1. It looks like you are coming up for a really big year this year with not one but two single author short story collections! What will be in each of them? Will they have different focusses and if so, have you approached the writing for these collections differently?
Well, the first collection, Sourdough & Other Stories, is through Tartarus Press in the UK. They’d taken one story of mine (“Sourdough”) for their Strange Tales II anthology, then approached me about submitting another for Strange Tales III (“Sister, Sister”). I had several stories set in the same universe as those two and asked Rosalie at Tartarus if she’d be interested in looking at a collection. To my surprise she said ‘yes’ and so I sent her the stories I had and then wrote the last four I’d planned for the cycle. There are four stories that had been previously published in the collection and the rest is new work. I had the idea of interconnected stories moving across time, with some characters appearing in different stories at different points in their lives. I’m very fond of these stories, they’re mostly my own fables and I loved creating them.
The second collection is coming out via Ticonderoga Publications – Russell B Farr emailed me and asked if I’d be interested in doing a collection of reprints in time for WorldCon in Melbourne this year. The answer was ‘hell, yeah’. It will be mostly reprints of selected pieces I’ve done in the last five years and two new works that haven’t seen light yet. I think the title we’re looking at is ‘The Girl with No Hands’ at this point. Because these are mainly reprints, this is more an exercise in selecting stories and seeing how they fit together – more like putting a jigsaw puzzle together than the natural accretion of writing stories for a theme. In some ways it’s easier, in some ways more difficult.
2. I know that you are also working on a novel. How does writing a novel vary from writing short stories? How do you see your two collections helping the development of your career as a writer?
Argh! The novel question. The short story is relatively easy for me now as I’ve been doing it for five years. I know its shape and its rhythm. I know I can finish it quickly so there’s an immediate gratification side to things there. The novel is the long haul, it’s the endurance race; it’s about keeping yourself interested in the story for a longer period of time. If you as the writer can’t stay interested then how do you think your reader is going to stay interested? Shifting to the novel is a huge change for me.
Having the short story collections out feels like I’ve got a bit of a breather from them, as if I’ve gotten the ones out that I needed to get out at this stage in my career. Now it’s time to shift to the Big Project. I spent most of last year, post-Clarion, trying to split my brain between short stories and novel writing and it did not work. The lesson for me was that while I can work on more than one short story at a time, I can’t work on two different forms at a time. As for how the collections might help the development of my career, well, I can only hope they will help make a bit of a buzz and people will be looking for my novel after reading my short stories.
3. What goals do you aspire towards as a writer? And what drives you to achieve them? What are you currently working on?
Um, I don’t know that I think of writing in terms of goals. I get an idea and I want to get it on paper. I guess what I demand of myself is that the language is as beautiful as it can be, even if I’m describing something awful :). I want there to be a rhythm and cadence to my work and for it to give the reader ‘pictures in the brain’, I guess :). When I read my own work I want to feel that I placed every word in the right place – and not to cringe if I’m reading it a few years down the track.
At the moment, I am working on a novella, Ragged Run, which is a follow-on from the story “Brisneyland by Night”, which will be in Twelfth Planet Press’ Sprawl anthology. It features the character of Verity Fassbinder again, and looks at Brisbane’s Weyrd underbelly. And in a few weeks I’ll be on the re-working of “Well of Souls”, which is the novel.
4. Which Australian writers or work would you like to see on the Hugo shortlists this year? What have you enjoyed reading?
Peter M Ball would be a definite for the Hugos, for Horn is an awesome piece. Deb Biancotti’s A Book of Endings also deserves a jersey.
5. Will you be at Aussiecon 4 in September? If so, what are you most looking forward to about it?
Yes, I will be there – I really should seeing as there will be a book launch of my book – it seems only polite to go! I haven’t really thought about what to look forward to at this point – it still seems far away and I have a lot on my plate in between now and then. I guess the buzz that can be created when we have so many people around, having the chance to get a lot of internationals in a room with the Aussie crowd is always welcome and I think it has the potential to be really productive and inspiring to all get together and share ideas and beers.
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