Writing in 2012, Edward James comments that ‘one of the most unexpected developments of the last decade has been the domination of the popular fantasy genre by Australian women (and some Australian men)’ (76; see Wilkins 265). This trend has continued in the years since, with authors such as Emily Rodda, Kate Forsyth, Isobelle Carmody, Jessica Townsend, Garth Nix, John Flanagan, Michael Pryor and Jay Kristoff finding success in Australia and internationally. There is, however, very little distinctively ‘Australian’ about fantasy series by these writers, which largely conform to conventions of the genre that prevail internationally. Unlike Australian literary fiction, which values ‘complex’, original books that celebrate distinctive Australian features (Wilkins 267-9), genres such as fantasy value familiarity and commercial viability (Gelder 13-17, 26-7, 41). James argues that many Australian writers ‘have only been a success because they have been able to market their books to publishers in the UK and USA’ (76). Often, the global outlook of Australian genre fiction writers means publishers do not emphasise the Australian identity of these writers, and their books do not include extrinsically Australian features. In the highly commercial genre fiction industry, failure to adhere to the strict, if evolving, conventions that govern book production in a narrative and professional sense can mean that a writer does not get published, or at the least, does not achieve success in the global market.
children's fantasy fiction, Australian popular fiction, publishing