Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish.
Australian Female Fantasy Authors
(That got me reading fantasy)
Today I’m discussing Australian female fantasy authors, listed in the order I first started reading them.
1. Jackie French
Back in primary school one of my favourite books was Somewhere Around the Corner, set in the time of the Depression in Australia about a girl called Barbara who travels back in time. This book was my introduction to historical fiction (as far as I can remember at least) and I loved the characters, as well as the almost-familiar farm setting as that’s where I spent my holidays, with my mum’s side of the family.
From there, Jackie French has remained one of my favourite authors as she has many historical fiction books coming out constantly, and also came out with the Outlands Trilogy right when I was curious of vampire novels (before they were popular, thankfully!) Her fantasy books were always so different and unique to what I was used to also, such as Tarjore Arkle. Recently she’s become the Australian Children’s Laureate and really does such great things for Australian writing, especially for children.
2. Jennifer Fallon
My first real fantasy novel loaned to me by a friend who was astonished I wasn’t well into fantasy novels during high school – I got into it so late. She loaned me The Immortal Prince, the first in the Tide Lord series and from there I devoured each book Jennifer had out at the time, which kept me busy for months. Seeing as she came from remote Australia and lived quite close to me, relatively, she was incredibly kind and met with me for lunch, and kept a friendly eye at me at Supanova writing classes in Brisbane. I have a lot to thank her for, as she’s really the reason I got into fantasy books so quickly (finally!)
Her books, to me, are easy epic fantasy. They have power plays, government and lands interacting, and a large cast of characters with their own interests and connections which bounce you through the plots. It’s the type of fantasy that pulls you deep into the world, and really care for the characters.
3. Sara Douglass
This is where I moved onto next (though at the same time as reading Fallon) because of course everyone was always talking about the Axis trilogy and Wayfarer, as well as her other books. You can hardly read Australian fantasy unless you’ve tried Douglass’ work. Australia really have lost someone great – her work was and is a thing of beauty and her books add to much to the fantasy genre.
Like the above, these are deep fantasy that really pull you in to a whole other world. With Douglass’ work she invites you to a whole different way of living, with other creatures and hybrids. There’s so much on offer with her books. Thankfully there are many books to her name, and they’re even better when you’re re-reading them, you keep discovering little hints to further reveals or other elements you hadn’t yet noticed in her world. If you haven’t tried Sara’s work before, I highly recommend starting with Battle Axe.
4. Glenda Larke
I’m not entirely sure how I came across The Last Stormlord, the first in her Watergivers trilogy. Perhaps just listened to the hype, and then discovered for myself how well justified it is. I was then lucky enough to write a review for it which won her entire set of books, which allowed me to give her others I had already on my shelves to friends, who have in turn bought all her books themselves! See, competitions work :D
Glenda’s another who has a thankfully large amount of books out there already waiting to be dug into, that are being helpfully renewed electronically by Fablecroft. Her books are especially excellent for strong, female leads.
While any and all of Glenda’s work is amazing, I think you can start with The Last Stormlord, as that’s where I started and haven’t yet regretted it. Or start with the book that comes out in March – The Lascar’s Dagger (The Forsaken Lands, #1)
5. Juliet Marillier
I came across Marillier’s work at Worldcon 2010 when it was hosted in Melbourne, as a friend I was conning with, Kaylee, utterly adores her books and encouraged me along to a kaffeeklatsch, where Juliet very helpfully gave out copies of her books. Juliet’s books are also amazing, a very clever blend of folk lore, historical fiction and fantasy. I started with The Bridei Chronicles and they probably remain my favourites by her to this day, though honestly, everything she writes has been highly enjoyable.
Juliet’s a good author to follow because she seems to come out with a new book often, something harder and harder to do in this current climate. YOu can also start just about anywhere with her books, though I would suggest reading The Bridei Chronicles in order, and her Sevenwaters series could be even better in order, but I’m somehow reading them randomly and it still provides enough information for you to be reminded where you are in their generations of family as they spiral out.
6. Tansy Rayner Roberts / Livia Day
Hrm. I think I tried the first in the Creature Court series after … I think it was Continuum in Melbourne in July 2011? I remember as it was during that where I won the cameo for Scott Lynch’s series. The con was over, and friend Lana and I went shopping one last time in Minotaur (Melbourne’s best but also quite expensive spec fic store) where I bought the book after hearing so much about it. I had trouble putting it down, it’s lucky I was on a flight so soon after for reading time! I devoured the series and haven’t looked back.
Tansy’s work ranges between the beautiful and fantastically, to an almost Pratchett sense of zany and humour. Her books are especially excellent if you like sewing and food because she describes both so very well. If you want something stunning, try Creature Court. If you want humour, try Mocklore Chronicles. You can also listen to Tansy (along with Alex and Alisa) on their Speculative Fiction podcast – Galactic Suburbia.
7. Deborah Biancotti
Is utterly fantastic at short stories. They make you want more so badly – the story may be satisfying but goodness would you love to see more of the idea expanded because it was presented so well. I haven’t had the chance to read every short by her – they’re so hard to collect when they’re not, y’know a simple novel series, but Deborah is certainly someone I’ll be keeping an eye on in future to see what she has next.
The tag line on the book pictured here? ‘Hate superheroes? Yeah. They probably hate you, too.’ How could that not make you want to read immediately? This collection of shorts shows Deborah’s ability as they could have so easily fallen flat, or turned out clichéd – but these are just beyond excellent, some of the best shorts I’ve ever read. These are also excellent to read if you like a book that gives you perfect visuals while reading. One of the first things that strike you with her work is how easily it could be turned into a mini series or movie.
8. Jaclyn Moriarty
Her book A Corner of White is one of my instant favourites. I’m currently reading the sequel Cracks in the Kingdom and her ability with words is just stunning. Such a lyrical way of writing that draws you in, young adult and yet with ideas that can be expanded upon if you give it thought and time. Wonderful characters, and a wonderful way of capturing the places in a way that make you desperate to visit – or re-visit. Cambridge (UK) is one of her settings, and it honestly makes me homesick for a place I’ve only visited three times, usually just for a few hours.
This is perhaps a hard book to get into, because it’s a little different. I can only strongly recommend that you give it a chance, because the difference is what makes it such a strong YA novel. It’s quirky and wonderful and the characters are simply lovely. It’s very surreal and it tries to keep you on the edge of knowing just what the heck is going on. So just trust the novel and let it carry you to the end as a book should.
9. Jo Spurrier
Was an author recommended to me by a co-worker who’s reading quirks I pay much attention to. This is a series that really immerses you in the landscape. Being someone from Australia who hasn’t really had contact with snow before (though it does snow in parts of Australia), Spurrier really makes you feel how bitter and deadly the snow can be even if you don’t know the first thing about it.
She also really shows characters who you can’t ever trust – what side have they truly allied with, and how far will they go in order to get what they want. Her characters are often desperate which makes for great reading, and with the third due to come out in June this is the perfect time to give this author a try.
For her first series, this is a pretty amazing set of novels.
10. Rowena Cory Daniells
Rowena is an author I’ve been meaning to try for an embarrassingly long time, and finally – finally – whilst in Brighton last year in November I finally gave Kin Rolen’s Kin a go. What a cracking series. Such a huge cast of characters that are all surprisingly equal in holding your attention. Generally when a book is split into following a certain character around for a bit, I whine in my head about wanting to go baaack to the character we were just following – don’t leave it there, I need to see what happens next! – but with this series, each and every character is just as gripping.
Happily, Rowena has another series out already – The Outcast Chronicles – so I know what I’ll be starting next moment I get…
This is very, very decent epic fantasy, another author where you get totally lost in the characters and the world, and certainly an author to watch.
Some other Aussie authors I’ve been meaning to try and really need to get my act together and find time for are Jo Anderton, Karen Miller, Marianne de Pierres and Mary Victoria.
Which Australian female authors do you love? And why? Which of their books would you highly recommend someone start with?