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Guest Blog by Thoraiya Dyer - Five Favourite Bush Fruits


Please welcome Thoraiya Dyer to The Qwillery as part of the 2017 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs. Crossroads of Canopy is published on January 31st by Tor Books.



Guest Blog by Thoraiya Dyer - Five Favourite Bush Fruits




Five Favourite Bush Fruits

by Thoraiya Dyer

If you go for a stroll in an English forest, you might be able to forage for such familiar fruits as plums, raspberries, blackberries and wild strawberries. Ditto for a Malaysian forest, home of mangosteen, pomelo and rambutan. But would you recognise good fruit when you saw it in my backyard? What are the tastiest (IMO) fruits to be found at random while hiking in the Australian bush?

Here are my top five!

(1) Magenta cherry (aka magenta lilli pilli, Syzygium paniculatum). There are many tasty, snack-sized lilli pillies out there, but this one is my favourite. I love the crisp texture, like a nashi pear, and the slight sourness with a hint of turpentine aftertaste. They can get quite big, hovering between grape sized and date sized, not only in wild rainforests but when people who water their plants every day use them for suburban hedging purposes. And they’re so pretty. No hesitation naming magenta cherries as my number one!

(2) Finger lime (Citrus australasica) comes a close second, although if I’m truthful I’ve never seen one in the wild and it seems they’re threatened in their native range due to land clearing. You can find them in most Australian nurseries, however. The plant itself is just wonderful, painfully thorny with tiny, perfect, three-petalled flowers that attract tiny, perfect native bees. And the fruit, full of round vesicles full of lime juice that snooty restaurants have christened vegetarian caviar, are sublime to eat straight off the tree. Or in cheesecake (see recipe below!). Or in salad dressing. Or on smoked salmon and crackers. Etc.

Guest Blog by Thoraiya Dyer - Five Favourite Bush Fruits

(3) Blue quandong (Elaeocarpus angustifolius) is even more sour than finger lime, and a little bit bitter, but is so satisfying to suck on as you hike through the forest that I’ve foolishly started trying to grow one here in Sydney. These towering hardwoods aren’t really practical for climbing without ropes and harnesses, but flighted birds have usually been squabbling in the branches, knocking down plenty of ripe fruit for both humans and flightless cassowaries to enjoy. Just make sure you wash it so you don’t get rabies-like diseases from flying fox saliva. The luminous blue skin is a structural, light-bending thing which quandong fruit have in common with blue Ulysses butterflies (Papilio ulysses) in a fine example of convergent evolution.

(4) Sandpaper fig (Ficus coronata) is pretty much everywhere up and down the eastern seaboard of Australia. I’ve picked and eaten them straight off wild-growing trees in Cairns, Port Stephens, the Wollemi and, most recently, Palm Beach in Sydney. Sometimes they’ll be dry and hard and nasty. Other times, they’ll be squirming with fly larvae. But occasionally, you’ll get one so syrupy and full of concentrated figgy flavour that it makes all the other attempts worthwhile!

(5) Pine leaf geebung (Persoonia pinifolia). This geebung is from drier climes, one that thrives in the devastation that follows a good bushfire. Eat these straight from the tree, and discover the unique experience of pouring dirty turps in your mouth. However, pick the ripe, fallen fruit up from the forest floor, after a period of good rainfall, and geebung fruit are sweet, refreshing and unique.

And finally, honourable mention…(6) White mangrove (Avicennia marina). I’ve heard that though these fruits are mainly used for medicinal purposes and can be toxic when untreated, there is a way to render them delicious! Sadly, I am not wise in such ways. So the white mangrove fruit must go untasted for now, lest I die before I finish my trilogy. Let this be a reminder not to eat anything that hasn’t been properly identified!


Guest Blog by Thoraiya Dyer - Five Favourite Bush Fruits

Recipe for Finger Lime Cheesecake:

Crush 100g hazelnuts and 100g chocolate tiny teddies in a mixing bowl. Add about 2 tbsp of melted butter - just enough to make it stick - and press into the bottom of a 20cm diameter cake tin to form the base.

Take your 250g block of not-in-the-fridge cream cheese and beat it in another mixing bowl with 400g melted white chocolate (don't bother about fancy double-bowled chocolate melting, just chop the stuff into a saucepan and heat it on the lowest possible setting until melted). Add 1 cup caster sugar, a 300mL tub of sour cream, and keep beating until the sugar's dissolved.

Squeeze out the insides of a bowl of Australian finger limes. These are the pink variety but they come in yellow, green and red. I’ve used about 1.5 cups of finger lime "caviar" (read: tiny sacks of sweet-sour lime juice)...this is a great workout for your fingers.

Stir the lime pulp into the white chocolate mixture. Add 3 egg yolks one at a time, beating well in between each one. Whip the whites of those 3 eggs in another bowl before folding in gently. Pour this mixture into the tin.

1 hour in a 180C oven did the trick for me, but others have had this set (firm and brown on top) in as little as 35 minutes, so keep an eye on it. Serve with whipped cream.





Crossroads of Canopy
Titan's Forest 1
Tor Books, January 31, 2017
Hardcover and eBook, 336 pages

Guest Blog by Thoraiya Dyer - Five Favourite Bush Fruits
The highly-anticipated fantasy debut from Aurealis and Ditmar Award-winning author Thoraiya Dyer, set in a giant mythical rainforest controlled by living gods

At the highest level of a giant forest, thirteen kingdoms fit seamlessly together to 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.

Unar, a determined but destitute young woman, escapes her parents’ plot to sell her into slavery by being selected to serve in the Garden under the goddess Audblayin, ruler of growth and fertility. As a Gardener, she wishes to become Audblayin’s next Bodyguard while also growing sympathetic towards Canopy's slaves.

When Audblayin dies, Unar sees her opportunity for glory – at the risk of descending into the unknown dangers of Understorey to look for a newborn god. In its depths, she discovers new forms of magic, lost family connections, and murmurs of a revolution that could cost Unar her chance…or grant it by destroying the home she loves.

“I am majorly impressed with Thoraiya Dyer's Crossroads of Canopy. A unique, gorgeous, and dangerous world, a stubborn female hero, and a writer to watch!”—Tamora Pierce




About Thoraiya Dyer

Guest Blog by Thoraiya Dyer - Five Favourite Bush Fruits
Photo by Cat Sparks
THORAIYA DYER is an Australian writer whose more than 30 short stories, as well as a novella and short fiction collection published since 2008 have racked up 7 wins from 17 Aurealis and Ditmar Award nominations between them. Her debut fantasy TITAN'S FOREST TRILOGY is published by Tor Books.









Website  ~  Twitter @ThoraiyaDyer



Interview with Thoraiya Dyer


Please welcome Thoraiya Dyer to The Qwillery as part of the 2017 Debut Author Challenge interviews. Crossroads of Canopy is published on January 31st by Tor Books.

Please join The Qwillery in wishing Thoraiya a Happy Publication Day!



Interview with Thoraiya Dyer




TQWelcome back to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

Thoraiya:  Thank you! And this is a tough question. I’ve said before that most children write stories, so the real question should be, why do some people stop? Some of my earliest writing was as a shy schoolchild attempting to make friends, often by casting my peers as humorously inept superheroes. Sometimes it worked!



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Thoraiya:  Plotters go well with deadlines and I’ve trained hard to become one.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Thoraiya:  Telling people I’m a writer. Hahaha!



TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Thoraiya:  Oh, almost everything, but most obviously the natural environment, history, mythology and modern scientific advancements.



TQDescribe Crossroads of Canopy in 140 characters or less, like a tweet.

Thoraiya:  Like a tweet, you say? What about:

TFW magic trees are 5x the height of the Eiffel Tower & your sister falls out of one #doh #CrossroadsofCanopy



TQTell us something about Crossroads of Canopy that is not found in the book description.

Thoraiya:  My main character, Unar, is creeped out by fish. Her phobia is borrowed shamelessly from a writer friend of mine. She knows who she is!



TQWhat inspired you to write Crossroads of Canopy? What appeals to you about writing Fantasy?

Thoraiya:  I’m going to answer that first part by quoting a previous interview: “I still have the bit of scrap paper I first wrote the idea on. It reads: “Write an epic fantasy novel about a tropical rainforest where countries are not horizontal, but vertical, and defended by magic.” I started writing Crossroads of Canopy after a trip to Cairns and the rainforests up there in tropical Queensland. All the other rainforests I’d been to wanted to come to the party as well – Nepalese forests, Canadian ones, Tasmanian and Singaporean and New Zealander. I put my version of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon in there because of a book on ancient civilisations that my Dad brought back from Lebanon for me.”

The freedom to explore the seeming-impossible is what appeals to me about fantasy. (Science fiction too, it’s just that it requires slightly more justification, if no less extrapolation.) If you can’t imagine a better society, you can’t build one, and if you can’t think up wildly imaginative theories of life, sentience, time and space, you can’t hope to scientifically prove or disprove them.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Crossroads of Canopy?

Thoraiya:  Aside from walking around in a *lot* of rainforests, which was easy because I love them, I read a mountain of books, visited many megafaunal-fossil-filled museums, and dredged up a whole bunch of travel experiences I was fortunate enough to have.



TQPlease tell us about Crossroads of Canopy's cover?

Thoraiya:  It’s so pretty! It captures all the danger and mystery I tried to convey. And it’s green! : http://www.tor.com/2016/05/18/cover-reveals-thoraiya-dyer-crossroads-of-canopy-marc-simonetti/



TQIn Crossroads of Canopy who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Thoraiya:  The easiest characters to write were the three brothers, because I could hear their voices so clearly and distinctly from the very beginning. The hardest was the main antagonist. It took some time to get that character right. Because who likes trying to understand why damaged people do despicable things?



TQWhy have you chosen to include or not chosen to include social issues in Crossroads of Canopy?

Thoraiya:  The only fantasy novels without social issues are ones without any societies. Can you think of any? I can’t. Inequality is a recurring theme in the history of humankind. Also today and inevitably tomorrow.



TQWhich question about Crossroads of Canopy do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Thoraiya:  Does “path” rhyme with “hearth”? The answer is: sometimes. Hahaha!



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Crossroads of Canopy.

Thoraiya:

‘ “I can’t see the future,” Odel said. “Not yours, anyway. It’s only the deaths of children that I see. Since I turned sixteen, whenever I close my eyes, it’s little children falling that fill my dreams. I am the forty-fourth incarnation of Odel and I will find no peace until I die. Here’s a thing that I have learned, little Gardener. Sometimes, it’s best to not be chosen.” ’ – end Chapter 9



TQWhat's next?

Thoraiya:  What’s next is the second book in the series, Echoes of Understorey! In Book #2, I’ve tackled a warrior protagonist to follow on the heels of my magic-wielding one, and it was fun to write a story centred on Imeris, who is so different to Unar.



TQThank you for joining us again at The Qwillery.

Thoraiya:  Thank you for having me back!





Crossroads of Canopy
Titan's Forest 1
Tor Books, January 31, 2017
Hardcover and eBook,336 pages

Interview with Thoraiya Dyer
The highly-anticipated fantasy debut from Aurealis and Ditmar Award-winning author Thoraiya Dyer, set in a giant mythical rainforest controlled by living gods

At the highest level of a giant forest, thirteen kingdoms fit seamlessly together to 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.

Unar, a determined but destitute young woman, escapes her parents’ plot to sell her into slavery by being selected to serve in the Garden under the goddess Audblayin, ruler of growth and fertility. As a Gardener, she wishes to become Audblayin’s next Bodyguard while also growing sympathetic towards Canopy's slaves.

When Audblayin dies, Unar sees her opportunity for glory – at the risk of descending into the unknown dangers of Understorey to look for a newborn god. In its depths, she discovers new forms of magic, lost family connections, and murmurs of a revolution that could cost Unar her chance…or grant it by destroying the home she loves.

“I am majorly impressed with Thoraiya Dyer's Crossroads of Canopy. A unique, gorgeous, and dangerous world, a stubborn female hero, and a writer to watch!”—Tamora Pierce





About Thoraiya Dyer

Interview with Thoraiya Dyer
Photo by Cat Sparks
THORAIYA DYER is an Australian writer whose more than 30 short stories, as well as a novella and short fiction collection published since 2008 have racked up 7 wins from 17 Aurealis and Ditmar Award nominations between them. Her debut fantasy TITAN'S FOREST TRILOGY is published by Tor Books.








Website  ~  Twitter @ThoraiyaDyer 




2017 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - January Winner


The winner of the January 2017 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars is Crossroads of Canopy by Thoraiya Dyer from Tor Books. The cover art is by Marc Simonetti.


Crossroads of Canopy
Titan's Forest 1
Tor Books, January 31, 2017
Hardcover and eBook, 336 pages

2017 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - January Winner
The highly-anticipated fantasy debut from Aurealis and Ditmar Award-winning author Thoraiya Dyer, set in a giant mythical rainforest controlled by living gods

At the highest level of a giant forest, thirteen kingdoms fit seamlessly together to 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.

Unar, a determined but destitute young woman, escapes her parents’ plot to sell her into slavery by being selected to serve in the Garden under the goddess Audblayin, ruler of growth and fertility. As a Gardener, she wishes to become Audblayin’s next Bodyguard while also growing sympathetic towards Canopy's slaves.

When Audblayin dies, Unar sees her opportunity for glory – at the risk of descending into the unknown dangers of Understorey to look for a newborn god. In its depths, she discovers new forms of magic, lost family connections, and murmurs of a revolution that could cost Unar her chance…or grant it by destroying the home she loves.

“I am majorly impressed with Thoraiya Dyer's Crossroads of Canopy. A unique, gorgeous, and dangerous world, a stubborn female hero, and a writer to watch!”—Tamora Pierce



The Results

2017 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - January Winner



The January 2017 Debuts

2017 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - January Winner

2017 Debut Author Challenge Update - Crossroads of Canopy by Thoraiya Dyer


2017 Debut Author Challenge Update - Crossroads of Canopy by Thoraiya Dyer


The Qwillery is pleased to announce the newest featured author for the 2017 Debut Author Challenge.



Thoraiya Dyer

Crossroads of Canopy
Titan's Forest Trilogy 1
Tor Books, January 31, 2017
Hardcover and eBook, 336 pages

2017 Debut Author Challenge Update - Crossroads of Canopy by Thoraiya Dyer
The highly-anticipated fantasy debut from Aurealis and Ditmar Award-winning author Thoraiya Dyer, set in a giant mythical rainforest controlled by living gods

At the highest level of a giant forest, thirteen kingdoms fit seamlessly together to 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.

Unar, a determined but destitute young woman, escapes her parents’ plot to sell her into slavery by being selected to serve in the Garden under the goddess Audblayin, ruler of growth and fertility. As a Gardener, she wishes to become Audblayin’s next Bodyguard while also growing sympathetic towards Canopy's slaves.

When Audblayin dies, Unar sees her opportunity for glory – at the risk of descending into the unknown dangers of Understorey to look for a newborn god. In its depths, she discovers new forms of magic, lost family connections, and murmurs of a revolution that could cost Unar her chance…or grant it by destroying the home she loves.

“I am majorly impressed with Thoraiya Dyer's Crossroads of Canopy. A unique, gorgeous, and dangerous world, a stubborn female hero, and a writer to watch!”—Tamora Pierce

Guest Blog by Thoraiya Dyer - Five Favourite Bush FruitsInterview with Thoraiya Dyer2017 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - January Winner2017 Debut Author Challenge Update - Crossroads of Canopy by Thoraiya Dyer

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