Category Archives: Writing

Galactic Chat 61 – Kameron Hurley

In this latest episode of Galactic Chat, I get to talk to another one of my favourite writers—Kameron Hurley. I discovered her writing through the Bel Dame Apocrypha (God’s War Trilogy), one of the most original works of sci fi in recent times. But, she is also one of the leading fan writers in the spec fic community, and continues to challenge and subvert many of the things we take for granted with her blogging and essays.

As usual, my inner fanboy was fighting for control the whole time, but Kameron still managed to deliver a fascinating interview, where she talks about everything from Dragonlance to blog tours, and other topics listed below.

Plus, you get to find out more about her amazing new series!

This week David chats with award winning author and blogger Kameron Hurley. Kameron has been nominated for the Nebula, Clarke and the BSFA, selected for the Tiptree honour list and this year won the Hugo for Best Fan Writer. Additionally, her essay “‘We Have Always Fought': Challenging the ‘Women, Cattle and Slaves’ Narrative” also won the Hugo for Best Related Work.

Please enjoy their chat where they talk about the influences on her most famous trilogy (including a dodgy rental apartment with bugs), when authors should speak out on issues of poor or disadvantageous contracts and what’s next on Hurley’s agenda.

You can find Kameron at her website

Credits
Interviewer: David McDonald
Guest: Kameron Hurley
Music & Intro: Tansy Rayner Roberts
Post-prod.: Sean Wright
Feedback:
Twitter: @galactichat
Email: galactichat at gmail dot com

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:

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The Australian Spec Fic Snapshot 2014 – Raymond Gates

Raymond Gates is an Aboriginal Australian writer based on the Gold Coast, whose childhood crush on reading everything dark and disturbing evolved into an adult love affair with writing horror. He has published a number of short stories, several of which have been nominated for the Australian Shadows Awards. With the help of his muse, he plans to drag the novel that lurks within him into the light. Delve into his mind at: http://www.raymondgates.com. You can aslo find him on Facebook and Twitter.

You¹ve built up a strong list of short fiction sales, appearing in some great anthologies, and storming the Australian Shadows Awards! What is it about short fiction that appeals to you?

I think all would-be writers can benefit from cutting their teeth on short fiction. It’s a great way to practice getting the elements of writing – characterisation, storyline, voice, etc. – just right for the story you want to tell. It’s also a good way of getting ideas out of your head and onto the
page. Not every story is novel-length, however that doesn’t mean it’s any less of a story. It still deserves to be told. When I write, I don’t start with a word count in mind. I just write and the story is as long as it needs to be. I think short fiction works well for many readers as well,
particularly those reading digital formats and reading between activities. If a novel opens a window to another world, short fiction allows you to peek through the curtain, and sometimes that’s all you want to do.
Ray_AuthorPicRecently, you did a radio interview where you talked about, amongst other things, issues relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers in genre fiction. How do you feel the Australian spec fic community is doing when it comes to welcoming indigenous writers What are some of the challenges? Are there any writers we should be keeping an eye out for?

I think the Rhianna Patrick’s Beyond Unaipon series showed that Indigenous spec fic writers are starting to make inroads into the Australian community, and I think the community is ready to embrace this. Part of this is that, as other writers interviewed in the series stated, the development of the indie market and relative ease of self-publishing has given Indigenous writers unprecedented opportunities to get their work into the public arena. Traditional or ‘mainstream’ publishers seem to have been reluctant to run with anything Indigenous that was not biographical, historic, or about social issues. The feedback I’ve had in the past indicates this is primarily based on fear: fear of getting the cultural sensitivity issues right, so as not to receive any backlash – real or perceived – from Indigenous communities, and fear that the Australian public won’t support spec fic with Indigenous overtones, or grounded in Indigenous culture.

dead-red-heart-webYet I think writers such as Ambelin Kwaymullina, Teagan Chilcott, and Tristan Savage are demonstrating that not only is the spec fic community ready to hear stories told by Indigenous writers, they’re finding that Indigenous writers bring something unique to the spec fic world through their culture and background. Publishers need to start working with Indigenous writers not only to bring out great stories, but to understand how to incorporate Indigenous culture and ideas into spec fic while maintaining cultural safety. That will get us past these fears, and once that happens, I think you’ll witness an explosion of Indigenous writers and stories into the spec fic market.

What’ s on the horizon for Raymond Gates? I believe there might be a novel lurking, and even some game development?

I have produced some short fiction for an Australian table-top miniatures game developer, Demigod Games, as part of the background to their historical-fantasy setting of their game, Conquest of the Gods, and there may be more opportunities to work with them on similar projects in the future. I have been forever threatening to produce a novel, and have spent the last several months engaged in some serious research with Brisbane’s Goth community and the Carpathian Magistratus Vampire Society to help make sure I get things right (there’s a hint as to what it might be about!).

I’ve also been approached by a small television and film production studio to discuss the possibility of adapting some of my short fiction to the screen, which is very exciting – I’d love to see some of my work brought to life in a Tales from the Crypt type of show, or as part of a short film festival!

Beyond that, I just keep writing, and looking for and welcoming opportunities to share my imagination with others.

ahwaWhat Australian works have you loved recently?

Sadly, I haven’t had the opportunity lately to spend any time with fiction. The last Australian writer I read was Ruby Langford Ginibi’s account of her life through her first book, Don’t Take Your Love to Town. It was especially important to me because not only is it a poignant and moving insight into the life of an extraordinary Aboriginal woman, and life for many Aboriginal people over the last half-century, but as Ruby and I are related it gave me an insight into a side of my family that I’ve never known.

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?

There’s no question the rise of self-publishing and the indie market has changed the publishing industry forever. That alone is not only influencing what and how people write, but how people read and access works. I don’t believe we’ll ever see the predicted demise of the paperback though, because reading is more than just ingesting words, it’s an experience. Those dog-eared, creased, coffee-stained, slightly torn pages are far more intimate that the cold glare of a screen will ever be. As for how it influences my work over the next five years; I’m still keen to adhere to the traditional publishing route for now, because I believe this is more likely to keep challenging and developing me as a writer and (hopefully) move me into the upper echelons of the spec fic world. My next goals are to crack the professional markets and see at least one novel of mine on the shelves.

I would like to see the horror genre – my genre – return to its former glory days when horror meant exploring the deep, dark recesses of the imagination and unknown, rather than piggybacking onto the latest trends. And if I can be part of, or even instrumental, in that process, all the better.

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.