Marianne de Pierres Interview, 2016 Perth Oz Comic Con
With Oz Comic Con season right around the corner here in Australia, I thought I might give you all a long overdue treat. Last year at Oz Comic Con in Perth we had the opportunity to interview the authors in attendance at the con, including Marianne de Pierres, but due to some technical difficulties and some life-related obstructions, I’ve only just been able to transcribe the interviews for you now.
Last year we sat down to talk to Marianne de Pierres about her work as an author, and although she isn’t able to attend Oz Comic Con in Perth and Adelaide this year, she will be appearing in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
Marianne de Pierres is the author of the popular Parrish Plessis trilogy and the award-winning Sentients of Orion and Peacemaker series. Marianne has also authored children’s and young adult stories, notably the Night Creatures trilogy, a dark fantasy series for teens. You can find out more about her and her books on her website here, or by reading our interview below!
Appa the Gypsy: Welcome to Oz Comic Con in Perth. So, you’re from WA originally, is that right?
Marianne de Pierres: Yeah.
AtG: Well, it’s so nice to have you back here. So, you’ve written a big variety of different types of books, and I’m new to your work myself, so I was just wondering where would you suggest a new reader start?
MdP: Actually, that’s a really hard question because I do write across genres, I suppose I tend to steer people where they like. So, I’ll give you an idea of the kind of books I’ve written. I’ve written Young Adult Dark Fantasy (Night Creatures), which is not real world at all, so it’s fantasy and it has kind of science fiction elements in it. So, that makes it a little bit different than a lot of other stuff that’s in the YA market. I’ve written biiiig, fat space operas (Sentients of Orion), and also my newest series, Peacemaker and Mythmaker, are actually an urban fantasy that is set in Australia, with a crime element and an element of a Western.
AtG: Okay, that’s a bit of a mix!
MdP: Yeah, and also I have the series that’s set in Perth, which is the Tara Sharp series, she’s a psychic investigator, a PI kind of thing.
AtG: That sounds really cool! And so, what’s drawn you to write in these different genres each time?
MdP: I think it’s often what I’m just reading at the time that I get excited about. I don’t feel constantly always drawn back to the same genre as a reader, I like to read different kinds of books, and so it’s really what I’m excited about writing about at the time. For instance, the Burn Bright (from the Night Creatures Young Adult series) was a story that I started writing the first few pages of seven years before I actually sat down and wrote the first novel. But it was just in the back of my brain all the time, all the time talking to me, and eventually I got some space and I wrote it. So, it wasn’t even that Young Adult was popular at the time, it was just a story I was always gonna write.
AtG: Right. So, which of the characters from all of your books do you think would fit in best with the Oz Comic Con crowd?
MdP: Ooooh, let me think… Oh, it’d have to be Parrish Plessis. My very first series, which is actually set in Australia, which is like cyberpunk, and she was a really full on action character…
AtG: Yeah, she’s got kind of like an assassin kind of vibe to her…
MdP: Yeah, and so she would absolutely be the one who would be here. In fact, I have over the years had people cosplay her.
AtG: That must be pretty exciting to see.
MdP: Yeah, that’s always really cool.
AtG: Alright, and so what drew you to becoming a writer?
MdP: Oh, look, I thought to myself that I wanted to write stories from the age of about eight years old, so you know, it was always there. And I read so much when I was younger. So, it’s kind of something that’s been wired into my DNA. But I also didn’t have much self-discipline, so it probably took me until I was in my thirties to learn the self-discipline I needed to actually sit my butt down and write, and write.
AtG: And before then, what did you do before you became a full-time writer?
MdP: Prior to that, I mean, I have three children so I was a stay at home mum, and before that I was working all sorts of jobs. I lived in Paraburdoo in Western Australia, and I worked whatever job I could get. Everything from working in libraries to working in day care centres, all those kinds of odd jobs you pick up when you’re living in places that you haven’t grown up. So, I studied too, I did a Bachelor of Arts here, actually at Curtin Uni. And so basically wherever my husband got a job, I would tag along and kind of find work there. And when we ended up on Stradbroke Island in Queensland, and my last child, he was about three, and then I thought ‘this is my time now’ and so that’s when I went back to writing.
AtG: I had a bit of a look at some of the books you’ve written, and I noticed some of them are written under the pseudonym Marianne Delacourt, what’s the reasoning behind that?
MdP: Yes! Well, that’s for my crime series, Tara Sharp, the psychic investigator, and they were written in a really different style than anything I’d written before. Well, they were contemporary for a start, very light, funny, little bit of slapstick humour in them, and it was so different from a lot of the dark science fiction I’d been writing, that I felt like I had to let my science fiction readers know that this is me doing something else. I didn’t want them to pick the book up and think ‘Oh my God, what’s happened?’ So, it was a clear sign post saying this is me, being somebody else.
AtG: It’s an interesting choice, but it’s one that a lot of authors make.
AtG: So, can you tell us a bit about your PhD that got mentioned in the panel earlier today? Can you give us an idea of what that’s about?
MdP: Yes! I really wanted to write a very meaningful for me science fiction feminist novel. So, I had some ideas about a future where basically the pharmaceutical industry imploded, and so the ripple-on effects of that were pretty profound in society. So, what happens when people can’t get their medicines, basically. And so, I had this idea, and I wanted the time and space to write it without pressures of other books, so I started looking at places that might give me that opportunity. So, I enrolled in a Creative Writing PhD, and managed to get a scholarship, which was awesome, and that’s giving me the space to write that story. At the same time, I’m getting to study, and the topic of the PhD is how female science fiction authors envisage feminism in their fiction. So, what does future feminism look like? So, it’s just been an amazing experience, and I’m so grateful. You know, I think we forget what an opportunity having an education gives us in life, sometimes we take it for granted a little bit.
AtG: Definitely! Well, it sounds very, very fascinating. So, what’s next for you in terms of fiction writing, then? Are you mostly just working on your PhD piece at the moment?
MdP: Yeah, but oh god, I’ve always always always got too many ideas. So hopefully I have that finished next year. I have a fourth Tara Sharp novel coming out, which is the humorous crime series, and I’m moving into a bit of screenwriting, so at the moment I’m working on a pitch and bible for a contemporary, I don’t know if you’d call it paranormal, I suppose you’d call it a contemporary paranormal TV series. And then after that I’ve got a biography I want to write, which is the first time I’ve ever written non-fiction, and I’ve got the proposal for that already written. And I’m also writing picture books at the same time… So, I find my brain works best when I have multiple projects, and I can kind of keep it sharp. Otherwise I get kind of bogged down and I feel like I’m grinding along.
AtG: That makes sense. And it sounds awesome.
MdP: I mean, some people find that terrible, they would find that too overwhelming, but it seems to work for me, you know?
AtG: Okay, yeah. So, a couple of your books have been made into video games. What was that like? What was your part in that?
MdP: So, not actually all video games. I had my first book from the Parrish Plessis series, Nylon Angel, adapted into a dice role-playing game. So, a table top game.
AtG: Aaaaah, right, wow. And, so what’s that experience like for you? Did you have much involvement in that?
MdP: A little, in that I wasn’t a gamer, I didn’t understand the mechanics of it, so only in talking to the designer about the game really, we had conversations about it. But he read the books like four times each, which is probably more times than I’ve read them… But I’m really excited. Local game designer, Stirfire, they have actually optioned Peacemaker for a computer game. When the government pulled all the funding the games a couple years ago, it went into abeyance, but we’re thinking about it again now, so hopefully things will go forward with that. It’ll be a little like the Walking Dead game, and it’ll be a kind of novel adventure game.
AtG: That sounds very interesting. So, if you had to pick a world from one of your books to go and live in, which would it be and why?
MdP: Ooooh. Okay. I’m going to have to spend a second thinking about that… (picks up Peacemaker book) This world would be fun, I think the Peacemaker world would kind of suit me. It’s like New York in Australia on steroids, which would be fun for a while. Don’t know that I want to spend the rest of my life in it. But actually, probably this (picks up Glitter Rose book). I have a little collection of short stories, done by Twelfth Planet Press, which is a West Australian press, and it’s a futuristic science/fantasy world, and they’re all interlinked short stories. It’s set on Stradbroke Island, where I used to live, and it’s very whimsical, a bit of Indigenous mythology in it, and that’s probably the place I’d like to go.
AtG: It’s a gorgeous looking book, it has a very beautiful cover.
MdP: Yes, it is. They actually made it a little artefact, and we had local artists do sketches and illustrations for it. It’s limited edition.
AtG: Wow, yeah, well it’s beautiful. So, as a writer, what do you find is your biggest challenge when you’re doing your work and in your career?
MdP: Honestly, the biggest challenge to me is physical. I find I can’t sit for long periods of time now, and most writers you talk to, who have been writing for a number of years, have problems with that. A lot of them use standing desks…
AtG: And treadmill desks, I’ve know some writers use those.
MdP: Yeah, and all sorts of things like that. People try lots of different things. Yeah, and it stops me from being more productive because I literally have to get up and move around a go and do other things. I just can’t sit. And when I started my career, I didn’t have that problem, and so that’s actually the hardest thing about writing for is not being able to sit long enough to write for as long as I’d like to.
Atg: If you could spend the day with one of your characters, with your author hat off, and just be able to hang out with them, which character would you pick to spend the day with?
MdP: Oooh. *long thinking pause* Honestly, it’d be a toss-up between Parrish and Virgin (from the Peacemaker series). They’re both extroverted, profoundly dynamic, strong women, and so a day with either of them would be great. But you’d kind of be swept along in their wake! (laughs) Don’t know if they’d have time to actually have a conversation with you.
AtG: Wow, of course. Well, we’ll wrap it up with one last question. So, do you have any personal favourite authors you would like to recommend? You mentioned in your panel that reading is really important for upcoming writers.
MdP: Yeah, okay, let me think… Okay, if I was reading crime, I would recommend Tana French, she’s a really terrific UK crime writer. I just read Gone Girl, I actually listened to the audio book of Gone Girl, which was really terrific, I think probably much better than the movie, although I haven’t seen the movie, but I can’t imagine them being able to do it better than the audiobook. So, I can’t recommend Gone Girl enough. Um, there’s so much stuff I’ve read lately and I can’t think off the top of my head what else! Anything by Isobelle Carmody (laughs, because Isobelle is sitting right next to us). One of my favourite science fiction writers is a British writer called Ian McDonald, but we don’t see a lot of his work in Australia, but I certainly adore the way he writes. And… Is that enough?
AtG: Yes, of course! That’s a good selection. Well, thank you for taking the time to meet with us today and thanks for coming to Oz Comic Con.
MdP: Pleasure, and thanks for taking the time to come and talk to me!
“Marianne de Pierres is the author of the popular PARRISH PLESSIS trilogy and the award-winning SENTIENTS OF ORION and PEACEMAKER series.
The PARRISH PLESSIS series has been translated into many languages and adapted into a role-playing game, while the PEACEMAKER series is being adapted into a novel adventure game.
Marianne has also authored children’s and young adult stories, notably the Night Creatures trilogy a dark fantasy series for teens.
Marianne is an active supporter of genre fiction and has mentored many writers.
She lives in Brisbane, Australia, with her husband and three galahs (and once upon a time three sons–before they grew up). Marianne also writes award-winning crime under the pseudonym Marianne Delacourt.