An interview with Trent Jamieson

Interview by Fergus McCartan

Speaking with Fantasy Book Review today for our How Stories Connect Us series of interviews is Australian science fiction and fantasy author Trent Jamieson.

Trent is the author of the acclaimed Death Works and Nightbound Land novels. The Death Works series is an urban fantasy tale in which Death’s employees shepherd the recently deceased to the afterlife, easing their passing. That is until something goes wrong (and it usually does) and then even the departed want you dead. You can read an extract here of the fourth novel in the series, The Memory of Death.

Trent’s other major work, The Nightbound Land, consists of two steampunk/fantasy style novels, Roil and Night’s Engines, which are set in a world being consumed by a great darkness, destroying the land and its people day by day. Its only hope is a four thousand year old man and a young woman intent on revenge.

Trent is currently working on adapting one of his short stories, Day Boy, into a full-length novel, due for release in 2015.

If you would like to know more about Trent, you can check out his site

Which book do you own that puts a smile on your face and makes you happy just by holding it in your hand?

I'm a bookseller by trade, and books generally make me do that. But if I had to pick one it would probably be The Hobbit. That book was a constant source of comfort in my childhood.

Which book or series do you read which makes you feel nostalgic, remembering the period in your life you first read it?

It's another Fantasy. Fritz Leiber's Nehwon books, (or the Swords series, or the Fafhrd and Gray Mouser books it's all the same series, just given different names). There's such light and joy and wit and darkness in those books, and the glorious city of Lankhmar. Oh, and the land of Nehwon has such an engaging incarnation of Death – and I do love my Deaths!

Which book or series do you read that makes your blood pump and your palms sweaty?

Hugh Cook's “Chronicles of an Age of Darkness”, gee I'm all with the heroic fantasy today. It's nine books of weird fantasy, teeming with monsters and grumpy old wizards, and civilizations gone to pot. It's fabulous!

Is there a particular author that leaves you thinking: One day I would like to be able to write just like that?

Margo Lanagan, not that I ever could, but she is an incredible writer. But, really, most authors I love leave me wishing that. Krissy Kneen, Fritz Leiber, China Mieville, Ben Peek, James Salter, Marianne de Pierres, JRR Tolkien the list could go on and on.

The thing is these authors we want to write like are already there. They're markers on the map of your reading, but you chart your own direction.

It's finding the way that you write that is important, and then making it as purely, perfectly truly you. All the while that you being a changeable creature as well.

Which book or series do you think you could implant one of your own characters? Would you want them to thrive or want them to burn it all down?

The Lord of the Rings. Most of my characters would get a kick out of Middle Earth, some of them would thrive, and some would get with the burning.

I am very grateful to Trent for taking the time to speak with us today. If you haven't read any of Trent’s works, check them out, the Death Works series is a great read.

Our Trent Jamieson reviews

Day Boy by Trent Jamieson

Mark is a Day Boy. In a post-traumatic future the Masters - formerly human, now practically immortal - rule a world that bends to their will and a human population upon which they feed. Invincible by night, all but helpless by day, each relies on his Day Boy to serve and protect him. Mark has been lucky in his Master: Dain has treated him well. But as he grows to manhood and his time as a Day Boy draws to a close, there are choices to be made. Will Mark undergo the Change and become, himself, a Master - or throw in his lot with his fellow humans? As the tensions in his conflicted world reach crisis point, Mark's decision may be crucial.

"Day Boy is a coming of age story set in a world of harsh truths, blood, death and survival. It is a poetic story of humanity, of monsters living in the Shadow of the Mountain, bitter cold and open to the burning of the clear night sky."

Read our review

Managing Death by Trent Jamieson

Steven has a new job, with an important-sounding job title: Australia’s Regional Death. On a good day he thinks it has quite a ring to it, but on a bad day (that’s most of them) it’s more of a toll. He’s recently averted a Regional Apocalypse, but a huge national death count - instead of a normal, manageable death count - is still a big risk. And with barely a month to go until his first Death Moot, where the world’s thirteen Deaths get together to talk, er, death, Steven feels a crisis is imminent. People are dying in the unusually brutal summer heat. Monstrous Stirrers are on the rise as their dark god draws near. Someone is trying to kill him. And he has a conference to organise. Steven must start managing Death, before it starts managing him, or this time the Apocalypse will be more than Regional.

"There is a discrete difference between Death Most Definite and Managing Death, and the best way to describe it would be to say there is more wholeness to this instalment than the previous book. Maybe as the reader, I was more familiar with the characters and their world, but truthfully it feels more than that. If I had to pick one reason, I think Jamieson had grown in confidence and belief in the story and its characters, which shines in the writing."

Read our review

Death Most Definite by Trent Jamieson

Steve knew something was wrong as soon as he saw the dead girl in the Wintergarden food court. Nothing new - he saw dead people all the time - but this one was about to save his life... Steve is a necromancer in the family firm, tasked with easing spirits from this dimension to the next after death. And he’s kind of OK with that, until someone high up the corporate hierarchy makes a bid to be Australia’s new Regional Death. This means killing all of the current Death’s staff. After his parents, relatives and pretty much every other necromancer he ever knew has been killed, Steve is left to make a reluctant stand. But to do this he must stay alive. Threatened at every turn, Steve and the perilously attractive (and dead) Lissa go on the run to save what’s left of their world.

"Life, Death and the One Tree calls all, its branches sway and creak as soul after soul walks its paths, maintaining the cycle as old as time. Resurrect some time and start reading the Death Works series, it won't kill you and if it does Steven will be there to guide you home."

Read our review