Origins of Fountain of the Worlds

Every book has a beginning…

In 2010, I attended Aussiecon Four, the 68th World Science Fiction Convention, in Melbourne, Australia. I had a kaffeeklatsch (a small group discussion, with coffee) with other attendees who read my books, and got the chance to ask the group ‘what do you want to read next?’ The answer, which surprised me, was ‘dirty, polyamorous elves on motorbikes.’

I admit, asking Worldcon attendees was always going to skew the answer towards speculative fiction. I had not anticipated elves, or polyamory, and perhaps I should have?

That was a kernel of Fountain of the Worlds, at Worldcon. More of the story came from my day job. I worked then (and still do) as an academic at a small university, teaching an assortment of units across several faculties. At the time, I was teaching a unit on the history of scientific thought and method, shared between the Physics department and the Philosophy department.

Hanging out with physicists is excellent, and I recommend it. I spent a lot of time asking my physicist boss questions, once I started working on the novel.


“Hi! If I had a wormhole, and put a singularity into it, what would happen?”

Physicist stares at me. “Physics says no. Also, don’t do that.”

“What if I needed to? For plot reasons?”

“Please don’t do it on campus.”



“If I called you in the middle of the night and said was an emergency, and I

needed a magnetic bottle, could you get me one?”

“No. What are you going to put in the magnetic bottle?”

“A singularity.”

“Okay. What are you keeping it in while I find you a magnetic bottle?”

“A teacup.”

A long pause. “This university doesn’t have a magnetic bottle I could use, but if I worked at X university, I’d be able to help.”


My physicist boss is the best. All outrageous crimes against science, common sense and logic in the novel are my own fault.

Fountain of the Worlds is set in Melbourne, both the ‘real’ version of the city, and an alternate universe version. The ‘real’ version of Melbourne is magical in its own right, and I visit it often. The city is covered in a spider web of tramlines. The bars and cafes are fabulous. The city’s gardens and parks are glorious. It has been no hardship to spend extra time exploring Melbourne, under the pretence of research.

Hope you enjoy reading the book as much as I have enjoyed writing it!