by Ian Irvine
Page 1 of 4
A SHADOW ON THE GLASS is a "science-fantasy" novel. When creating this book,
did you think in terms of combining Science Fiction and Fantasy?
Not at all, though after it was written I realised that, because of my
training and work as a scientist, the settings I had created and the fantasy
elements of my story had a strong and logical foundation which added to the
realism and believability of my worlds.
Initially all I wanted to do was write an epic fantasy that was a great big
adventure, but I did want to write something different from the usual
male-dominated, good vs evil kind of fantasy that was so prevalent back when I
began writing, nearly fifteen years ago (and still is). Also, recalling
Tolkien's criticism of his own work as being 'too short', I wanted to write a
really big but totally consistent story.
A SHADOW ON THE GLASS, therefore, is the first volume in a four book epic
fantasy series called THE VIEW FROM THE MIRROR QUARTET which took me twelve
years to write (and whose origins in world-building go back another decade). It
forms the first part of a cycle of ten fantasy novels I'm writing called THE
THREE WORLDS SERIES which consists of the Quartet, a trilogy, a pair of novels
and finally a single novel. I'm writing the second and third books of the
trilogy at the moment. The action takes place on the Three Worlds (Aachan,
Tallallame and Santhenar) which were originally occupied by three distinct
human species (Aachim, Faellem and old human). Then, fleeing out of the void
came a fourth species, the Charon. Desperate, on the edge of extinction, they
changed the balance between the worlds forever ?
Having written the Quartet I came to realise that it was a 'Darwinian'
fantasy. There are no truly evil characters in it, though sometimes good
characters do evil deeds. There are four human species, each struggling with
all the others, and each doing what they think is right to ensure the survival
of their kind.
How did this come about? Well, every writer is a product of their
environment, upbringing, and the work they do, and I've been a working
scientist for twenty-five years. In fact, when I was a kid I had no interest in
writing at all, though I devoured books in every genre. I just wanted to be a
research scientist. My first degree was in earth sciences. That was in the
early 1970's. The environmental movement was just getting started and I became
interested in environmental research. To do research you need a Ph. D. so I
ended up doing one of those. It's great training in being persistent, and
therefore very useful for a writer. My doctorate was in marine science,
specialising in pollution in the bottom of Sydney Harbour, of which there's
Somehow I ended up an expert in an esoteric branch of pollution science,
namely contaminated sediments and how to manage them safely. I set up my own
little consulting firm 15 years ago and have been doing that kind of work ever
since. My plan was to only ever have one employee ' me ' so I could pick the
kinds of jobs I liked and live with my family wherever we wanted to go. I had
grown up in the middle of a forest, and my wife also came from the country. We
wanted to bring up our kids in a pretty, peaceful place, a long way from the
muck and grime of the city.
I live in Australia but work has taken me all over the Asia-Pacific region,
to such romantic locales as Mauritius, Sumatra, Bali, Fiji and Tonga, as well
as the bottom of every scummy, festering harbour in between. Those places, the
people I met there, and the disasters we faced and (sometimes) overcame, gave
me many ideas for my books. These days for family reasons I do most of my
professional work in my home office. Over the past decade I've designed some of
Australia's national guidelines for the protection of the marine environment,
however for the last three or four years I've essentially been writing full
time (and consulting part time). Next Page
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