Trudi Canavan Interview

trudi canavan photograph image the authorAn Interview With Trudi Canavan: 9 August 2006

Trudi Canavan broke onto the fantasy scene with the Black Magician Trilogy’s first book, The Magician’s Guild, which was well received, followed by The Novice and The High Lord. She has recently completed the Priestess of The White.

Back in 2001, as The Magician’s Guild was being released, did you expect such praise and utimately for it to sell so well?

Everyone hopes their work will sell well, but few expect it. It surprised me that it sold at all, and then the degree of surprise I felt kept getting greater. I was surprised by the success in Australia, then astonished by how well it did in the UK.

Prior to completing The Magician’s Guild, did you have the continuation of the story in mind, or did that come later?

I worked and reworked that trilogy so many times over so many years that by the time I was nearly finished I was sure I didn’t want to write anything further in the same world with those characters again. But as I came close to finishing the last polish of The High Lord a sequel idea began to form. It didn’t have an ending, however, and I was content to work on another story and world and let the idea develop in the back of my mind. By the time I neared the end of writing the Age of the Five I knew I was ready to return to the world of Kyralia, and by then another idea – for a prequel – had also come to me.

I first caught sight of The Black Magician Trilogy in 2005 in a bookshop; it was the simplistic, yet eye catching front covers which originally drew me to them. This design, as I understand it, was not the original. Which do you prefer?

I like each of the three cover designs for different reasons. The graphic designer in me loves the UK design for it’s striking customer-attracting simplicity. The writer in me loves the Australian covers, because I worked closely with the artist to get the details as accurate as possible. The artist in me loves the US covers for the sheer skill in the illustrations (even while the author in me shakes her head at the flying horse on The Novice).

Was there a commercial reason for changing the covers, for example, different covers for different countries?

That’s exactly it. The three publishing companies know their own markets best, and commission covers accordingly.

When was the idea and storyline for the Trilogy originally conceived?

1992 – just before the Barcelona Olympics. I’d seen a late-night news report about the homeless being rounded up and trucked out of the city so they wouldn’t make the city look untidy. That night I dreamed the first chapter of The Magicians Guild. Generally dreams don’t make good stories, but I wrote it down anyway, and later other scenes and ideas came along to turn it into a larger story.

Inspiration can come from anywhere; was there anything specific you were inspired by for The Black Magician Trilogy?

Oops, I just answered that.

How difficult was it to first get published?

It took quite a few years. The first publisher I sent the Black Magician Trilogy to never replied – not even a rejection. The next held onto it for two years until I gave up and withdrew it. At this point I would have been happy to receive rejection letters! By the time the trilogy found a publisher it had been on editors’ desks for about five years.

Do you have a few quick tips for aspiring authors?

Read a lot. Write a lot. You have to be writing for the love of it, because most writers don’t make much money. Find out as much as you can about how the publishing and bookselling industry works, and you will not only understand and therefore be able to work within the limitations of it, but editors, publishers and booksellers love it when you show interest and understand the difficulties they face.

Could you tell us a bit about what you are currently working on?

At the moment I’ve given myself six months ‘long service leave’. Unfortunately, the four months I’ve taken so far have been mostly filled with writing-related work – fanmail, the website, conventions, publicity, etc. and I really don’t feel as if I’ve had much rest at all. I’d really like to write some more short stories, and polish up a novella I wrote years ago, but I still haven’t found the time.

I am not aware of any short stories which you have written; did you go straight into publishing novels, as opposed to publishing short stories first?

I’ve had two short stories published: Whispers of the Mist Children in Aurealis magazine and Room for Improvement in an anthology called Forever Shores, and they both won awards. They’re probably only available in Australia, but if you wanted to read them badly enough there are several Australian sf bookshops willing to ship copies overseas.

As an action fantasy story, The Black Magician Trilogy has the promise of transferring to the big screen - lavish scenery with a twisting plot and believable characters; have films rights been looked at regarding any of your books?

I have a film agent, but there have been no offers so far. I’m staying realistic about the chances. Most fantasy turned into films is either a classic (Lord of the Rings) or a children’s book (Harry Potter) or both (Narnia). In fact, while a film would be great I think an anime series might work better.

You’ve been painting since you could pick up a paintbrush; do you see similarities in painting on a canvas, with writing on a page?

There are similarities – too many to list here - but also some aspects that don’t translate from one to the other. I’ve turned both into work at one time or other. The main difference is that a painting is relatively static. It is a snapshot, even if it contains some narrative aspects. A story evolves and travels.

What medium do you prefer to work with, in terms of your artwork?

Oils are my favourite medium. I just love the buttery texture.

What is your favourite icecream?

Actually… I don’t like icecream all that much! But if I do have a bit I’ll go for a small bit of something luxurious like cookies and cream. Chocolate is my preferred treat.

Thank you for your time Trudi. We’re looking forward to seeing Sonea again in The Traitor Spy Trilogy.

10 Comments For This Post

  1. Nicole Says:

    HI,
    I am from austria and i read the Black Magican Trilogy´s and i love them. she is a great author and i also want to become an author, but i am 16 and i dont know, whether my books are so good, that i earn much money. However, she has a great fantasy!!!
    I wish her all the best!!!

    Lg. nikki:)

  2. Lisa from Germany Says:

    Hi,

    I read this books and I can’t stop so i have lots of sleepless nights =) . I search about more books (I read the dorst and the second, the third is on the way) and find some of her homepage love it! But what when I finished the books?
    A film is a great idea! But anime…

  3. Ayesha Says:

    i also wish to be an author
    tho im 12 n i have a good story
    i loved Trudi Canavans book

  4. Bex From UK! Says:

    I LOVE her books. I accidentally disobeyed her guestbook rules on her website and told her about a story i was writing xD. She’s a big inspiration and my story is getting on well. 60 pages long almost! I’m nowhere near done and hope i can find a publisher willing to publish a 14-Year-Old book inspired from Trudi’s books and Dragonball Z. -.- I don’t mind if it doesn’t happen, but just seeing my book with a front cover and a blurb will be such an honor and fufill my dreams.

    Keep On Writing Trudi!

  5. Jed Says:

    I read the Age Of The Five series when my girlfriend bought them for my birthday, and i was astonished when i realised that i had been writing extremely similar prologues, as far as the basic principals of the laws and physics of the magical world goes.. I was hooked on the series and literally didnt sleep for 72 hours so that i could drift into my own imagination as the words flowed off the page (i dont know how else to describe it… or if the feeling is just my weirdness.. but if you’ve felt it, you’ll know).
    It took me a little longer to get through the Black Magician trilogy, and i finished the High Lord not half an hour ago.
    I have only these things to say about these works…
    1. THESE HAVE TO BECOME A MOVIE
    2. NEVER ANIME (too restrictive audience wise.. and while the effects may be better, the emotion and the reality of the story would be destroyed by the almost comical actions and reactions of the animated characters)
    3. I’D LOVE TO DIRECT 2 MOVIES TO COVER THE STORY (three movies to follow the books would make the slow search for sonea destroy the popularity of the first movie, stopping the others from being made)
    4. I’M OFF TO READ THE PREQUAL XD

  6. Lishy Says:

    I read Trudi’s books and absolutley LOVED them. There has to be a movie but anime doesnt sound so great. It probably wouldn’t work and not many people bother to watch that sort of thing. Whereas a movie would sell well and I know a load of people who’d die to see it. So please Trudi make movies of all your work it rocks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Sammi Says:

    I LOVE her trilogy at first glance i wouldn’t have picked it up but when a friend recommended it to me i got so hooked! I don’t think this kind of storyline would be suited for an anime but if a movie comes out i would die to see it!

  8. Suzee Says:

    Trudi’s Kyralia universe have to be my favourite books of all time. As soon as I started reading them way back when I got hooked! Most recently loved the Magician’s Apprentice, it was amazing to read that slice from Kyralian history and discover so much more about the world she invented! They’re incredible books and I hope that someday they do get turned into a film or anime series. Can’t wait for the Traitor Spy Trilogy, I bet Lorkin is going to be cool!

  9. Freddie Says:

    I’m with the positive ideas towards a movie (especially since I had a dream that my friend and I were in it and it was awesome). I write for the love of it, and am always so grateful when writers take time to give tips! Reading the series (again) and loving it. I wish you all the best with things like film attempts, and thank you for giving us these fantastic stories!

  10. Gemma Says:

    Loved all three books. Havent got this excited since Harry Potter lol. I am a sucker for a gd fantasy. Would love to see these books made into films. hopefully not anime. if anyone could recommend any books i would be grateful.

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