Aidan Doyle is a Melbourne based writer and computer programmer. His first short story was published in Aurealis in 1993. He attended Clarion South in 2009 and has since been published in places such as Lightspeed, Strange Horizons and Fantasy. He has visited more than 80 countries and his experiences include teaching English in Japan, interviewing ninjas in Bolivia and going ten-pin bowling in North Korea.
You’ve found success in writing for both children (including an Aurealis nomination), and for adults (with numerous pro sales and mentions on international RRLs). Do many of the same skills and methods translate between the age groups, or is there a big adjustment in mindset required?
My natural writing style – lean, and with an emphasis on plot and humour is suited to writing for children. The main adjustment for me when writing for different age groups is subject material. Some of my stories for adults revolve around the regret of the passing of time, which is a theme that doesn’t have as strong an appeal for children.
For me travel is one of the best ways to get ideas. The people you meet and the history you learn. Worldbuilding is important in speculative fiction and it helps to have seen a bit of our world. I lived in Japan for 4 years and many of my stories are set in Japan. Last year I did a trip from Svalbard to Antarctica and I have a few ideas for stories set in those locations. Lots of markets these days like stories set somewhere other than a generic New York style big city.
Jeff VanderMeer was one of my tutors at Clarion South and stressed the importance of setting goals. His Booklife writing guide has lots of useful information on the topic. I’m a big fan of checklists and to do lists. It is easier to achieve your goals if you know what they are! I use Workflowy (http://workflowy.com/) to keep a list of current activities. I also use Trello (http://trello.com/) with a small group of other writers to compare our weekly or monthly writing goals and encourage each other.
Jeff stressed the importance of setting concrete goals (I’m going to write 10 short stories this year versus I want to write more) and goals that are within your control (I’m going to submit 5 stories to Clarkesworld this year versus I want to be published in Clarkesworld). That being said, it’s nice to record your achievements. Christie Yant created a writing career bingo spreadsheet and I adapted the idea and made a program (http://www.aidandoyle.net/
What Australian works have you loved recently?
The amount of historical detail in Hannah Kents’ Burial Rites is amazing. Jason Franks’ Sixsmiths is very funny. Cat Sparks’ collection, The Bride Price, is packed full of short story goodness.
The main thing for me is that it’s now much easier to submit to overseas markets. Email is much quicker and cheaper than overseas postage and international reply coupons. I have a young adult novel out on submission now and I’m close to finishing a middle grade novel based on my Aurealis nominated story. After that I have plans for some young adult novels and a novel based on my swordwriter stories.
This interview was conducted as part of the 2014 Aussie Spec Fic Snapshot. In the lead up to the World Science Fiction Convention in London, we will be blogging interviews for Snapshot 2014 conducted by Tsana Dolichva, Nick Evans, Stephanie Gunn, Kathryn Linge, Elanor Matton-Johnson, David McDonald, Helen Merrick, Jason Nahrung, Ben Payne, Alex Pierce, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Helen Stubbs, Katharine Stubbs, Tehani Wessely and Sean Wright.
To read the interviews hot off the press, check out these blogs daily from July 28 to August 10, 2014, or look for the round up on SF Signal when it’s all done. You can find the past Snapshots at the following links: 2005, 2007, 2010 and 2012.