Snapshot 2014: Andrez Bergen

andrez bergenANDREZ BERGEN is an expat Australian writer, journalist, artist and DJ from Melbourne, entrenched in Tokyo these past 13 years. He published his debut novel Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat in 2011, followed by One Hundred Years of Vicissitude (2012), Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa? (2013), and Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth (2014).
He has also published short stories and comics (such as Bullet Girl and Tales to Admonish with Matt Kyme) through Perfect Edge, Crime Factory, Snubnose Press, Shotgun Honey, 8th Wonder Press, IF? Commix, Big Pulp, Ace Comics and Another Sky Press. He also edited an anthology of post-apocalyptic noir.
On the side Bergen worked on adapting scripts for feature films by Mamoru Oshii (Ghost in the Shell), Kazuchika Kise and Naoyoshi Shiotani at Production I.G.
He additionally hammers together tunes as Little Nobody; he covets sashimi and saké, and lives in Japan with his wife and eight-year-old daughter.
Find out more at andrezbergen.wordpress.com
 

1. You ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to transform Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat into a graphic novel: what’s your advice for others about running crowdfunding campaigns? What would you do differently?

tobacco stained mountain goat by andrez bergenA good question — I’m not quite sure, except perhaps to ensure that you truly believe in your project and are able to pass on that enthusiasm to others. I like to think I accomplished that, though I’m not sure. I’m blown away that the campaign was successful, but I’ve seen other worthies sink. The trick is to promote without bombarding people senseless, I think — plus you need good product.

If I did it again I’d probably invite someone else on board to help with the legwork, particularly coordinating and then putting together a hundred-odd packages to ship off round the world!

 
2. As an expat in Japan, what can you tell us about the speculative fiction scene there?

It’s a toughie still because of the language barrier — even these days. When I came here 13 years ago I knew about Haruki Murakami, Ryu Murakami, Banana Yoshimito, Natsuo Kirino, and classic scribes like Mishima, Tanazaki and Kawabata. I’ve since picked up on Shuichi Yoshida, Hitomi Kanehara, Koji Suzuki, and far too much manga. There are some real treasures, and a lot of missed. Most of this stuff simply isn’t being translated, and probably never will be.

 
3. You’re launching a whole bunch of stuff in Melbourne this month – tell us about that; and how easy, or hard, have you found it to work across different mediums, and what are some of the advantages?

depth charging ice planet goth by andrez bergenYep, this is my first time home in three years, so there’s quite a bit to catch up on! I’m launching my fourth novel, which was published on July 25 through British imprint Perfect Edge Books, on August 13 at Brunswick Bound in Sydney Road. It’s mix-genre coming-of-age yarn called Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth that’s set in Melbourne in the 1980s — and also not.

On August 17, at Classic Comics in the city, I’m launching a graphic novel — the noir/dystopia oriented Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat — along with my new comic book series Bullet Gal, which is based on a character from last year’s novel Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa? I did the art and writing for both. We’re also launching Tales to Admonish #3, which is the collaborative comic series I do with artist Matt Kyme.

While fiction writing is something I’ve been doing for years, I only really slipped back into the comic book creativity thing a couple of years ago. It was my dream to create comic books in high school, and while pottering occasionally over the years I’d never really followed through — so this has been an enlightening as well as inspiring experience. Inspiring because it’s a new medium into which to channel creativity and stretch myself a bit. It’s amazing how much fun it’s been writing comics, and especially now I’m doing some of the art as well. Doing that slows me down, so I think more about plot and continuity. And comic books suit the whole noir ethic so darned well, and noir is still my favourite genre.

 
4. What Australian works have you loved recently?

Funnily enough, being ‘isolated’ in Tokyo means I haven’t really kept abreast of the literary scene in Australia, although I do keep an eye on the output from the Crime Factory crew in Melbourne. Right now I’m more into the burgeoning Australian comic book industry. Bernard Caleo has been orchestrating awesome stuff for years, and then there are current creators like Matt Kyme, Paul Mason, Craig Bruyn, Jason Franks, Paul Bedford, Matt Nicholls, and a lot of other very cool cats at play.

 
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?

Probably they’ve influenced the width of my wallet — or lack of decent heft so far as that is concerned! But at the same time it’s far easier to push through projects you really want to pursue, since the bottom-line isn’t really an issue so much. Definitely the cheaper cost of printing and limited print-runs has enabled Matt and I to run with some crazy titles via IF? Commix. The fact is I don’t do this for the money anyway. Any cash I do happen to make is a bonus extra that’ll probably be channeled straight back into the next project.

Five years from now? Um … I can still see myself reading the variety of stuff I do now, from noir and detective stories to sci-fi, dystopia, manga, comic books, whatever. And I hope I’m still pushing myself creatively speaking, rather than settling back to colour-by-numbers. Yawn.

 
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: Sonja Hammer

sonja hammerSONJA HAMMER’s live radio show on JOY 94.9 in Melbourne, Sci-Fi and Squeam, turns five on December 10, making it one of the longest running dedicated LGBTIQA speculative fiction shows on air. Sonja has edited and uploaded about 290 podcasts of the show, including one-off interviews with writers to media personalities, film makers, comics artists and video games developers. Her passion for the horror film genre has led her to support organisations and events for the annual Women in Horror Recognition Month, and to developing Queer Geeks of Oz – the first LGBTIQA pop culture panel, held at Armageddon Melbourne 2013 and Oz Comic-Con Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney in 2014. Its manifesto is to support and encourage diversity in geek culture and to be a voice for LGBTIQ geeks and nerds in Australia.

 

1. What drew you to become a radio broadcaster? And why spec fic?

I always wanted to talk to people and listen to what people have to say about interesting things, and so radio was the perfect medium to do that: talk and be heard, and meet and talk with fascinating people about subjects I want to hear more about … passionate people talking about science fiction and horror fiction, all fit perfectly in a radio show in my mind! Even though everyone turns more and more to television and webcasts and web TV, everyone in the world still has a radio somewhere! And so Sci-Fi and Squeam was born!

 
2. You ran a great interview with comics writer Gail Simone when she was out last year about how important she felt it was to have minority groups in her work, whether of race, sexuality or ablement. Are there any shows or books that you think have done a brilliant job of portraying such characters?

Yes, I am excited and genuinely enthused by the past few years efforts in particular with television shows made in Canada (though not always exclusively so), SyFy TV has done ground breaking stuff when it comes to representation of the ‘other’ or with normally marginalised or ‘minority’ peoples, shows like Lost Girl particularly for lesbian and bisexual female inclusiveness, and even more recent shows like Orphan Black with its sexually diverse characters and its normalising of pan and omni sexuality as well as gay and bisexuality: very satisfying when it comes to that sort of content, let alone that it is well crafted and has intriguing plot lines.

On on the topic of Gail Simone, even though she has left writing Bat Girl now, she has left a great legacy with her introduction of one of the first transgender characters in a mainstream comic franchise: well done to her, she is a fantastic advocate for LGBTIQ rights.

 
3. Since you started doing Sci-fi & Squeam on Joy 94.9, have you noticed any themes or changes in the material that’s been coming your way?

Yes, since beginning Sci-fi and Squeam in 2009, one of the biggest shifts I have seen and that has affected the show and its content more and more, is the growing influence and strength of women in genre, in particular horror film making, and the visibility of transgender characters in genre, and this also becoming apparent in the guests on the show and the fantastic ongoing contributors to the show’s content as well.

Video games and the changes in that community have been more influential in the last year or so, and that is generally due to the inclusion and the debate around inclusiveness of LGBTIQ characters in games.

It is certainly a wonderful time to be doing the show as more and more positive things are happening in genre for the LGBTIQ communities. Definitely more visibility!

 
4. What Australian works have you loved recently?

Well, it would have to be in comics, Aussie comics! Australian comics is another growth area in genre that I have watched go through so many changes, and the work and quality of it is terrific. I am most impressed by Home Brew Vampire Bullets – an anthology of comic artists and writers done here in Melbourne. Ambitious, adventurous and daring and … very Aussie.
Here is the link to PODCAST with the man who put it all together, Garth Jones: Home Brew Vampire Bullets

 
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 think more and more artists, creatives and comic artists especially, are self-publishing their works, and online publishing is also growing faster too; micro-publishing is the future and independent publishers are being recognised for their ingenuity, hard work and talents, which is awesome! Gestalt Comics are one of the success stories of what can happen to a micro-publishing house, and an Aussie one at that! This is a good move, as the creative can have more control over their work and there is also more variety for the collector/reader. I hope to publish a comic too one of these days, based loosely on the show, and it will include the experiences of a queer zombie unicorn going to its first pop culture convention and … and just what happens next? Well, we will have to wait and see!!

 
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: Alison Goodman

alison goodmanALISON GOODMAN is the author of four novels including EON and EONA, a New York Times bestselling fantasy duology. She won the Aurealis award for Best Fantasy Novel (EON aka The Two Pearls of Wisdom) and for Best Young Adult novel (Singing the Dogstar Blues), and was the DJ O’Hearn Memorial Fellow at the University of Melbourne. The first book in her new historical/supernatural series, Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club, is due out in January 2016.
Visit Alison’s website at www.alisongoodman.com.au

 

1. Some might think that having a book release date set back is a lemon. How have you been making lemonade from the delay in Lady Helen’s debut from this year to early 2016?

Lemonade from lemons, huh? Well, on that note I can’t be too sour about the set back of the first release date since it is mainly for my benefit. My new series is a historical/supernatural trilogy set in the Regency and my publishers want to release a book a year to maintain the series momentum. That doesn’t quite fit with my writing speed – it takes me about 18 months to write a novel that I am happy to have out in the world – so we have decided to ‘front-load’ the books. That is, when Book 1 is published in January 2016, Book 2 will already be finished, and I will have started Book 3. That way, we can release a Lady Helen book each year and I can write at my best pace and not implode from deadline stress. Admittedly it is a very long wait for the first book to come out – it is already written and edited – but in the end, I think the delay will work in favour of the series. Not only does it enable me to keep to that preferred one book a year momentum, but the longer lead time has already been worked into the marketing plans of my various publishers.

 
2. As part of your Lady Helen research, you’ve been embracing the Austen aesthetic: so how do you balance a modern sensibility with that older sense?

It is a fascinating process. While I want to maintain a modern sensibility for my modern readers, I also want to create a world that feels authentic. I also want my main character, Lady Helen, to be a woman of her time, but still maintain the empathy and identification of today’s reader. It is why I have chosen to write the novels in third person point of view: there is more narrative room to make subtle comment on the world. I am also trying to keep to the worldview of that time as much as possible and not overlay 21st century concepts on to my early 19th century characters. Interestingly, however, the western world had just gone through the Enlightenment, which more or less was the foundation of modern sensibility, particularly the ideas of individualism (the importance of the individual and his/her inborn rights) and relativism (the idea that different beliefs, cultures and ideas have equal merit). That gives me a bit of wriggle room in regards to the characters’ perspectives on self and environment. In terms of the style of the novel, I have developed a subtle syntax to give that early 19th century cadence, but always with an eye to the books being an accessible and fun read. I’m also enjoying the language, which adds a lot of flavour. I get to use words like sapskull and fustian, and my favourite, Gadzooks!

eon by alison goodman
 
3. Your stories consistently show superb plotting – things happen when they need to happen, and are never inexplicable. To what detail do you design your narratives, and what advice do you have for plotters?

Thank you – I spend a lot of time thinking about the design of a story and try to make the events feel inevitable but also, at the same time, surprising. Before I start writing, I ask myself a number of questions: what starts the action of the story, where to place it, what is the mid-point, how does that lead into the climax, what is the action around the big climactic decision? I ask these questions (and many more) all through the planning stage, through the research stage, and then all through the writing stage. They are not static; throughout the creation of the novel there is a constant dialogue between the plot that I want to build and the characters that I have created. Plot and character inform each other, so while I do plan my plot before I start writing, I also accept that it is an organic process and my careful planning will inevitably shift and bend around character psychology.

My best bit of advice to plotters is to really think through your character motivations: make them as strong and as logical as possible, in terms of each character’s psychology. Take the time to trace back why your characters have made those particular decisions, and if any of the decisions don’t make sense or are weak, then look that weakness square in the eye and ask yourself: is this character making this decision only because the author needs that plot point? If the answer is yes, then don’t let yourself off the hook. Return to the drawing board: either you need to create a character whose motivations and decisions will fulfill that particular plot point in a satisfying way, or adjust the plot point to fit the character you have already created.

eona aka necklace of the gods by alison goodman

 
4. What Australian works have you loved recently?
I was fortunate enough to be given preview copies of Garth Nix’s new novel Clariel, and Trudi Canavan’s Thief’s Magic. They are both cracker reads.

 
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?

The recent changes haven’t really affected the way that I work, but they’ve certainly affected the way that I publish and think about my career. The rise of the e-book has given authors a way to revive backlists and return-of-rights books, as well as bypass traditional publishing models for new work. I e-published my crime novel A New Kind of Death (traditionally published in the US as Killing The Rabbit) alongside a print edition from Clan Destine Press, and I am investigating the idea of collecting my short stories into an e-anthology. I would never have been thinking along those lines five years ago.

Five years from now, I will have just finished writing and trad-publishing the Lady Helen novels and either be thinking about the next three Lady Helen novels in the series, or starting another project. I have a feeling I will also be working on some shorter works to go straight into e-format. I really like the idea of following up a novel (or a series) with shorter adjunct pieces set in the same world. There are often so many possible paths in a series that you have to resist if you want to maintain the narrative drive, but it would be great to be able to play-out those little gems in shorter works and publish them in e-format.

 
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:

These Final Hours: time well spent

these final hours movie posterThese Final Hours is what it says: the last hours of Earth, burning to ash as a planet-killing meteorite does the business — the science feels a bit dodgy, but the story is superb.

In the tradition of On the Beach, this beaut Aussie flick traces how James (Nathan Phillips), who admits, finally, that he’s made a few bad choices — hence the prison tats, the wake of disappointment he trails after him — chooses to while away his last moments. Among the options are with his girlfriend at the beach, waiting for the end; with his other girlfriend at a killer party; or less likely, with his sister and her family, or with his mother. Others have chosen different courses: suicide, violence, hedonism, and desperate survival tactics such as wrapping a house in aluminium foil or digging bunkers.

James is en route to party away his fears when he chances upon, amid the anarchy, a young girl in need of help — for once, he makes the right decision. Rose (a delightful Angourie Rice) brings with her conscience and a sense of sacrifice — yes, this road movie is about redemption and finding a sense of self-worth where perhaps there was none. Rather than wanting to numb himself to the pain of that last moment — that last realisation — of mortality, James is given the option of embracing it, and being a better person for it.

There’s a sepia tone, a summer heat, infusing the film, and the soundtrack is well crafted — a jazz number out on the farm, dance for the pool party at the end of the world, and nothing anywhere else but the natural sounds of the world ending. The absence of music adds to the atmosphere and enhances the attempts to drown out reality.

There’s a voice on the radio counting down the hours as the planet boils and James dashes from one event to the next, meeting himself everywhere he goes, with the perceptive Rose riding shotgun.

There is a wonderful conversation between James and his mother that says so much without having to say much at all; the reactions of the characters not only to the apocalypse but to James are convincing and telling.

Written and directed by Zak Hilditch, it’s a relatively minimalist movie, intensely focused, offering tension and pathos in equal measure. As one of James’s girlfriends, Zoe (Jessica De Gouw), says at one point: it’s beautiful.

  • Check it out at the These Final Hours website.


  • Snapshot 2014: Guy Salvidge

    guy salvidgeGUY SALVIDGE was born in England in 1981 and moved to Western Australia in 1990. His first novel, The Kingdom of Four Rivers, was published in 2009 and his second, Yellowcake Springs, won the 2011 IP Picks Best Fiction Award and was shortlisted for the 2012 Norma K Hemming Award. Yellowcake Summer was published in 2013. Guy is currently working on a crime novel, Thirsty Work, and he is the co-editor (with Andrez Bergen) of The Tobacco Stained Sky: An Anthology of Post Apocalyptic Noir. His short stories have been published in Alien Sky, The Tobacco-Stained Sky, Tincture Journal and The Great Unknown. He lives in the Avon Valley with his wife and children. Visit him online at guysalvidge.com or guysalvidge.wordpress.com

     

    1. You have two novels – the second, Yellowcake Summer, came out last year – dealing with the prospect of a nuclear power plant in WA in the near future. Do you think science fiction is particularly well placed to comment on social and economic policy such as this?

    yellowcake summer by guy salvidgeYellowcake Springs and Yellowcake Summer were written, in part, in response to the WA State Government’s desire to allow uranium mining to resume, something I was and remain resolutely opposed to. Speculative fiction has had, since at least the time of Mary Shelley, the capacity to offer grim warnings to the contemporary generation. George Orwell certainly didn’t think of himself as a science fiction writer and yet 1984 is more relevant today than it has ever been. One of the dangers, of course, is that those warnings can become dated very quickly. The Fukushima disaster did more to damage the nuclear power industry than my humble attempts at scaremongering ever could, but I was glad to try.

     
    2. You’ve had a couple of short stories out starring Tyler Bramble, dealing again with a near future dystopia. Is there a bigger picture to his story that you’re working on, or otherwise a reason for the recurrence?

    The first Tyler Bramble story, ‘The Dying Rain’, was written at the request of Andrez Bergen who was putting together a themed anthology of ‘post-apocalyptic noir’. I enjoyed writing this story so much that I wrote two more, ‘Blue Swirls’ and ‘A Void’, which have since been published in Tincture Journal and The Great Unknown. I saw the stories as transitional in my own development as a writer in that they combined speculative and crime fiction tropes. I’m planning on writing straight crime from now on. I’d like to take Tyler Bramble for another spin at some point though. He was good fun.

     
    3. Earlier this year you landed a writer in residence gig in WA, during which you were working on a new novel, Thirsty Work. How did you find the W-in-R experience, and how’s the novel coming along – what are your plans for it?

    I’ve been lucky enough to complete two residencies in the past 18 months, at the Katharine Susannah Prichard Centre last year and at the Fellowship of Australian Writers (WA) this past April. It normally takes me two years to write a reasonable draft of a novel, but those two residencies allowed me to complete Thirsty Work in just one year.

    The residencies were incredibly enjoyable and productive times for me and I highly recommend applying for them. I have been surprised to discover that most Australian states don’t seem to offer much in the way of paid residencies, so WA might be something of a leader in this regard.

    Thirsty Work is notionally finished for now, which means that it’s ready to start doing the rounds with publishers and competitions. Fingers crossed I’ll have some good news to report on that front in the near future.

     
    4. What Australian works have you loved recently?

    This past year I’ve been enamoured with the novels of Peter Temple, especially An Iron Rose, The Broken Shore and Truth. I’ve also been impressed by other Aussie crime writers in David Whish-Wilson, Alan Carter and Robert Schofield. In the speculative arena, I very much enjoyed reading works by the likes of Angela Meyer, Andrez Bergen, Anthony Panegyres and Meg Mundell.

     
    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 try to ignore the doomsayers in publishing as much as possible. I think it’s a mistake to lose heart. Reading and writing will continue with or without the publishing field that has existed in recent decades. I doubt the situation will be very much changed within five years, although I’m sure many publishers and booksellers will have gone under in that time. That’s sad, but I very much doubt that the printed book will be extinct anytime soon. It may eventually become akin to the record in the music arena, something of a collector’s item. I’ve had a Kindle for 3-4 years now, but I still read more than 90 per cent of my books in printed form.

     

    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: Stephen M Irwin

    stephen m irwinSTEPHEN M IRWIN is a screenwriter and novelist. His career began with broadcast television documentaries, and broadened to include award-winning short drama films and short stories. Stephen’s debut novel, supernatural thriller The Dead Path, was published in Australia by Hachette and subsequently around the world, being named Top Horror Novel 2011 in the American Library Association’s RUSA Reading List. Stephen’s second novel, The Broken Ones, was released by Hachette and DoubleDay to exceptional reviews, including being named among the 100 Best Fiction of 2012 by Kirkus Reviews. Stephen was writer and creator of a six-part crime drama Secrets & Lies (2014) produced by Hoodlum Active, which has screened around the world and is being remade for American audiences by Kapital Entertainment for ABC (USA). He is currently developing several feature film and television projects for Australian and international audiences, and is writing his third novel. Find out more at www.stephenmirwin.com

     

    1. Since the last Snapshot two years ago, you’ve added to your oeuvre of supernatural horror with a story, ’24/7′, in last year’s A Killer Among Demons anthology. What is it about folklore and legends such as the Green Man, ghost and demons that draws you to write about them?

    Writers write for different reasons. For some, it’s catharsis; for others it’s simply a job; for yet others it’s a compulsion to express. For me, writing for pleasure presents a chance to go exploring, to go play. And my favourite sandpit is not necessarily this world, or this world as I’ve experienced it in the day-to-day, but a world like ours where fantastical things are possible. The fact that I enjoy my stories to be both well grounded in reality yet to have otherworldly shadows lends me to write about ghosts, spirits, unseen or barely seen forces … so, those stories begin in the ordinary and take that weird side-step into the extraordinary.

    One of the things I like about these stories is that they come with a suggestion that the protagonist doubts his or her own perception of reality – wonders, even, if they are mad or heading that way. In this era of social media and instant news, when everything is laid bare, it’s nice to think that some people (even if they are just fictional characters) are forced to keep secrets for fear of condemnation … and try to soldier on in silence … although this usually sows the seeds of peril. Great fun.

     
    2. Secrets & Lies is, possibly, your biggest screen project to date, enjoying a US rendition. How have you enjoyed the translation of your Australian story to the United States? In fact most of your written stories have been set here – have you ever felt any pressure to perhaps set them overseas or keep the ocker quotient low to enhance foreign market appeal?

    secrets and lies tv showI didn’t have a lot of time to writing the six hours of television that was Secrets & Lies – the preproduction was so charged with urgency that I didn’t really get time to enjoy the process. Now the series is done, and it’s screened here and in the UK, Canada, Scandinavia … I’ve had the chance to look back more fondly on the experience of writing the show. I don’t have any real input in the US version, but on a recent trip to Los Angeles I did get to meet some of the cast, and that was enormously fun – they’ve attracted some great talent, and I can’t wait to see how it all turns out.

    Right now, I’m working on an Australian telemovie for a national TV broadcaster, and a supernatural crime show for an American network. The former is set firmly in Australia, the latter firmly in the USA. I’m a big believer in universality of story, but specificity of setting. We humans are territorial creatures – we like to know well our little nests and hunting grounds, our comfort zones. So, I think it’s important to write with respect for that – because people act differently when they are in their own territory, or taken from it, or threatened with removal from it, or discover it is not as safe and comfy as they thought it was. To that extent, character and place are inseparable.

    But I haven’t felt any pressure ever to heighten or lower the local tone of stories, either in books or in television – I think if it feels real, it works. The only changes that I’ve needed to be make are in terms of accessibility, so that readers or viewers aren’t jolted from the story because they don’t simply understand what a word means.

     
    3. There’s mention on your blog of adapting The Broken Ones for the screen, and a possible novel on the way. How are those projects coming? What’s next for you?

    the broken ones by stephen m irwinI was fortunate enough to see The Broken Ones receive the Chauvel Award (Screen Queensland), and I was asked by the producers who optioned the work to also write the screenplay adaptation. That was a strange experience – interrogating my own work, ripping it to component parts, and putting it back together in a different media (a screenplay). But it seems to have worked out well, and the producers are now shopping The Broken Ones around to potential directors. I hope it gets made; it would be fun to meet Oscar Mariani in the flesh!

    My third novel is progressing at, sadly, a much slower pace than I wish – my television commitments seem to always be grabbing at my heels like cattle dogs. I am hoping (perhaps foolishly!) to finish the draft by the end of the year.

     
    4. What Australian works have you loved recently?

    I adore Sonya Hartnett’s writing, and enjoyed her Children of the King (yes, it’s for younger readers, but that is no impediment to either great writing or enjoyable reading). I was captivated by Kári Gíslason’s The Promise of Iceland – and knowing the lovely Kári personally made the journey through the book so much richer. And being a contributor to A Killer Among Demons gave me the perfect excuse to read the other authors’ works – and there were some crackers. I’m a fan of Angela Slatter’s and Alan Baxter’s work, and enjoyed enormously reading their stories and the others, too.

     
    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 think my forays into feature and television writing have come at a good time for me. Since The Broken Ones was published, I’ve got a strong sense that publishers are being increasingly discerning about where (and in what kind of writers) they invest their money. Since I have no other appreciable skills beyond writing, I am grateful that I can derive an income from film and television as well as book writing to help pay the mortgage. But the moving picture media are every bit as volatile as publishing; more and more viewers are consuming content at home and on demand, rather than going to a cinema or waiting for a show to screen on a free-to-air broadcaster.

    And I’m as guilty as anyone of this: I consume books, television shows, and movies on my iPad Mini, and I’m the first to grow irritated if I can’t get what I want RIGHT NOW! That’s unhealthy, and light-years from the person I used to be, who could order a book from suburban bookseller and patiently wait weeks for the phonecall announcing that it had arrived.

    I think in five years’ time, things will have shifted subtly (but scarily) to a place where there is even more choice of things to consume, but with an ever-widening gap between the ‘big’ studio and publishing house projects, and the indie publications and productions. I hope that I’ll be able to do the splits enough to make a satisfying income from commercial works while still indulging in the free flights of fancy that smaller publishers allow and encourage. As long as I’m writing, I’ll be happy.

     
    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: Charlotte Nash

    charlotte nashCHARLOTTE NASH is an Australian writer with degrees in engineering and medicine, and an eclectic past in technical industry. Her short stories range from near-future cyberpunk to contemporary fantasy, and have been published in Every Day Fiction, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, Electric Spec, Dimension6, Dreaming of Djinn (Ticonderoga) and Use Only as Directed (Peggy Bright Books). She is also the best-selling author of rural medical romance novels (Hachette) and teaches creative writing at The University of Queensland. She confesses a special love for motorbikes, heavy machinery and mock cream donuts, and isn’t sure which is more dangerous. Find out more at charlottenash.net.

     

    1. You have two rural medical romance novels out with Hachette (and a third on the way) – did that kind of take you by surprise?

    Hehe … you’d think so, wouldn’t you? But no. They’re all my stories. I’ve always read and written across the board as far as genre goes. I’m happy switching between reading Neal Stephenson and Jilly Cooper, and writing cyberpunk and contemporary romance. Good stories are good stories …

    My spec fic writing is actually what got me my introduction to my publisher – it just happens they bought my contemporary fiction. Besides, I managed to sneak more than passing references to Firefly, Jurassic Park, engineers and Starship Troopers into my romances – like I said, they’re my stories! Genre switching is definitely a branding problem for book-selling, one I’m going to have to look at managing, but it’s not an identity problem for me as a writer.

     
    2. In your comments accompanying your story ‘The Message’ in Dimension6, you talk about the lure of subversion mirrored against your varied background of experience. Is speculative fiction the natural home of subversion? Is that what brought you here?

    The nature of spec fic almost demands stories about subversive ideas and actions – making points about the shortcomings of the status quo, the dangers of particular systems, or the hopes of a different way. (I also hope that’s true of all fiction – it was important to me to subvert some ideas in my romance novels too). But it’s not the reason I’m here – not consciously, anyway. I write spec fic because I loved Michael Crichton as a teenager, and then I found Huxley and Orwell; later came Neal Stephenson who blew my mind. Then Ted Chiang and so many others. I’m here because I was inspired by those who came before, and I stay because I love it.

     
    inflight magazine asim 593. Your novella The Ship’s Doctor balances space travel, action and a little romance. Is that a sign of things to come, or are you off to subvert an entirely new genre?

    I tend to write spec fic in two camps – the space opera style things like The Ship’s Doctor, then the on-earth stuff, which tends towards punk but is sometimes fantasy. The Ship’s Doctor was actually the first thing I ever had published (I self-published a new edition when I got the rights back as an experiment), and I’ve had reasonable success with other short fiction since then. I have continued to write spec fic in short form, even while I’ve been writing commercial fiction novels. And I’ll keep doing that.

    My latest thing is what I’d call agricultural cyberpunk. I’m writing a novel that blends speculation about the future of food and two characters whose relationship I find very interesting. It’s currently half-written, and I desperately want to get it done, although I have no idea what I’ll do with it. ‘Blue ICE’ (a novellette, my most recent publication) (in ASIM #59: JN) is actually a prequel story for the novel.

     
    4. What Australian works have you loved recently?

    Most of them are actually unpublished! (I do a huge amount of manuscript reading for students, and some of them blow me away.) But in published works, I recently (finally) read Sara Douglass’s The Hall of Lost Footsteps. An amazing collection, and her essay in the back about her experience with dying is essential reading. Besides that, Kim Wilkins’ The Year of Ancient Ghosts – incredible.

     
    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 don’t know that it’s changed the way I work. It has made me consider, however, the appropriate channels for the things I’m writing – whether to self-publish my speculative fiction, for instance.

    The one thing related to changes in publishing that’s influenced me hugely (and not positively) is increased emphasis on social media. It’s the most destructive thing for my creative ventures. I’ve had to manage my use of social media actively and savagely to prevent it damaging my work. As a result, I don’t engage much with Facebook, Twitter or any of those platforms – and I think that’s the right choice for me. I’m happy to trade whatever I lose in sales (and that’s questionable) by not always being available in order to preserve my output and mental well-being!

    In five years, I hope to be: still writing spec fic short stories, have two spec fic novels out, as well as a contemporary novel each year. I hope I will have improved in my craft. The industry is fickle, though. I’m conscious my hopes may not meet with reality. But I’ll still be reading widely.

     

    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: