But wait, there’s more Snapshot 2014: Kyla Lee Ward

Kyla Lee WardKYLA LEE WARD is a Sydney-based creative who works in many modes. Her latest release is The Land of Bad Dreams, a collection of dark and fantastic poetry. Her novel Prismatic (co-authored as Edwina Grey) won an Aurealis Award for Best Horror. Her short fiction has appeared in Ticonderoga Online, Shadowed Realms, Gothic.net and in The New Hero and Schemers anthologies, amongst others. Her work on RPGs including Buffy the Vampire Slayer saw her appear as a guest at the inaugural Gencon Australia. Her short film, ‘Bad Reception’, screened at the Third International Vampire Film Festival and she was a member of the Theatre of Blood repertory company, which also produced her work. In addition, she programmed the horror stream for the 2010 Worldcon. A practising occultist, she likes raptors, swordplay and the Hellfire Club. To see some very strange things, try www.tabula-rasa.info

 
1. You’ve recently had a poem published in a new journal, Spectral Realms (amongst others), and have been reading at live events. How is the market for poetry from the dark side?

Market? No one is actually buying poetry, from any side. It’s been squeezed out by the current attitude that paying for any kind of creative work is an imposition, especially online. Stephen King comments specifically on this loss to poetry in Doctor Sleep. I even heard that Les Murray, whom I studied at school (and incidentally, such works as ‘A Victorian Hangman Tells His Love’ are very dark indeed) was having trouble finding a publisher for his most recent collection, and he’s a Living National Treasure. Which reveals that poetry is still being written. I have always found poetry to be something you have to write, if you had any choice in the matter, you would obviously do something else. Poetry is being written, and if you swing by the websites of the Pedestal Magazine or Abyss & Apex, you may read some excellent freestyle verse. Jenny Blackford‘s superb ‘Their Cold Eyes Pierced My Skin’ first appeared in Pedestal #74. If your taste is more formal, I can only recommend that you snare a copy of that excellent new journal from Hippocampus Press. Issue #1 features Leigh Blackmore, Margi Curtis, Danny Lovecraft and David Schembri, as well as myself.

One of the few potential advantages of poetry in the current climate is that poetry can be a performance art. I have performed at conventions, and at the Masked Bard’s Ball thrown by the North Sydney Live Poets Society. I’ve been investigating other potential venues, such as libraries and the more outré cabarets around town, so we shall see.
land of broken dreams by kyla ward
 
2. Your work in progress (The Castle), which I believe has just had ‘the end’ written on the first draft, fancies a castle in Australia – something that a few people have actually built over the years. How are you using your fictional castle in the Australian setting?

Ruthlessly. People have been seeing castles in Australia for a long time – First Fleeter Daniel Southwall diarised his impression of ‘… superb buildings, the grand ruins of stately edifices …’ in the cliffs of Port Jackson. But castles, as natural historical products, don’t belong here and by implication, neither do all the things that go with them, like chivalry and feudalism, and a certain attitude towards your neighbours. To really bring a castle into an Australian setting, a lot of other things have to change and some of these changes are wonderful, others dreadful. I See The Castle is about this effort of imagination and its consequences. But being contemporary urban fantasy, it also about discovering that people you know are actually hideous monsters or possessed of inhuman powers, setting swords and spells against guns and cars, and a soupçon of ill-advised romance.

 
3. Your story ‘Who Looks Back?’ opens the Shotguns vs Cthulhu anthology from Stone Skin Press (2013). Why is it, do you think, that Lovecraft’s world continues to have its tentacles in writers’ minds?

Because ‘The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.’ When we shall be required to build castles once again.

Seriously, have you seen Luc Besson’s Lucy? Even with the nostalgia and racism – actually, especially with them – the Old Providence Gent isn’t getting any less relevant. The symbols he provided us are only growing more potent. This is worrisome.

 
4. What Australian works have you loved recently?

I adored Anna Tambour’s otherwise indescribable novel Crandolin. Fantasy? Travelogue? Recipe Book? If the latter, is it a recipe for Crammed Amphisbaena, cabbage soup, or LIFE? Only you can decide! I also enjoyed Walking Shadows, the sequel to Narrelle M Harris’s The Opposite of Life. Her unique take on vampirism and the incredible characters she draws from it go up to 11 here. And while we’re on the subject, Kim Wilkins‘s ‘Popular genres and the Australian literary community: The case of fantasy fiction’ (Journal of Australian Studies, Vol 32 #2, 2008) is very fine indeed.

 
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 changes have not affected the way I work, just my daydreams about where that work will end up. Having a novel downloadable for $3 from a website just doesn’t have the same gloss as copies on a shelf in a flagship book shop. But perhaps that’s just me, sitting in my castle and preparing fresh vellum by the light of tallow candles. It has been interesting of late, having all this work come out in beautifully produced anthologies that are only available overseas. A Twenty-First Century Bestiary will be out soon, and I’m told they’re doing a hardback run. But to the best of my knowledge, no one in Australia stocks Stone Skin Press and this is doubtless part and parcel of the way our book shops are vanishing. Which is part and parcel of the whole payment thing. In short, I don’t know what I’ll be publishing/writing/reading five years from now: I just have sad, sad doubts I will have bought it from a book shop.

Having said this, I do sincerely hope that other people will be reading the novels I’ve just completed, in whatever form becomes the new standard of professional publication.

 
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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Snapshot 2012: Kyla Ward

australian speculative fiction snapshot 2012 logo
KYLA Ward is a Sydney-based creative who works in many modes. Her latest release is The Land of Bad Dreams, a collection of dark and fantastic poetry. Her novel Prismatic (co-authored as Edwina Grey) won an Aurealis Award for Best Horror. Her short fiction has appeared in Ticonderoga Online, Shadowed Realms, Borderlands, Gothic.net and in the Macabre anthology, amongst others. The next Cursebreaker story, ‘The Jikininki and the Japanese Jurist’, will shortly appear in The New Hero anthology from Stone Skin Press, who will also print her very first Mythos tale, ‘Who Looks Back?’ in Shotguns vs Cthulhu.

Her work on RPGs including Buffy the Vampire Slayer saw her appear as a guest at the inaugural Gencon Australia. She has had feature articles in magazines ranging from Dragon to Art Monthly Australia. Her short film, ‘Bad Reception’, screened at the Third International Vampire Film Festival and she is a member of the Theatre of Blood repertory company, which has also produced her work. In addition, she programmed the horror stream for the 2010 Worldcon. A practising occultist, she likes raptors, swordplay and the Hellfire Club. To see some very strange things, see her website at www.tabula-rasa.info.


Your first solo book is a collection of poetry — did you see that coming in your projections of a writing career, given how hard it is to get poetry published, let alone (one would think) macabre poetry?
No, it was a complete surprise! I attended the secondary launch of Leigh Blackmore’s Spores From Sharnoth at the Don Banks cottage and performed a few pieces in the open mic section. Danny Lovecraft of P’rea Press heard me and the entire idea was his. The faith was his and a serious part of the work. Poetry is a hard sell these days and I can’t pretend the book has been an overwhelming financial success, even though we recently made it onto Amazon. But I hope that the good reviews in Publishers Weekly amongst others, the Rhysling nominations and making the Stoker preliminary ballot go some way towards repaying him.


You write for the theatre and for role playing games as well as poetry: in what ways do these pursuits influence your fiction practice?
Undoubtedly it does. As a matter of fact, one of the things turned up by the process of editing The Land of Bad Dreams was that, all unknowing, I write poems specifically to be spoken aloud. Danny would point out errors in the metre and such that I couldn’t see, until we realised I was counting the points where I drew breath as syllables! Some pieces such as ‘Day Cars’ we ended up leaving in this weird hybrid form. But as I have said elsewhere: when I have an idea, it’s generally specific to a form. A script idea is a script, a poetry idea is a poem, a novel idea is a psychosis. It is extremely rare that I would translate one to another.

I think this is one reason poetry continues to be written, long after the days when people would fight each other at bookstores to secure the latest instalment of Byron’s ‘Don Juan’. Some ideas can only be expressed in poetry, and any attempt to do so tends towards poetry, whether this is acknowledged or not. Thus ‘prose poems’, dramatic monologues and a significant amount of flash fiction.

What advice do you have for writers who get the chills when it comes to reading their work out loud to an audience?
No, no, no: it’s the audience who are supposed to get the chills!

Being able to read your work in public is a great resource for a writer. They are the most difficult aspect of a work for the general public to ignore, or pirate. Readings can make a launch or signing into an event. Readings can be filmed and placed on YouTube. Plus, nothing displays the artistry of a piece, the flow of sentences and the aptness of words, like performance — assuming that the performer doesn’t freeze up and treat gripping prose like it’s a list of ingredients on a cereal box. The life is all there on the page, you simply have to release it out. Practice is the key: first getting used to the sound of your own voice and then learning how to control it. In my case, I can’t pretend that lengthy drama training didn’t help.


What Australian works have you loved recently?
Ben Peek’s ‘Below’ and Stephanie Campisi’s ‘Above’ <in Above/Below>. Clever, unusual and effective.


What have been some of the biggest changes in Australian speculative fiction in the past two years since Aussiecon 4?
Those associated with a slow recovery from near-total exhaustion? Or was that just me? E-books seems to have taken off in a big way. I am also looking forward to seeing what happens with GenreCon in Sydney this November: a brave experiment by any standards.

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THIS interview was conducted as part of the 2012 Snapshot of Australian Speculative Fiction. We’re blogging interviews from 1-8 June and archiving them at Australian Speculative Fiction in Focus. You can read interviews at:

Aussies on long list for the Stoker Awards

An awesome showing of Australian talent on the preliminary ballot for the Bram Stoker Awards, recognising excellence in horror publishing. Fingers crossed they progress to become nominees!

Kaaron Warren for her short story ‘All You Do Is Breathe’ in Blood and Other Cravings.

Jack Dann as editor (with Nick Gevers) for Ghosts by Gaslight.

Paul Haines for his collection, The Last Days of Kali Yuga.

Rocky Wood for his non-fiction Stephen King: A Literary Companion.

Kyla Ward for her poetry collection, The Land of Bad Dreams.

Apologies for anyone I’ve missed!

Good stuff while my back was turned

We’re back, and a wee bit tired as the clock has turned over the 36-hour mark since we got up some morning recently in my beloved New Orleans, and here’s some of the stuff that’s been happening in my absence that’s too good not to share:

Anywhere But Earth, launching today in Sydney, is all systems go at the online store

Brisbane’s awesome Sarah Calderwood is interviewed on ABC Radio about her debut solo album! The song she sings in the studio is stunning.

Beat magazine makes it official: The Tea Party have tested the reunion waters and found it warm enough to take another splash — cool!

Kyla Ward has launched her solo poetry collection, The Land of Bad Dreams, with aplomb — see the vids! (Okay, this actually happened before we left, but we couldn’t be in Sydney for it, and it looks like it was a hoot of a night.)

Oh, too: Macabre, an excellent overview of Aussie horror fiction, and Surviving the End, in which I have a story, are both available — the first as e-book showing there’s still some life left in the sadly collapsed Brimstone Press, the latter as a pre-order. Check out more happenings in Aussie horror publishing at From the Pit.

Looking ahead: for those in Melbourne, wicked Brissie band Tycho Brahe support Psyche at the Espy on November 12 — that’s this Saturday. Sad, I was, to miss their Halloween gig back in Bris.

And this time, my back wasn’t turned, because I was at World Fantasy Convention to see Alisa Krasnostein receive her press’s achievement trophy. A superb effort!

I am a judge for the Aurealis Awards. This item is the personal opinion of the writer, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of any judging panel, the judging coordinator or the Aurealis Awards management team.

GenConOz

One for the calendar if you’re into gaming, reading or cosplay: GenConOz is booked in for September 18-20, 2009. The first foray of the US franchise to our shores last year was much fun. I was impressed by how widely the con spread its wings: Alan Tudyk’s appearance was a real thrill for us Firefly fans (fanboy me just had to line up for his autograph), I got to revisit my halcyon Dungeons & Dragons days (to the extent I actually bought new dice, sadly as yet unused), and the place was hopping with cool cosplayers and slightly less cool computer geeks (I am one, I think I can get away with that). Laura and Tracy Hickman, Sean Williams, Kyla Ward, Kylie Chan, Marianne de Pierres were among the writers attending, which gives some idea of the breadth of material on offer. It’ll be interesting to see what the organisers cook up this year.