It’s that time again! A bunch of interviews are being conducted profiling the movers and shakers of the current Australian science fiction, fantasy and horror writing scene.
It’s aways fascinating reading. Here are some of my picks for the interesting quotes to come out of the interviews so far:
I have just had an extended stint in Ancient China, and although I felt really very at home there, I have found a gentleman in Hong Kong who has kindly agreed to proof read the MS for me and he has already pointed out several amusing mistakes – when I mess with other cultures I like to get it right, if I can.
The most obvious change that I am aware of is that e-books have sent hardback book sales plummeting – we’re seeing the collapse of the big book chains, and its a much tougher market now for new authors. But, on the upside, I see the independent book stores doing better and they’ll keep local authors alive and thriving, and e-books can reach a bigger a market. Yet with so many different delivery formats and troublesome data transfers, one wonders how long it will be before people discover that you cannot beat having the book in your hand.
I’ve been taking this seriously, if quietly, for a while and I don’t notice things changing. But then I put my head up and realise how much landscape has gone by. I know so many more people and have had the opportunity to work with authors and editors I never expected to – and more than once! People know me, and aren’t too startled when I drag them off to have coffee. There are instances of reciprocal fannishness which is… weird, but very cool. People get excited about idle daydream projects. So it’s as if I was allowed to take all the best bits of two years ago, and then they were made even better
The interesting thing is that the skills I can develop while working in one form start to spill over into the other forms: my plays acquire a stronger sense of plot because of my work on novels; my short stories acquire a more satisfying rhythm and subtlety because of my work on poetry. Moving from one to another can be a bit jarring, but the more I’m able to bring my skills along in all the different forms, the more the forms start to feed into each other, rather than compete with each other.
(on the scene) I think the main thing I’ve been noticing is that I’m not the only person who’s diversified massively since Aussiecon 4. Friends are doing graphic novels, scripts, podcasts, non-fiction, literary fiction – they’re increasingly refusing to pigeonhole either their work or themselves. Moreover, they’re e-publishing, indie publishing, producing their work themselves, and otherwise disempowering the traditional barriers between their work and their readers and audiences. I find all this very exciting, and I can’t wait to see where all this buzz and chaos ends up leading!
I’ve always loved hard SF. Some military in tone, but real military, not column of mob and charge the enemy, men, hooray. I also like detective stories. I like romances. I can’t for the life of me see what’s wrong with writing all of them at once. Why not?
I’d tell you why not, but that would involve a long and increasingly boring diatribe about how publishers think everything is a hermetically-sealed little genre, never to be contaminated with another. Out upon them, say I.
My stuff tends to be more golden-age in tone, seeing technology as an answer as well as a problem. I hate horror. Yes, yes, I know that’s not allowed. I still hate horror. I can’t for the life of me understand why anyone wants to induce it artificially, in themselves or anyone else. God knows simple contemplation of the fact that I’m over sixty horrifies me sufficiently, without my going looking for more.
Mainstream publishing is as chancy an operation as exists in this Universe. Nobody in that game has the slightest idea of what goes, beyond a certain threshhold of basic acceptability. Agents, editors, publishers, they haven’t a clue, and they only listen to each other. I certainly haven’t one, either, but at least nobody listens to me at all, and they certainly don’t pay me for making predictions that have a success rate which differs from chance only in a good light and if you squint just right.
All anyone can do is write and send it out. Sure, sure, make it as good as you can. But you have to know – know to the marrow of your bones – that what happens to it then is completely in the lap of the gods, and has nothing to do with you. Wonderful stories in brilliant prose can and do get drop-punted into the nearest receptacle because some assistant editor’s third secretary doesn’t like golden retrievers or spaceships, or because it’s nearly lunchtime. Dreck gets published with large fanfare, takes fire, runs screaming down the street and suddenly every honcho in the industry is on the horn offering six figures for something that’s exactly the same, only completely different. Shrug and write something else. It’s all you can do.
In the last two years, the onslaught of the women, I’d say. The VIDA survey actually has made, not just some editors take a good hard look at their practices, but women ourselves more assertively claim some attention. Cross-genre efforts like the Australian Women Writers Challenge are very cheering to see. Also, we’ve got some doozies of women writers in the spec fic field. Kaaron Warren, for example, is beginning to horrify the whole world in the best possible way, and Alisa Krasnostein’s Twelve Planets series (which I’m honoured to be part of, withCracklescape coming out in August) is showcasing us beautifully.
I can’t really think of a downside to being based in Tassie, particularly with the ease of contact the internet gives you. On the contrary, there are plenty of pluses to being away from the main centres of Sydney and Melbourne. People are a little less connected to what’s happening in the big cities, which means that creativity is more likely to find its own shape, and often wanders along some very interesting shores. On top of that, Tasmania is full of stories – they sprout from the fences and erupt out of the ground. There’s history everywhere, much of it murky and violent, and growing up with those stories and that history is a wonderful background for a writer.
Fascinating reading! I am already having trouble keeping up, but lots of grist for the mill!
Music: Dandy Warhols – This Machine