feminise’ her name when she started out writing romance novels. She always wanted to be a writer, but her family indicated that an established career would be financially safer to begin with. Thus her career began as a medical doctor in 1979, however her love of writing was still there, publishing her first Harlequin romance novel in 1986. Several more ‘romance thrillers’ followed and in 1996 she published her first medical thriller Harvest. From there her already successful writing career exploded resulting in several awards and fourteen more novels!

Spotlight on: Christopher Paolini

Following  the news of the eagerly awaited release of Inheritance, the fourth title in the Inheritance cycle of books featuring Eragon and his dragon Saphira, this round’s Spotlight will be on young author Christopher Paolini.

Christopher Paolini was born in 1983 and grew up in Montana, in a family who had a small self-publishing business. Frustrated as a youth by the quality of fantasy writing that was coming out, he decided to try his own hand at it. After graduating high school at age 15 he spent a year writing Eragon, and another year polishing it before his parents saw its potential and published it through their own small company.  He then went on the road for a year spruiking at bookshops and libraries with average sales for a self-published book.

‘Environmental thriller’ author Carl Hiaasen came across a copy, when his stepson bought one at one of Christopher’s talks and saw its greater circulation potential, showing it to his own publisher who took it on.  A little over a year after it was discovered, the revised version was published, with professional cover art,  by Alfred A Knopf publishers to immediate success. The rest they say is history! It spawned two hugely popular sequels , with the third and final sequel due this year and also a film adaptation in 2006. Not bad for a 28-year-old!

Spotlight on: George RR Martin

George RR Martin sometimes mentions that it was his teenage love of Marvel superhero comics that may have ignited his writing passion. In fact his first writing award (an Alley Award for amateur writers) was when he was 17 for a story titled Powerman vs The Blue Barrier. He went on to study journalism, completing his Masters in 1971.

It was around this time that he began to write Sci-Fi books, his story With Morning Comes Mistfall, being nominated for both the Hugo and Nebula Awards in 1973.  Martin was again nominated twice in 1976 for Hugo, his stories now becoming the more familiar fantasy and horror style that he is famous for.  During the 80’s he turned to television writing, most notably for the revamped Twilight Zone and the Beauty and the Beast series, before returning to the fantasy novel scene in the early 90’s.

It was then that he penned what is considered his masterpiece, the first volume in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, titled A Game of Thrones. This was released in 1996 and has since spawned five sequels with another two yet to be published. This series of books formed the basis of the hugely popular HBO Television show ‘Game of Thrones.’ Martin believe that currently there is around 6 seasons worth of material for the TV show and hopes to have completed the final two books in time for their translation to the screen.

Spotlight on: Steig Larsson

Stieg Larsson has been writing since the 1970’s, well-known in his homeland of Sweden as a science fiction writer for fanzines, even becoming chairman of the Scandinavian Science Fiction Society.

Stieg was born Karl Stig-Erland Larsson, changing the spelling of his name to not be confused with another Swedish writer of the same name. He lived a varied and influential life, serving as a left-wing activist, writing regularly for political journals, was also a photographer and spent time training female guerillas! He documented and exposed racist right-wing groups for which he received many death threats.

He became well know as a crime writer following his death at age 50, when his three manuscripts, which became known as the Millennium Trilogy, were published in 2005 – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, 2006 – The Girl who Played with Fire, and 2010 – The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. All three have been or are currently being made into films.