Saturday, September 26, 2009

Friday Featured Blogger (15): Rhiannon Hart!

Yes, I know it's not Friday, in any part of the world. But it's okay because it's still, essentially, the same weekend, which is good enough for me! Today's Featured Blogger is the lovely Rhiannon Hart, who blogs brilliantly about speculative fiction, dystopian lit, and the like. She's a name to watch out for in bookstores in the near future. Welcome, Rhiannon, to Steph Su Reads!

1. Hello, Rhiannon! Tell us about yourself in a few short sentences.

I'm an Aussie writer with a penchant for the apocalypse. Any sort will do--zombie, nuclear, asteroid--but only in books, of course! I write print and online reviews and articles and I'm trying to get a series published, plus work on a standalone novel. Otherwise known as plan B. There may be plan C and D in the works too ... basically I'm just going to keep writing novels until someone picks one up!

2. Tell us about your blog. When did you start it and why? What interesting things can visitors expect?

I started my blog to document my progress in getting published, and because I was boring all my less readerly friends talking about books all the time. When I discovered that there are hundreds and hundreds of book-mad people out there just like me, I just had to get involved! Visitors can expect reviews and news--I like to rave on about anything I'm excited about, like events or film tie-ins. I review new and older stuff, and at the moment I'm especially keen on rediscovering some old favourites. Just about everything is fantasy, dystopian and paranormal.

3. You recently participated in the Dystopia Challenge. What are some of your favorite dystopian reads, and why does the genre appeal to you?

The dystopian challenge was so much fun--I read about twenty books over the Melbourne winter (interspersed with many other happier books so things didn't get too bleak!) that were all either dystopian or apocalyptic. I lumped them together under "dystopian", but the two sorts of books have very different projections. My favourite dystopian works are The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, and The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. In these sort of books, society has gone wrong and the hero tries to escape or overthrow it. Apocalyptic works, on the other hand, are your good old-fashioned "The end of the world is nigh!" sort of thing. My favourites of these are Obernewtyn by Isobelle Carmody, Z for Zachariah by Robert C. O'Brien and Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer.

I think that the genre appeals to me so much because the normal rules of society don't apply in dystopian books. As a kid I always used to relish days off that were on weekdays rather than weekends, because I knew that everyone else had to go to school/work. (I think that's the main reason I want to be a writer, too--so I can stay home in my jammies while everyone else gets suited up!) I enjoy seeing how people might react to things like hardship, oppression and persucution (eg. the hero), as well as the temptation of power and an overwhelming sense that they know best (eg. the totalitarian government/Big Brother etc.)

4. You've listed a lot of great titles that I'm definitely going to look in! Now you are an aspiring author, like so many of us are. What are your writing habits like? Can you give us a 3-sentence summary of one of your WIPs?

The WIP currently with agents is about a girl who discovers that her mother's attempt to save her life as a baby has caused her a great affliction: she now bound to a foreign land and destined to become a harming, a slave of the Lharmellins, who are like big wormy land mermaids that drink blood, are magical, and want to take over the world with an artificial ice-age. It's called Lharmell and is the first in a trilogy.

5. Name 3 favorite books/series and why you think everyone should read them.

Everyone should read these just because they're so awesome: Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause, the Chaos Walking books by Patrick Ness, and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.

6. You are planning your dream writing retreat. Who would you take with you (currently published authors, friends, family), where would you go, and what sort of luxuries would await you there?

I would take all my favourite bloggers so I could meet them in person! I'd also take all the authors that I've mentioned above (even if they need to be raised from the dead) and we'd go to some lofty treehouse in the rainforest of Borneo and read aloud our favourite bits from our favourite novels to each other. Plus all the authors would teach all the aspiring writers their secret writing tricks and promise to put a good word in with their agents. Then we'd all get on a plane and go to a YA book expo and go completely MAD with books and signings and sessions.

7. lol, you should come to BEA 2010 then! What are one or two books that have changed the way you thought about writing/storytelling?

I couldn't name one or two. Every book I read I'm trying to reverse engineer it so I can discover how the writer made me feel this way or that way. I've become an even slower reader as I've gotten older, because I tend to mull over a good sentence, feel its rhythm and what it's trying to say.

8. What's your favorite thing about blogging?

The people! You're all so lovely!

9. What are some things you just LOVE to receive for presents? :)

This year I really want a two volume Oxford English Dictionary. Dictionaries are the most fantastic objects, and I always discover at least three new words when I'm hunting for the meaning of one.

10. And finally, what are 2 things about yourself that can spark conversation?

I can wiggle my ears! I usually start a conversation at parties/dinners with strangers by first working out who we both know, and then asking "Do you read?" It's far better than that awful question, "So what do you do?" I also do a very good job of knocking wine glasses onto people when they ask me what my book is about.


I don't know how well the knocking of the wine glasses onto people would be a strategy that works for me, but I loved learning about Rhiannon! Do check out her blog and remember her name, for it's surely one you'll want to watch out for! Thanks for answering my questions, Rhiannon!


  1. Steph, if you have not yet read The Obernewtyn Chronicles - DO IT! I am fairly certain it was Rhiannon's blog that first made that series catch my eye and I went through the 6 books in the blink of an eye (at 500 pages or so each - that's a LONG blink. Heh).

    This was cool, because though I read Rhiannon's blog, I'm fairly new to it and I enjoyed learning more about her!

  2. Thanks so much Steph! I feel so thrilled to be interviewed on a blog by someone whose tastes are so close to my own!

    By the way, so many estaablished bloggers like you, Lenore, Adele and the Book Smugglers have been so supportive to me, a new blogger, and I just want to say a big THANK YOU to all of you and that I'm to happy I discovered this community!

    End gush.

  3. Your WIP sounds great -- I'll definitely read it when it comes out. And I'm going to have to steal the "Do you read?" question. Although, I do have a nice segue into it by answering librarian to the "What do you do?" question.

    Thanks for the introducing Rhiannon, Steph!

  4. Great post Steph. I enjoyed the interview. Rhiannon sounds so cool and I'll be sure to watch out for her name in the bookstores :D

    And I agree with her, dictionaries are fantastic, I love playing with them!

  5. Rhiannon's one of my very favourite bloggers, although my bank account tends to take a hit after reading one of her posts. I've been wondering about Lharmell, so it's really good to hear more about that. Great interview!

  6. I love Rhiannon's blog! Also love her small talk question for parties - the 'do you read' bit. I'm always awkwardly asking what people 'do,' and often enough run into the independently wealthy or unemployed. Never good. Like making a 'your mom' joke to someone who doesn't have a mother. Eeek!

    Fun interview/guest feature!


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