R U O K day

Are you okay?

Wait, don’t answer that. I know you won’t tell me the truth.

I know you’ll mouth some polite platitude or long suffering hand-wave. I’m fine, you’ll say. I don’t blame you. I’d say the same. Who really wants to know?

You won’t talk about the fears and doubts that well up inside you, about the days that weigh on you like a blanket. About the gnawing hole at the centre of your chest that nothing will ever fill.

You won’t mention the hours of desperate need, the craving, the sense of loss and dislocation when you realise how far apart you are from other people, how irrevocably separate.

You won’t tell anybody about the thoughts that run through your mind; thoughts that nobody should have. About the times when you hate yourself so much you don’t know how anybody could ever love you.

I don’t blame you. What would the reaction be, if you let that kind of thing out? Sure, people say they want to know how you feel. They say they care and you can tell them how you feel. But they don’t mean it, do they? They don’t really want to hear all about your deepest anxieties. They don’t have time to hear the whole list of your inadequacies, to reassure you, to try to cheer you up. They might make a token effort, but after a while, you will wear them down and their patience will run out.

They don’t know, after all, how broken you really are. If they knew, they never would have offered.

Anyway, people don’t respect weakness. They might say that it’s okay, but you see the pity in their eyes, the judgement. It’s not attractive. Nobody wants to be around someone who’s a downer. Nobody wants to hire someone with issues. Nobody wants a partner who is too much hard work.

And, what’s worse, talking about it makes it more real. You might say something you can’t take back. You might be a little bit too honest, and then the way that they look at you will change, forever, their eyes will cloud over with something that defines you permanently as “other”, as different, as lost.

And so you remain silent. And they remain silent too. And you both carry on, you all carry on. And the things we can’t share stay inside us, and we never know, never really know, that we are not alone, that everybody else is just as lost, that the emptiness inside us is normal, that if only we could find a way to bridge the chasm, we would find a place of strength, of understanding, of communion. We are all lost, we are all confused, we are all separate. We all belong, we are all home, we are all whole.

Are you okay? Yes, you are okay.

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Snapshot 2014: Thoraiya Dyer

Obscenely talented Thoraiya Dyer bounded labrador-like into the scene a few years ago with a large vat of pre-written stories which she rations out at a sensible rate just frequently enough to make sure she is nominated for most major awards, but never so quickly that we’d get suspicious. For the curious among you, Thoraiya is pronounced to rhyme with “Papaya”, while “Dyer” is pronounced to rhyme with “Sasquatch”.

Thoraiya

  • It’s been a year or so since your first collection came out; Asymetry (Twelfth Planet). What did you learn from the experience; was it what you expected? Looking back, how do you feel about the book now?

 

Firstly, I expected to be the first one to spell it wrong in public, but now you’ve gone and done it ;)

 

I hope that I learned patience. I hope I learned not to be a prat? My expectations of Asymmetry, well, I expected an amazing product, and from Amanda Rainey’s outstanding cover to Alisa Krasnostein’s high story-selection standards to Nancy Kress’ extremely generous introduction, the book fulfilled that expectation.

 

I’m proud of the collection, looking back on it a year later, but I also understand better that there is so much happening behind the scenes at even the smallest small press, it’s not helpful to always assume the worst. Maybe a publishing delay is because your work is secretly vomit-worthy and you’re being scratched, but maybe it’s just because a much busier and more heavily scheduled writer is slated to appear before you and they haven’t finished yet?

 

  • To me, you’ve always appeared quite unpredictable in your choices as a writer, both in terms of the genres and topics you tackle and also the markets you appear in. Is that something you aim for or just something that happened? Do you feel as though you’re conscious of trends and the greater field, or do you tend to see yourself as independent of things like that?

 

It’s not something I am aiming for, it’s more like, I get to jump all over the place while I’m a short story writer, and the stories that get good feedback maybe indicate where my strengths lie and what I should focus on in longer works. For example, the Aurealis Awards. I’ve been shortlisted three times for fantasy, once for YA and once for science fiction.

 

That would seem to suggest I should focus on fantasy, right? But I love writing science fiction. LOVE it. And with my novel manuscripts I do tend to write them in this sequence: Science fiction, epic fantasy, urban fantasy. Repeat. Too much of one thing makes me turn to something different. Maybe that’s why you think I’m unpredictable. Here’s a story in the Australian bush, here’s one in Lebanon, now we’re in Nepal. That’s just the style in which I brain-travel. Everything is interesting. Every place is interesting. I have written the best-ever Malagasy historical fiction story. Fingers crossed it gets published. You’d like it, Ben, hahaha!

 

Having said that, I think I mentioned in the last Snapshot that feeling of waiting. Waiting to find out where I’m going to fit in, to discover what subgenre my debut novel is going to be and then write a few more in the same vein so people don’t get annoyed! I am conscious of trends. See Q5.

 

 

  • How do you see your own writing as developing or changing over the last five years or so? Are there ideas or types of story that interest you now that didn’t a few years back? What are you working on at the moment? (yeah I kinda snuck several questions in that one but dammit, you’re an interesting person! What else could I do?)

 

How has my writing developed. Hmm. You know, I think my prose has always been OK, but I still have plenty to learn about putting plots and characters that are both really excellent in the same story.

 

It’s simple enough to do a plot-based story where you ruthlessly stuff the characters into the shape they’re destined to take, or to do one where the characters are organic and well-developed but in reaching that development they do things out of order and the climax you need happens too early or too late for the length of the story you want to tell. Stuff like that. You read “The New Moon’s Arms,” “The Dervish House” or “Ancillary Justice” and you can barely distinguish plot from character; it is masterful; they are one.

 

I want to do that.

 

What am I working on, see Q5.

 

  • What works by other writers have you enjoyed lately? Whose work do you find interesting?

 

So, that character-plot thing I said I wanted to do in Q4, I’ve found recently in “Perfections” by Kirstyn McDermott, “Eona” by Alison Goodman and “Dreamquake” by Elizabeth Knox. I’ve gone back and reread “When We Have Wings” by Claire Corbett and “The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms” by NK Jemisin, because they have it too, and I was trying to unpick the weaving to see how it was done. Also Juliet Marillier’s “Back and Beyond,” a short story from Prickle Moon that I think is close to perfect.

 

I loved “The Swan Book” by Alexis Wright, for being the truest story of this country, my home, that I’ve ever read, and also for, as one Goodreads reviewer put it, “teaching me to read as I read it.”

 

Forthcoming short stories that should delight and amaze you (aside from mine obviously) include “The Gun Between the Veryush and the Cloud Mothers” by Anna Tambour, “Goldeneyes” by Jenny Blackford and “2B” by Jo Anderton.

 

Siv Parker’s tweetyarns ( @SivParker ) are extremely interesting and a highlight of having joined Twitter.

 

  • The publishing world is changing. Ebooks have shaken things up a bit, and major publishers have undergone some significant changes too. How do you view the field at the moment and where do you think it’s all headed?

 

 

It’s headed to the centre of the earth! With giant diamonds!

 

Hmmm, how do I view the field. I’ve just listed a bunch of world-class recent Aussie books off the top of my head, so the field is excellent, isn’t it? Except for the fact that I’m not in it yet! (See “patience”, Q1)(How come you didn’t ask me the 5 year question, I’m being cheated.)

 

This might be the place to answer whether I feel like I’m independent of such superficial things as “trends”. I’d like to pretend I’m more awesome and devil-may-care than most, but the truth is, no matter how many people tell me that traditional publishers are buying conservatively in these uncertain times, no matter how often I intend to write a conservative novel, the slippery suckers always seem to get away from me.

 

For example.

 

Last month I turned a fantasy novel in to my agent. It was a bit weird, a bit different, so I decided that next, I would write a nice, conventional science fiction thriller about using viruses to change people’s political opinions. I saw a cool way it could be done if we developed antiviral drugs that actually worked consistently and could pass through the blood-brain barrier.

 

Conventional, right?

 

Then I had to make it exciting for myself by moving the action to Indonesia. Which, in the story, is now not even called Indonesia because it has an alternate, non-colonised timeline. Fun! Oh, right, and that makes the characters Muslim. And I seem to have made most of them women. Woopsie! Oh well. I am loving it to death right now. I want to live in a cool Minang house with a pointy roof and a geothermal-powered intelli-wall. Oh, and I want to be awesome at silek. Books are great, aren’t they?

 

Maybe I am more devil-may-care than I thought.

 

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Snapshot 2014: Helen Stubbs

Because she’s a professional, unlike me, Helen sent me her own bio. Otherwise I was just gonna say she is a talented upstart writer with a gazillion gallons of talent, a wise and thoughtful critic and an insightful interviewer with the greatest hair in the Australian speculative scene. But since she sent me her own bio I won’t say any of that. Instead I’ll let Helen describe herself:

Helen Stubbs writes stories that are dark with pointy edges and some have been published in anthologies and magazines, including Subtropical Suspense, Next, Midnight Echo, and Winds of Change. She’s an interviewer for Galactic Chat and tweets @superleni. She’s also interviewing for Snapshot 2014 over at her blog.

helenstubbs

Earlier this year, you had your first experience working on editing an anthology. What new perspective did you gain working on the other side of the fence, and would you do it again?

 

I learned just how hard editors work! I had always appreciated editors, having been lucky to work with wonderful editors who’ve shared my visions for my stories and helped me to bring out the best in them. (Possibly part of that congruence was due to them choosing my story in the first place, so they liked where it was headed.)

Before I took on the Prana project, Jodi Cleghorn told me to imagine how much work I thought it would be and multiply that by a hundred. Maybe she should have said a thousand? But I did get to divide it between two, because Elizabeth Fitzgerald was my co-editor and she was great.

Having worked as both a writer and editor, it really confounds me that writers abuse editors. I think editors are awesome and writers should appreciate the effort they invest in a writer’s work. This is especially so for editors putting out independent anthologies and magazines, because they are creating a market for work.

There seemed to be a correlation between how experienced a writer was and how great it was to work with them. Though some of the newbie authors were awesome, too. I don’t think it’s that hard to be good to work with … it’s just a matter of being open to discussing suggestions, being polite, and being willing to go the extra mile to work your story up to the best it can be.

The anthology didn’t have a happy ending for me, but there were many positives. I loved working with Jodi and Elizabeth and almost all of the authors, and I learned a lot from the experience. I would love to work with Jodi and Elizabeth, again. So yes, I will do it again. Maybe, even, soon?

 

 SUBTROPICAL-SUSPENSE - front cover - medium

 

You recently had a story published in Subtropical Suspense, from new publisher Black Beacon Books. Tell us a little about that story and where it came from.

 

Yes! “Blood on the Ice” was recently published in Subtropical Suspense, a collection of suspenseful stories set in Brisbane, edited by Cameron Trost. I’m happy to say my story had a positive mention in Frank Emerson’s review.

This story was a fun and easy to write, because it’s about ice skating, which I totally got into this summer and autumn! I’ve slacked off a bit lately because it’s too cold to go skating. I’ve been getting into yoga, so perhaps you can expect a yoga story soon – though yoga doesn’t quite have the same element of danger, does it.

So… “Blood on the Ice.” I love contrasting textures, and the idea of hot red (or black as it may appear) blood bubbling over hard, smooth, white ice really captured my imagination! As did the teen enthusiasm and romance I saw on the ice-rink. I’ve described the story as a young adult lesbian thriller – with ice skating.

Black Beacon Books are opening submissions again soon for another anthology, so check ‘em out.

 

You’re a relatively new writer on the scene, and you’re also part of the Ditmar-winning team at Galactic Chat, interviewing local and international writers on a regular basis. What’s your perception of the Australian Spec Fic scene at the moment? What observations have you made over the last few years?

 

My interview schedule should be a little more regular, actually!

My path into the scene has been interesting. I started attending Vision Writers’ crit group in 2010, then got to know more people down south through conventions, story publications and social media, and then I met my current circle of Brisbane spec fic writer-friends though conventions and social media. It’s been a fun journey for me and I love having a bunch of friends to share writing, projects, plans, drinks and life drama with.

I’m really impressed with our community. There are heaps of talented, hard-working people creating stories, events, opportunities and projects. It’s great getting to work with the Galactic Chat team and as an interviewer for the Snapshot.

On the work-side of the scene, it’s great to see more independent publishers like Satalyte, and innovative projects like what Tiny Owl Workshop is up to.

Speculative fiction in Australia seems to be growing and striving for continual improvement in terms of telling and listening to more diverse stories, and respecting cultures and individuals.

 IMG_1277

Enough about you already! Tell me what other writers you’ve enjoyed reading lately. Are there any names that you particularly engage with?

 

Your “Jupiter Vampires!” was particularly good, Ben. I’m loving a lot of work I’m reading by my writing buddies Rebecca Fraser, Stacey Larner and Jodi Cleghorn.

In terms of published work, I’ve loved Kisses by Clockwork by Ticonderoga, The Rook by Daniel O’Malley, Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan, Caution: Contains Small Parts by Kirstyn McDermott, and all the short fiction I read in Cosmos including The Dark Mechanics of the Game, by Rob Hood. I’ve also loved short stories by Elizabeth Fitzgerald and Tracey O’Hara.

There are some great stories in Subtropical Suspense, too. I really enjoyed Linda Brucesmith’s and Sohie Yorkston’s stories.

  

The publishing world is changing quite quickly, not least in terms of the emerging technology of ebooks. What is your view of the publishing industry at the moment and where do you see it headed?

 

My publishing experience as a writer and an editor has mostly been within independent press. Small Aussie publishers seem to be increasing and expanding, and providing more diverse opportunities for writers, which is wonderful.

Lots of people are talking about Tiny Owl Workshop, as they are doing some really interesting projects, combining artwork and story with a flexible approach to delivery. (I’m stoked to have a story coming out in their anthology Unfettered in November.)

I guess the best thing about current publishing times is that there’s a sense of potential and possibility, that we can use technology to create innovative projects like Christy Dena’s Authentic In All Caps.

Also, through social media, we can reach partners and our audience more directly. Though from a consumer point of view the barrage of self promotion can be deafening, so those intended to hear it might filter it out.

It’s also interesting to see well known writers moving into self publishing so they can have more control over their work and receive a better income.

Thinking about where the publishing industry is headed… to get a fair picture of the challenges you need to look at all the reading and audio-visual material competing for consumer attention. It’s a saturated market – so much supply, while consumers are limited by time and money.

For writers or publishers to compete in such a market they need differentiated products and niche marketing, and they need to stick at it and build their brand.

I’m pretty advertising resistant. A cover or blurb might grab me, but I already have a TBR pile to get through. The most influential factor in making me buy and start to read a book is that someone whose taste I usually agree with (and usually a friend rather than a reviewer) recommends it. Though reviewers are also very important when there’s such a saturation of supply.

I think all these challenges make community even more important. We owe it to ourselves to spread the word about great work by lesser-known writers and publishers.

Exciting times!

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Snapshot 2014: Deborah Biancotti

Deborah Biancotti is the author of the Twelfth Planet collections Bad Power and A Book of Endings. Her short stories have brought her numerous award nominations. She dances a mean Highland Twostep, and cooks bacon for no reason.

Deb B

1. Last year when you were interviewed for Locus you said you were working on a couple of novels of “corporate paranoia”. Tell us a little about where you’re up to with that, or whatever it may have morphed into since.

I can’t wait to get back into those. I had to put them aside for one of those annoyingly secret projects that I can’t talk about. The corporate paranoia books are 2 books in a 3-book series (I think). I plan to draft up all 3 before trying to send them anyplace. Just so I can be sure I know what I’m doing. And just so I can be sure they’re really 3 books. They’re my ‘for the love’ books. Trouble is I need to finish them because my list of story ideas that I’m mad keen to write is doing nothing but getting longer while I tool around with those books. I hope I’ll get to share them one day, but there’s no rush. There are other projects afoot that require my attention (she said, trying to avoid that irritating ‘sekret project’ allusive stuff that we all despise when it shows up on social media).

2. Your last collection was the popular Twelfth Planet Press book, Bad Power. I’m curious, a few years on from that book, how you view it, both as a book and in terms of your interests as a writer.

Thinking about it now, I guess it’s pretty spot on about my interests. Ordinary people who are trying to lead ordinary lives but who keep coming up against some obstacle that comes from inside them. Something they can’t control and can barely understand. For the guys in Bad Power, that obstacle is often a strange power that they alone possess. So the biggest battles these guys face is the battle to control and sustain themselves *in spite of themselves*. Interesting, eh?

Also there’s something about the very term ‘power’ and what people think ‘power’ is, what the absence-of-power is. Someone asked me what Detective Palmer’s power is (from Bad Power), for example, and for me what was most important about Palmer was that she didn’t have a power that was a *superpower*. But she did have a wealth of humanity which made her strong. She was still a powerful force in a lot of lives without being anything other than human.

I also think I began to wonder—with that book—about redemption. Up until then, I don’t think I believed much in redemption. But as I get older, I’m coming to believe it more. Oddly enough. That’s probably something that’s going to keep coming back. I have this half-formed idea that redemption relies on nothing more than living long enough to realise it. That you almost don’t have to do anything to receive it, except to simply acknowledge its existence. Or simply to *allow* it to exist, maybe.

I think I investigate the idea of redemption a lot more in some of my writing since then. I had a short story in Review of Australian Fiction in January that took a side-swipe at redemption (it was called The Executioner Goes Home). And I have a novella that’s coming out from PS Publishing next year which is definitely about redemption. Though I’m not sure, in that instance, that anyone gets any. Redemption, that is. It’s called Waking in Winter, if anyone wants to meet some almost completely UNredemptive characters.

In terms of Bad Power, I’m still proud of it. That’s not something I say about everything I do (though, gladly, I say it more often now, with more writing experience behind me). But I feel like I achieved what I set out to achieve on that project. And that’s a big deal for a writer. There’s probably a lot more to it that I’ll keep coming back to: the contemporary setting, the people who are heroic screw-ups, the cost of getting through a regular life, the way we wear our scars and our victories and our failures.

And most of all, I think that book was beginning of me moving on from the themes of childhood, which are about ‘who am I’ and ‘what do I bring to the world’, ‘what does the world hold for me’.

Instead, I started to ask myself ‘who am I *now*’ and ‘what am I prepared to do’ and ‘how do I live with myself, knowing what I’ve done’. The questions we all ask ourselves as we get older, probably.

Yeah. I can see those kinds of ideas keeping me company for a while yet. ; )

3. You’ve always been fascinated by urban life; the grime and the dark side of life in a big city. What is it about dirty underbellies that interests you so much anyway?

I do have a fair amount of glee for underbellies.

I seem to recall—even as a kid—being keenly aware of hypocrisy. You know the kind, the woman who owns the corner store who’s desperately rude when you turn up on your pushbike, age nine, with a handful of change your mother’s given you for sweets. And then how maddeningly lovely that same woman is to your mother when you refuse to go back there to buy your own sweets again, and instead insist your mother do the deed for you. So then you’re forced to listen to your mother saying, ‘I don’t know what the problem is, she’s quite nice, really.’ Hmm, I seem to be really scarred by that event. But yes, my point is: hypocrisy. I’ve always been interested in how people make peace with their worst qualities. Their underbellies, if you will.

It’s the same for cities. Some terrible crimes have happened in my home town of Sydney, as well as some beautiful salvations. The ways that one place—any one place—can marry those two states is fascinating.

And I like cities. I like them as an expression of human nature and human failure and human attempt. I like the way an old city can feel like life is trying to squeeze up through the cracks in the pavement. I like old buildings that have been converted to new purposes. I stayed in Rome once at a tiny hostel where the only window in the room opened onto a tiny rooftop filled with other people’s laundry. Cities are at once desperately unsuited to human inhabitation and undeniably necessary. I like how close you have to live to people and how relentlessly you can avoid getting to know them. Because really, people can be *awful*.

Also there are streets in this city, now, that I’ve been walking down since I was 18. So I have a lot of history with the place. It’s comforting to me to see how much the city has changed and how much it’s stayed the same. I pretty much feel that way about myself, too, that I’ve changed and stayed the same.

4. I think last time we spoke you had been reading a lot of crime fiction. What have you been reading lately that has caught your interest? What sort of fiction inspires you these days?

OMG, I just read Ben H Winters’ THE LAST POLICEMAN. You guys HAVE to read that book! It’s about a detective who’s trying to do his job when the world is headed for an asteroid collision that will wipe out humanity. Everyone is trying to convince him his current case is just another suicide (there’s a lot of those at the end of the world), but he’s convinced it’s a murder. I love that book.

I’m also glad that some friends introduced me to Sarah Waters. Her nineteenth century gothic stories are the bomb. Also I read Jennifer Egan’s THE KEEP, which I adored (though it got a little tricksy at the end, as Egan is won’t to do). And I loved Kameron Hurley’s GOD’S WAR, finally, after having it on my shelf for too many years. I’m also now reading Warren Ellis’ GUN MACHINE, which is also excellent and shows a lot of Ellis’ visceral, graphic-novel approach to storytelling.

I’m having a fantastic reading year. I’m avoiding all the books I suppose I ‘should’ be reading, and reading all the books I want to read. It’s a blast.

5. The publishing world has changed a lot over the last few years. How do you think the industry is shaping up amid the challenges provided by economic hardship and the ebook revolution?

Well, now, I remember when these snapshots used to ask us to swear! LOL. I have no idea how the industry is shaping up, largely because the industry itself is so diverse. One thing is for sure: people will always need stories. How we go about producing and consuming stories, well, that’s all up in the air. But what a ride, eh?

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Snapshot 2014: Deborah Kalin

Deborah Kalin is a Clarion graduate, novelist (check out The Binding) and acclaimed short story writer. She has a collection coming up in the Twelve Planets series from Twelfth Planet Press. You want to be her.

Deb K

1. I believe your next upcoming publication is a novella collection as part of the Twelfth Planet series. How did you approach the concept of your book? Are your stories linked or standalones? What can we expect from the collection?The collection itself was born when I subbed a single story to TPP – I believe my cover letter said “Well, I have this story in a really awkward length, and I think it’s right up your alley except for the fact that I don’t have anything else to pair it with, so it wouldn’t suit your current publishing model of, you know, books. But if you like it I promise I can write more!”

In hindsight, that was rather an ambitious promise. Alisa accepted it at the 2011 WFC, and as soon as I got home I sat down to write three more stories for her, armed with very few concrete ideas and a whole plague of flighty premises and “wouldn’t it be cool if (somehow)…?”-type thoughts. Three years (and one baby) later, I’m still slogging away at them (although I’m so close now, so close!).

Initially I toyed with the idea of each story having a tone or thematic undercurrent related to one of the ancient humors (melancholic, sanguine, choleric, phlegmatic), but I don’t think that eventuated.

The stories are all set in the same world, but in widely disparate locations of that world, each with their own atmosphere. They’re more closely linked by theme: the idea that fate is predetermined by personality type, that the monsters which stalk a person are always, if not of their own making, at least of their summoning. There’s also a thematic link in the idea that the social constructs we rely upon to create a community (such as honesty, empathy, education, class) all come at a price, and the stories explore how that price is paid.

2. It’s been a couple of years since the publication of your fantasy series, The Binding. Do you have any novel-length works in the pipeline and if so, what are you working on?

It’s the same old story: too many ideas, not enough time.

I have an idea for a YA novel about teen suicide (cheery, huh?), an adult fantasy trilogy about identity and the various ways we define it, and another YA novel, also about identity but this one featuring mermaids instead of volcanoes. (It sounds so simple when I break it down like that. As if it would take me only a couple of tea breaks to plot them all out and write them up…)

3. I believe your writing time has been slightly inconvenienced by the production of your first human creation. How is being a new(ish) mum working out in terms of writing? Have you found a way to maintain a routine through the inevitable chaos that babies bring?

Has. It. Ever.

Unfortunately for me, I’ve found writing and new motherhood just don’t mix. For me, writing has always meant alone time, and at least a dedicated hour of it, and that’s not so easy to come by when you’re the primary carer.

In my case, my daughter didn’t learn to sleep through the night until she was 14 months old. At one point, when she was 6 months old, she would wake every 40 minutes throughout the whole damn night. We were all living on 20-30 minute catnaps; it was brutal. Her daytime naps were brief and infrequent, and more often than not I needed to sleep when she did; I couldn’t afford the mental, physical and emotional toll of going without whatever sleep I could snatch out of those preternaturally long days. I couldn’t stay up late or get up early to write for the same reason. And because she was sleep-deprived and irritable, and had undiagnosed reflux, she quite literally would not be parted from me. It’s been the most intense experience of my life, being her everything. (I’m still very tired.)

Thankfully, after 18 months, life appears to be settling a little. Her separation anxiety is easing a fraction, and she’s bonded to other people in her life, so these days I’m able to sneak away at least once a week and get some writing done. I write so much slower than I ever did before, because my time is so much more constricted, but I’m hoping a little dedicated practice will fix that.

(Also, there is no such thing as routine. There never was. There never will be. Routine is a lie, and anyone who tells you different is selling something, to paraphrase. (Oh how I miss routine! My kingdom for a routine!))

4. What sort of writers are you reading these days? Is there anybody who inspires you?

With time so precious, I grieve to say my reading has truly suffered.

At the moment my nightstand sports Sofia Samatar’s A Stranger In Olondria (beautiful prose); Aliens: Recent Encounters, edited by Alex Dally MacFarlane (excellent diversity of stories in this one); a non-fiction book on Byzantium; a novel on Inner Mongolia; and The Honey Month by Amal El-Mohtar (which I am reading in sips and whiffs, the way one should always treat honey).

Of the books I’ve finished recently, my absolute favourite, which had me all tense inside while I was reading it, was Maggie Stiefvater’s The Scorpio Races. I loved those horses, and that island!

5. The publishing world is changing day-by-day, perhaps more so than ever in the last two years. How do you read the changes and how does it affect the way you approach publishing as a writer and reader? 

As a reader, the current state of the industry has seriously curtailed my access to fiction. Gone are the days when I could just walk into a bookstore and browse the shelves. Browsing online provides a bigger range — but I find my online purchasing is a far more targeted experience. I buy books I’ve had recommended, by friends or family or colleagues; I’m far less likely to gamble on an unheard-of-to-me author. Yet the majority of my bookstore purchases were impulse buys.

As a writer … to be honest, if I stop and think about it for too long, I feel caught in the cross-fire. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t change what I have in my control: to write what I love to the best of my ability.

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Snapshot 2014: Trent Jamieson

Trent Jamieson is a Brisbane writer who shot to acclaim with the popular Death Works trilogy and a couple of weird SF novels. I can’t remember the names but use google, sheesh! He’s also written a heap of shit-hot short stories in his time, most of them somewhat maudlin and weird, which to my mind is a recommendation. I’m pretty sure he’s a pirate.

Trent

1. Your most recent novel is The Memory of Death, which I believe takes up after the end of your Death Works trilogy. Was it a tough decision to revisit the characters of that series? What led you back to it?
It does, and no, it wasn’t a tough decision. Bits of that story were written while I was writing the last book in the Trilogy. It was always my intention to go back, but other things got in the way, and I slowly, slowly built the story up. I think I’ll always circle around that story world. I find it such a fun place to write about.

2. Your career as a novelist began in something of a flurry, with five novels coming out in fairly rapid succession. All of a sudden you’ve gone from being a new writer to being I guess, a mid-career writer, which brings with it a whole new set of challenges. What has it been like on the other side of that initial high, and how has it affected the way you see your career?

I think it would be a lot weirder if there hadn’t been roughly fifteen years of writing before that. I’ve always felt like a new writer and a mid-career writer at the same time (well, after about five years of writing I did). Writing’s still the same thing for me, with its peaks and troughs, it’s obsessions that ebb and flow. I think that keeps me generally quite calm about it all. I’ve never been particularly good at the career thing. Outside it might look different, but, inside, it feels pretty much the same.

Except, when I’m hanging with newer writers, sometimes they’ll talk about the good old days, and they’re talking about 2002 or something, and I suddenly realise that I’ve been doing this for ten years longer than them. And then I realise that I am just a little bit old.

3. Your next novel will be a standalone book, Day Boy. What sort of novel can we expect?

If I haven’t fucked it up, it’s the most Trentish book I’ve written. The one most like my short stories (sigh, those things I used to write). It’s lyrical and dark, and has vampires, and it’s about growing up, and the sadness (and joy) at the heart of that. I’m so excited by this book (and terrified by what people will think – I want everyone to love it, of course).

4. Moving away from your own work, what work of other authors are you enjoying at the moment? Is there anybody whose work particularly inspires you?

I’m going to avoid friends – well, mostly – I think Felicity Dowker is awesome (just needs to finish a novel – unless she doesn’t want to), Margo Lanagan, Marianne de Pierres, Maxine Beneba Clarke, Krissy Kneen, Lev Grossman, David Mitchell (his next book “Bone Clocks” is amazing), Kylie Chan (who’s built such a huge series, and world that is so purely Kylie that it deserves every success), James Salter (who I only discovered last year) and Jim Crace, likewise, (who writes SF even when he isn’t, and whose Pesthouse is one of the best Post Apocalyptic novels ever).

5. Publishing has changed so much in the last few years, particularly in terms of the rise of ebooks and the effects of that on the major publishing houses. I’m interested in your perspective on that from the author’s side of things. How do you see publishing as changing and what do you think the future holds?

Honestly, as a profession it feels so much harder. Not the writing but the outcomes. It’s so much easier to be published now, and so much harder to be noticed, or to make money from it. But, hey, that’s also the way it’s been for most writers since the beginning of writing-to-make-a-profit.

Publishing – in all its iterations – has boomed; incomes have declined.

I’m just glad I have a day job as well, and one that keeps the wolves at bay.

As to the future, well, there will always be stories. There will always be storytellers and poets, and people that craft beautiful, tragic, terrible, wonderful, dull, adequate, and superlative things with words. Hopefully those stories will be less of a ramble than this answer – except when that works.

Obviously this will all stop once the comet hits in 2032, then there will just be silence.

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Snapshot

Hi all,

The Australian Speculative Fiction Snapshot is once more underway! You’ll find a few interviews up here, once I get back next week. In the meantime, check out the other sites:

http://tsanasreads.blogspot.com/search/label/2014snapshot 

http://thebooknut.wordpress.com/tag/2014snapshot/

http://helenm.posterous.com/tag/2014snapshot 

http://kathrynlinge.livejournal.com/tag/2014snapshot

http://bookonaut.blogspot.com.au/search/label/2014Snapshot 

http://www.davidmcdonaldspage.com/tag/2014snapshot/ 

http://tansyrr.com/tansywp/tag/2014snapshot/

http://randomalex.net/tag/2014snapshot/

http://jasonnahrung.com/tag/2014snapshot/

http://stephaniegunn.com/tag/2014snapshot/ 

http://helenstubbs.wordpress.com/tag/2014snapshot/

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