Snapshot 2012: Robert Hoge

australian speculative fiction snapshot 2012 logoBRISBANE writer Robert Hoge has never had a job that didn’t involve writing. His first job was working on a sports newspaper at the University of Queensland where he spent time interviewing future Olympic gold medallists before they were famous. Since then he’s worked as a full-time journalist, a speechwriter, a science communicator for the CSIRO and a political advisor. Robert has had a number of short stories, articles and interviews published in Australia and overseas. You can visit him at www.roberthoge.com.

You had a beautifully poetic short story in last year’s After the Rain anthology and there’s a similar atmosphere to other shorts: is that a preferred mode or just what best suited those yarns, a space you were in at the time…?
Glad you liked it.

I kind of hit on a series of shorts about the elements – especially water – almost by accident. I certainly didn’t plan it that way but I think I kept coming back to it because it was simple but brutally powerful at the same time.

I like taking the elements we’re so familiar with – water, rain, fire – and throwing them onto the page and seeing what happens.

You’ve got an autobiography occupying your time — where to after that, writing-wise?
Yep, I haven’t finished any new short stories in a while because I’m still really focussed on that. But by the end of the year, I want to knock a few new short stories out and get stuck into a novel about civil disobedience that keeps rattling around my head.

After the awards ceremony at Perth’s natcon last year, you wrote an open letter to the spec fic community about ensuring access to such ceremonies. What was the response?
The response was very heartening – especially from the event organisers themselves. Everyone seemed to immediately understand and acknowledge that we need to do better – as a community.

I think the community has a tremendous capacity to self-organise and self-correct when we need to. We can get an awful lot done when we put our mind to it.

What Australian works have you loved recently?
Well, if I keep it to the last year or so…

The Courier’s New Bicycle by Kim Westwood; the collections by Paul Haines, Angela Slatter (2) and Lisa L. Hannett; and a lot of the really high quality stuff that’s coming out from Twelfth Planet Press.

I’ve also really been enjoying the artwork Kathleen Jennings has been producing – it’s great and you can tell almost immediately that it is a work produced by her.


What have been some of the biggest changes in Australian speculative fiction in the past two years since Aussiecon 4?
That’s a hard one. I think it’s so much easier for everyone to organise now, to communicate, that the changes seem – and probably are – less pronounced. And I think some of these things would have happened without Aussiecon 4 anyway, but I’m really impressed with the development of some of our independent presses. The people running them are doing great but I’m also really impressed with how much it is allowing other creatives like Amanda Rainey and Dion Hamill to develop as well.

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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:

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Writing round-up

Writing: it’s easy, right? Take a couple of weeks, knock out that yarn that’s been banging around in your noggin’ ever since you read that thriller on your Gold Coast holiday back in whenever and reckoned, hell yes, once I’ve done the important stuff in my life, I’ll write a book and that’ll be luvly.

Here’s a Facebook post from Ian Irvine about his new yarn:

I’ve done 10 hard drafts of Vengeance, plus written more than 80 background docs on story planning, character creation and analysis, world-building and story analysis documents. And spent something like 2,800 hours on it thus far.

Ian also has a handy bunch of info on his website: the truth about publishing, writing tips, marketing tips … well worth a long, slow read, possibly with note-taking.

Meanwhile, I’ve had a ‘yes indeedy’ with a solid chuckle thanks to Patrick O’Duffy’s post about, mostly, punctuation that riles him. E.g.,

(The Oxford comma) bleeds energy from the sentence like a speedbump on a suburban street, and dribbles into the eye like birdshit

After the rain

And finally, but most definitely not least, a minor crow moment. As you might have gathered from Ian’s post, sometimes, the yarns take time. They take iterations. They take hair-pulling and wailing and gnashing of teeth. This one here (well, you can’t see it, but trust me, it’s here, the recalcitrant bugger) has been a burr under my saddle for more than a week now, little more than a page or six of incoherent, barely related scenes, ideas, descriptions, dialogue lines … Damn it, just write yourself, why don’t you? Who are you and what do you want? It’s still not telling me. But it’s all very worthwhile when you get a mention in dispatches such as at this review of After the Rain* over at ASiF (where I have been known to drop the occasional review, myself).

Also pleasing is the mention of Robert Hoge’s ‘The Shadow on the City of My Sky’, a gorgeous story that I saw when we were critique buddies way back when, and am very pleased to see in print and being deservedly praised. Peter Ball’s ‘Visitors’ was another of my favourites from that anthology; I’m glad it got tapped here, too. Peter’s work is awesome: check it out.

So, the lesson from today’s internet surfing/procrastination is this: work hard, mind the punctuation, do your best and hope someone appreciates the end result.

* I’m judging collections and anthologies for the Aurealis Awards this year, but After the Rain is not up for consideration due to its publisher being involved in the awards. So I can say with a clear conscience that the antho, regardless of my story being in it, is very solid indeed.