Author Archives: David

This Shattered World launches in Australia!

Many of you would already have, or be meaning to, read the AMAZING These Broken Stars by Meagan Spooner and Aussie author, Amie Kaufman. These Broken Stars was a tour de force in YA science fiction, taking the world by storm—and even getting optioned!

So, it is a  very exciting day today—the day that the second book in The Starbound Trilogy, This Shattered World, is being launched in Australia!The link to the book website is here.

And, for once, we get to enjoy something before the U.S., where it launches on the 23rd of December. Make the most of that month or so to taunt your overseas friends with how awesome the book is, and the fact they have to wait!9781743319703

Jubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac should never have met.

Lee is captain of the forces sent to Avon to crush the terraformed planet’s rebellious colonists, but she has her own reasons for hating the insurgents.

Rebellion is in Flynn’s blood. Terraforming corporations make their fortune by recruiting colonists to make the inhospitable planets livable, with the promise of a better life for their children. But they never fulfilled their promise on Avon, and decades later, Flynn is leading the rebellion.

Desperate for any advantage in a bloody and unrelentingly war, Flynn does the only thing that makes sense when he and Lee cross paths: he returns to base with her as prisoner. But as his fellow rebels prepare to execute this tough-talking girl with nerves of steel, Flynn makes another choice that will change him forever. He and Lee escape the rebel base together, caught between two sides of a senseless war.

The stunning second novel in the Starbound trilogy is an unforgettable story of love and forgiveness in a world torn apart by war.

You can find out more by visiting the following links:

Twitter:
@amiekaufman and @meaganspooner and @allenandunwin
Tumblr:
FB:
Instagram:

A Conversational Journey through New Who – S06E04 – The Doctor’s Wife

David is coming to New Who for the first time, having loved Classic Who as a kid. Tehani is a recent convert, and ploughed through Seasons 1 to 6 (so far) in just a few weeks after becoming addicted thanks to Matt Smith – she’s rewatching to keep up with David! Tansy is the expert in the team, with a history in Doctor Who fandom that goes WAY back, and a passion for Doctor Who that inspires us all.

We are working our way through New Who, using season openers and closers, and Hugo shortlisted episodes, and sometimes a couple of extra episodes we love as our blogging points. Just for fun!

“The Doctor’s Wife”
Season six, episode four
The Doctor – Matt Smith
Amy Pond – Karen Gillan
Rory Williams – Arthur Darvill
Idris/The TARDIS – Suranne Jones

TEHANI:
So, much as we could happily talk all day about different episodes, we’re going back to our original remit of Hugo Award nominees, season openers and closers and specials. That means we’re skipping “Curse of the Black Spot”, which most conventional fandom wisdom will have you believe is a really rubbish episode, a condemnation I actually quite disagree with, but we’re not TALKING about that one, so that’s okay! :)

DAVID:
Pirates and swords and sirens, what more can you ask for? I quite liked “Curse of the Black Spot”, which just goes to show I continue to be completely out of touch with conventional fan wisdom!

TEHANI:
Say it with me: “Conventional fan wisdom can bite me”!

DAVID:
I also love that whooshing sound deadlines make as they fly past! (with apologies to Douglas Adams, of course).

TANSY:
I’ve come to appreciate the Dread Pirate Episode because it’s Raeli’s favourite of this season, and it has Kenny from Press Gang in it, but mostly because of Amy in THAT outfit.

TEHANI:
It’s a sincerely awesome outfit.

603piratepond

And here we are, at the episode that started it all for me. Not that it’s WHERE I started watching, but it is WHY I started watching.

TANSY:
Ah, I remember it well. Neil Gaiman has a lot to answer for :D

TEHANI:
He does indeed…

If there is one thing Moffat does well, it’s seeding teeny pieces of narrative along the episodic arc to lead towards a climactic ending. Amy’s observation that the Doctor wants to be forgiven for what he did to the Time Lords, SO MUCH FORESHADOWING!

For me, the best part of this story has to be the performance of Suranne Jones as Idris/The TARDIS – she is astonishing, and has forever enshrined in the minds of fandom what the consciousness of the TARDIS looks and sounds like. It’s a bonus that she looks like a character from a steampunk story… Cosplay ahoy!

f497c496de99f1a949b115346f509acb

DAVID:
Idris is a fascinating character, and Suranne’s performance is wonderful. I love the idea of a TARDIS being a living creature, though it is not a particularly new idea. It’s certainly something I have come across in the novelisation/New Adventures (after writing that, I tried to track down what I was talking about, but I think I may have gotten the character confused with I. M. Foreman. I seem to remember the Doctor meeting a woman on a hill who had a universe in a bottle. Perhaps our Who expert, Tansy, can shed some light?).

TANSY:
I had stopped reading the New Adventures/EDAs regularly by the time the intelligent and humanoid TARDISes entered the story, though I have read one or two featuring the companion Compassion who was actually a TARDIS-in-waiting, I think. Still, getting to meet *our* TARDIS is still a pretty big deal.

DAVID:
The twist I really liked was that the TARDIS stole the Doctor, not the other way around. It really does say volumes about the Doctor that his perception of such a foundational event is completely wrong! But, we all suspect that we have never gotten the *true* story of how the Doctor came to be travelling the time-space continuum, right? But, the TARDIS being a living creature really does make sense when you look at their interactions over the years. The Doctor has always treated the TARDIS with a fondness, and always tried to cajole rather than command, that speaks of more than simply the sort of anthropomorphisation directed at ships or cars.

TANSY:
That blew my mind when I saw this episode – it’s pretty rare to watch a Doctor Who story that completely changes the way you view the stories that came before it, all the way back to 1963. (though I have to say, it’s more common than it used to be) I loved that our TARDIS became so real in this story, and that it added something so enormous to the mythology.

doctorswife

DAVID:
I always enjoy stories that explore the nature of the TARDIS, and its ability to reconfigure itself – sorry, herself! I think one of the reasons I fell in love with Doctor Who was this idea of such an amazing craft. More than just a spaceship, bigger on the inside than on the outside, it is the sort of thing that a young viewer finds hard to resist. The only other craft I think of that filled me with even a fraction of the same yearning was the spaceship from Flight of the Navigator!

One trick I think they missed, though, was when they go to the spare console room. That would have been a perfect moment to break out one of the Classic consoles, and the old white walls. In a show with the rich historical fabric of Doctor Who, it’s touches like that which can really “show” not “tell” those links with the past.

The-Gang-in-the-Old-TARDIS

TANSY:
I agree with you on this one – it must have been a production decision, but the story calls so hard for the white walls with roundels, and I’m sure that’s what it will look like in the imaginary Neil Gaiman novelisation that we’re never going to get to read.

DAVID:
There were some great scenes in this episode, too. When the Doctor opens the cabinet and discovers he has been tricked, you can see the hurt and sadness and RAGE. It’s at that point I almost felt sorry for House because I knew that it was in for a world of hurt. Almost.

TANSY:
I was disappointed too! Any hint that we’re going to get Time Lords in the new show brings a frisson of excitement with it (yes even after The End of Time) and the idea that so many have been horrifically disposed of is very sad.

Worth a shout out for a couple of interesting details: previously-never-mentioned-before Time Lord the Corsair is namechecked in this episode (aww they do love their definite particles) and specifically mentioned as a Time Lord who changed gender with regeneration. This is the first mention of this possibility in TV canon. Also, the little white flying communication boxes are a thing from 1969 classic story “The War Games”. It had previously been teased that this episode would include SOMETHING we hadn’t seen since that story, and the little boxes were a bit disappointing for those of us who were peering suspiciously at the characters to figure out which one was The War Chief, or Lieutenant Carstairs.

thedoctorswife

TEHANI:
Personally, given my own connection with this story, I’m a bit surprised I don’t have more to say about it! I think it’s mostly “gleeful flail” when I think about the episode, without a lot of critical view. I always have to double check that House isn’t voiced by Neil Gaiman (it isn’t, it’s another one of those delightful sounding British (Welsh) actors).

I wonder how different the episode would have been if they had managed to get it into season five instead of this one, as was originally intended? What would that have done to that season (which we all quite like) as a whole?

“The Doctor’s Wife” won the Hugo AND the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation – how much of that do you think is the “Neil Gaiman effect” and how much is due to the episode itself, do you think?

gaiman_hugo

DAVID:
That is interesting! The first thing that comes to mind is that I don’t think that it would have deserved the Hugo in Season 5, as I don’t think it is stronger than a number of episodes from that season. It’s certainly a very good episode, but I am not sure it is a GREAT episode.

Which does lead on to your next question. It is a bit hard for me to comment as I am not far enough into the season to say if this is the best episode in Season 6, and whether it deserved the Hugo (which is a very subjective call, anyway!) over any of the others. To be honest, I hope it’s not the best, because I loved Season 5 and can think of four episodes from it off the top of my head that are better than this one.

Neil Gaiman certainly does have a massive fan base, but you’d like to think people vote beyond that, and if something wins it obviously resonated with lots of people. So, maybe it’s just me! Looking at the other entries, there are two other episodes of Doctor Who and an excellent episode of Community (another show I got on very late!). With all due respect to Chris, who is a great guy, I don’t think an acceptance speech should have been nominated, let alone won. So, is this better than the other two episodes, or the Community one, or did the Gaiman Effect push it over the line? I’ll probably have a better idea by the end of the season.

4-The-Doctors-Wife-promo-2

TEHANI:
And I have to say something about the title – designed just to set the fannish tongues wagging?

DAVID:
Well, it doesn’t take much, does it?

TANSY:
Another piece of fannish history here – this title first got used in the 80s as a deliberate fakeout, left on a whiteboard to see if anyone on the production team was leaking info to the fanzines. So it started out as a provocative tease and is being used here in just the same way. If you haven’t seen it before, the point at which you realise that this episode isn’t about River Song but about the TARDIS is pretty awesome and brain-explodey.

Anyone have any favourite lines from this very quotable story? I think mine is still Amy with “Did you wish very hard?” but Idris has so many gorgeous things to say, like “Biting’s excellent. It’s like kissing. Only there’s a winner.”

DAVID:
That is a marvellous line. Any writer would also agree with “Oh tenses are difficult, aren’t they?” but I thought Amy showed exactly how well she knows the Doctor, summing him up perfectly when she responds to Rory saying “He’ll be fine. He’s a Time Lord.” with: “It’s just what they’re called. It doesn’t mean he actually knows what he’s doing.”

TEHANI:
I love this:

The Doctor: You didn’t always take me where I wanted to go.
Idris: No, but I always took you where you needed to go.

And this:

Idris: I’ve been looking for a word. A big, complicated word, but so sad. I found it now.
The Doctor: What word?
Idris: “Alive.” I’m alive.
The Doctor: Alive isn’t sad.
Idris: It’s sad when it’s over.

And with that, this review is over too. But we’ll be back!

doctorwho604_3

Previous Episodes
“Rose”, S01E01
“Dalek”, S01E06
“Father’s Day”, S01E08
“The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances”, S01E09/10
“Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways”, S01E12/13
Season One Report Card – David, Tansy, Tehani
“The Christmas Invasion”, 2005 Christmas Special
“New Earth”, S02E01
“School Reunion”, S02E03
“The Girl in the Fireplace”, S02E04
“Rise of the Cybermen/Age of Steel”, S02E05/06
“Army of Ghosts/Doomsday”, S02E12/13
Season Two Report Card – David, Tansy, Tehani
“Smith and Jones”, S03E01
“The Shakespeare Code/Gridlock”, S03E02/03″
“Human Nature/Family of Blood”. S03E08/09″
“Blink”. S03E10″
“Utopia/The Sound of Drums/Last of the Timelords”, S03E12/13/14
Classic Who Conversation podcast – Spearhead from Space (1970)
Season Three Report CardDavid, Tansy, Tehani
Classic Who Conversation podcast – Genesis of the Daleks (1975)
“Partners in Crime”, S04E01
The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky, S04E0708
“Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead, S04E0910
Turn Left, S0411
The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End,S04E1213
Season Four Report Card – David, Tansy, Tehani
The Next Doctor / Planet of the Dead / The Waters of Mars
End of Time
The Eleventh Hour. S0501
The Beast Below/Victory of the Daleks,S050203
The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone,S05E0405
The Vampires of Venice/Amy’s Choice,S050607
The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood,S050809
Vincent and the Doctor/The Lodger,S05E10/11
The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang,S05E12/13
2010 Christmas Special – A Christmas Carol
Season Five Report Card – DavidTansyTehani
The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon,S06E01/02

Lest We Forget

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Galactic Chat 58 – Ken Liu

In this latest episode of Galactic Chat, I get to talk to one of my favourite writers – Ken Liu! I have to apologise to all our listeners, because I was completely starstruck, and not very articulate. Fortunately, Ken more than makes up for it with one of the most fascinating interviews I have done.

We cover a huge range of ground, from the art of short stories to the challenges and pleasures of translating into English. We also get to hear about Ken’s upcoming “silkpunk” novel, which sounds absolutely amazing.

Anyone who loves short stories, epic fantasy, going out into the broader culture of spec fic or sweeping sci fi will get a huge amount out of this podcast. Actually, any spec fic fan is going to love it!

In this week’s episode David interviews Hugo and Nebula Award winning author Ken Liu. They talk about the short story form, the difficulty in translating from Chinese to English, Ken’s translation of the Chinese sci-fi masterpiece The Three Body Problem by  Liu Cixin and Ken’s own epic fantasy”Silkpunk” series called The Grace of Kings. 

The blog post they reference in the cast is  http://www.jasonsanford.com/blog/2014/8/want-to-be-a-successful-writer-avoid-short-stories

You can find Ken at his website.

The-Three-Body-Problem-Liu-Cixin

WSFA Small Press Award Winner Announced

The winner of the WSFA Small Press Award was announced today at Capclave 2014. Congratulations to Alex Shvartsman on his winning story, Explaining Cthulhu to Grandma!

I know it is one of those things people say so often that can be seen as a cliché, but it really was an honour to simply see my name next to the other nominees, all writers whom I look up to. It is also an honour have my name associated with all the past nominees and winners—talk about being in exalted company!

I think that the WSFA deserve our commendation for creating this award. To me, small press is the heart of the publishing world, and is worth celebrating and promoting. For many authors like myself, small presses are the first place we are given an opportunity to see our work in print, to work with editors and publishers, and learn our trade as writers. Through small presses, I have had a chance to work with editors like Tehani Wessely and Robert Greenberger, both of whom who have had stories appear on WSFA shortlists, and who have gone out of their way outside that initial relationship to take me under their wing, to mentor me, and continue to take an interest in my progress.

I also wanted to acknowledge John McKinlay, my great-great-great-great grandfather. He doesn’t have the same recognition as Sturt or Major Mitchell, but his journeys make incredible reading, and his resourcefulness and achievements make him the rival of any of Australia’s great explorers. It was a truly special experience to be able to take his journals and turn them into this story and I hope that it will lead people to read the originals, which are available in the public domain (you can find a copy here).

Writing this story brought some uncomfortable challenges. As I read, I realised that I couldn’t talk about McKinlay’s journeys without touching on his encounters with indigenous Australians. When writing about a culture that is not your own there is always the fear of getting things wrong or committing cultural appropriation, but it seemed to me that the only other choice was to erase them from this history, and that has been done too many times before. So, I attempted to portray them with respect, disavow the bankrupt idea of an empty land that white settlers filled by default, and acknowledge the place that the first inhabitants of our land have in all its stories. How well I have succeeded I will leave to the reader to decide.

I also need to thank Steve and Marieke Ormsby, the owners of Satalyte Publishing. It is no exaggeration to say that this story would not have been written without Steve’s prompting and coaxing and patience­—thanks for sticking with it, Steve! And, without Marieke, there would have been no were-dingoes! It’s a measure of the quality of what they are doing that two stories from their inaugural anthology made it on to this shortlist and I am sure it is just the beginning.

Congratulations to all the nominees, and especially the winner!

  • WINNER: “Explaining Cthulhu to Grandma” by Alex Shvartsman, published in Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show, edited by Edmund R. Schubert (Hatrack Publishing, April 2013)
  • “Acts of Chivalry” by Sean McMullen, published in Tales of Australia: Great Southern Land, edited by Stephen C. Ormsby and Ellen Mae Franklin (Satalyte Publishing, December 2013)
  • “Bits” by Naomi Kritzer, published in Clarkesworld Magazine, edited by Neil Clarke (October 2013)
  • “Like a Bat Out of Hell” by Jonathan Shipley, published in After Death, edited by Eric C. Guignard (Dark Moon Books, April 2013)
  • “Morning Star” by DK Mok, published in One Small Step, an anthology of discoveries, edited by Tehani Wessely (FableCroft Publishing, May 2013)
  • “Set Your Face Towards the Darkness” by David McDonald, published in Tales of Australia: Great Southern Land, edited by Stephen C. Ormsby and Ellen Mae Franklin (Satalyte Publishing, December 2013)
  • “The Traditional” by Maria Dahvana Headley, published in Lightspeed, edited by John Joseph Adams (May 2013)
  • “Trap-weed” by Gemma Files, published in Clockwork Phoenix 4, edited by Mike Allen (Mythic Delirium Books, July 2013)

A delightful short list surprise!

So, yesterday morning I woke up to an email. It was very early by my standards, my eyes were a bit fuzzy, and to be honest I wasn’t sure why I had been sent it. I could see that a story from an anthology my friend had published had been shortlisted for an award, which was lovely in of itself, but I wouldn’t normally expect a direct email about it at that time of the morning. Normally I’d find out about something like that from Twitter or Facebook  when I was awake enough to process it.

Then my eyes opened properly, and I realised I had been shortlisted, too! To say I was surprised would be an understatement….

The WSFA Small Press Awards have had a number of illustrious winners and nominees…I started listing names here but it really is a glittering list of some of my writing idols. They have also historically been very good to Aussies, with the wonderful Tansy Rayner Roberts winning TWO, and people like Jason Nahrung and Jo Anderton nominated in the past. I mean, seriously, talk about quality!

And the shortlist this year is no less impressive. Seeing my name next to writers of that calibre is…surreal. As you can guess, I am honoured and humbled and hyperventilating. I certainly don’t expect to win, but I truly am just happy to be on the list.

It was also very nice to two other Aussies on the list. I’m delighted for D.K. Mok, an extremely talented writer, and also thrilled that Fablecroft are represented again – Fablecroft are one of my favourite publishers. And, another story from the anthology I was in is there, the amazing Sean McMullen making an appearance. The fact that two Satalyte Publishing stories appear tells you what a great job Steve and Marieke are doing. and why Satalyte is rapidly becoming one of the top publishers in Australia.

The full list  and details about the awards are here. Congrats to all the nominees!

  • “Acts of Chivalry” by Sean McMullen, published in Tales of Australia: Great Southern Land, edited by Stephen C. Ormsby and Ellen Mae Franklin (Satalyte Publishing, December 2013)
  • “Bits” by Naomi Kritzer, published in Clarkesworld Magazine, edited by Neil Clarke (October 2013)
  • “Explaining Cthulhu to Grandma” by Alex Shvartsman, published in Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show, edited by Edmund R. Schubert (Hatrack Publishing, April 2013)
  • “Like a Bat Out of Hell” by Jonathan Shipley, published in After Death, edited by Eric C. Guignard (Dark Moon Books, April 2013)
  • “Morning Star” by DK Mok, published in One Small Step, an anthology of discoveries, edited by Tehani Wessely (FableCroft Publishing, May 2013)
  • “Set Your Face Towards the Darkness” by David McDonald, published in Tales of Australia: Great Southern Land, edited by Stephen C. Ormsby and Ellen Mae Franklin (Satalyte Publishing, December 2013)
  • “The Traditional” by Maria Dahvana Headley, published in Lightspeed, edited by John Joseph Adams (May 2013)
  • “Trap-weed” by Gemma Files, published in Clockwork Phoenix 4, edited by Mike Allen (Mythic Delirium Books, July 2013)

 

The march to global domination continues!

Some more Aussie Snapshot news!

The collated list of interviews is up on SF Signal. Thanks to the team there for hosting us, and hopefully it will mean more international exposure for our snapshotees.

There is also a nice article on Yahoo, via the West Australian

And, last but not least, the ever industrious Tehani and Katharine have started archiving all the old snapshots on a dedicated site. Eventually the new interviews will go there, too. Check it out for a glimpse of the scope of the project, and of the awesomeness of the Aussie scene.

SnaphotLogo2014

SnaphotLogo2014

The Australian Spec Fic Snapshot 2014 – Ambelin Kwaymullina

Ambelin Kwaymullina is an Aboriginal writer and illustrator from the Palyku people. The homeland of her people is located in the dry, vivid beauty of the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Ambelin has written and illustrated a number of award winning picture books as well as writing a dystopian series – ‘the Tribe’ – for Young Adults. When not writing or illustrating, Ambelin teaches law and spends time with her family and her dogs.

You are halfway though a Young Adult series (the Tribe) that mixes dystopian and post apocalyptic themes with social commentary, to critical acclaim. What is it that attracted you to YA? Do you think that there are themes or concepts that YA can explore differently than other genres?

Why do I write for the young? We owe them something, those of us who are older – at the very least, we owe them a world that is a little better than the one we inherited. And it only takes the briefest glance at the situations in which many young people across the globe are living to know that we adults are collectively doing a very poor job of providing such a place. I’ve said before that I don’t invent worlds where the young are at risk; I just write about how to defy that reality. And YA explores those issues differently because it does so from the perspective of the young and not the old. I think we become far too accepting of the many injustices of this planet as we grow older; we can even come to believe that great inequities are inevitabilities rather than things created and perpetuated by human beings and human societies. But what we as a species have done we can also challenge, defy and undo – and the young understand this far better than the old.

cover-ashala-wolfRecently, you were the Guest of Honour at the Australian National Convention, Continuum X, which I believe was your first time as a GOH. How did you find the experience? Was it what you expected?

I loved it! And I did approach it with a degree of trepidation because I knew I would be speaking to issues that some people find confronting, including the appropriation of Indigenous culture. And, okay, yes, a few people did come up to me and say things that were not very nice. But the vast majority came seeking to improve their understanding and to engage with what I was talking about. In the end, I think what I had fulfilled at Continuum X was not an expectation but a hope – because I hoped, at a spec fic convention, to find people who seemed like they came from a better time and place. I hoped to meet people who valued the great diversity of human existence and who were doing their level best to make their corner of the world just a little bit brighter for those around them. And I did.

ambelin-bgWhile at Continuum, you continued the tradition of marvellous GoH speeches (you can read an abridged and edited version of the speech here), and it has attracted a great deal of comment on the internet. Were you surprised by the reception your speech received? What results or changes would you like to see come out of your speech?

I was surprised, in a good way, at the level of attention the speech received. And if there is a change I’d like to see people make, it’s this: pay attention. Start noticing when small acts of exclusion occur around you. And start speaking out or intervening (if it is safe to do so, and get help if it isn’t). I think people are too often susceptible to believing it’s big, grand gestures that truly matter. But like water running over rock, it is our everyday behaviour that shapes who we are and the world in which we live. Besides which, as someone who has had the ugliness of racism and sexism directed at them, I can tell you this: for someone else to speak up is a grand gesture, and a profoundly important one. We are all more powerful together than alone.

cover-two-hearted-numbat-largeWhat Australian works have you loved recently?

I’ve been revisiting Isobelle Carmody’s Obernewtyn series recently. This was one of the first spec fic series I ever read, and it retains its magic for me through many re-readings; I never get tired of it.

Have recent changes in the publishing industry influenced the way you work? What do you think you will be publishing/writing/reading in five years from now?

I try to write the best story I can; I can’t say I pay that much attention to changes in the industry (aside from anything else I just don’t have the time to keep up, any ‘spare’ time is devoted to writing). I do pay attention to writers, and I read as much as I can, most especially Indigenous writers both from Australia and elsewhere. And I will, of course, perpetually be reading and writing speculative fiction. I have a new three book series in my head right now, and a different, longer series after that. I’m not short on material. Just time.

cover-ember-crow

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.

SnaphotLogo2014

The Australian Spec Fic Snapshot 2014 – Karen Wyld

Karen Wyld lives by the sea, nestled between scrub, hills and vineyards. She’s had an eclectic working life, and currently works in Aboriginal workforce development. From dabbling with poetry as a soppy adolescent, to editor of a pre-internet alternative magazine, Karen now uses social media to procrastinate.

Never content with taking the easy path in life, Karen independently published her first novel. With sights on becoming a hybrid author, she is working concurrently on four genre-confused manuscripts.

Visit Karen’s website to find out about her first novel ‘When Rosa Came Home’. While there, read some short stories and blog-posts.

You live in an incredibly beautiful corner of Australia, and some of the shots on your blog are stunning. You also get to do a fair bit of travel around the place. When it comes to your writing, how much of an influence are your surroundings? How big a part does a sense of place play in your stories?

Over the last five years, my day-jobs have involved a fair bit of travelling through country South Australia, and more recently around Australia. Recent business trips involved airports and motel rooms in capital cities. It’s surprising how much writing can be done in a motel room, especially if it doesn’t have free Wi-Fi. However, I’m a country-girl at heart, and need to occasionally get out on the open road.

Travel inspires me on many levels. I’ve just returned from a two-week road trip from coastal South Australia to Uluru, Northern Territory. Finding myself suddenly in-between work (my job was a victim of the recent federal budget cuts to Aboriginal services), I ended up doing this trip on the cheap. This meant days of driving (window down, belting out songs) and then sleeping in my car at night (it was too windy for the tent). Might sound awful to some, but this mode of travel gave me a much better perspective of the country I was travelling through than the usual plane plus motel combo.

Photo by Darren De Silva

Photo by Darren De Silva

I started a new job this week, so I’m now looking at how to keep travelling as a writer. The dream of the moment is to hunt down a vintage caravan, renovate it, and hit the road on week-ends. I can imagine travelling to new places, writing, speaking at writers festivals; and then coming home to the beautiful Fleurieu Peninsula. Home is important to me.

I’ve always felt a strong connection to my surroundings, and I think that comes out clearly in both my fiction and non-fiction writing. Done right, place becomes another character in a novel. A reader should be able to not only see the setting of the story, but to smell, feel, hear and taste. What better way to evoke all senses then through place?

There is a beautiful tribute to Doris Nugi Garimara Pilkington AM on your blog. Could you tell us a little about her influence on you, and your writing? Are there other writers who have influenced you, or in whose footsteps you wish to follow?

Aunty Doris, who passed away earlier this year, is on my list of inspiring authors for two reasons. Firstly, because of her courage to write about issues many would have preferred stayed secret. And secondly, being related to a fearless female author inspires me to use my own writer-voice.

Some people label me as ‘political’, as I have a strong sense of social justice, and I’m very vocal about rights for humans, animals and the environment. Naturally I gravitate to writers who tell brave stories, and touch on enviro-socio-political issues. Which is probably why I mostly read, and write, magic realism. It’s a genre that is rich in place, and gives a voice to the oppressed. Magic realism is strongest when used by First Nation peoples that are grappling with the aftermath of colonisation, and other power-based atrocities.

100_1845Many Australian First Nation writers, past and present, are labelled as political. Mostly published by universities and small publishing houses, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers have been sharing brave stories for decades, especially using autobiographical and historical styles. This is changing as new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers find their own voices, and explore other genres, putting pressure on publishers to accept a broader range of work. We shouldn’t be expected to fit in a certain literary box, or always create main characters who are Aboriginal, or story-lines that involve Aboriginal issues, culture or histories.

Still, we need to honour the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers who have paved the way for us, and brought important issues to the attention of mainstream Australia, as well as internationally. Aunty Doris will always be remembered as having a pivotal role in raising awareness of darker times in Australian history. A time not so long ago, when many children were forcibly removed from family and community, through polices founded on cultural bias and xenophobia. By writing of these times, her words have helped progress healing and social justice. I believe that to constructively influence peoples’ worldviews through writing, to bring about much needed change, is the pinnacle of writing.

You’ve talked on your blog about coming to writing later in life. Can you tell us a little about the road to publication, and what the future holds? What are you working on?

To clarify, I’ve been writing both fiction and non-fiction from a young age, but only just published my first novel. In the 80s, I volunteered for an alternative magazine. I eventually became the editor and main contributor, until it got too much juggling the challenges of micro-publishing in the pre-internet days, and being the sole provider of a young family. I finished my first full-length manuscript about 20 years ago, but I put it in a drawer after being disheartened by the messages I was hearing from the publishing industry. However, like the banks’ opposition to women seeking mortgages, it was just a matter of waiting until attitudes changed. Decades later, having obtained the qualifications to get an acceptable income to buy a house, I felt it was time to publish a book.

roadThe timing was perfect. Advances in technology, and the way people use new technology and social media as a source of information and entertainment, has had a positive impact on publishing. Control is slowly shifting from the gate-keepers to the innovators, and this has opened the flood gates for aspiring writers. Diving into this on-line world enabled me to connect with supportive writers from around the world, and given me the means to learn both the art and business of writing. Going indie is not easy, and it’s extremely time consuming, but I’m glad I’ve taken that pathway. I’ve had to build a wide range of capabilities, and master elements that traditionally published writers wouldn’t even know existed. I’ve also had to toughen up; to not let the creative side take over, and instead make decisions based on good practice. Publishing independently does not mean that quality should be compromised, nor does it mean doing it alone. So for my first novel, I outsourced key elements of the publishing process, such as editing and cover design.

karenwyld_whenrosacamehome_web_finalAs an emerging writer, I’m not confined to any particular genre, and like to create hybrids. So far, my work fits within magic realism, literary fiction, indigenous literature, speculative fiction, or contemporary fiction with a dash of the absurd. Over the past few years, I have developed a number of manuscripts, which are in differing pre-published stages. The next one off the rank, which I will venture down the traditional publishing path for, is a politically-charged magic realism novel, set in the 60/70s. Through the lives of non-identical Aboriginal sisters, and their mother, the book explores themes such as identity, diaspora, racism, country and belonging. The characters travel through Country, from coast to desert, so place will be a key element of this story.

What Australian works have you loved recently?

I don’t recall the last time I read a book by an Australian author. Writing on a daily basis changes the way you read. I still read daily, but the way I read has changed. For me, writing involves a rhythm, both when stringing words together on screen and when reading. I find too many recently published novels lack a rhythm I can relate to, so I don’t often read for pure enjoyment anymore.

Because I needed to pack lighter when travelling, I went over to the dark side and am now an avid reader of e-books. I read a lot of e-books by other indie authors. Some as research into this emerging side of publishing, but mostly to support writers I’ve met through social media. There is a strong sense of community and playing-it-forward amongst indie writers. If there is a traditionally published book I really want to read, then I’ll look for it at the local library. The big publishing houses don’t seem to understand, or are resistant to, new ways of reading. They often overlook e-books, or overprice their books on-line, and basically make it more difficult for readers to access commercially published books.

When I do read for enjoyment, I usually find myself returning to my collection of books with dog-eared pages. My favourites have rhythm, they are rich in descriptive prose, evoke emotions, and touch upon important issues. So I re-read books such as Beloved (Toni Morrison), One Hundred Years of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez) or Marie Laveau (Francine Prose). At the moment, I am not connecting to fantasy or sci fi novels. However, a new Pratchett novel will always get my attention.

Have recent changes in the publishing industry influenced the way you work? What do you think you will be publishing/writing/reading in five years from now?

We live in exciting times and, for writers who are able to adapt, it’s only going to get more interesting. Writers finally have choices, and are no longer kept out of the game by conservative guardians. These changes will be of particular benefit to writers who may have been pushed aside in the past, such as indigenous writers, and for those who creatively explore genres that are not considered profitable by industry.

Road_croppedIt’s not only writers that are benefiting from a transforming industry. We now have more choices of reading material, at prices that suit all incomes, and buying methods that are more consumer-driven. And the breadth of available storytelling formats is amazing. The way we tell and absorb stories will keep on changing at such a rapid pace that it is almost impossible to predict the next five years.

Hopefully, changes will include the actual bones of story, and not just how they are published and consumed. Personally, I think many novels have become stripped of descriptive prose. Writers are being told to be concise with dialogue and scarce on adverbs. Verbs and adjectives have also become victims of the prevalence of action-packed books. Reading should be challenging, it should expand both our vocabularies and capacity to think and feel. We might be at risk of losing the beauty, and profound messages, which can be found within books.

My first novel was driven by a dissatisfaction with contemporary novels; those with a pace that is much too quick and prose too thin. I purposely slowed down, filled the pages with uncommon words and enhanced the role of setting. I also experimented with how far I could push an allegorical style of writing. What resulted was a warm tale for adults, reminiscent of fairy tales but without fairies and similar folk. Now that I’ve had my fun, the next few novels will be in a more serious vein. However, if I can continue to fuse magic realism, gothic tales, speculative fiction and other non-commercial genres, I’m sure I will still writing far beyond the next five years.

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.