ANDREZ 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?
A 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?
Yep, 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
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.
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: