gotta write network

Gotta Write Network: An Interview with Sara Douglass

Sara Douglass is, first of all, a historian. Her love of history and understanding of how our past affects our present has played a part in all of her books. Beginning with The Axis Trilogy, she became one of the most popular writers of fantasy in her home country of Australia. Eventually, the US caught on, and all of her work is being steadily republished by Tor. Her books include The Wayfarer Redemption, and the The Crucible series, The Betrayal of Arthur, and her most recent book, Hades Daughter, the first volume of The Troy Game. She lives in a haunted Victorian Cottage in North Central Victoria, Australia. She maintains a beautiful and informative web page, which includes a publication schedule, contests and other nifty things at

Cindy: I think that one of the main things a reader notices about your work is how historically accurate it feels…how does your love of history inspire and direct your writing? How different is it to write a book, such as The Wayfarer Redemption that is all fantasy, then write a book such as your latest, Hades Daughter, that is very much historical fantasy? Is it harder? How do you research? Also, I’ve noted that in your alternate universes, you’ve chosen to change certain facts so that they veer away from our own accepted histories…why do you choose to do so, and what impact has that had? Do people understand what you’re trying to do?

Sara: Ok, where to start? I think my love of history has enabled me to write, especially fantasy. This is for several reasons:

  1. I was literally taught to write well by my doctorate supervisor (Lynn Martin, who is an American hailing from Wisconsin … hello Lynn!) who taught me that wonderful ability – to be able to disassociate myself from my writing, to view it in unemotional terms, to see it flaws and all (and trust me, Lynn always found heaps of flaws!). That is something which takes many writers many years and many tears to learn, and I am ever grateful for Lynn for what he did for me;
  2. researching and teaching and writing history made it very easy for me to understand other worlds, to construct or to reconstruct other worlds, and to feel very comfortable in worlds that were distant from the one in which you and I live (i.e. a western-based society and culture). Writers can sometimes feel very threatened and uneasy and uncomfortable by trying to reconstruct distant (or to create) worlds; that was never a problem for me.
  3. history gives me all my ideas!


Cindy: What is the hardest aspect of the craft?

Sara: Getting an appearance on Oprah. (Sorry to jest, but I sat staring at this question for ages, and just didn’t know how to answer it. The answer would vary according to the situation on any given day.)

Cindy: What do you think is the most important thing to remember?

Sara: Be professional, and be realistic. And get an appearance on Oprah. 🙂

©2003 Cindy Lynn Speer, Online Fantasy Editor, Gotta Write Network. To read the full interview on the Gotta Write Network archive please click on this link.