Posted by: Natalie Hatch | October 12, 2009

Author Interview: Richard Harland – Worldshaker

This week the we’re looking at idols/heroes of ours. Well I thought I’d start the week off with one of mine. Richard Harland has the ability to create worlds that I can throw myself whole-heartedly into. His stories are always rich in world building, his characters have depth and meaning, and they make me sometimes want to throw my hands up in the air and shout that I’ll never be good enough (darn you Richard and your pithy ways). But other than that he’s a good writer. LOL.

It is a treat to invite Richard Harland (fangirl scream) to the blog. Richard has written copious books, both adult, YA, and middle grade novels.  He released his latest YA – Worldshaker earlier this year, which is a steampunk novel about moving cities that transverse the globe – how cool is that?

  • Worldshaker is a great Steampunk novel set in a far distant future with mobile cities. What drew you to delve into the world of steampunk?

There wasn’t really a world of steampunk when I had the first ideas for Worldshaker. Fifteen years ago, steampunk was just a small sub-genre of SF – I read Anubis Gates, but there wasn’t much else. My own obsessions led me to develop what turned out to be – by accident – a steampunk novel. I’ve always been fascinated by old-fashioned industrial-age technology and the murky atmospheres of 19th C urban gothic. Steampunk as a major trend came along later to float my boat – lucky for me, because I’d never have got it published in Australia otherwise.

  • Do you own a pair of brass goggles?

No. But every second person had a pair for the masquerade ball at the ‘Galaxies and Gaslight’ convention in Melbourne. I own a top hat, fob watch, tailcoat and about thirty different waistcoats, but I haven’t got around to the gadgetry yet.

  • I loved the Victorian values attached to the upper decks and the almost french revolution lower decks, how did you go about plotting out such a rich story?

The notion of an Upper Decks society almost wholly separated from an underclass Below came with the original dream that gave me the seed for the story. (The dream became Chapter 26 of the actual novel.) Then it was a matter of working through the implications – which only took about 10 years! Even then I wasn’t finished, because Selena, who is my agent’s YA reader, felt that the social and cultural world needed thickening up – so I worked to create more activities and customs, especially for the Upper Decks people. I guess your comment shows she was right, and the work paid off.

  • You’re well known for your science fiction works and my favourite the Angels series about the apocalyptic war in heaven, can you tell us a bit about how you write.

Um, very very slowly, but consistently. I do a lot of planning beforehand, building up my world until it’s absolutely solid. The only trick I have that I’ve never heard of any other writer using is what I call ‘pre-filming’. I write through the morning, then take a break, then come back late in the afternoon to mull over the episode I’m going to write next day. I visualize the scene, the mood, the way it’ll all unfold. I go to bed with it in my mind, sleep on it, and by the morning it’s as if it really happened. All I have to do is record it!

  • You’re represented by agent Selwa Anthony, do you think it’s important for new authors to have an agent? How did you go about getting your own?

It’s a big advantage – a good agent (and Selwa is more than good) knows exactly which publisher will be interested in which manuscript, and her recommendation makes a publisher sit up and pay attention. But first you have to snare your agent.

  • Your website has a great deal of information for newbie writers, what advice would you give teens writing their first novels?

Hmm, I’d like to give all the advice that’s on the website ( But here are three bits of advice.

–        Have a long-term plan and be prepared to produce several books before the luck falls your way.

–        Don’t try to follow current trends (you’ll always be out of date) but write the very best story that’s in you.

–        Never give up!

Now you’re working on a sequel, which I will put my hand up to grab a first copy (no pressure here). Can you give us hints about where the juggernaut is headed?

Well, it won’t be smooth sailing in Liberator. Three months later, the optimistic dreams at the end of Worldshaker haven’t come true. The juggernauts of Austria, Russia and other reactionary countries aren’t happy about a rogue juggernaut roaming the world. And confrontation with those other juggernauts drives the Filthies on board our liberated juggernaut into extremism. The radicals plot to seize power and persecute people of the Upper Decks who’ve stayed on after the revolution, like Col.

More details soon on my author website at!



  1. Terrific interview, Nat and Richard. Steampunk is really starting to gather, um, steam now. There have been a few sales reported in recent weeks.

  2. Vanessa, you’ll like this one, very well written and the story is compelling.

  3. Natalie and Richard – thanks so much for a great interview. I’m now off to add this to my ever growing list of books I Absolutely Must Read (shall we call it AMR for short?)

  4. […] interviewed wonderful writers/agents, including: Michael Gerard Bauer, Melanie Nilles, Kim Miller, Richard Harland, Kirsty Eagar, Tania Roxborogh, Kathy Charles, Scott Monk, Jacinta di Mase, Rebecca James, Jack […]

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