It’s not just about entertainment, nor just about literacy…

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“black framed eyeglasses on book page” by Nicole Honeywill on Unsplash

On 20th September, it’s going to be Australian Reading Hour. This is a day where Australians are encourage to stop what they’re doing for an hour — any hour — and pick up a book. As an avid reader, and an author as well, I’m already a convert to reading. I have been for a long, long time. I’m actively trying to instil in my children a love of reading and of books.

It’s hard to make reading more interesting than the TV or the internet — it probably will always be hard. TV is colour and movement — easy…


The five stages all writers (and gardeners) go through

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“person showing green plant” by Benjamin Combs on Unsplash

Down under in the southern hemisphere, winter is coming to a close and the sun is starting to come out again. Suddenly I’ve started to look around at the garden and realise what needs to be done before spring growth sets in. Unfortunately, the answer is that so, so many things need to be done that I almost just shut the door and went back inside. It got me to thinking about how gardening is much like writing (and publishing) a novel.

Sure, there are differences. While writing a book, you’re less likely to get sunburned, or step in stray…


Writing a character with wings

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Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash

Write what you know — this is typical advice given to aspiring authors. Of course, it’s not meant to be taken literally. Authors aren’t restricted to writing memoirs, after all. Certainly, when it comes to the fantasy genre, that advice is stretched to its limits.

All stories at their essence are about characters. Even if those characters aren’t human, they have human characteristics or traits. Stories about animals are often humanised — the technical term is “anthropomorphism” — when we attribute human traits, emotions and intentions to non-humans. …


An Evolutionary Approach to World-Building

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“A collection of colorful globes on a shelf” by João Silas on Unsplash

I love world-building. It’s one of the things I enjoy most about writing fantasy. Creating amazing and crazy settings for the adventures of my characters really lights up my imagination. In real life, I love to travel, to experience being somewhere new and different. Though setting is only the background to life and culture, places do have a feel about them. Almost as though they have a personality of their own.

I also enjoy large scale, epic movies — think Avatar or Lord of the Rings. The detail of the world-building — the background to the story — is beautiful…


Getting to the end of a writing project

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Photo by Quino Al on Unsplash

Writing a novel is a marathon. It’s a long process — even if your book isn’t that long, it will take many hours to write, then edit, then polish until it shines for readers.

Some aspects of your novel might be quicker than others. For example, I usually treat the first draft as a sprint, because I want to get the story down on paper quickly. Still, by ‘quick’ I mean four to six weeks of butt-in-chair work. It’s not exactly the same as hammering out a blog post or article in an hour or so.

Part of the reason…


Don’t forget to situate your characters in time and space

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Photo by Joe Woods on Unsplash

I love this picture because it conveys exactly what happens in my first drafts sometimes. It’s what happens when I forget that the reader is not truly in my head.

That’s right. As an author, sometimes it’s hard to remember that our readers can’t see what we see (inside our imaginations). Just because we see the whole panorama of the world where we’ve situated our characters, doesn’t mean the reader does too.

If you’re in the middle of writing a first draft, then don’t worry too much about this right now. …


Open a book to find yourself on Mars, in Westeros, in 18th Century Lallybroch, and anywhere in between…

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Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are — Mason Cooley

A book is the greatest escape. A place to go when you can’t go anywhere. As any good bookworm will know, opening a book is like diving into another world. Anyone can go, and on a relatively modest budget — especially if you’re reading e-books.

Reading is a discount ticket to everywhere — Mary Schmich

I’ve travelled the world as a poor student backpacker (as a slightly more cashed up professional), but I’ve gone farther and wider in my own home, within the…


Valuable lessons from a bathroom renovation

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“gray steel faucet” by Dan Watson on Unsplash

We’ve been renovating our bathroom. Those that know me personally will have heard the tale many times. My friends were getting weekly updates, until they started to preface their inevitable question with: “Dare I ask, do you have a bathroom yet?”

The truth is that we embarked on a DIY bathroom renovation, with Mr Q being the designer, architect and builder with the vision of what this new bathroom would look like (as well as simultaneously working a busy full-time job). He assured me it might take a month. Maybe six weeks. …


Take a book + leave a book = the perfect exchange

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“A side view of a bookcase with a view on a long corridor” by Adriana Velásquez on Unsplash

I met a friend at a local cafe recently. The cafe was one I’ve been to before, but I’d never ventured the little room out the back. On this occasion, though, there were a group of ladies who were catching up on the couches on one side of the front room and as I had my toddler with me, and my friend would have her toddler too, I thought it might be nicer for everyone if we took a seat out the back.

My friend was late (another story) but in the back room — to my delight — I…


Three Stages of World-building

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Photo by Derek Liang on Unsplash

People often ask me how I came up with the different worlds that I created for the Airwoman series. I love rich fantasy settings and I love creating worlds that I’d like to visit myself. However, for me, it’s difficult to separate the process of world-building from the other parts of the story creation process — like creating characters and coming up with the plot of the story.

I don’t do a series of world-building exercises to create a world, then set my story in the place I’ve created. I consider my world-building to evolve organically…

Zara Quentin

Fantasy author of the Airwoman series. I love travelling, reading good books, strong coffee and dark chocolate. Find her at www.zaraquentin.com

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