Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Canberra author R.K Hart for a chat about her books, writing, and our Aussie summer Christmas. I met Rebekka this year when she hosted the launch fellow local fantasy writer Lauren Searson-Patrick’s Amber Wolf. Rebekka kindly sent me a copy of her novel To Dream of White and Gold. I’ve only read a few chapters so far but am already loving the world and characters she has created,
Hi Rebekka! Thanks so much for joining me here for a chat today! I’ve recently been reading To Dream of White & Gold, which is the first book in your Death Dreamers Legacy. Can you please tell us a bit about the series and what inspired you to write it?
The Death Dreamer Legacy series follows the coming-of-age journey of my main character, Lyda, as she uncovers secrets about her mother’s history in order to use her magical gift within a future-fantasy world on the cusp of conflict. The world itself is loosely inspired by parts of the early Roman empire, pre-Roman Europe, and Classical and Celtic myth; there’s also a good deal of inspiration from fantasy series by Australian authors I loved when I was growing up (The Obernewtyn Chronicles, The Witches of Eileanan series, The Old Kingdom series), along with Plato’s Republic. The ‘spark’ for the series came when I was teaching at a rural high school (in another lifetime …) and one of my students was told she had to stop playing a sport she loved when she turned fourteen, as the boys she played with were getting ‘too big’. She was still taller than most of them, but it was the age the code had picked where girls had to stop playing. There were no other options for her – there was no girls’ code, and the nearest city was too far for her parents to drive her to training – and it broke my heart. I decided to write a world with a range of different power structures (including matriarchal), and a protagonist who would navigate those differences throughout her journey, sometimes to her benefit.
Do you like to read seasonal books and do you have a favourite Christmas or summer book or story?
I actually don’t read seasonal books, but my kids are very strict about it! Once December comes around, they pull out all the Christmas-themed books and we have them on rotation – The Night Before Christmas, The Jolly Christmas Postman, Winnie the Pooh Christmas Stories, Mr. Christmas, along with all the various Peppa Pig/Bluey/alphabet Christmas editions, books like that. My favourite summer(ish) book is – and always will be – Magic Beach by Alison Lester. I don’t think I’ll ever stop loving that book!
Is there a particular book you’d love to find under your Christmas tree this year?
It hasn’t been released yet, but if (by some Christmassy miracle) it were possible, I’d love to find Day of Fallen Night by Samantha Shannon. A close second would be Ancient Rome: Infographics by Nicholas Guillerat, which is the type of book I desperately want and yet could never justify buying for myself.
Do you have a favourite book (or books!) you’ve read this year that you’ll be recommending (or giving as a Christmas present!) to everyone you know?
One of my favourite books this year has been Dream of Death City by P.J. Nwosu; I’ve bought it for a couple of people and will be making my book club read it in the new year. I also really loved the Crier’s War duology by Nina Varela and have been recommending it like mad.
Here in Australia at Christmas time summer is just getting started. Do you enjoy summer, and what is your favourite thing about it?
I used to hate it when I was a kid – the sunburn, the flies, the stuffy cars with scalding seatbelts – but now that I’m not living through a years-long drought, I love it. I love the baking heat we get here in Canberra (or we get when it’s not La Niña, at least); I love the long days; and I love the warm evenings with late dinners and the languid sense of winding down. I love having the time to see my family and friends and not feel like I’m juggling a strict schedule – so perhaps I just really love the excuse to take things more slowly!
Do you like to plan a summer reading list? I’d love if you could please share three (or more if you can’t cut it down!) books on your summer holiday tbr.
Because my brain is generally fried by December, I try to do comfort re-reads over the summer holidays. I’m currently re-reading Holly Black’s Folk of the Air trilogy, and will try to fit in an Austen re-read, too (I think Emma). At the top of my TBR for the new year are The World We Make by N.K. Jemisin; Poster Girl by Veronica Roth; and Stone Blind by Natalie Haynes.
Finally, are you working on something new and can you tell us anything about it?
I’m currently working on the first draft of To Sing of Sea-Green Sails (the third novel in the Death Dreamer Legacy series) along with another Death Dreamer origins novella (How the Sea Witch Killed the Lightning Mage). Neither are behaving nicely, so it’s more a wrestle-into-submission vibe at the moment, but we’ll get there!
Thanks so much for your time!
Thanks so much for having me! I hope you have a lovely Christmas and summer break!
Biggest thanks to Rebekka for taking the time to chat with me! I’m really looking forward to the summer break and a chance to really get into her novels!
You can keep up with Rebekka on her website and Instagram.
About the author
Rebekka Hart lives and works on Ngunnawal land in Canberra, Australia, with her artist husband, two young children, a feline furbaby, and three surprisingly long-lived goldfish. She holds a BA (Hons) in Literature, along with a postgraduate teaching degree. She writes mythic, romantic fantasy set in future worlds, and loves complex storylines featuring characters who are neither heroes nor villains. She is obsessed with shifting vagaries of meaning, with the utopian/dystopian impulse, and with representing matriarchal power structures and queerness in her future-fantasy worlds.
In 2019, she was shortlisted for the Anne Edgeworth Writer’s Fellowship through the ACT Writers Centre with her project for her first novel, To Dream of White & Gold. Her work has been included in Kirkus Reviews Magazine and HerCanberra.
She is currently working on the third Death Dreamer Legacy novel, along with an unrelated side-project featuring a reluctant hedgewitch and magic-eating monsters.
To Dream of White and Gold
All the dreamers are dead.
All but one.
Lyda D’Cathan never wanted to leave Kingstown. But when a stranger knocks on her door in the middle of the night, Lyda learns she has inherited something from her long-dead mother, Siva – something unwanted, something unknown, and something entirely dangerous.
Lyda must choose: journey to the mysterious Illarum and live mistrusted and maligned with the other gifted, or stay at home and risk hurting the people she loves with the newfound power that spills from her in sleep.
Lyda is promised answers; the Illarum gives her nothing but questions. In order to control her power, she will need to follow in Siva’s elusive footsteps and travel further from home than she ever imagined. And just like her gift, knowledge has a cost – and it might be more than she is willing to pay.
What will Lyda give to become the last dreamer?