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:

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Dimension6: we have lift off

dimension6 speculative fiction magazineA quick plug to say today is the day for Australia’s newest spec fic magazine: the free, digital Dimension6. It’s available here and includes yarns by Richard Harland, Charlotte Nash and yours truly. You can get a taste of what each of us (and editor Keith Stevenson) is about thanks to an interview series conducted by Angela Slatter — just click those links. Or just read the magazine!
Dimenion6 runs three issues a year, so stick around!

Dimension6 cover and contents

dimension 6 speculative fiction magazineThe covers are off Dimension6, Couer de Lion‘s free digital spec fic mag hitting the interwebs on April 4. It’s a pleasure to be sharing pixels with Richard Harland and Charlotte Nash, who has not only hit the shelves with some rural medical romance but is a dab hand in the fantastic, too — see her ‘The Ship’s Doctor‘ for a taste. And obviously D6, for more.

While I was offline… and OMG look at all the Conflux book launches!

  • Sean the Bookonaut has been blogging up a storm. Viz, an examination of Grimdark — a category of genre coding I hadn’t even heard of.
  • Angela Slatter is having a book, Narrow Daylight, published by my digital publisher Xoum — yay for being stablemates (and stable mates, though are we, as individuals, stable? argh!)
  • Lisa L Hannett has had a new essay published at This Is Horror, calling for a consideration of less used/abused things that go bump in the night, which in turn leads to an essay from James Bradley about the ever-evolving vampire metaphor.
  • Random House is taken to task for onerous conditions in its digital imprint Hydra, and makes amends, as reported by Locus.
  • A Brissie launch on April 9 for Charlotte Nash’s debut novel Ryders Ridge.
  • Dymocks ends its publishing effort, D Publishing, perhaps on the nose from the get-go due to a roundly criticised contract base.
  • Margo Lanagan makes the long list of the Stella Prize with Sea Hearts.
  • And I’ve sifted the program for Conflux next month to find the book launches — hold onto your hats!

    I’m not sure if it counts as a launch, but Angry Robot (whose supremo Marc Gascoigne is a guest of honour at the con) is having ‘an hour’ from 1.30pm on the Sunday. Angry Robot is chockers with Aussie writers (Kaaron Warren, Jo Anderton, Trent Jamieson, Lee Battersby …) so it’ll be bookish, whatever it is.

  • 2013: we have lift off, with a little help from Tycho Brahe

    Welcome to 2013! To get in the mood, here’s a shiny new clip from Brisbane band Tycho Brahe, courtesy of cool Lego clip maker Forlorn Creature:


    Now I’m sure there’s a little Depeche Mode in there …


    In other recent-ish news:

  • Talie Helene as produced possibly the most memorable quote of the Next Big Thing blog posts: ‘I heard the harpsichord DIE.’
  • NBT the second: Glenda Larke re-releases her debut novel, Havenstar, in digital format! One for my Australian Women Writers review challenge!
  • NBT the third: Charlotte Nash has (non-spec fic) debut Ryders Ridge on the way. First draft written in three weeks. You’d like to hate her, but … that’s just freaking awesome!
  • Graeme Hague has been giving away tunes with his ebooks — what a generous man!
  • Three new Aussie anthologies are showing off their tables of contents: Dreaming of Djinn, Next and A Killer Among Demons. [Make that four: this just popped out of my inbox: Nicole Murphy’s In Fabula-Divino]
  • And huzzah, a new review of Salvage (this one by voracious bookworm Tsana)! I love the way most reviewers have been able to get the idea across without going for the reveal.
  • Way to kick off a new year or what?!

    The Next Big Thing

    Angela Slatter tagged me in this Next Big Thing writerly chain thing, in which we answer the questions below before sending the same queries off to five of our pals. Blood and Dust is my next ‘big’ thing, to be released soonish in digital format by Sydney publisher Xoum. Let’s get started.

    blood and dust by jason nahrung1) What is the working title of your next book?
    Blood and Dust.

    2) Where did the idea come from for the book?
    The story began more than 10 years ago in a role playing game I was running while living in Rockhampton. Add in my dissatisfaction with the watering down of vampire as monster and metaphor, plus my love of Australian stories, and this yarn finally emerged. It originally moved from the outback to the big smoke, back to the outback, so I’ve cut the yarn into two standalone novels. Blood and Dust happens mostly in rural, regional Queensland; The Big Smoke — still a work in progress, and uncontracted — happens primarily in Brisbane.

    3) What genre does your book fall under?
    Let’s call it a supernatural thriller in which bad things happen. Does that qualify as horror?

    4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
    I’ve not thought that far ahead, but it would be exciting to see so many opportunities for Aboriginal Aussie actors to go crazy! It’d be a multinational cast, too: Eastern Europeans, English, Asian-Australians, yobbos. The sequel brings in serious Western European and US action. Get me the casting agent, stat!

    5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
    Bad things happen when an outback mechanic gets caught in the crossfire of an outlaw vampire motorcycle gang and a big city vampire gang.

    6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
    Blood and Dust was sold to Xoum by my agent, Selwa Anthony.

    7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
    The first draft took probably more than a year to pull together. That was in the late 90s.

    8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
    Based on hearsay, because I still haven’t read the sucker, maybe 13 Bullets or, in terms of nastiness and based on the disappointing movie version, 30 Days of Night.

    I like to think of it as Anne Rice meets Mad Max.

    9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
    This is a little like Q2, but let’s run with it and say Bram Stoker. He’s the chap who crystallised my love of supernatural, Gothic literature with Dracula. You’ll find references to it, Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot and a few others besides, in Blood and Dust: little homages to the greats of vampire lit. How would vampires survive in the Sunshine State? This story is one answer.

    10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
    If this were a DVD, it’d have warnings on the cover for coarse language, violence, adult themes, drug references, sex. But, y’know, it’s got a big heart, too.


    That’s it from me. I direct you to my five victims to find out about their Next Big Things!

  • Cheryse Durrant
  • Chris McMahon
  • Charlotte Nash
  • Patrick O’Duffy
  • Scott Robinson