Today, I bring you an interview with fellow Aussie author Felicity Banks. Writer of Fantasy, Steampunk, and Interactive Fiction, including 'Murder in the Mail' and 'Magic in the Mail'. Felicity also occasionally writes Sci-Fi or Horror. So many genres to explore. So, let's get to it.
Tell me about yourself
I’m a disabled, bisexual, Christian mum of two brilliant neuro-diverse kids, and two scornful calico cats. My home is in Canberra, Australia. I love to ride my recumbent bike around the nearby nature parks, and of course I love to read—Jodi Taylor, Gail Carriger (especially when she writes as GL Carriger), Sandy Fussell, Pamela Freeman, Naomi Novik, Garth Nix, Katherine Arden. . . How long have you been writing?
When I was seven I outlined a novel about a family of cats. I’m thirty-nine now. I wrote fifteen books (roughly one per year from the age of sixteen onwards), before I had a novel published for the first time. I am very grateful for the encouragement of short story contests along the way. What drew you to your chosen genre / genres?
I’ve discovered that I’m quickly bored if there’s no magic, so fantasy is definitely my home. On the rare occasions I write sci-fi, there’s usually some technology that might as well be magic. I also write a little bit of crime, but only short stories. When I write horror, I get nightmares, so I don’t do that often! I was drawn to steampunk because of the aesthetic. The technology is so beautiful and intricate while also having a wonderful physicality and texture. Could you explain what you mean by Interactive Fiction?
Interactive fiction is any storytelling form that actively involves the reader. Most of it is similar to the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books from the 80s, but these days most interactive fiction is digital and released as apps. The digital element gives it a brilliant flexibility (eg you can choose your name, gender, and sexuality), and having it as an app means that people who “don’t have time to read” feel like they’re playing a game rather than reading a novel. . . even if the game happens to be hundreds of thousands of words long. I know nothing about the Steam Punk genre. How would you describe it to a reader?
It’s a genre based on the Victorian Era (the second half of the 1800s), but deliberately not historically accurate. For example, wearing corsets on the outside or travelling in space using steam power. It’s often retro-futuristic, taking steam power or Victorian inventions and extrapolating what might have been if technology had continued along those lines. Can you tell me about your latest release, and the inspiration behind the story? Most people know me for my Australian magical steampunk trilogy (HEART OF BRASS, SILVER AND STONE, IRON LIGHTS) but my most recent release is a cozy murder mystery, A BLOODY BIRTHDAY. It is an interactive short story filled with art and photos, so the reader can try to find the clues along with the main character (but the story resolves properly whether they solve it or not). It’s a picture book for grown-ups. There are eight very different artists included in the story, which of course is printed in full glorious colour. I wanted to find a way to make art accessible to ordinary people, while also telling an interactive story. The original version of the story was posted to readers over eight weeks for an even more immersive experience. What is your writing Kryptonite?
When I think a story is going well, I get terrified I'll ruin it. I know it’s foolish, but I can’t help it! Can you describe your writing process?
I typically write an outline of about a page (plus probably ten or twenty pages of notes). Before I start writing I usually buy a new spiral notebook for it, because it’ll be bubbling away in my mind for months. I write the first draft in front of the TV to distract me from the terror of the blank page. Then I edit in silence. What do you like to do when you are not writing?
I run a group called the Castle of Kindness Refugee Sponsorship Group, which holistically supports refugee families as they settle into Canberra. We help with English practice, paperwork, local orientation, employment, and anything else that seems useful to people that may not have known anything about Australia before they were forced to flee here. It is incredibly fun and fascinating.
Thank you to Felicity for sharing with us. I am in awe of people who can write so many different genres. I would love to write a thriller, but alas, to date, I have not been brave enough to dip my toes in that pond. Maybe one day !
If you would like to check out her work, click on the links below.
Felicity's Writing Companions