Sunday, January 18, 2009

Writer Swims Upstream

Marianne de Pierres

If writing is like swimming upstream -- first there is the battle to write something good enough to get published, then to get it published, then to stay published -- then Marianne de Pierres is a successful salmon!

With the Parrish Plessis series under her belt and a new cross-genre series signed, Marianne joins us to talk about writing, her new paranormal series and the release of the second book in her Sentients of Orion series.

Q. The Parrish Plessis series was typecast as Cyber Punk and your Sentients of Orion series could be described as intelligent Space Opera, both are definitely science fiction. This is the twenty-first century, women have had the vote for 100 years and equal pay for equal work for 40 years but females are still discriminated against across the world, especially in third world countries. Science Fiction is traditionally a male field, as a female writer of SF have you encountered any resistance from readers, editors or male SF writers?

M. Certainly not from editors or male SF writers in the world and its impossible for me to know what the majority of male readers are thinking. Having said that however, I recently read am amazon review (as you do, and really shouldn’t!) of Dark Space where the outraged male reader complained how the first forty pages was about clothing – and where was the space opera? In fact the first forty pages are about building a vivid picture of a world where women are still repressed. The idea was to make this

world tangible and then utterly destroy it in a way that would have far reaching ramifications. The reader didn’t stay with it that far. If the author name on the book had been male I wonder whether he may have been prepared to find out what was going on.

Q. The Parrish Plessis series is very different in tone and content from Sentients of Orion. Did you set out to write something completely different and how did your editor and readers react to this change of pace?

M. Yes. I definitely wanted to write something different. It would have been so easy to keep writing Parrish (or something similar) but I didn’t want to fall into the trap of repeating the same character in everything I wrote. My editor at Orbit (Darren Nash) was keen that I broaden my writing horizons as well. Reader-wise there was different reaction. I talked about this over at Walker of the Worlds

blogspot recently. Parrish inspired a large fan base, and a lot of people didn’t want me to let her go.

Q. Several of your books have been finalists in the Aurealis Award and ‘Chaos Space’, book two in the Sentients of Orion series, is a finalist this year. In what ways does having books shortlisted for awards helps your career?

M. I’m not sure really. It makes me feel good. Hopefully it makes my publisher happy. I guess what it does is give extra exposure to the book. Exposure is the single biggest battle for authors. There is so much competition for consumer attention, and awards mentions and competition wins all help to raise the profile of your work.

Q. You’ve just signed to write a new series, Tara Tasse, the paranormal detective under the pseudonym, Marianne Delacourt. This is contemporary and set in Australia. Was it fun to plunge into this genre?

M. On the new series website I describe Marianne Delacourt as the lighter, funnier side of Marianne de Pierres. It’s quite liberating to be writing comedy and a beautiful balance to the darkness of some of my science fiction. I’ve dabbled in crime noir with other books, and there is a mild paranormal element, so it really all the things I love but in different proportions.

Q. Writing is a tough business, you’ve maintained a high level of creativity while coping with a son with Crohn’s disease. How do you juggle family and career, and what do you see in the two Mariannes’ futures?

M. Firstly, thank you for saying so.

Most writers have things going on in their personal lives that impinge on their professional time and energy. Writing is, and always will be a calm place for me to go, a refuge where I can focus. A meditation.

I don’t think my creativity has ever been hampered, more my output. 2008 was a much better year for me personally so my output increased – hence the new series and my screenplay option.

The two Marianne’s are keen to keep stay happy and healthy (and keep her family that way) and let the rest happen.

Q. If you could go back to when you first decided to write seriously, what advice would you give yourself?

M. Stop checking my email and write. Seriously!


Karen said...

Great interview Marianne.
Very enlightening esp about juggling career!
Karen Tyrrell

Anonymous said...

Hi Karen,

we all face the life balance issues. Practis makes perfect - we hope


Dave Freer said...

Speaking as a reader of sf I find it's not the gender of the writer so much as name recognition that gets me to buy. Once I know who a writer is and that I like their work I really don't care whether they're male or female, Certainly some women (you definately included, Marianne) write a perfectly adequate male veiwpoint for me. Where I do think this is a real issue, and I would like to see more new female writers of sf is as new writers - so we can learn who we like. Of course you will always have bigoted idiots (shrug).

Amanda Greenslade said...

Great advice, Marianne. I'm certain I fall into the trap of checking my email when I could be writing. My subconscious always seems to be saying there's not enough time or peace and quiet to get any writing done, so instead I spend an hour or two checking emails. How do you get over that thinking and train yourself to get in the zone for only an hour or two?

Anonymous said...

Hey Dave,
sorry I'm being dense - not quite sure what you are saying. Could you put it in kindergarten terms for me?

Anonymous said...

Hi Amanda,

I allow myself an hour in the morning before I start writing to do all internet related things. After that I try and be strict(doesn't always work of course!)

Find a pettern for yourself and stick to it.

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