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Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, I always enjoy seeing these. 

I am happy to share art work based on my books, provided it is of acceptable quality and is all your own original work. I’m now displaying these works on my Facebook Fan Page. Pieces should be uploaded via the contact form on this page. The decision on whether they go up on the page is mine.

There was originally going to be a third Wildwood book, narrated by youngest sister Stela. I know there are some loose ends, especially in Tati’s story, that should be tied up. However, my US publisher asked me to start a new series instead – the Shadowfell series. At this stage there are no definite plans for another Wildwood novel – I have enough work on hand to keep me busy for the next two years at least.

This was originally planned as a five book series, taking the story through to a particularly significant point in the reign of the (historical) Bridei. I was deeply disappointed when my agent couldn’t find a new US home for the series after I parted ways with Tor Books. However, it’s now seven years since The Well of Shades was published, and I can’t see any publisher being interested in taking up the series at this point. Sadly these things depend far more on financial considerations than on artistic ones. At least I was able to go back to that well-loved Scottish setting for the Shadowfell books, though in Shadowfell it is a much more magical version of Scotland!

I feel the series comes to a satisfying conclusion with Flame of Sevenwaters, and I have no plans to write more Sevenwaters novels at this point. I do have plenty of ideas for where the story could go and I realise there are lots of interesting secondary characters and plot byways that could be investigated. However, I think popular series can be dragged on too long, and my gut feeling right now is that six books plus a novella is enough. Also, as a writer I enjoy challenging myself by tackling something new and different. I may consider writing more Sevenwaters novellas in the future. I am not saying a definite no to this question – I like to leave all possibilities open. But it’s unlikely.

Heart’s Blood was intended as a stand-alone novel. Most likely there won’t be a follow-up.

Only if I’m lucky enough to have someone with the right expertise and the right financial backing purchase the film rights. Even selling the rights doesn’t guarantee that a movie project will get off the ground. My agent has had a couple of expressions of interest but nothing definite at this stage. I would love to see a film done by a great director; I would hate to see it done badly.

Most of them, yes, thanks to the wonderful folks at and Recorded Books. See the individual book pages for details.

I understand that fan fiction is a sort of tribute – it means readers like my books enough to want to create new stories about the characters. But I would much rather people invented their own characters, settings and story ideas. I know a whole lot more about my characters’ lives than I ever put on the page, and I believe their stories should be exclusively mine to tell.

That means I don’t encourage readers to write fan fiction based on my work. I don’t like readers to share those stories online, though I can’t stop them from doing it. However, writers of fan fiction should note that if they infringe my copyright they could find themselves in trouble with my agent and the publisher.

I love the fact that my readers are writing and I encourage them to continue. Just be original, folks.

Only if it’s in a recent book (the current series or the one just before) and only if it’s a genuine error (a bad typo or a glaring error of fact or logic.) I already know about various errors in the earlier books, and I have passed them on to the publisher as they came up. But publishers can only make corrections if there’s a reprint, and it is expensive, so they won’t make minor changes. In the Sevenwaters series, the history doesn’t quite work, but once Daughter of the Forest was published it was too late to fix this. There’s also a character who dies then miraculously pops up again in a later book – he was renamed in the reprint.

Writers get asked this a lot, especially fantasy writers. There’s no easy answer. I think my ideas come from life, from things I observe people doing and ways I see them reacting and interacting: human behaviour, I guess. That doesn’t mean I put real people into my books as characters, but I do use all sorts of ideas my experience suggests to me. I’m influenced by traditional material – I’ve loved fairy tales and folklore, myths and legends since I was little. I read a lot of history books, and I travel to places I’m interested in – that’s a luxury I’ve only been able to afford since I became a published author! There was a really long period in my life when I didn’t write at all – about 20 years. During that time I made a lot of mistakes and found out a lot about real life. Because of what I learned during that time, I write very differently now. I hope I’m wiser.

Yes. Because most of my books are set in real history I need to get everything at least reasonably correct. I often choose periods and places that have few contemporary written records, which leaves room for informed guesswork and imagination. My books are fantasy, not history, so readers shouldn’t expect perfect historical accuracy. Usually when I get things ‘wrong’ it’s done on purpose, in the interests of better storytelling. There are certainly historical errors in the early Sevenwaters books. My research has improved since then.

Research has taken me to some interesting parts of the world: Transylvania for Wildwood Dancing and Turkey for Cybele’s Secret. I made a trip to the Faroe Islands in the North Atlantic, complete with helicopter rides, when writing Foxmask. And Orkney for Wolfskin, in which the geographical descriptions are very accurate.

I also research background material such as plants, animals, climate, weather, how places have changed over history. And I continue to read a lot of mythology and folklore.

Definitely traditional folklore and fairy tales, which I’ve never stopped reading. I’m sure that’s why there are folk motifs woven all through my writing. My interest in pagan spirituality has a strong influence on my approach to storytelling as well. Apart from that, I think I’ve been influenced by memorable people in my life, especially women of strong character and courage. Daughter of the Forest is dedicated to my mother, sister, and daughters. You’ll find women as protagonists in all my books, with the stories often structured around their journey to maturity or self-knowledge. In my later books you’ll increasingly find men (and women) who have been damaged by trauma and who struggle to overcome its effects.

I read very widely – some of the writers who may have influenced me are Charlotte Brontë, Daphne du Maurier, Mary Stewart, Dorothy Dunnett, Dorothy L Sayers.

You need to be writing because you love doing it and because you have a story, poem or whatever just bursting to get out. You need the passion for it first, then you develop the techniques and the stamina to keep going.


Then, just start writing and keep writing. Read a lot, and read widely. Experience life, because that’s your raw material. Grab any opportunity you can to get your material into print. There’s nothing wrong with the school magazine, the college newspaper, or the community gazette. Enter competitions. Try stuff out on your friends and family but don’t take their opinions too seriously.

Some people say you should practise your craft by writing short stories first. Certainly, you need a lot of self-confidence (or insanity) to start penning a 200,000 word blockbuster with no guarantee of ever seeing it in print. Still, I can’t tell you not to do that, because it’s exactly what I did with Daughter of the Forest. Some people have the gift for short stories and some haven’t. Writing short fiction is good discipline – you need to prune down to the best words and the tightest structure. The same thing applies with poetry, only even more so.

If you want to submit something to a publisher, make sure you comply with their rules (most publishers have a web site showing their submission guidelines.) There’s no point in sending your bug-whomper fantasy novel to someone who only publishes gardening and craft books. And you must get the basics right: spelling, punctuation and grammar need to be OK, and the presentation should be professional. Some publishers won’t even look at unsolicited manuscripts. The sad truth is, they get vast quantities of stuff every single day and most of it gets rejected.

If your manuscript is really good you may be able to get a literary agent to represent you. An agent will take a percentage of what you earn, but they are able to get a publisher to read your work, and if they believe in you they will lobby on your behalf. An agent should not ask for payment to represent you. As an alternative, you can pay for an assessment of your manuscript by a manuscript assessment service. With a positive assessment attached, your work is more likely to be read by an editor.

Don’t be too discouraged if you get rejection slips. Everyone does. Keep trying, but seek advice as well, from teachers or other writers. Take creative writing classes if you think it will help. At the very least they provide a forum to have your work critiqued. Have faith in your own ability; without that you will get nowhere.

If you decide to go down the self-publishing track, get good advice and do thorough research first. Your manuscript still needs to be as polished and perfect as you can make it, and you will also be responsible for formatting, cover art, marketing and distribution, pricing, keeping good tax records and so on. Chat with other writers who have successfully self-published their work. Steer clear of ‘vanity publishers’ who offer to publish your work for a fee. They are a waste of your money – much better to do it yourself. Bear in mind that self-publishing is a small business. Expect to pay an editor, a designer, possibly a printer. Make sure you are as well-informed as possible right from the start. Go into it with your eyes open.

Sorry, I don’t do this. My own writing takes up a lot of time, and I simply can’t fit in a free critiquing service for my readers. I do wish you every success with your creative work. I do sometimes provide mentoring for aspiring writers but it’s always under the auspices of either a local writers’ centre or a professional body such as the Australian Society of Authors.