Jo Spurrier was born in 1980 and has a Bachelor of Science, but turned to writing because people tend to get upset when scientists make things up. Her interests include knitting, spinning, cooking and research. She lives in Adelaide and spends a lot of time daydreaming about snow.
The final book in your Children of the Black Sun trilogy came out a few months ago. How does it feel to finally have the full trilogy out in the world?
It was very emotional to get to the end of this story. I listen to music when writing and as I was finishing the manuscript for North Star I found myself playing a lot of break-up songs. That’s really how it felt to me, not an acrimonious split, but an inevitable parting of ways. I sometimes call my characters my imaginary friends (albeit ones that I torture relentlessly), and it feels like I’ve had to say goodbye to them in order to move on to other things. I do miss them, and catch myself wondering how they’re doing, but then I remember they’re probably fine now that I’ve stopped doing horrible things to them.
The whole Children of the Black Sun trilogy deals with, among other things, the thoughtful story arc of Isidro loosing the use of his arm. Unlike a lot of stories, the warrior is not sidelined out of the story nor magically healed. Can you share your thoughts about this sort of representation?
As a disabled person, it always bothered me when characters would suffer life-altering illness or injury only to have it magically healed, or to have them shuffled out of the story — to me it seemed to invalidate those characters’ sacrifices and cheat them of the consequences of their actions, whether those consequences were deserved or not; as well as brushing off the repercussions of suffering a severe injury, what it means to the sufferer as well as those around them. With Children of the Black Sun I deliberately set out to find out what would happen when Isidro and those close to him were forced to live with the consequences of his sacrifice to protect Cam. He remains at the centre of his own story, he doesn’t get to retire gracefully from the action because of his injury and no-one’s going to go easy on him because he can’t fight the way he used to. He still has the same challenges and dangers to face as everyone else, he just has to find another way to deal with them.
Now that the whole Children of the Black Sun trilogy is finished and out in the world, what have you been working on? What can readers expect to see next from you?
And now for something completely different! I wanted to work on something with a completely different set of world rules and character constraints. My next story is set in a world that combines elements of India and ancient Greece, in the post-cataclysmic aftermath of a failed industrial revolution. I’m interested in what happens when a fantasy world reaches the technological age, and I suppose what I have in mind could be considered steampunk, though I’m consciously trying to avoid a lot of the steampunk tropes. In any case, I have been reliably informed that it can’t be steampunk unless it has some link to Victorian Britain, which this story definitely does not have. It’s about refugees and displaced people, about what happens when the fabric of society unravels, and what people are capable of when they have nothing left to lose.
What Australian works have you loved recently?
I’ve been re-reading The Eternal Frontier by Tim Flannery, which follows the natural history of North America over the last 65 million years. If it seems an odd choice, it’s because I’ve found it hard to focus on a novel while looking after my baby, and it’s a book I can open to any page and start reading when I have a few minutes to spare.
Have recent changes in the publishing industry influenced the way you work? What do you think you will be publishing/writing/reading in five years from now?
To be honest it hasn’t changed my methods — I’m not especially flexible or fast in the way I write, and I seem to be incapable of telling a story in less than about 540K words, so the ability to instantly publish online hasn’t had much effect on me. The biggest change has come from having my son near the start of this year! In five years I’ll probably (hopefully!) be finishing off the series I’ve talked about above, and with regards to reading I expect will have mostly made the switch to e-books. What I’d love to see is a method of buying e-books that also supports local and independent booksellers. Publishers and booksellers, please find a way to make this happen!
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