This is the first time since Tic-On that I’ve had sole responsibility for shaping an issue, and it’s something I wanted to do once more before I stepped away from the Australian SF small press for a while. What’s easily the most enjoyable aspect of the job is being able to unearth a new gem and give them some light—I’ve got a couple of new writers within ME4, and I love the fearlessness of what they’ve written. There’s a wide range of dark stories within this issue—from subtle, humanist horror through to weird and creepy wrongness— and I’m hoping that readers will get to experience some distinct and disturbing voices when it comes out in April.
These days I’m usually most interested in how a project’s going to challenge me: writing in an unusual milieu, or for an exciting project—I participated in the Remix My Lit project, for example, where I wrote a story under a Creative Commons license and participants were then encouraged to remix it as they saw fit. It was a very rewarding experience, and with such small pay rates available in the small press, a sense of reward is the least a writer should expect.
And I’ve just finished the first draft of Corpse-Rat King, an ‘anti-phantasy’ fantasy novel in which the hero gets killed before he gets sent out on his quest, and everyone says ‘fuck’ a lot more than they do in your standard Phat Phantasy tome :) I could perhaps best describe it as a bitter romp with consequences. If all goes to plan, I should have both of them out into the wide world by the end of the year and have finished the first draft of something Lyn’s been nagging me to get underway for a long time—a Father Muerte novel. I’ve got a whole bunch of ideas sorted out, and I just need to match them up to the narrative I’m beginning to filter out of my subconscious.
The most interesting difference, I’m finding, is the time needed to complete the project. I’ve become used to finishing several projects a year and seeing my name in print regularly. But I’ve barely done anything else in the last 18 months and I miss seeing my name attached to a magazine. I have to keep reminding myself that I began to write much more quickly as I learned the art of short story writing, and that the same thing will happen with novels. But I’m a black-hearted little egotist—I miss the shiny little buzz of regular magazine sales :)
I think we have a select few writers who comfortably belong in any mention of writers operating at the top of our genre, but I don’t think that list is as long as most people think. Perhaps we’ll see a new face break out from being a purely local phenomenon to something larger. I know several who’d like to think they were ready for that breakout, but I can’t really say who will come to prominence. My own interests and projects aren’t heading in that direction at the moment.
I’m not going to Worldcon, no. I have a mortgage and 3 kids under my roof, and the prices are simply too exorbitant to justify the expense. Even if I had a spare 2 or 3 grand to spend on a 5 day trip, I’d have a hard time explaining why I didn’t spend it on silly little things like my mortgage or school fees…
I wasn’t around when the last Worldcon came to Melbourne in 1999, but I’m told that there was a real explosion in the number of magazines that came into being in the Con’s wake—from 2 or 3 in 1998 to 13 in 2003 when I started to get published regularly. A lot of writers got a good grounding in that period, and I expect the same thing will happen again, as a lot of locals become enthused by what they see and want to be a part of it. If it results in a new Paul Haines or Deb Biancotti coming to light, then that’s no bad thing. It should be noted, however, that of all those magazines that came into being, very few are still alive—Fables & Reflections is gone, as is Borderlands. Agog has shut down, Potato Monkey is gone…. Off the top of my head, only ASIM has lasted the distance, and it’s fair to say that it has a quite unusual business structure and has cycled through a fair few members in the meantime. To last as long as it has, in a marketplace as small as ours, is a heck of an achievement.
But anyone who’s been around long enough will say that SF is cyclic, and I’m sure that the event will kick off a new cycle. Birth and rebirth is necessary for the health of the industry.
This interview was conducted as part of the 2010 Snapshot of Australian Speculative Fiction. We'll be blogging interviews from Monday 15 February to Sunday 22 February and archiving them at ASif!: Australian SpecFic in Focus. You can read interviews at:
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