World-building, Dangerous Magic and Jane Austen

A Conversation with Sean Williams




Sean Williams is a South Australian author who has published more than 50 books and well over 100 short stories for adults, young adults and children. Most of his work is science fiction or fantasy, and he has created several series, including Twinmaker (3 volumes) and The Books of the Change (10 volumes). He often co-authors with writers such as Garth Nix and Shane Dix. Sean is a multiple recipient of both the Ditmar and Aurealis Awards for science fiction and has appeared on the New York Times Bestseller list.
I got to know Sean when he joined the staff of the English and Creative Writing department at Flinders University in 2019. I was intrigued to hear about Impossible Music (2019), a novel about a young musician who suddenly loses his hearing, and I read it with great enjoyment as soon as I could get my hands on it. When I heard him say in a public conversation that he read Jane Austen for inspiration when writing a realist novel (a new genre for him) I approached him and suggested we talk. I hurriedly read a very small fraction of his other output – the first novels in the Twinmaker and Change series, and Magic Dirt, a book of short stories – in preparation, and we met in his office in December 2019.

Author Biography

Gillian Dooley, Flinders University

Gillian Dooley is an Honorary Senior Research Fellow in English at Flinders University. Her publications include V.S. Naipaul, Man and Writer (2006) and J.M. Coetzee and the Power of Narrative (2010). She is the General Editor of the journal Transnational Literature and a regular book reviewer for Australian Book Review.