GUY 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 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.
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: