Snapshot 2014: Angie Rega

angie regaANGELA REGA is a school librarian who spends her days telling stories and reading to teenagers. She has had long love affair with folklore, fairy tales and furry creatures but often falls in love with poetry. She drinks way too much coffee and can’t imagine not writing. She keeps a very small website here:
angierega.webs.com

 
 

1. Many of your stories have been based in folklore and fairy tales. What draws you to work with these stories?

Both folklore and fairy tale are as important to me as my morning coffee.

I was raised in migrant story-telling household where nobody finished a sentence in the same language. My grandmother couldn’t read so she would tell us stories. My sister and I were the first people in our family to get a secondary and tertiary education; this was a big deal for us but as the written word took over and so does the language and the world you live in, so much of how I was raised is now forgotten in terms of language and how meaning is made. I think this is why I am still deeply entrenched and in love with that oral tradition that stems from folklore.

Folkore and folk tales contain disappearing histories. Fairy tales delve into experiential archetypes. This is what draws me to these stories, I guess. I go to them for comfort, for understanding, to make sense of the world, and sometimes, just to be entertained.

 
2. In one of your most recent stories, ‘Shedding Skin‘ (Crossed Genres), your heroine and the object of her interest, if not desire, are a shapechanging dingo and crow. Is the idea of transformation important to your work? Ideas of body image and identity are probably things you see often as a school librarian ..

The idea of transformation is important to my work. The shedding of skins, feathers and scales appear all deal with, in essence, a return to the true, authentic and instinctual selves. Working as a school librarian I’m also often intrigued at how it is these tales of transformation that draw teens like magnets. I think it is because these tales deal with personal identity and body image in a symbolic and metaphorical way.

Transformation tales are, in essence about deep truths. I guess they keep reminding us to be honest with ourselves. As we get older, this becomes harder and harder to do. Guess that is a benefit of working with teens on a daily basis. They keep you honest, authentic, true and open.

 
3. Your beautiful book The Cobbler Mage came out last year in two languages. In what ways do you find your heritage appearing in your work? Do you have anything similar coming up (what’s next?)?

Thank you for the lovely compliment! The Cobbler Mage came out in English and Italian and may also be translated into French given its setting and subject matter. I was very moved to read the Italian translation of the text because Italian was my first language whereas now I barely use it all. It was a strange experience reading my story back in my first language!

I don’t have anything similar coming up next – I’ve written the first of a series of short stories about ‘totem girls’ and I’m working on a novel that is not speculative but deals with the Australian migrant experience, exile both self-imposed and imposed by another force, and the dispossession of personal memories and reconciliation in family dysfunctional relationships.

Although, having said that, I do have a few stories drafted set within the Cobbler Mage’s world that may get pulled out of the drawer and given a spit-polish.

 
4. What Australian works have you loved recently?
I have loved quite a few stories recently not all speculative but all Australian. My top five for the moment would be:

  • Christos Tsolkias’s novel Barracuda because Tsolkias gives a voice to the Australian migrant experience and reading his work over the years validated my experiences in so many ways.
  • Questions of Travel by Michelle De Krester.
  • Juliet Marillier’s short story collection Prickle Moon published by Ticonderoga Publications.
  • Janeen Webb’s collection, Death at the Blue Elephant, published by Ticonderoga Publications.

  • My dear friend, Suzanne J Willis’s short story ‘No.34 Glad Avenue’, published by Fablecroft in One Small Step which will be appearing in the anthology Time Travel: Recent Trips by Prime Books edited by Paula Guran.
  • And of course, I adore ANYTHING written by the amazing Angela Slatter who writes some of the most lyrically dark fairy tales I have ever read. My favourite collection being The Girl With No Hands.

     
    5. 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 have tried the e-book thing – as a school librarian it is a great motivator for getting hesitant readers to engage with a book. You know, give them a gadget and they’re sold.

    For me, personally, I am a romantic at heart – my love for books is in volumes (pardon the pun). Bound within that is my love for the three dimensional object the book. I like the way a book smells and how a once very much loved book feels. And I like the fact that if I deeply love a book, and want to say how much I love the story, then I can hold it close to my chest and press it against my heart. Sorry! I am a hopeless romantic!

     
    2014 aussie spec fiction snapshot

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    THIS interview was conducted as part of the 2014 Snapshot of Australian speculative fiction. We’re blogging interviews from 28 July to 10 August and archiving them at SF Signal. You can read interviews at:

  • Snapshot 2014: Jack Dann

    Jubilee-HJACK DANN is a multiple-award winning author who has written or edited more than 75 books, including the international bestseller The Memory Cathedral. His latest anthology, Ghosts by Gaslight, co-edited with Nick Gevers, won the Shirley Jackson Award and the Aurealis Award. He is the publishing director of the new imprint PS Australia. Forthcoming in August 2014 from Satalyte Publishing is the first e-book edition of Jack’s retrospective short story collection Jubilee: more titles from Satalyte soon to be announced. A collection of Jack’s holocaust stories entitled Concentration will be published by PS Publishing in the United Kingdom. In her introduction to the volume, critic and scholar Marleen Barr writes: ‘Dann is a Faulkner and a Márquez for Jews. His fantastic retellings of the horror stories Nazis made real are more truth than fantasy.’
    You can visit Jack’s website at www.jackdann.com, and follow him on Twitter [@jackmdann] and Facebook.
     

    1. This year marks 20 years since you came to Australia. What has been the biggest change in the speculative fiction scene here over the course of that time?

    Man, 20 years doth go fast! I can hardly believe it. Off the top of my head, I think the biggest change is the general integration of our writers into the international science fiction scene. The relative isolation of the 1990s is gone and the great talents of Australian authors are appreciated as a matter of course.

    The other great change, perhaps the greatest, is technological: the shift to electronic publishing, which affects writers and publishers worldwide. The paradigm seems to be shifting from publisher-pays to author-pays, and many middle-range writers are making even less money than before. And the ‘gatekeepers’ have virtually disappeared: by that I mean that virtually anyone can get published online and in print-on-demand format. However, it has become almost impossible for many of these writers to gain any kind of an audience and be taken seriously.

    Previously writers sent their work to established publishers and in a sense went through an apprenticeship: the traditional journey from form rejections to written notes at the bottom of rejection slips, to acceptance letters … and payment for the work. That’s how many writers over time learned their craft. That’s how I leaned the craft. This kind of publishing certainly still exists and is vital, but it exists within a much larger chaotic environment.


     
    2. At the national science fiction convention Continuum X in June, you ran a workshop for writers about how to write professional fiction. What’s your top tip?

    I’m going to do a cop-out here because I did a five-minute video for a master class I conducted for the Queensland Writers Centre. It points out what I believe writers need to do to write ‘readable’ fiction. As an old buddy of mine from Louisiana used to say: ‘I don’t chew my cabbage twice.’


     
    3. With a whole swag of your back catalogue being re-released in digital format by Satalyte Publishing, what’s next for the Dann oeuvre — both as a writer and an editor?

    Well, the wonderful Stephen and Marieke Ormsby are releasing my retrospective short story collection Jubilee with a new cover by Nick Stathopoulos, one of my all-time favourite artists. The next release will be one of my novels: we’re still deciding which one, but the time between releases will be short. To quote Satalyte: ‘Jack is back!’

    And I have a new collection coming out from PS Great Britain, which Pete Crowther bought, called Concentration. It’s a collection of my Holocaust stories with a terrific introduction by author and critic Marleen Barr. How’s this for an extracted quote?:

    In Jack Dann’s Holocaust visions, ‘imagination is used to enrich reality, not to escape from it’. His ‘invented, alternate worlds’ are related to the ones Faulkner and Márquez create. But Yoknapatawpha and Macondo are not Jewish neighbourhoods. Dann is a Faulkner and a Márquez for Jews. His fantastic retellings of the horror stories Nazis made real are ‘more truth than fantasy’.


     
    4. What Australian works have you loved recently?

    Ah, that’s a loaded question! Okay, most recently read work I loved: The Year of Ancient Ghosts by Kim Wilkins and Black Mountain by Venero Armanno.


     
    5. 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?

    Actually, given my responses above, I must say that the fluctuations of the publishing haven’t influenced what I write … or the way I write. I sit with a notebook or a laptop on my lap and try to capture those incandescent images and narratives flashing in my head.

    As to the second part of your question, as you know I’m spearheading PS Australia, an Australian imprint of the UK-based PS Publishing. I anticipate bringing some wonderful work into print in fabulous folio-style slip-cased limited editions.

    As to writing: if all goes according to plan (he says, propitiating all the various gods), I’ll be writing the next book in my Dark Companions series (the first book, in progress, is called Shadows in the Stone). And, man, there’s so much I want to do: stories, novels, collections, anthologies. I do so love this insane, future-shocked business of being an author. It’s like standing on a motorcycle with one foot … and travelling at a cool 150mph!

     

    2014 aussie spec fiction snapshot

    * * *

     THIS interview was conducted as part of the 2014 Snapshot of Australian speculative fiction. We’re blogging interviews from 28 July to 10 August and archiving them at SF Signal. You can read interviews at:

    Snapshot 2014: Australia’s speculative fiction scene

    2014 aussie spec fiction snapshot
    The Aussie Spec Fic Snapshot has taken place four times in the past 10 years. In 2005, Ben Peek spent a frantic week interviewing 43 people in the Australian spec fic scene, and since then, it’s grown every time, now taking a team of interviewers working together to accomplish!

    In the lead up to the World Science Fiction Convention in London, I will be part of this team blogging interviews for Snapshot 2014: Tsana Dolichva, Nick Evans, Stephanie Gunn, Kathryn Linge, Elanor Matton-Johnson, David McDonald, Helen Merrick, Ben Payne, Alex Pierce, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Helen Stubbs, Katharine Stubbs, Tehani Wessely and Sean Wright.

    Last time, in 2012, the Snapshot covered nearly 160 members of the Australian speculative fiction community – can we top that this year?

    To read the interviews hot off the press, check these blogs daily from July 28 to August 10, 2014, or look for the round up on SF Signal when it’s all done:

    And you can find the past Snapshots at the following links: 2005, 2007,  2010 and 2012.

    A double blast of outback vampires

    Jason Nahrung and Lindy Cameron, of Clan Destine Press

    Lunch with my publisher :) Pic: Kirstyn McDermott

    Blood and Dust is about to become corporeal — and then some.

    A little while back, Clan Destine Press publisher Lindy Cameron and I (that’s us to the left!) caught up over lunch and signed off on a contract to put my outback vampire novel Blood and Dust on to shelves, both digital and physical, along with its follow-up, The Big Smoke.

    This will be a second life for Blood and Dust, initially released into the wilds as an e-book in late 2012. It was a finalist in both the Aurealis Awards, for best horror novel, and the Australian Shadows. But while it’s pretty much self-contained, Kevin the mechanic, now vampire, still had some work to do once the dust had settled out west. Hence, his journey to ‘the Big Smoke’.

    I’m ecstatic that these two books, coming more than 15 years after the story was first conceived, are finally coming to life in paperback as well as digital. My dad might even get to read them!

    Clan Destine has good people operating it, a solid stable of fellow writers, many of whom I already know. It’s a real pleasure to join them on this latest adventure.

    So when will Kevin get to escape the garage on his own grand adventure? Well, Blood and Dust is getting new duco, and The Big Smoke is going in for its roadworthy. So all in good time, my friends, but rest assured, you’ll hear the motors revving!

    Continuum X, at which Kirstyn wins an award and I wear a top hat

    Home again from Continuum X, the national science fiction convention held in Melbourne at the weekend. Knackered, but happily so, after much catching up with friends old and new. It was a most excellent convention.
    Briefly, because the catching up with work is kind of catching up with me, a few of the highlights:

  • Waving my walking stick around at the launch of a new collection by Rosaleen Love and Kirstyn’s Perfections, new in paperback — an exercise in creative thinking in the latter instance, as a print error caused the book — for this launch only — to be retitled Imperfections, and the author providing a personalised tale on a page unintentionally left blank
  • Mulling over the challenge presented by guests of honour Jim C Hines and Ambelin Kwaymullina in their speeches addressing equality and appropriation
  • Chinwagging with Jack Dann and co-host Gillian Polack at the launch of his back catalogue, and specifically Jubilee, and nabbing Janeen Webb’s collection, Death at the Blue Elephant, and seeing Jo Anderton’s trilogy made complete with the launch of Guardian.
  • Chewing over topics such at witches, the Gothic and the evolution of various critters, on three panels of learned friends
  • presenting a Ditmar for Best New Talent to an absent Zena Shapter from a quality field
  • seeing an absent Garth Nix (though he was on the phone!) recognised for a career of achievement with the Peter McNamara award
  • seeing Kirstyn land a Ditmar for her story, The Home for Broken Dolls — she was also highly commended in the Norma K Hemming for her collection Caution: Contains Small Parts. (Full awards list below)

    Photos from Continuum by Cat Sparks

    Other things to emerge from the event:

  • the Chronos awards, for Victorian speculative fiction, need a good, hard think about the continuing inclusion of ‘no award’, and also how to increase publicity and engagement to prevent a slide into irrelevance (a list of eligibles has already been started for next year)
  • a bar that charges $9 for cider and $15 for wine is a big aid for avoiding hangovers (but good on them for extending their hours to midnight on Sunday)
  • you can buy awesome burgers and sweet potato chips at Perkup Expresso Bar — even on Christmas Day.

    2014 DITMAR AWARDS

    Best Novel

    Winner: Fragments of a Broken Land: Valarl Undead, Robert Hood (Wildside)
    Finalists:
    Ink Black Magic, Tansy Rayner Roberts (FableCroft)
    The Beckoning, Paul Collins (Damnation Books)
    Trucksong, Andrew Macrae (Twelfth Planet)
    The Only Game in the Galaxy: The Maximus Black Files 3, Paul Collins (Ford Street)

    Best Novella or Novelette
    Winner: The Home for Broken Dolls, Kirstyn McDermott (Caution: Contains Small Parts)
    Finalists:
    Prickle Moon, Juliet Marillier (Prickle Moon)
    The Year of Ancient Ghosts, Kim Wilkins (The Year of Ancient Ghosts)
    By Bone-Light, Juliet Marillier (Prickle Moon)
    What Amanda Wants, Kirstyn McDermott (Caution: Contains Small Parts)

    Best Short Story
    Winner: Scarp, Cat Sparks (The Bride Price)
    Finalists:
    Mah Song, Joanne Anderton (The Bone Chime Song and Other Stories)
    Air, Water and the Grove, Kaaron Warren (The Lowest Heaven)
    Seven Days in Paris, Thoraiya Dyer (Asymmetry)
    Not the Worst of Sins, Alan Baxter (Beneath Ceaseless Skies #133)
    Cold White Daughter, Tansy Rayner Roberts (One Small Step)

    Best Collected Work
    Winner: The Bride Price, Cat Sparks (Ticonderoga)
    Finalists:
    The Back of the Back of Beyond, Edwina Harvey (Peggy Bright Books)
    Asymmetry, Thoraiya Dyer (Twelfth Planet)
    Caution: Contains Small Parts, Kirstyn McDermott (Twelfth Planet)
    The Bone Chime Song and Other Stories, Joanne Anderton (FableCroft)

    Best Artwork
    Winner: Rules of Summer, Shaun Tan (Hachette Australia)
    Finalists:
    Cover art, Eleanor Clarke, for The Back of the Back of Beyond (Peggy Bright Books)
    Illustrations, Kathleen Jennings, for Eclipse Online (Nightshade)
    Cover art, Shauna O’Meara, for Next (CSFG)
    Cover art, Cat Sparks, for The Bride Price (Ticonderoga)
    Cover art, Pia Ravenari, for Prickle Moon (Ticonderoga)

    Best Fan Writer
    Winner: Sean Wright, for body of work, including reviews in Adventures of a Bookonaut
    Finalists:
    Tsana Dolichva, for body of work, including reviews and interviews in Tsana’s Reads and Reviews
    Grant Watson, for body of work, including reviews in The Angriest
    Foz Meadows, for body of work, including reviews in Shattersnipe: Malcontent & Rainbows
    Alexandra Pierce, for body of work, including reviews in Randomly Yours, Alex
    Tansy Rayner Roberts, for body of work, including essays and reviews at http://www.tansyrr.com

    Best Fan Artist
    Winner: Kathleen Jennings, for body of work, including Illustration Friday
    Finalists:
    Nalini Haynes, for body of work, including Defender of the Faith, The Suck Fairy, Doctor Who Vampire, and The Last Cyberman in Dark Matter
    Dick Jenssen, for body of work, including cover art for Interstellar Ramjet Scoop and SF Commentary

    Best Fan Publication in Any Medium
    Winner: Galactic Chat Podcast, Sean Wright, Alex Pierce, Helen Stubbs, David McDonald, & Mark Webb
    Finalists:
    Dark Matter Zine, Nalini Haynes
    SF Commentary, Bruce Gillespie
    The Writer and the Critic, Kirstyn McDermott & Ian Mond
    The Coode Street Podcast, Gary K. Wolfe & Jonathan Strahan
    Galactic Suburbia, Alisa Krasnostein, Alex Pierce, & Tansy Rayner Roberts

    Best New Talent
    Winner: Zena Shapter
    Finalists:
    Michelle Goldsmith
    Faith Mudge
    Jo Spurrier
    Stacey Larner

    William Atheling Jr. Award for Criticism or Review
    Winner (tie): The Reviewing New Who series, David McDonald, Tansy Rayner Roberts, & Tehani Wessely
    Winner: Galactic Suburbia Episode 87: Saga Spoilerific Book Club, Alisa Krasnostein, Alex Pierce, & Tansy Rayner Roberts
    Finalists:
    Reviews in Randomly Yours, Alex, Alexandra Pierce
    Things Invisible: Human and Ab-Human in Two of Hodgson’s Carnacki stories, Leigh Blackmore, in Sargasso: The Journal of William Hope Hodgson Studies #1 (Ulthar)
    A Puppet’s Parody of Joy: Dolls, Puppets and Mannikins as Diabolical Other, Leigh Blackmore, in Ramsey Campbell: Critical Essays on the Master of Modern Horror (Scarecrow)
    That was then, this is now: how my perceptions have changed, George Ivanoff, in Doctor Who and Race (Intellect)

    Peter McNamara Award
    Garth Nix

    Norma K Hemming Award
    Winner: Rupetta, N. A. Sulway (Tartarus UK)
    Highly commended: A Very Unusual Pursuit – City of Orphans, Catherine Jinks (Allen & Unwin)
    Highly commended: Caution: Contains Small Parts, Kirstyn McDermott (Twelfth Planet)
    Finalists:
    Dark Serpent, Kylie Chan (HarperVoyager)
    Fairytales for Wilde Girls, Allyse Near (Random House)
    Trucksong, Andrew Macrae (Twelfth Planet)

  • Drowning Brisbane, or, why I love my writing buddies

    watermarks in cosmos 57: art by joe whyte, story by jason nahrung

    In 2007, I wrote a short story in which Brisbane had been inundated by risen sea levels, and where the poor squat in flooded high rises under the threat of solar irradiation while the rich survive high and dry in air conditioned comfort. But the yarn wasn’t working. Hence it’s home in the folder for unfinished yarns.

    This year, I dredged that story up, ditched some unnecessary scenes and then … It still wasn’t working. So I flung it to my writing group, Supernova, who identified structural and prose problems, chiefly a plot element that wasn’t working, ill-defined characters, great puddles of lazy prose. It was, as I admitted shamefacedly as I asked them to help me fix this broken thing, a setting in need of a story.

    cosmos 57 magazineSo I ran the changes and … It still wasn’t working.

    Luckily, a few pals (Rob, Kate and Mark, to give credit where it’s due) from my former Queensland writing group were down for a writerly getaway and I ran the rewrite past them and Kirstyn (again). As previously, I didn’t take all the advice from everyone, some of it just didn’t fit, but some of it was gold. Pure gold.

    I realised what the story was and who it was about. Structure emerged from the fog.

    With the Android Lust album Crater Vol.1 on repeat, I added the detail to breathe some life into a formerly pallid world — detail is king — and, hooray, the story, now called ‘Watermarks’, has sold, to this month’s Cosmos magazine, issue 57. That sensational artwork above, for the cover page for the story, is by Melbourne-based Joe Whyte. (I’m now a fan. It’s the use of light, I think. Seriously, check this out!)

    To have a group of like-minded writers able to tease at a story and make constructive suggestions, to brainstorm with, is just so valuable. I love my writing buddies.

    And the good thing is, in writing this story, I’ve realised just how huge its world is. There’s more to come — I just hope it doesn’t take another seven years.

    Dracula, the book that …

    dracula by bram stoker, 1916 coverThe lovely folks at The Writers Bloc — great name for a collective! — asked me to tell them about ‘the book that …’ and of course I had to wax lyrical about Dracula. You’re about 16, there’s a storm outside your bedroom window, and the vampire is creeping down the castle wall … You can read more here, and see what these creative folks are up to in furthering the writers’ cause.

    Entering Dimension6

    dimension6 magazine logo


    Keith Stevenson’s Coeur de Lion is launching its new digital magazine Dimension6 in April, and I’m happy to say I’ve got an Aussie vampire story — ‘The Preservation Society’ — in it!

    I can’t tell you who else is in there because I don’t know, but Robert Hood, Cat Sparks, Richard Harland, Alan Baxter and Steve Cameron have all been tapped as being in one of this year’s first three editions. Pretty awesome company! These writers are well worth the effort of hitting the download button for.

    Dimension6 will be FREE, with a cheap-as-chips end-of-year omnibus edition.

    Coeur de Lion brought us the wonderful X6 novella collection a few years back, so I’m dead excited about Dimension6. The first issue is due out on April 4.