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Isobelle Carmody p1

READERSVOICE.COM aims to collect a few interesting reading tips. This issue features a lot of good writing tips from fantasy author Isobelle Carmody. She gave a talk at the Brisbane Oz Comic-Con. Hearing an author talk is probably the best way to learn about writing, apart from doing a lot of reading and writing. Her talk alone was worth the price of admission at the Oz Comic-Con. It was a great event with lots of comics artists, writers, actors and others appearing.

You can see the best artists and writers at comic-cons, especially when all they have to do is hire a table to show their works. Then some of them give talks about their work and you can ask questions.
There are two main types of comic-cons. Some rent out tables to authors and artists on a first-come first-served basis. Others are curated events. With curated events, to be able to hire a table, writers and artists submit their work in an audition-type process. There is always a slight risk with curated events, and with invitation-only festivals for that matter, that particular authors and artists might be excluded for their political, religious or other views. Oz Comic-Con was curated, but hopefully it shall always be as open as the first-come, first-served comic-cons.
There were some great artists from publishers like Marvel, and writers from the scifi and fantasy genres at Oz Comic-Con. Some gave talks, like Isobelle Carmody. Ms Carmody gave a lot of good writing tips, and I’ll just list a few.
Her first novel was Obernewtyn, in 1987. The Obernewtyn Chronicles is a series of novels about Elspeth Gordie who lives in a post-apocalyptic world shattered by a nuclear holocaust. She has mental powers that have been condemned by The Council.
Ms Carmody said that writing was more layered and textured the more the writer let the real world into their works. Fantasy and scifi and realism were on the borderline between imagination and reality.
She said it was important not to let the reader become bored in transitions: these are the passages between exciting events in the novel. She said to either avoid the transitions altogether, or to find an interesting way to transition.
Ms Carmody also talked about suspense. She put it into practice as a teenager when minding her siblings at home at night while their mother went to work. She would play The Monster Game with her brothers and sisters. They would run and hide in the house, waiting for The Monster to come after them. She would take her time chasing the kids, to get more fear out of the game. She would let out terrifying screeches, stretching out the time taken in pursuit, and the fear would increase.
Ms Carmody said you should only write something you are deeply interested in: something about which you were looking for answers. You might never find the answers, but the story would go much deeper because of your interest, she said.
For the novel she was working on, she used an interest she had in sleep research. Dreams interested her, too.
The writer might have a question: Why don’t I get on with my mother? Or: how do I remain an individual and still belong? How do you mediate between these two things? These questions were good starting points for a novel.

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– copyright Simon Sandall