Snapshot 2014: Keith Stevenson (coeur de lion)

August 1st, 2014 at 8:00 am (Interviews)

Keith_Stevenson_ConfluxKeith Stevenson is a speculative fiction writer, editor, reviewer, publisher and podcaster. In 2014 he launched Dimension6 magazine and began reviewing speculative fiction for the Newtown Review of Books. His new science fiction novel Horizon will be published by Harper Impulse in early December.

1. The latest coeur de lion project is Dimension6, an online periodical publication. What made you pursue this publication model, and how is it going?

A lot of thoughts and ideas about my work to date with coeur de lion made Dimension6 inevitable really.

Firstly, just to explain for those who haven’t heard of it, Dimension6 is a free electronic magazine in epub and mobi format that is published by coeur de lion three times a year. Each issue features three pieces of original fiction, and each author also has space to talk about their story, spruik their other works and add links to their blog, twitter feed, facebook page etc. etc. We carry advertising but we don’t charge for that, preferring to trade ads with other sites and publications. The stories are published DRM free and are distributed under a Creative Commons licence which means anyone is free to take the file, copy it and distribute it to whoever they want as long as they don’t change the content, claim it as their own or charge for it. For that reason D6 is also distributed through a range of affiliate sites including sites run by spec fic readers, other publishers, and spec fic authors.

So, why is D6 set up this way? The last few projects I’ve worked on for coeur de lion took a couple of years each, which is a long time in anyone’s book. I wanted to work on something with a fast turnaround (and get some instant gratification :-) ). The production schedule for D6 is a slim twelve weeks from initial edit to distribution.

The other thing I’ve found is just how hard it is to sell books and ebooks, particularly when you’re competing with thousands of other titles published each month. Removing the paywall, means there’s no barrier between the reader’s impulse to consume D6 and their decision to acquire it. It makes the whole transaction that much simpler. As I’ve said elsewhere, Cory Doctorow has no qualms about giving stuff away, and it can be beneficial to an author to do so because it’s means they are more likely to get read – which is kind of the whole idea in this writing lark – and the ‘gift’ of the work makes the reader more predisposed towards the author, for example to have a look at what else they’ve produced and maybe even buy some of their other stuff. D6 is a marketing tool for the authors that appear in it and for coeur de lion as a whole. We’re earning karma points with the great reading public.

The other element to being free is that we are not in competition with anyone else for the limited reading dollar that a particular customer has. This fosters business to business cooperation which makes it easier for D6 to appear on other websites, for example, another speculative fiction publisher.

The final thing that I like about going electronic is that, unlike the print medium, those D6 stories will never go out of print. They’ll always be immediately accessible. That’s why I did the Terra Incognita podcast (www.tisf.com.au) and it’s why I do D6.

So the whole model really supports what has always been our key aim at coeur de lion: to bring great Australian speculative fiction writing to as wide an audience as possible.

In terms of how it’s going, we’ve had some very positive feedback. We have a mailchimp list with with seventy-two subscribers (and you can join it herehttp://eepurl.com/AIKWv) and the first two issues have been downloaded over three hundred times (not counting downloads from our affiliate sites). And our next issue out in October 3 features new work by Robert Hood, Cat Sparks and Steve Cameron.

Oh, and you can download Dimension6 here http://ow.ly/uJGJK.

2. You published coeur de lion’s first original novel in 2012, Adam Browne’s very well-reviewed debut Pyrotechnicon. What did you find were the main differences in producing a novel as opposed to an anthology or collection, which you’ve done in the past?

I think the key difference is that – as a publisher – I’m working with one person instead of thirty. The author has far more ownership than say someone who’s written a fifteen page story in a four hundred page book. And a debut novel is a huge thing for an author as well. There’s a lot riding on it. So the dynamic was very different and there was far more negotiation and discussion between us, not just about the words on the page, but about the look of the book, the physicality of it as an object. Adam is a good friend and has been for many years, but he’d agree that for both of us there were a few times when we found the process personally challenging, when we had different ideas about things. That meant we both had to work really hard to find solutions. And I think we both feel we achieved something really special in the final analysis. It’s a beautiful story with real heart, amazing invention and great action, and the layout, the illustrations and the cover really make it something you want to pick up, touch and open.

D6cover2cdl3. You’re working on Dimension6 as an ongoing project, but is there anything else on the horizon for coeur de lion (or Keith Stevenson) that you can tell us about?

Well for coeur de lion, we’ll concentrate on D6 for a while to really consolidate it and see what else turns up. And for any authors out there our next reading period opens on 1 November. More details at www.coeurdelion.com.au.

For myself I’m feeling more than a little blown away that HarperCollins have bought my science fiction novel Horizon which will be published in early December through their digital-first imprint Impulse. Horizon combines space exploration with murder, betrayal, political intrigue and a lot of cool science all played out in the cramped confines of a starship 70 light years from Earth. You can find out more about Horizon on my blog at http://keithstevensonwriter.blogspot.com.au/

The other thing I’ve been busy with is a business I run with my partner, freelance editor Nicola O’Shea. Ebookedit provides a full range of professional editing and ebook and print book file conversion and layout services to indie authors. We’ve been up and running for six months now and really enjoying working with some amazing writers. Our website is at www.ebookedit.com.au.

Apart from all that, I’m still plugging away at my three book space opera The Lenticular Series, and reviewing books for the Newtown Review of Books (http://newtownreviewofbooks.com/). So I’m no slouch at the moment!

4. What Australian works have you loved recently?

I think we’re experiencing another wave of fantastic Australian talent right now. There are some great writers out there and I’ve really enjoyed Rjurik Davidson’s Unwrapped Sky, Marianne De Pierres’ Peacemaker, and Andrew Macrae’s Trucksong. And Max Barry’s Lexicon is so good I can’t recommend it highly enough. I’m also enjoying Alan Baxter’s Bound right now and looking forward to reading Ben Peek’s Godless. Really, we’re spoiled for choice here. On the non-Australian side, other books I’ve loved lately include Christopher Priest’s The Adjacent, which is delightfully baffling, Paul McAuley’s The Quiet War series and Anne Leckie’s Ancillary Justice.

5. Have recent changes in the publishing industry influenced the way you work? What do you think you will be publishing in five years from now?

It’s all about digital now, and for an independent publisher that has just made things so much easier for me and a lot more cost effective than the bad old days of having boxes of books in the basement that I hope I can sell, or posting bulky bags of books to customers. It’s been a real boon, but with more and more content being published as a result of all this freedom, discoverability is becoming more and more difficult. So you have to take the good with the bad. But I’m hopeful that quality will always win out in the end.

Five years from now I’d like to still be doing D6!

SnaphotLogo2014This interview was conducted as part of the 2014 Snapshot of Australian Speculative Fiction. We’ll be blogging interviews from 28 July to 10 August and archiving them at SF Signal. You can read interviews at: 

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Snapshot 2014: Andrea K Höst

July 31st, 2014 at 8:00 am (Interviews)

Andrea K Höst writes what she likes to read: stories about worlds where magic is real, women aren’t relegated to the background, and expectations are twisted slightly out of skew.

1. You’ve given a (worth reading) breakdown of one of the reasons you decided to self-publish your work on your website, so I don’t want to go into that here. However, I would love to hear about your process for getting your books out there – what are the best and worst bits of being a self-publisher?

The best bit is the readers: I get some lovely fan mail, and it brightens my day every time.  Though that’s something to be found in all forms of publishing.  For the self-publishing aspect, I’ll cite the standard ‘control’ and also freedom from the submission-go-round.

The mechanical parts – getting covers, working out how to create an ebook – are fun (or can be out-sourced, if you don’t find that kind of thing fun), but the first year, before you’ve built any form of audience, can be extremely daunting.  Self-publishing works in a very different way from trade publishing.  There is none of the pressure to make a big debut, to get out of the gate with a bang so as to be able to sell the next book.  But there’s also no-one firing you out of that gate, no advocate going around hanging superlatives off your work.  You’re a drop in the ocean and shouting will get you nowhere.

Fortunately, I’ve found the ‘set and forget’ method of promotion (with occasional freebies and a couple of judicious ads) works quite well for me.  Self-pub is definitely a path that fits with a five year plan outlook, rather than attempting to shoot your first book into the stratosphere.

Huntingmed2. You have had two novels shortlisted for the Aurealis Awards in recent years. In fact, I think you may have been one of the first self-published writers to achieve this, which is fantastic. Can you tell us why you think your work hit that milestone?

There’s no real answer to that question. The more books and reviews I read, the less I believe in a “best”.  Every single person has their very own taste, and standards of excellence, and I was enormously fortunate that those three books happened to work for the particular combination of judges in their respective years.  It’s an amazing compliment, though, and I still remember the walking on air feeling for when Medair was nominated.

3. What’s coming up next from you, and what are your goals as an author?

I’m currently working on a kitchen-and-the-sink alt-history series called The Trifold Age.  More mythology mashed into one monstrous mass than my ability to alliterate can maintain!  The first volume, The Pyramids of London, will be out either at the end of this year, or early next year.

My goals as an author are fairly straightforward.  Keep writing books.  Keep growing my fan base.  Have fun.  Hopefully write full time some day.  [That last is problematic, as my absolute most productive time to write is on the train during the morning commute!

4. What Australian works have you loved recently?

The last Australian books I read were Malaysian-Australian author K S Augustin’s Check Your Luck Agency series, which hit my sweet spot for both narrative voice and for a fun trip into both supernatural and everyday Singapore and Malaysia.

Pyramids_medium5. Have recent changes in the publishing industry influenced the way you work? What do you think you will be publishing in five years from now?

The most direct impact on my writing has been what I call the positive circle - I have a more positive attitude toward my writing due to fan feedback and encouragement.  This leads me to write more, and to push myself as a writer.

In five years, I expect to be finishing up The Trifold Age, and probably mired in half a dozen other partials.  One thing I’m not short of is ideas. :)

SnaphotLogo2014This interview was conducted as part of the 2014 Snapshot of Australian Speculative Fiction. We’ll be blogging interviews from 28 July to 10 August and archiving them at SF Signal. You can read interviews at: 

http://bookonaut.blogspot.com.au/search/label/2014snapshot 

http://www.davidmcdonaldspage.com/tag/2014snapshot/ 

http://fablecroft.com.au/tag/2014snapshot

http://helenstubbs.wordpress.com/tag/2014snapshot/ 

http://jasonnahrung.com/tag/2014snapshot/

http://kathrynlinge.livejournal.com/tag/2014snapshot

http://mayakitten.livejournal.com/tag/2014snapshot

http://www.merwood.com.au/worldsend/tag/2014snapshot

http://crankynick.livejournal.com/tag/2014snapshot

http://randomalex.net/tag/2014snapshot/

http://stephaniegunn.com/tag/2014snapshot/ 

http://tansyrr.com/tansywp/tag/2014snapshot/

http://tsanasreads.blogspot.com/search/label/2014snapshot 

http://ventureadlaxre.wordpress.com/tag/2014snapshot/

 

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Snapshot 2014: Mark Harding

July 30th, 2014 at 8:00 am (Interviews)

602848_10151419262490941_581226322_n (1)Mark has worked in books and publishing for several years, starting out as a bookseller with Shearer’s Bookshop before making the move to publishing. He’s helped run the When Genres Attack literary events that take place in Sydney, and also writes about Stephen King at The Night Shift: http://thenightshiftblog.wordpress.com/ You can follow him on Twitter at @ml_harding

  1. You have been working with Momentum as Digital Marketing Executive for over two and a half years, and with the company, have been working on ways to build communities around publishing – why do you think this is so important?

Momentum publishes a lot of genre fiction, and when a genre community embraces a work it can make a huge difference to that title’s success. Genre readers are also voracious, and will devour content quickly – it’s therefore important to be in that community indicating where readers can find more. It’s also rare for publishers to instil brand loyalty. Readers are loyal to authors, but often have no idea who publishes them, aside from a handful of community-focused imprints like Tor. Part of what we’ve tried to do with Momentum is build a community around us in addition to our authors.

  1. What has been the most interesting experience you have had working for Momentum?

I’ve been fortunate to have quite a few things to choose from with this question. I’d have to say that it was seeing the Kylie Scott juggernaut take off. Kylie’s book Lick became an Amazon top 20 bestseller and led to her being offered a 4-book deal with Macmillan. While Lick is a new adult rock star romance, Kylie built herself first with the books Flesh and Skin, erotic romance novels set after a zombie apocalypse. The hook (it’s a zom-rom) was so unique that we were all very curious as to how audiences would respond. And the community loved it. It was very satisfying to be able to help someone go from aspiring writer to full-time author.

  1. You are leaving publishing this month and heading into a different direction altogether. Can you tell us why you’ve made this move?

I’ve had a passion for social media for many years now and I was recently offered an exciting opportunity to manage social for a company outside the publishing industry. It was a tough choice. I’ll miss publishing, but I’ll continue to be a big supporter of the local industry as a fan and customer.

  1. What Australian works have you loved recently?

The Last City and The Forgotten City by Nina D’Aleo are amazing. READ NINA D’ALEO’S BOOKS, I cannot stress this enough. These novels are wonderful works of speculative fiction from a massively talented author. She has a big future ahead of her, so it would be best to read these books ASAP so you can brag about how you knew all about her before she won a Hugo award.

Fury by Charlotte McConaghy is also a brilliant novel that’s set in a really interesting dystopia where an oppressive regime has ‘cured’ the population of negative emotions. That concept is an awesome hook, and Charlotte has structured the story in a really interesting way.  It’s the first in a series so there’s a lot more of the world she’s created to be explored.

I’m also partial to crime novels and have to say that Luke Preston’s novels Dark City Blue and Out of Exile are among the most hardcore, riveting and gleefully violent crime noirs around. Luke knows the genre back-to-front and just has an absolute blast torturing his characters.

  1. In one way, Momentum itself is a reaction to changes in publishing, in that’s it’s a digital first imprint – how else did the recent changes in the publishing industry influence the way you work? 

We’ve been free to experiment, and much of my role for these two and a half years has been to find out just what it takes to make an ebook successful. It’s an ongoing process as we’re constantly learning new things, and the landscape is shifting all the time.

SnaphotLogo2014This interview was conducted as part of the 2014 Snapshot of Australian Speculative Fiction. We’ll be blogging interviews from 28 July to 10 August and archiving them at SF Signal. You can read interviews at: 

http://bookonaut.blogspot.com.au/search/label/2014snapshot 

http://www.davidmcdonaldspage.com/tag/2014snapshot/ 

http://fablecroft.com.au/tag/2014snapshot

http://helenstubbs.wordpress.com/tag/2014snapshot/ 

http://jasonnahrung.com/tag/2014snapshot/

http://kathrynlinge.livejournal.com/tag/2014snapshot

http://mayakitten.livejournal.com/tag/2014snapshot

http://stephaniegunn.com/tag/2014snapshot/ 

http://ventureadlaxre.wordpress.com/tag/2014snapshot/

 

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Snapshot 2014: Julie Hunt

July 29th, 2014 at 8:00 am (Interviews)

julie_huntJulie Hunt lives on an organic farm in southern Tasmania where she writes a variety of stories for children – from picture books to novels and graphic novels. She’s interested in folktales, travel and oral storytelling and is endlessly surprised by the way the supernatural and the everyday seem to exist side by side.

1. Your most recent novel, Song for a Scarlet Runner, is doing wonderfully well, being shortlisted for the CBCA Younger Readers category and the Children’s category of the Aurealis Awards, and winning the Readings Children’s Book Prize – could you tell us where the idea for the book came from and the road to publication?

The story began with the term ‘marsh auntie’. I don’t know where that came from but those two words were the seed of the idea. They arrived one morning and brought a character and a world with them. I decided the marsh auntie would be a storyteller and herbalist and she’d live in the swamp with a community of aunties and each would have a special skill. A trip to Ireland to attend a storytelling festival helped and other ideas came from reading folktales. I used the notion of the ‘external soul’, an idea that appears in quite a few traditional tales: a person takes their soul from their body and hides it away so they can never be killed, but eventually somebody – the hero or heroine – finds it and time catches up with them.

The road to publication? I was lucky enough to have an Australian Society of Authors mentorship with the illustrator, Ann James, and this led to an introduction to the publisher. Working with Erica, Sue, Sarah and others at Allen and Unwin has been a gift. Although I’m the one writing the stories, the process is collaborative and feels very much like a joint effort.

2. Several of your books have received Awards recognition, which must be exciting, but does it come with a weight of expectation too? How do you deal with that as you keep writing?

I don’t feel any weight. Recognition is encouraging and it gives me confidence. There does seem to be an expectation to speak though, and that’s something I find tricky.  Still, speaking is not as hard as writing. If Song for a Scarlet Runner had been easy to create – if it had just slipped out ‘accidently’ –  I would be worried that I couldn’t do it again, but it was hard won.

3. Tell us what can we look forward to from you in the next 12 months?

My graphic novel, KidGlovz, will be published in 2015. Dale Newman, who did the beautiful cover illustration for Song for a Scarlet Runner, is the artist. It’s a book for 10–14 year-olds about a child prodigy, a pianist. He wears a pair of white gloves and when he discovers the gloves have a sinister past he begins to realise that his talent is a curse and that his wierd musical ability actually lies in the gloves rather than in his fingers.

I read up on 19th century prodigies before I started the story and I wrote much of the book while visiting Romania. My story is full of mountains and music and ice caves. I was amazed at the painted monasteries in Bucovina – graphic novels, comic strips on the walls of the buildings! – that went straight into the book and although I didn’t visit Transylvania, it was on my mind.

I’m working on a sequel to KidGlovz. It will be a hybrid novel, part graphic novel and part prose and will follow the gloves into their next incarnation. They leave the pianist and return on the hands of a thief, a young pickpocket and they give him the ability to steal whatever he desires – hearts, minds and souls.

4. What Australian works have you loved recently?

The Dead I Know by Scot Gardner. What the Family Needed by Stephen Amsterdam. Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan. I also enjoyed Andrew McGahan’s The Coming of the Whirlpool and The Four Seasons of Lucy McKenzie by Kirsty Murray. I loved Tantony by Ananda Braxton-Smith for the marvellously inventive language and Alison Croggon’s Black Spring for the landscape and the intrigues.

5. Have recent changes in the publishing industry influenced the way you work? What do you think you will be publishing in five years from now?

I’ve only begun publishing in a consistent way recently so I can’t say the changes have effected me. Being able to download ebooks has helped my work, and being able to find lost books online has been wonderful. I worry about bookshops and I worry that the library is throwing out too many books. I’m both attracted and repelled by changes in technology. I don’t tweet but I can see the possibilities of augmented reality. A while ago I met an inspiring software developer and considered creating an app based on one of my picture books. I’m open to new ways of storytelling and was pleased when Bologna Book Fair introduced its digital award in children’s publishing.

Perhaps in five years time I’ll have extended my stories into other areas. As far as print goes, one book seems to lead to the next, so I expect whatever I’m writing then will be a continuation of my present work. At the moment I’m experimenting with a story cycle, collection of linked stories for a young adult audience set in a world full of criss-crossing roads, trails and pathways.

SnaphotLogo2014This interview was conducted as part of the 2014 Snapshot of Australian Speculative Fiction. We’ll be blogging interviews from 28 July to 10 August and archiving them at SF Signal. You can read interviews at: 

http://bookonaut.blogspot.com.au/search/label/2014snapshot 

http://www.davidmcdonaldspage.com/tag/2014snapshot/ 

http://fablecroft.com.au/tag/2014snapshot

http://helenstubbs.wordpress.com/tag/2014snapshot/ 

http://jasonnahrung.com/tag/2014snapshot/

http://kathrynlinge.livejournal.com/tag/2014snapshot

http://mayakitten.livejournal.com/tag/2014snapshot

http://www.merwood.com.au/worldsend/tag/2014snapshot

http://crankynick.livejournal.com/tag/2014snapshot

http://randomalex.net/tag/2014snapshot/

http://stephaniegunn.com/tag/2014snapshot/ 

http://tansyrr.com/tansywp/tag/2014snapshot/

http://tsanasreads.blogspot.com/search/label/2014snapshot 

http://ventureadlaxre.wordpress.com/tag/2014snapshot/

 

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Snapshot 2014: Philippa (Pip) Maddern, in memorium

July 28th, 2014 at 8:00 am (Interviews)

Image via History of Emotions

PHILIPPA MADDERN

(1952-2014)

By Lucy Sussex 

I became a writer because of the Australian SF writing workshops. Ursula Le Guin’s name on the cover of the 1975 workshop proceedings, The Altered Eye, was sufficient for me to buy the book. Then I got entranced by the descriptions of the workshop process. I bought The View from the Edge, too.  Although they featured various talented young writers, some of whom would publish books, the absolute standout was one Philippa C. Maddern.

It was some years till I met Pip (as people called her), at a restaurant meal around Aussiecon II.  I noticed first the mop of black hair, the wide, warm smile. At the time I was considerably in awe.  Viv Albertine’s recent memoir describes the effect of seeing the cover of Patti Smith’s Horses; and then the Sex Pistols live. Smith looked like an ‘ordinary girl’, the Pistols like Viv and her friends:  young outsiders. When I started out the stars of the Oz SF scene were almost to a man hoary old blokes, tending to the deeply sexist. The women of SF were unattainable goddesses, and overseas. Pip was older than me, but otherwise young, acclaimed and an Aussie girl. I found her inspirational. Moreover, she was a strong feminist.

Not that I could get all fangirl over Pip and a story I adored—“Ignorant of Magic”—because she did not stand upon ceremony. If she liked you, then you knew it. Neither did she hide a razor-sharp intelligence. Her obituary photograph in the Australian was pure Pip: hands on hip, the background cluttered bookcases, feistiness in repose.

In the years following the workshops, she pursued a PhD in medieval history at Oxford, and attended Milford three times. Lisa Tuttle posted on Facebook a photo of Pip at Milford, resplendent in red overalls.  Pip’s problem was finding time to write, as a young academic. I can’t remember who suggested an informal series of workshops, which took place over the next few years in our various houses. Pip hosted at her College rooms at Melbourne University, and also at the Champion’s, with whom she had formed a long-lasting Christian community.  Although she was deeply religious, she never bothered others about God. She had her worldly pleasures too: she cooked well, and played in a medieval music ensemble.

I knew her best in these few workshop years, and then not well. She was looking for an academic niche, then beginning to be fiendishly difficult, and at one stage got fed up and got an ordinary job. Had she not got a permanent position at the University of West Australia, she might have written more. I heard (not from Pip) of an unpublished novel, and at the workshops she presented extracts from another novel, a human repetends, a love triangle repeating the same mistakes through time.  It was very good, but I suspect she never finished it. I did, however, manage to get a story from her for She’s Fantastical.

At various parties I met people from the original workshops, who had a persistent bond. One was Ted Mundie, older, part-Chinese, a charmer in person and prose, with a very relaxed style.  One time I saw Pip she mentioned she was ‘having a fling’ with Ted. Next thing they got married—some 25 years after meeting at the Le Guin workshop. I visited them at their Bayswater home, he enjoying looking after her; she cherishing him. Sadly Ted died of a heart attack after 5 years of marriage. The last email I had from Pip, we were both bereaved, and she mentioned publishing his memoir.  It was one of those things that she never got around to, but such is the state of academe, the grind of lectures, committees, publications, research etc, etc.

She had ovarian cancer as a young woman. The disease returned, this time fatally. I was told by her fellow medievalists that she was gravely ill, and was able to send a card. In it, I said how inspirational she had been, and that I hoped she would get back to writing. Later I was one of six people who contributed to her obituary in the Australian, which is how her SF got mentioned. Some academics had never heard of it before.

Her memorial service in Melbourne filled a small church on a cold day.  I sat gazing at the stained glass window, through which the leaves of trees, rendered bright green by sunlight and the tinting, could be seen tossing.  As the minister spoke of the Redeemer and the Light, and how her last meal had been the Sacrament, I recalled “Ignorant of Magic”. In it she used the words “Kaleidoscopic precision”, a good image of how her mind, and by extension her prose worked.

What she leaves, beside a memory of an excellent woman, talented historian and teacher, is her stories. ‘The Ins and Outs of the Hadya City State” was her submission to the 1975 workshop, and it remains a startling debut.  It was written under the influence of Le Guin (like we all were!), as was “Ignorant of Magic”, this time mixed with medievalism. In retrospect, the best is “Inhabiting the Interstices”, a scary but utterly prescient story of the future of cities, the future of work.  What was sitting in her bottom drawer or hard drive is unknown, but what was published was extraordinary.

Ursula Le Guin gave me permission to quote her words about Pip:

It grieves me very much to know Philippa is dead, yet it gives me joy to remember her in life.  Teaching workshops you meet a few people like her,  you smile when you think about them,  you always are grateful to them for being who they were, for writing what they wrote, for believing that you could teach them anything.

I still have a tiny box Philippa gave me. I had told her that when I saw Blue Wattle acacias flowering in Australia they made me feel at home, because they grew at our place in California, and in the box is a sprig of those blossoms, still yellow after all the years.

SnaphotLogo2014This post is part of the 2014 Snapshot of Australian Speculative Fiction. We’ll be blogging interviews from 28 July to 10 August and archiving them at SF Signal. You can read interviews at: 

http://bookonaut.blogspot.com.au/search/label/2014snapshot 

http://www.davidmcdonaldspage.com/tag/2014snapshot/ 

http://fablecroft.com.au/tag/2014snapshot

http://helenstubbs.wordpress.com/tag/2014snapshot/ 

http://jasonnahrung.com/tag/2014snapshot/

http://kathrynlinge.livejournal.com/tag/2014snapshot

http://mayakitten.livejournal.com/tag/2014snapshot

http://www.merwood.com.au/worldsend/tag/2014snapshot

http://stephaniegunn.com/tag/2014snapshot/ 

http://ventureadlaxre.wordpress.com/tag/2014snapshot/

 

 

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The Australian Spec Fic Snapshot 2014

July 27th, 2014 at 11:15 am (Interviews)

SnaphotLogo2014Snapshot has taken place four times in the past 10 years. In 2005, Ben Peek spent a frantic week interviewing 43 people in the Australian spec fic scene, and since then, it’s grown every time, now taking a team of interviewers working together to accomplish!

In the lead up to Worldcon in London, we will be blogging interviews for Snapshot 2014, conducted by Tsana Dolichva, Nick Evans, Stephanie Gunn, Kathryn Linge, Elanor Matton-Johnson, David McDonald, Helen Merrick, Jason Nahrung, Ben Payne, Alex Pierce, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Helen Stubbs, Katharine Stubbs, Tehani Wessely and Sean Wright. Last time we covered nearly 160 members of the Australian speculative fiction community with the Snapshot – can we top that this year?

To read the interviews hot off the press, check these blogs daily from July 28 to August 10, 2014, or look for the round up on SF Signal when it’s all done:

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Reviews, interviews and things

July 15th, 2014 at 4:24 pm (Miscellaneous)

Guardian coverAlex Stephenson has written a fantastic review of Guardian in Aurealis #72 – among other things, Alex says:

Guardian is a tremendously satisfying conclusion to an already celebrated series.

…Anderton is to be commended for her ability to create such rich and original settings.

A fitting end, or entry, to the trilogy, Guardian is as excellent as Anderton’s fans deserve. It is a pleasure to read modern science fiction driven by a female lead as strong and nuanced as Tanyana.

Thanks Alex! You can read the whole review (and new fiction and other things as well!) in the issue, just $2.99 at Smashwords.

Another review of Jo’s Veiled World books comes from Paul Bonamy on Goodreads, who calls them: “…an excellent series, and well worth reading.”

Jason Franks has interviewed Dirk Flinthart over at his blog, talking a lot about Path of Night and what’s coming up next. Don’t forget that while you wait for book 2 in the series, “Sanction”, a short story set after the events of Path of Night, is available super cheap from Amazon!

Did we mention that The Bone Chime Song and Other Stories won Best Collection at the Australian Shadows Awards last month? It DID! Nice double with the Aurealis Award – congratulations Jo!

Speaking of The Bone Chime Song and Other Stories Dave Versace reviewed the book on Amazon, saying it’s full of, “Beautiful, dark stories of humanity on the fringes of normality or the verge of extinction.” Much appreciated Dave!

Elanor Matton-Johnson gave Ink Black Magic by Tansy Rayner Roberts five stars on Goodreads, saying it’s, “A brilliantly batty romp…” – we agree! And Cissa on Amazon said, “VERY recommended, especially if you like surreal mash-ups.” Thanks Cissa!

Let us know if you review a FableCroft book on Amazon, Goodreads or your blog, and we’ll happily link to it!

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Announcement: We’re growing up!

July 15th, 2014 at 9:49 am (Miscellaneous)

FableCroft Publishing has always been very lucky in the wonderful people who help make our books happen. In particular, people like our awesome designer, Amanda Rainey, proofer Elizabeth Disney, and other generous friends like Dirk Flinthart, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Jo Anderton and Alisa Krasnostein. Without them (and of course the authors and artists I love working with) it would be impossible to publish the books we do, and the books would be FAR poorer for the lack of their input.

But today we’re announcing a new big step for FableCroft – we’re completely over the moon to announce that we officially have an INTERN! Intern Katharine has been offering help and support to FableCroft (and me) for quite some time, as well as volunteering as a judge for the Aurealis Awards and supporting the wider community with excellent reviews of more books than even I can get to! She really knows her stuff, and I’m so grateful for her willingness to be part of our journey.

About Katharine:

KatharineBioPicKatharine Stubbs used to be mentor and municipal liaison for NaNoWriMo (2005-2012) and an ambassador for National Young Writers Month (2011), but has now retired to be a faithful book reviewer. She is currently in her fourth year of being a judge for the Aurealis Awards, and has recently completed a year as a judge of the CBCA Book of the Year Awards. Some day, Katharine would like to be a published author but until then she is happy rewriting her many manuscripts, reading as much as possible, and travelling. She is greatly looking forward to interning with FableCroft Publishing, and simply adores the Australian spec fic scene! 

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Insert Title Here vital statistics

July 12th, 2014 at 6:46 pm (Insert Title Here)

Image from Jeff Bullas

Image from Jeff Bullas

I’ve tried to record some statistics for my anthologies when I can, because I find it interesting myself, and I know that some people like to know this stuff! In the past six months or so, I’ve been reading for Insert Title Here, an unthemed speculative fiction anthology. While it takes a bit of extra time, I recorded (to the best of my ability) the vital statistics of the submissions, and here’s a bit of a breakdown about the slush. The usual disclaimer: I’m an editor/publisher, not a statistician! 

252 submissions from at least 16 countries, for a total of over 1,200,000 words.

Gender breakdown 1 unknown, 92 F, 2 M/F duo, 157 M.

Story submissions by country: 76 Australia, 2 Belgium, 9 Canada, 2 Greece, 2 Ireland, 1 Israel, 1 Italy, 1 N. Ireland, 7 New Zealand, 1 Norway, 1 Philippines, 2 Singapore, 1 Sweden, 1 Czech Republic, 33 UK, 106 US, 6 unknown.

19 stories were accepted for Insert Title Here (plus 11 for an alternative anthology that emerged from the slushpile. I also solicited two further works for ITH).

Of the 19 accepted stories for Insert Title Here, 9 female authors, 1 F/M combo, 9 male authors (2 additional stories both by female writers). All 11 for alternative anthology by female writers.

Of 19 acceptances for Insert Title Here, 13 Australian, 1 NZ, 2 UK, 3 US (2 additional both Australian). Of 11 for alternative anthology, 10 Australian, 1 Philippines (plus one solicited US and one solicited AU).

Other information:

  • I asked for two rewrites on submission and received one, but ended up being unable to make it fit.
  • Despite clear submission guidelines about multiple and simultaneous submissions, word count and the fact it is a speculative fiction anthology, I received several stories contravening the guidelines, including a number that were withdrawn on acceptance elsewhere. Stories outside of guidelines were rejected unread.
  • Several stories reached the very final round of reading, with quite a number being very hard to let go of – the reading for this book was the most challenging I have done, and the quality of the top 25% of stories the highest I’ve seen.

The slush was for an unthemed anthology, but as I was reading, it became clear that several stories themed themselves into the new book (to be titled Phantazein). I had sort of expected I might get a few stories on similar themes, but to have so many evoke a strong sense of connectedness really surprised me. To include them all in Insert Title Here would have unbalanced that book, so I exercised my right as a boutique publisher and decided to build an entirely new book for them! I call this the “Faith Mudge effect”, as it’s the same reason To Spin a Darker Stair evolved, and one of Faith’s stories was the catalyst for both books.

I’m hoping to launch both books at Conflux in Canberra in October! Lots of work to do between now and then…

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Announcement: Table of Contents for Phantazein

July 12th, 2014 at 6:26 pm (Phantazein)

LogoWhat is Phantazein, I hear you ask? Well, a funny thing happened on the way to the slush… While reading for the unthemed Insert Title Here, several stories emerged as working very well together, with a strong sense of unity between them. To include all these wonderful pieces in Insert Title Here would have unbalanced that book, but given I’m a boutique publisher and can do things as and when they take my fancy, I decided to create an entirely new project, just for them! I call this the “Faith Mudge effect”, because Faith’s stories have now been the catalyst of two entirely new projects sprung from slushpiles :)

The title, Phantazein, is both the root word of the word “fantasy” and has its own meaning of “to appear”, which I think is most apt!. The astonishing Kathleen Jennings has agreed to create a cover for the book, and I’m very excited about this project – I hope you will be too! 

The stories!

Faith Mudge Twelfth
Tansy Rayner Roberts The love letters of swans
Thoraiya Dyer Bahamut
Rabia Gale The village of no women
Jenny Blackford Golden Eyes
Suzanne J. Willis Rag and bone heart
Nicole Murphy A Cold Day
Vida Cruz How the Jungle Got Its Spirit Guardian
Stacey Larner Kneaded
Charlotte Nash The Ghost of Hephaestus
Cat Sparks The Seventh Relic
Foz Meadows Dragon poem

I’m still negotiating on another story for the book, so hopefully we will have more to add to that fantastic lineup, but I’m really looking forward to bringing this anthology to you at Conflux in October!

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