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Ceclia Dart-Thornton

answers the Usual Questions

Photograph: Cecilia Dart-Thornton; 220x272

Ceclia Dart-Thornton

'Cecilia Dart-Thornton was 'discovered' on the Internet after she posted the first chapter of her unpublished trilogy to an Online Writing Workshop.

Subsequently an editor contacted her, and within a few weeks Time Warner (New York) had bought her three-part Bitterbynde series. On publication the books were acclaimed in Amazon's 'Best of 2001', Locus Magazine's 'Best First Novels of 2001' and the Australian Publishers' Association Award: 'Australia's Favourite Read of 2001'. In Australia they reached the top of the Sydney Morning Herald bestseller list. They also have received accolades in the Washington Post, The Times, Good Reading Magazine, Kirkus Reviews and more.

Has your interaction with fans, for example, at conventions, affected your work?

Of course! In my opinion it's impossible not to be influenced. It's not fans at conventions who've influenced me so much as (in order of extent) the knowledge that people are reading the books and becoming fans, the emails sent by fans, and the reviews written by fans. Knowing that people were reading my stories and that the stories were no longer being written for an audience of one was, to my mind, the cause of a distinct change in my writing. It gave me a self consciousness I had never owned before. I wrote the 'Bitterbynde Trilogy' for myself alone, thinking that if any one else ever read the story it would be the 'cherry on the cake,' so to speak. I had finished all three books before I showed a single word to anyone. Since my work has been published, my writing style has perhaps become more guarded. It feels as if I am no longer alone in my imaginary world - no wait, I am still alone, but my world is encased by windows, with faces pressed up against them, looking in

Is there any particular incident (a letter, a meeting, a comment that stands out?

For some reason a casual fan-question stayed with me. One of my readers emailed, asking why my protagonist in the 'Bitterbynde Trilogy' was blonde. This was before the 'Crowthistle Chronicles' were published. I replied that I had it in mind to write three series, one with a blonde protagonist, one with a main character who was dark haired and one focussing on a red-head. As a matter of fact, much later I happened to meet the girl who had emailed this question. She turned out to have long dark hair, whether that has any significance or not! She's since become a friend. I was also profoundly influenced by messages from people who had wept inconsolably for days at the conclusion of the last volume in the Bitterbynde Trilogy. This drove me to clarify that final somewhat ambiguous chapter, in a piece that was later published online. I do write happy endings!

Do you have a favourite author or book (or writer or film or series) that has influenced you or that you return to?

Tolkien, Tolkien, Tolkien. And Lee, Lee, Lee. Call me old fashioned, call me conservative or whatever, but it's authors JRR Tolkien and Tanith Lee all the way for me. Oh, there are many others, but those two remain my greatest muses. Tolkien - I read The Lord of the Rings at the age of nine, after reading The Hobbit. At that age I didn't understand it all, but almost instantly I was swept away by the power of Tolkien's words and completely enchanted by Middle Earth, and I remain so to this day. Besides which, I fell in love with Aragorn who didn't look like Viggo in those days (not that Viggo isn't wonderful), but Aragorn for me always looks like Daniel Day-Lewis in the movie Last of the Mohicans.

Who is the person you would most like to be trapped in a lift with? or a spaceship?

Trapped forever?
Realistically, my husband.
Fictionally, Daniel Day-Lewis as 'Hawkeye' in 'Last of the Mohicans'. Pragmatically, Maggie Beer. Intellectually, Tanith Lee, Diana Wynne-Jones, Terry Pratchett or Simon Winchester. Historically, my grandparents, my parents, Tolkien and/or Shakespeare.
I demand also that the spaceship can be commanded entirely by the human voice (my human voice), in English; that it never breaks down, or if it does it's self maintaining; that it has our best interests at heart; that it can take us anywhere in the blink of an eye, and that it has very good food and drink on board. Especially coffee.
On the other hand if it's a lift, I'm hoping it's the Great Glass Elevator, a multi-directional contraption appearing at the end of the movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Which is pretty much a spaceship in lift's clothing.

Book cover; The Ill-Made Mute by Cecilia Dart-Thornton

Who is the person you would most DISlike to be trapped in a lift with? Or a spaceship?

There is a plethora of politically correct answers to this question. Yes of course I would hate to be trapped with Hitler or the devil (although the devil could be interesting) but what instantly springs to mind when I read this question is "Anyone boring." A.k.a. anyone not interested in the world. Probably a.k.a. anyone who doesn't know how to get out of Ye Olde Elevator/Spaceship Trappe.

What would you pack for space? (Is there a food, beverage, book, teddy bear, etc that you couldn't do without?)

I always over-pack. The kitchen sink is just a basic commodity with me. I would pack my entire house, followed by my entire neighbourhood. In fact I would probably also pack Tasmania, England, parts of Canada and an awful lot of New Zealand.
And my notebook computer. And a copy of Lord of the Rings. And coffee. And my pillow.

What is the most important thing you would like to get/achieve from your work?

Psychologists would most likely make a meal out of this answer, but my aim is to go and exist for a while in a world that'd not the so called real world. A world that's made out of the R. W. but better, more exciting, more beautiful, more alarming, more magical. That's what I get out of it. And if people who read my words later and thus follow in my footsteps also find themselves transported to some other realm, that's a bonus. And if they fall in love with that place, then they are my soul-kin and that's another bonus.
Or, on reading the question another way:
In general I have already achieved the most important thing - the thrill of creating a work, the delight of having it published, the joy of knowing others have enjoyed reading it. Job's done.
And the royalties are not exactly a drawback, but quite honestly it's the exhilaration of creativity that comes first.

What is the special satisfaction of your work?

Going to mentally 'live elsewhere' for a while. And it's an 'elsewhere' of my own choosing, of my own making, so that it contains exactly what I like, where I like, in quantities that I like.
Total self indulgence.
Me, me, me.

submitted by Cecilia Dart-Thornton

26 February, 2010

For other answers to The Usual Questions Click here

Just the facts:
Born: August 11th, physically born in Australia. Happy to be living here. Soul home: the United Kingdom, possibly in another century. Other soul homes: Canada, New Zealand and much of Europe.
Resides: Not far from the sea, Victoria, Australia
Bibliography includes:
Bitterbynde Trilogy
Crowthistle Chronicles

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