National science fiction award for author and vet Thoraiya Dyer

A Katoomba author has won a science fiction award for her debut novel.

Thoraiya Dyer’s fantasy novel Crossroads of Canopy won the Ditmar Award in the best novel category, awarded at the Australian National Science Fiction Convention over Easter.

Unable to make it to the awards ceremony in Perth, Dyer was awaiting the trophy by post.

“The presenter on stage in Perth was one of my favourite Australian authors, Juliet Marillier, so I was sad not to be able to receive it from her in person,” she said.

The novel was published in August last year by Tor Books, which mainly prints science fiction and fantasy titles, and whose parent company is Macmillan. 

It is Dyer’s fourth Ditmar Award – the previous three were for short fiction.

The novel is the first of a trilogy set at the highest level of a giant forest where 13 kingdoms form the great city of Canopy. Thirteen goddesses and gods rule this realm and are continuously reincarnated into human bodies. Canopy’s position in the sun, however, is not without its dark side. The nation’s opulence comes from the labor of slaves, and below its fruitful boughs are two other realms: Understorey and Floor, whose deprived citizens yearn for Canopy’s splendor. 

“I’m inspired by rainforests around the world, from the temperate forests in Tasmania, to the tropical rainforest in Queensland,” Dyer said.

In December she moved from Sydney to the Mountains with her husband Anthony Dyer, but prior to this she would often escape the city to write.

“Living in the city surrounded by concrete I would leap on the train and come out to the Mountains,” Dyer recalled.

“I used to come up here to finish books off.”

The 38-year-old is also a trained vet and was to start a job shortly at the Katoomba Veterinary Clinic.

“I really enjoy both [veterinary work and writing]. I would like to keep doing both. Whether I can keep doing novels will depend on international sales,” Dyer said.

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