hilary williamson

Book Loons: Interview with Sara Douglass

Sara Douglass, actually Dr. Sara Warneke, grew up in South Australia. After a career in nursing, she did her PhD in 16th century English history, lectured at La Trobe University in central Victoria, and then started in on fiction. She has written over a dozen fantasy novels so far, only a handful of which are available in N. America – three out of the six in the Wayfarer Redemption, and Hades’ Daughter, first in an exciting new epic series, The Troy Game.

Enchanter and StarMan were joint winners of the 1996 Aurealis Award for Best Fantasy Novel; The Wounded Hawk received the award in 2001, and both The Crippled Angel and Hades’ Daughter have been short listed for 2002 Aurealis Best Fantasy Novel.

Q: The first of your novels that I read was Battleaxe and the most recent was Hades’ Daughter. They are quite different in scope, the latter being somewhat constrained by known history and mythology. Do you have a preference between these styles of fantasy?

A: At the moment I am happiest writing fantasy set in this world. Ten years ago when I was writing the first of the Tencendor books I was happiest writing in a more fantastical world. My tastes change, I think, with the weather!

Q: Your next novel to be published in N. America is Threshold and I’m looking forward to reading it; you mention on your website that it is your favourite. Why?

A: Well, it was my favourite for a very long time, and possibly still is. (Again, using the proviso that I haven’t read this for about 6-7 years.) It has been a controversial book: the men always pick up on the often brutal sex scenes (in interviews I am still asked about those, 6-7 years after it was first published here!), and women pick up on the political incorrectness of the book (the heroine, Tirzah, stays with her abuser), but overall, and discounting the brutal incorrectness of the entire book, it was one of the tenderest romances I ever did (which may seem an odd comment given what I’ve just written!). My editor at the time told me that she could only work on the book about ten pages at a time before she’d burst into sobs and have to take a walk about the block! I prefer not to think on the fact that Fiona gave up editing after working on this book…

I enjoyed it immensely because it gave me a chance to work with ancient mathematics, which is both sexy and brutal. Tirzah’s abuser, Boaz, abuses her with numbers more than actual physical violence, as also by forcing her into literacy (which in her culture is a hated thing). One of the scenes most commented on is one where Boaz torments Tirzah with the alphabet – he never actually touches her (or at least only fairly gentle touches). But because I depict it as a rape (an intellectual rape) that is how people see it.

Oh, there’s that rather nasty childbirth scene at the very start. Oops. Forgot about that … (once you read more of my book you’ll start to realise that in all my books bar one (which is the one I’ve just written) there is always a brutal childbirth scene …

Sara Douglass lives and writes in in a Victorian cottage called Ashcotte in Bendigo, Australia. Find out more about the author and her works by visiting her Website. An American Publication Schedule there shows Tor USA planned releases of further volumes in The Wayfarer Redemption and The Troy Game, as well as Threshold and The Crucible series.

©2003 Hilary Williamson / Book Loons. To read the full interview on the Book Loons website please click on this link.