DEAN J ANDERSON began his professional writing career in 2008. Living with his wife and son on the Central Queensland coast in Australia, Dean draws inspiration from striking local landscapes and everyday people. His transformation from avid reader to author is ongoing and one that has seen him come alive within the realms of dark urban fantasy where every character gets their hands dirty. Relationships are multilayered; challenging. Dark urban fantasy is not a genre he set out to choose; he says it chose him. He is a passionate member of the Bundaberg Writers Club. Find him at www.deanjanderson.com.au
1. You’re based in Yeppoon, a place I remember for fish ‘n’ chips on the beach and houses clinging to the cliff. How has that coastal landscape informed your writing, in particular your Unnaturals series?
Sand, salt and water formed the crucible where the spark for Unnaturals flickered into life. Under the stars, sand underfoot, volcanic headland at my back with the rhythm of the ocean resonating deep. From the very first concept draft to the finished novel, that connection flows strong through both the setting and my people… my characters in Unnaturals. Like myself, Mason and his family are never far from water.
Time spent near water always seemed to feed my muse, stimulate ‘What if’ questions and of course provides me with a story setting that I have a deep connection with.
2. The first book of the Unnaturals, your debut novel, came out last year through Clan Destine Press, and as well as being a supernatural romp, it challenges some of the usual gender binaries. Was that a conscious decision or did it flow naturally from the story?
There is a line of dialogue between Nikki and Mason in the very beginning of the novel that shows the level acceptance of the person within the story:
‘Love does not discriminate against sexes and the longer you live the less it cares whether you’re male or female.’ She sat down beside Ruth. ‘You could be one of the few men who would understand this.’
‘It’s not easy.’ He let his eyes wander on her; her small dress flimsy and the whiteness of her thighs highlighted by Ruth’s hand. It was Ruth he desired, not Nikki.
Acceptance of the person plays a powerful role within the story. Sexual plasticity between characters such as Mason’s acceptance and understanding that Ruth, his wife, can love more than one person underpins the power of acceptance of just the person. Not their sexual status.
Same for Ruth: Mason is her rock, accepts who she is, and has no interest in any of her partners. But there is a part of him she has never been able to connect with and doesn’t wish to. This dark part of Mason’s personality is both frightening and exciting for Ruth. More so when she finally meets another woman who craves the darkness within Mason.
As a mainstream modern family unit they would not survive, they never were. The natural progression to a clan-like family structure with intense intimate relationships between two or more characters creates a powerful dynamic. One that will give them a realistic chance at living, loving each other as who they are while protecting their family.
3. As you proceed with the remainder of the series, what lessons are you taking from your experience with the release, and writing, of the first?
‘Say more with less’ is something I stick to now. No distractions, like falling in love with a secondary character and going off on a storyline that you write just to feed that obsession. For six months.
Also editors are awesome. Seriously, they do things I cannot with words. Yes, you can argue but I’ve found that by taking their advice and applying it you grow as a writer. Even if the advice makes you scream and hurl objects at the walls, windows and trees. Try it, find a balance and understand it’s not about you. All that matters is the story.
Finally, write a speech for the book launch. Winging it on the back of a stiff scotch only works for the likes of John Connelly, Chuck Wendig and John Birmingham.
4. What Australian works have you loved recently?
In the last year I have found myself hooked on sci-fi again with Perth-based author Amanda Bridgeman and her Aurora series. Love her voice, characters and of course the story itself.
The Blood She Betrayed, a gritty Oz YA from Cheryse Durrant rekindled my faith in YA after being battered for years by a flurry of YA merging into paranormal.
Also I have fetish for Oz vampire so I discovered The Opposite of Life and Walking Shadows by Narelle M Harris based out of Melbourne late in 2013. Which led me to RC Daniels from Brisbane, The Price of Fame, not vamp but a wicked paranormal read. Plus hanging for The Big Smoke, the follow-up from Blood and Dust by a Oz writer by the name of Jason Nahrung (cheers, Dean; cheque’s in the mail!).
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?
People love to read, whether it be ebook or hard copy, readers are always looking for their next book. Whether the book be self published, indie or from the big publishers, readers will read what they like. So I write, when I can.
What I write is changing. Started out with dark urban fantasy but my publisher poked and prodded me to develop the flair for erotica I never knew I had. A novella and a series of short stories are now published and more are on the way and … wait for it … a straight, non-paranormal romance is being toyed with, in between the erotica and book 2 of Unnaturals. I like to exercise the muse by writing outside what comes naturally, the muse does protest a lot though …
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:
- 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
- Sean Wright