Category: News

Enjoy-The-Little-Things-Quote-44604901-300x300I’ve been a bit patchy in my communications of late. It’s been one of THOSE years – the kind that you want to put behind you. I’ve had some health stuff going on, the kids all left home, my friend lost her daughter, and other things happened that I won’t burden you with – so I’m looking forward to 2015 to start fresh.

BUT, 2014 has also brought some good things. I’ve decided to focus on them rather than the other.

I worked most of the year at the University of Queensland both tutoring and project managing WRITE101x. Both those jobs were very rewarding, and I got to spend time with some wonderful colleagues. It was also good for a hermit writer like me to get out in the big wide world on a regular basis. I discovered that I like educating a whole lot more than I knew, and that it fitted well with the mentoring, coaching side of my nature.

I also committed to another season of basketball coaching: this time with u/18 girls. It has been enormous fun, and I find myself more connected with basketball than ever.

Some other highlights were the QWC’s Year of the Novel – 15 writers over 5 masterclasses – what a fantastic bunch they were too, I was blessed; and the Writer’s Victoria masterclasses which complemented that experience (and I got to check out Geelong and meet more writers).

What suffered more than anything this year was my own writing. I’ve only written half a novel and finished a first draft of an already half-written SF screenplay. It was a struggle to do that much. Sadly, it’s the creative side that suffers first at the hands of fatigue and negative events. I guess, I should be pleased that I got that much done.

Hair_2014Possibly the biggest highlight of the year was being awarded a scholarship to do my Masters in Philosophy (by creative practice) at the University of Queensland which begins February 2015. I’m delighted to have Dr Jo Robertson as my thesis supervisor and Venny Armano as my creative supervisor. The thesis is on the topic of future feminism as envisioned by female SF writers. I can hardly wait to start the reading for it! To support that, I’ll be writing a feminist SF novella (Pharmakon). Kim Wilkins and Ros Petelin were a great help in getting me organised on this application, and I’m indebted to them both. Also to Louise Thurtell who wrote the most stunning reference for me. Love you Louise!

The year finished with me being awarded a Distinguished Australia Alumni Award from my alma mater, Curtin University. This is HUGE for me because it recognised my influence on Australian women writers in fiction and science fiction. I couldn’t be more proud. I feel like I have achieved some small legacy. It brings me a far greater sense of satisfaction, humility, and joy than any monetary gain ever could. It re-energises and nourishes me. Thank you Curtin, and the people behind the scenes who put this into motion.

I also am so fortunate to have some wonderful friends, colleagues around me. To my Escape Club team who are more family than anything else, I say thanks. Love doing this stuff with you! To Tara Wynne and Paula Weston, thanks for keeping me on the straight and straight. To my bball ladies, the company is always outstanding! To Trent, Alex A, ROR-ettes, and all my writing compadres – we’re still surviving and need each other more than ever. To Tracey W, thanks for all those moral support sessions – you always make me giggle. To Ju, Kendra, Fel, Nicola Scott, Missy and all my distant friends – love you!! To the kind and generous Foxen family for the love and care of my so-far-away boy. Mostly though, to my sister, brother, my kids and to my husband – thank you for giving me a reason to get up and going on the bad days.

So here are my resolutions for 2015 and you can hold me to them!

Finish my novel (Peacemaker #2 – Dealbreaker), progress my MPhil, practice being fundamentally calmer, visit my youngest son in NYC, coach, educate, and mentor whenever I can, take the Escape Club to a wider teen audience, spend as much time as I can with friends and family, and above all to continue to give of myself where I can and to take pleasure in the little things.

Please share with me about your year and what you hope 2015 will bring for you.





I’m honoured and delighted to have been a recipient of a Curtin Distinguished Alumni award. It is given to Curtin graduates for the significant and valuable contributions they make to society. The other recipients have made amazing contributions to society. I feel humbled being mentioned alongside them.

My award blurb said this:

Marianne de Pierres
Since completing her Bachelor of Arts (English) at Curtin, Marianne de Pierres has had a very successful writing career, publishing several novels and short stories, and her work has been translated into nine languages. Marianne has shaped perceptions of who and what a female Australian writer can be and achieve. She has challenged traditions by writing across genres and defied stereotyping by telling her stories on multiple platforms.

marianne's Award 2014

I couldn’t be at the awards ceremony, but I was wonderfully represented by my nephew and his wife. You can see Andrew fourth from the left with a big cheesy grin.





Stevenson_Horizon_C2D2Interviewed by Bec Stafford and Marianne de Pierres

Horizon is the debut science fiction thriller from Keith Stevenson about a deep space exploration mission that goes very wrong, with repercussions for the future of all life on Earth.

Q 1. Congratulations on the release of your science fiction thriller, Horizon. How did the story idea first come to you, and what was the process of writing your debut novel like?

Thanks, Marianne. I grew up devouring science fiction novels, so to have one of my own published by HarperVoyager Impulse is very special.

Like a lot of my shorter fiction, Horizon came out of a strong image that popped into my mind. I’d been reading a New Scientist article about suspended animation in frogs and I suddenly saw an astronaut coming out of deep hibernation in a blind panic. That raised a lot of questions for me. What was happening to her? Why had she travelled so far? Who was she, and what was happening back on Earth?

I’m usually a bit of a ‘pantser’ when it comes to plotting, but I’d just started the novel writing module of a professional writing and editing course at TAFE when the idea came to me. That forced me to do a lot of thinking about the story up front, because I had to justify what I wanted to achieve with the novel as part of the course. I knew I wanted a solid scientific grounding for the action of Horizon, but I also wanted to explore the personal reasons why my stellarnauts went on their journey. These people aren’t space heroes’, they’re intelligent individuals put in an extraordinary situation, and they can’t divorce themselves from the things that make them who they are.

The other thing I was ‘forced’ to do as part of the course was meticulous and detailed plotting, but that really helped when I came to finally write the first draft, because Horizon has a central mystery, almost like a ‘whodunnit’, which meant plot and pacing are paramount.

The first draft took a couple of years to complete and then you and Jack Dann kindly put me in touch with a number of publishers, but for whatever reason Horizon didn’t get picked up and I put it in the bottom drawer and moved on. Then the HarperCollins digital submissions call went out a year or so ago and I submitted Horizon on the off-chance. I thought if it didn’t get picked up I’d self-publish down the track, but I got lucky and HarperVoyager Impulse contracted me.

keith_stevenson_colour_hi_resQ2. You have a great interest in science and technology. How important is it to you to refer to plausible theories in your fiction, and does it frustrate you when you find improbable, or unscientific, ideas in science fiction that you read?

Certainly when I was developing Horizon a lot of scientific concepts I’d been reading about came together to support the novel. For instance, my ship needed a way to travel at over half the speed of light and I was reading about zero point energy at the time, so in it went. I’d also just finished reading Stephen L Gillett’s book World-Building, which really helped me create the alien world I wanted my ship to visit and think about many aspects of a planet’s geology, climatology and oceanography that I wouldn’t have considered otherwise. In that planning phase I was always looking out for scientific ideas I could appropriate and use to support the story to give it a more realistic feel, so I researched space medicine and the effect of zero gravity on the physiology of my crew, time dilation effects of space travel, and extreme weather events and their effect on climate sustainability.

The important thing about Horizon is that it’s not a science lecture. It’s first and foremost an adventure story about explorers who are farther away from the rest of humanity than anyone in history. The science must support the story, not overwhelm it. That’s one important factor in this type of writing. And, also, the science must be consistent within the framework of the story, otherwise the reader will become annoyed if you create a set of rules and then break them – unless you have a very good reason for doing so. That certainly annoys me when I’m reading a story, although there are a lot of different types of science fiction out there, and not all of them rely so heavily on science, so they can often get away with more.

Funnily enough, I was never particularly good at science at school, but I reckon if I can understand a scientific concept, then I’m able to explain it in an accessible way to others.

Q3. Can you tell our readers about your space opera series, The Lenticular?

This is another long-term project I’ve been working on. It’s a galaxy-spanning trilogy of novels about inter-species war with lots of different aliens and planetary environments, space battles big and small, political manoeuvring, betrayals, reversals and – hopefully – some redemption at the end. The main protagonist is an alien, one of a race of empaths called the Kresh, who is caught up in an Earth-backed invasion of his planet. The invaders remove the empathic organs of the Kresh they capture as a way of subduing them. The effect on Kresh society is devastating, but my alien is better equipped to survive the ‘excision’ than most, and manages to escape in order to fight for the freedom of his world.

My other protagonist is a female pilot with the Earth forces who quickly becomes disillusioned, and finds herself working against her own species. So there are many morally grey areas in the story, for Kresh and Human alike, which gives me a lot to play with. But the main focus of the story is lots of adventure, suffering for my Kresh hero (I make him suffer a LOT), and nasty Machiavellian politics.

I’ve been working on the whole thing off and on for about a dozen years and I’ve finished book one to a point where I’m happy with it and book two is drafted and now needs a redraft before I get into book three. It should be done in a couple of years, but in the meantime I’m having a lot of fun with it.

Q4. If you could travel to the future and see, or interact with, any scientific invention/s currently in its/their conceptual stage/s, which would you choose and why?

I’d love to live in an era where we’d developed a cheap, fast and reliable means of travelling to all the planets in the solar system and where we had habitats set up on or around Neptune, Jupiter, Saturn, and bases on Mars, Titan and Io. I just think that would be so wonderful to stand in all those alien environments and to be on the cusp of discovering so much about them. Those were the stories I loved so much when I was growing up and I still get a real thrill reading about the planets. Paul McAuley’s Quiet War series is amazing for that. He has a way of describing even the tiniest moons and making you feel that you’re there.

You can keep everything else – matter transporters, replicators, fusion power – just give me the planets.

Follow the Horizon Blog Tour

3 November — Extract of Horizon — Voyager blog

4 November — Character Building: Meet the Crew — Trent Jamieson’s blog

5 November — Welcome to Magellan: Inside the Ship — Darkmatter

6 November — Futureshock: Charting the History of Tomorrow — Lee Battersby’s blog

7 November — Engage: Tinkering With a Quantum Drive — Joanne Anderton’s blog

10 November — Stormy Weather: Facing Down Climate Change — Ben Peek’s blog

11 November — Time Travel: Relatively Speaking — Rjurik Davidson’s blog

12 November — Consciousness Explorers: Inside a Transhuman — Alan Baxter’s blog

13 November — From the Ground Up: Building a Planet — Sean Wright’s blog

14 November — Life Persists: Finding the Extremophile — Greig Beck’s Facebook page

17 November — Interview — Marianne De Pierres’ blog


Keith Stevenson is a science fiction author, editor, publisher and reviewer. His debut novel Horizon is available as an ebook via


His blog is at



davitt-award  aurealis-award   logo-curtin-university

Curtin University Distinguished Alumni Award 2014

Transformation Space - Aurealis Award
 Best Science Fiction Novel 2010

Sharp Shooter - Davitt Award
Best Crime Novel 2009 -- Sisters in Crime Australia 







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