Snapshot 2014: Daniel O’Malley

August 10th, 2014 at 9:47 pm (Interviews)

Dan O’Malley graduated from Michigan State University and earned a Master’s Degree in medieval history from Ohio State University. He then returned to his childhood home, Australia. He now works for the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, writing press releases for government investigations of plane crashes and runaway boats. His first novel, The Rook, was released in 2012 by Little, Brown and Company.

108367281. Your first novel, The Rook, won the Aurealis Award for Best Science Fiction Novel in 2012 – that’s one heck of a debut! What can you share about your journey to publication?

Thank you, winning the Aurealis Award really was a tremendous honour. I’m so delighted that people have been enjoying The Rook.

I’ve followed a fairly traditional route in publishing – write a story, approach agents, suffer rejections, tear hair out in despair, somehow luck into finding an agent (an outstanding one!), work with her to  improve the book, submit it to publishers, get accepted by a publisher (an outstanding one!), work with editor (an outstanding one!) to improve the book, watch the book emerge into the world with a sense of astounded and joyous disbelief.

It doesn’t seem overly complex (heck, it fits into a grammatically worrisome single-sentence paragraph), but people who are interested in getting their work published traditionally are often startled and disappointed by how long it takes. First you have to write the whole book. You really do – it’s not enough just to have an idea. Then, you have to put it out to the industry. I always recommend that people seek out agents rather than publishers. I tried approaching publishers directly with an earlier book, and while I had some interest, it was never going to pan out. With an agent, you’ve got someone knowledgeable, on your side, hustling for you, pushing your book and chasing it up, rather than letting it fester it away in the slush pile. Plus, my agent did a phenomenal amount of work on the book, helping me to make it better before she put it before people.

But even once you’ve got a publisher, it still takes time. My saint of an editor worked with me on The Rook for months. She identified parts that needed to be cut and parts that needed to be expanded. She gently pointed out places where I’d made assumptions, and that I’d used the word ‘freakish’ several hundred times.

And then, when you finally reach the final version, it may be months before the book actually comes out. So, it was a lot of work and a lot of time.  And, yes, a big emotional investment.

2. I understand you are working on the sequel to The Rook – can you tell us anything about it?

Surely! So, I had originally written The Rook as a book that could stand alone. I’d hoped that it would be published, but I didn’t quite dare to hope that people would want to read a sequel. As soon as I’d finished it, I began working on some different projects, but eventually I realised that there were people who actually would like a sequel and, you know, immediately, if at all possible. Which I was more than fine with. Not only did I have a ton of ideas that I’d never had the time or space to include in The Rook, but I was very keen to explore what happens after the last page.

Book Two is titled Stiletto. It follows on a couple of months after the end of The Rook, and explores the ramifications of that book’s ending. For those who have read The Rook, you’ll know that significant changes are being made to the Checquy. (For those of you who haven’t read The Rook, you totally should. The author is extremely tall, handsome, urbane, and impressive.) Stiletto really explores those changes, and how different people deal with them. Rook Myfanwy Thomas is a main character in this book, but she’s not the main character. There are two new protagonists, thrown together by duty, and they have every reason to loathe each other. So I’d characterise Stiletto as a story of hatred, supernatural diplomacy, and very expensive hats.

3. Are you focussed entirely on novels or would you venture off into short storyland at any time?

You know, I’ve never been very much about short stories. I always want more! More detail, more description, more of everything. I love big books, and I love long series. I have read some great short stories (I especially enjoyed China Mieville’s collection Looking for Jake), but I always find myself wishing they were longer. And when it comes to writing them, well, I haven’t written anything like that since highschool. But it might be entertaining to give it a try.

4. What Australian works have you loved recently?

I always have several books on the go, and currently a goodly number of them are from Australian authors. I’m mid-way through Dirk Flinthart’s Path of Night, which is keeping me chortling, gasping and flinching. I’m re-reading Kerry Greenwood’s Death by Wicket, which I love, even though I am not at all a cricket man (when I was made to play as a child, I asked if I could take a book to the outfield. They were not impressed.) Also, I’m re-reading Sulari Gentill’s Rowland Sinclair series, in preparation for the next one in the series. And I’m revisiting the classics of my youth, so I’m currently hip-deep in Victor Kelleher’s Green Piper which is as terrifying now as it was in Year 7.

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?

As everyone is always remarking, we’re seeing significant changes in the publishing industry. However, those developments haven’t changed what I’m reading or writing, or how I’m reading or writing it.

Self-publishing and e-publishing weren’t as big a thing when I was starting out (or if they were, I wasn’t aware of them), but even now, I’m not at all certain that I would pursue that route. I’m willing to invest my time in writing and editing – that’s what brings me pleasure and satisfaction. I’d do it even if I weren’t getting published. The logistics of design, publishing, marketing – to me, that’s time that I could be writing and editing. I like having experts who will guide me in those areas, and who I can be assured will be doing their best.

Of course, there are further changes, not just in the way that we read books, but in how publishers, authors, readers and booksellers are interacting. It’s extremely complex. For instance, my American publisher, Little Brown & Co, is part of Hachette and, at the moment, they are in protracted negotiations with Amazon.com, which is using various forms of leverage. As a result, at the moment, if you buy my book in hardcopy from Amazon.com, you’ll have to wait 1 to 3 weeks, whereas another website will ship it immediately. The position of the individual writer in this sort of situation is difficult. The publishing industry is evolving, and I don’t know enough about it to say where it will lead, but I like having experts who will guide me here too.

Hopefully, in five years, I’ll be working on a variety of projects, including more Checquy books. I also hope that there will be a couple more Dan O’Malley books already out there by then, and that people will be enjoying them. And while I think the growth of eBooks is cool, my love for hardcopy books means that I hope that my work will be on people’s shelves. For me, a book on paper is more real.

Plus, in a pinch, you can use it to beat someone to death.

Or so I’ve heard.

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://benpayne.wordpress.com/tag/snapshot2014/

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

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

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

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

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

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Snapshot 2014: Gitte Christensen, in memorium

August 10th, 2014 at 8:00 am (Interviews)

Gitte C

Image from Gitte’s blog

GITTE CHRISTENSEN

By Steve Cameron

I didn’t know Gitte anywhere near as well as I would have liked. She lived in country Victoria and I didn’t, which meant we rarely saw each other. Even though, within the Australian Spec-Fic Writing scene I knew her better than most.

I can clearly remember the first time I met Gitte, and read her work. We were at a Sean Williams’ workshop, and Gitte had submitted an extract from a longer piece. It was a stunning scene that described the docking sequence of a burnished ceramic spacecraft, crewed by a long-lived spacefaring race. I remember the picture she painted using only words. It had a beautifully measured pace, but was highly descriptive, rich and decadent in imagery. Gitte told me it was part of a space-opera trilogy that needed re-structuring and editing. I’m saddened we shall never see it.

We stayed in touch. We emailed each other and managed to steal the occasional half-hour to chat at conventions and workshops. It didn’t matter what was happening in her life, and none of us knew much about her illnesses, she was always cheerful and optimistic.

Whenever I made a sale she would quickly email me to congratulate me. If I posted about a rejection, she was just as quick to commiserate and encourage. Her own blog was as honest as she was. At the end of each month she would post statistics on how many stories she’d completed, how many had sold, how many had been rejected, and how many were out in the wild.  She wrote about her writing, her dreams, goals and self-doubts. She also wrote of her life; the ongoing battle with the doof-doof neighbours, the imagined adventures of her wayward chooks, her ‘arvo’ job and the writing she managed on her commute, life in her local neighbourhood, and her great love of horses and riding the trails with her sister.

She was proud of her Danish heritage and culture. She loved visiting Walhalla in Victoria, and its connection to its Viking namesake. She recommended Danish movies stories. She loved writing. She was delighted by her achievements, her sales and her reviews. And she had some fantastic credentials. Andromeda Spaceway Inflight Magazine, Aurealis, The Tangled Bank, the Bram Stoker nominated Dark Tales of Lost Civilizations, Aliens: Recent Encounters as well as her inclusion inThe Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2010. Despite all these, and others, she was largely unknown in Australia. She was a quiet achiever.

She wrote to me after one rejection in which the editor informed her he loved her story, he loved the writing. I doubt I could describe her work any better.

“Yours is one of those stories that, if I had more room in the book, would definitely be in. I found this to be very thoughtful, atmospheric, and it held my interest to the end. As always, you have proven yourself a talent for creating descriptive and emotional prose”

Her response:

“You win some, you lose some :) There were more, nice comments, but that paragraph summed it up best - I almost sent him an email telling him not to worry, that I’m okay with it, but of course it would be unprofessional to respond to a rejection.”

Gitte, as always, was more concerned about the feeling of others than the rejection, of how this editor must feel in not selecting her work. And then she signed off with her characteristic optimism.

“Onwards and upwards.”

I knew she was having health issues, but she would never go into details. I would ask how she was going, and she’d always tell me things were improving, that she’d had some issues, or some surgery, or some pains, but they were pretty much passed now, and she looked forward to being clear of the illness and getting back to work and more serious writing time.

Here’s what she wrote to me in November, 2012:

“I’m well enough – my brain is working again and returning to old habits now that it’s not drugged, but I’m still low in the energy department, and a lot of what I have gets used up at the Arvo Job.  But I’m slowly getting there, thank you, and the writing is picking up again, thank goodness, though I constantly have this horrible feeling that I’ve fallen behind by not getting much done this year. Behind what, I’m not sure. Just behind.

Mostly I’m just hanging out for 2013 and hoping THAT will be the year it all comes together :)”

What I only found out recently is that around this time she was told she wouldn’t see Christmas.

In April of this year her blog fell silent. I knew something was up when the end of the month passed without her stats update. Emails were unanswered, and although I knew roughly where she lived, I had no other way of contacting her. I even questioned whether she wanted to be contacted, being as private as she was. I finally managed to get a message to her sister and learned Gitte was having more surgery, was weak, but there was hope she’d be up and about a few weeks later. But, as usual, Gitte didn’t want anyone to know what she was going through. I asked that my thoughts be passed on to her.

A week later I received word that Gitte had little time left. Her life support had been switched off and it was only a matter of when. Determined as always, Gitte vowed that despite the doctors’ prognosis she would continue to fight. She had aggressive cancer. Gitte passed sent me a message of thanks for my thoughts, and congratulated me on a minor success I’d written about. Even at that point she was supporting, encouraging Gitte. Only two months before this Gitte attended Supernova convention, and around the same time went horseriding.

On the 13th June 2014 at 2.15 a.m., Gitte passed peacefully. “Typical Gitte,” said her sister, “waiting for Friday 13th.”

Since then Gitte has sold at least three stories. Her blog will be updated by family from time to time as these become available.

Her writing is still on my shelf. I have our emails filed away. She will not be forgotten by those of us who love her. She’s no longer here on Earth, but Gitte the brave, Danish warrior now feasts in Valhalla.

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://benpayne.wordpress.com/tag/snapshot2014/

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

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

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Snapshot 2014: Paul Collins (Ford Street Publishing)

August 8th, 2014 at 8:00 am (Interviews)

Paul CollinsEMPaul Collins has written many books, mostly for younger readers. He is best known for his fantasy and science fiction titles: The Jelindel Chronicles and The Quentaris Chronicles (co-edited with Michael Pryor). Paul has edited many anthologies which include Trust Me!Metaworlds and Australia’s first fantasy anthology, Dream Weavers. He also edited The MUP Encyclopaedia of Australian SF&F.

Paul has been short-listed for many awards and has won the Inaugural Peter McNamara and the A Bertram Chandler awards, both of which were for lifetime achievement in science fiction, and the Aurealis and William Atheling awards. His current adult horror novel, The Beckoning, is available from http://tinyurl.com/ny6urwy.

Other than his writing, Paul is the publisher at Ford Street Publishing, publishing everything from picture books through to young adult literature, and he manages Creative Net, a speakers’ agency.

Paul’s websites are: www.paulcollins.com.auwww.fordstreetpublishing.com and www.fordstreetpublishing.com/cnet

The Beckoning _Draft1. I’ve noticed some fantastic picture books from Ford Street in the past couple of years – what do you find are the challenges and opportunities in producing picture books as opposed to novels for the press?

The first step is choosing them. It’s so much harder than selecting novels. With novels you can soon tell whether the writing is good, bad, medium, or whether it’s salvageable with good editing. Picture books have few words, so it’s more the concept a publisher looks at —  certainly more so than the writing, in my opinion. There’s no room for telling not showing. Every line must contribute to the overall book. Text must work in conjunction with the illustrations, too. So for example, there’s no point in saying, Sally was wearing a green dress, because the illustration will show this. Another challenge is changing the text once the illustrations come in — sometimes the illos replace the text. Another focus for me is multi-layered plots. Metaphors are great in picture books — the teachers’ notes can alert librarians/teachers to deeper meanings behind what seems an easily read picture book. Having said all that, our picture book sales far outweigh our novels.

2. Ford Street is producing around ten titles per year at the moment – how do you decide which books to take a chance on?

First of all, for me, it’s the writing. And then the plot. A great writer can get away with a lot — a poor writer with a great plot can’t. It also seems to me that straight out SF/fantasy doesn’t sell as well as contemporary novels. Fantasy is fine if you have a marketing department to get behind that genre, but without that extra push it appears Ford Street’s genre fiction is lagging behind. I also take note of authors who are good self-promoters. If you have someone who can’t public speak, for example, they won’t be good ambassadors for their books. I once had a fear of public speaking, so went to Toastmasters for two years to overcome it. Appearing there at first was quite traumatic, but I knew I had to get over that lack of confidence were I to promote my books as publishers expected me to.

3. On a personal note, your Maximus Black series   wound up last year – what’s next on your writing horizon?

TOASTINATOR COVERMacmillan NZ just published my latest book, The Toastinator. I also have a couple of chapter books from Macmillan Aust in the Lucy Lee series. That will bring that six-part series to its conclusion. I also had an old horror novel of mine publisher by Damnation Books US. The Beckoning actually crept up on Stephen King’s latest novel —just six spots behind him on the Top 10 occult list. I do have a Jelindel novella sitting here, but I’m not sure what to do with it. It could be published as a sampler to The Jelindel Chronicles, or it could be part of a short story collection, an addition to the quartet.

As for what next, I’m not sure. The publishing, speakers agency event managing have all taken their toll on my time. Since February I’ve been renovating a warehouse/office, too. So once I’m in there I will have slightly more time to ponder writerly stuff. Satalyte Publishing is releasing a book I compiled 30+ years ago, though. It contains perhaps A Bertram Chandler’s last piece of unpublished writing. I approached him and many others to write an episodic novel called The Morgan Pattern. It’s a humorous novel for adults, now around 90,000 words. Many of Australia’s biggest names from the 80s are in it, including Jack Wodhams, Wynne Whiteford and David Lake. Later contributors include Sean McMullen, Russell Blackford and Patricia Bernard. So that will be my next “book”, although I only have a chapter in it.

4. Last time we chatted for Snapshot, you told me almost all your reading was for Ford Street – have you had a chance to read any other Australian works recently?

None at all, if I’m to be honest. As you know, I juggle many balls, and as it is these past few months I’ve dropped a few. I daresay if I took time out to read I’d drop many more.

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?

The main changes are of course the e-book/POD phenomenon. I haven’t gone down the print-on-demand route as yet, and certainly won’t contemplate it unless I lose mass distribution. Right now I have Macmillan Distribution Services and INT Books. I can still comfortably print 1200 copies of every book I publish, and gradually see all of them sell. As Ford Street’s brand name gets better known, I’ve seen sales climbing gradually. I’m guessing that I’ll be pretty much sure that my publishing MO won’t change during the next five years. With luck, if sales keep climbing, I’ll be able to employ staff. I think this is the next step I need to take.

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://benpayne.wordpress.com/tag/snapshot2014/

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

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

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

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Snapshot 2014: Anthony (Mitch) Mitchell

August 7th, 2014 at 8:00 am (Interviews)

STPMitch is an Ex-man. No, not a member of the super hero group of mutants and friend of Hugh Jackman, but an ex-wrestler, ex-publisher, ex-con chair. He’s been in and about the Australian sci-fi/fantasy fandom scene for twenty years.

He was the first (and only) Gratuitous Interstate Guest of Honour at Swancon 25 in 2000.

He published four volumes of his vainly titled Mitch? anthologies, collections of short stories, one of which even won a Ditmar in 2002. 

GDudesIn 2006 he (with STP co-host Ian Mond) co-chaired Continuum 4: Retrorama.

Mitch now seems to exclusively exist via podcasts; you can find out about them here if you are interested:

MAP1. Although your blog hasn’t been updated since 2009, indicating a distinct lack of online presence (Twitter is the best place to find you, it seems), you are co-hosting not one, not two, but THREE geeky podcasts, Shooting the Poo, GeekDudes and the MA Podcast. How the heck did this happen, and how do you find the time?

Yes, I pretty much fail at social media. I am only just OK at re-tweeting on Twitter and sharing on Facebook.

It’s that whole writing or typing of words. Takes too long and opens yourself up for criticism, judgment and trolling. Ain’t nobody got time for that. That’s why I podcast so much.

How’d it begin? Well for that I think you will have to blame @mondyboy.  A few years ago now podcasts were slowly becoming my biggest form of entertainment consumption.  Listening to Podcasts was something I could do Sitting at the computer at work, driving, cleaning the house and even mowing the lawn.  I found I was running out of episodes of podcasts compared to the time I had to listen to them so I was constantly trying new podcasts based on random searches.

I think the first podcast I heard was from somebody I actually knew was Terry Frost’s Paleo-Cinema. He got into the ‘casting game very early indeed. He was quite the pioneer. The next local ‘cast would have been Galactic Suburbia closely followed by good friends @fearofemeralds and @mondyboy with their Writer and the Critic podcast.

I think Mondy was on a podcast high because he spoke to Dave Hoskin and myself separately about us all doing a podcast together. We all hung out often anyways and our discussion generally got heated and what we thought of as entertaining, so why not record it and share with the world?

We had a meeting at a Borders one night discussing the podcast over a frappuccino, discussing what it would be about, the format it would take and what we should call it. I can’t remember any alternative titles but Mondy suggested Shooting the Poo. I didn’t have a problem with it and I don’t remember Dave saying anything against it at the time. He has said plenty against it since. He hates the name, as does our producer Kirstyn, and just about anybody else who knows about the podcast. I still don’t have an issue with it but to try and appease people I have tried to rebrand the show the STPcast, but it’s still Shooting the Poo to me.

Cut to a short time later and we are piggy backing Writer and the Critic. Just the three of us sitting around talking shit with Writer and the Critic co-host Kirstyn McDermott as producer (and might I say thank god. If it wasn’t for her and her big stick to keep us (mainly Mondy) in check and her magic turd polish to edit the heck out our show to make it sound good…)

While this was happening, a friend of mine Chris Fresh from my old wrestling days was doing a podcast called Fresh Factor Online, which was a lot more of an entertainment/gossip based podcast, very much in the vein of Chris’s hero Howard Stern. When the Fresh Factor had run its course and finished up, Chris and I for a period there were walking once a week to try and lose some weight, and during the walk we would chat all things geeky. This went on for a while and one day Fresh said he wanted to start up the podcasting again. I asked if he was bringing back the Fresh Factor and he said no, he wanted it to be like the Fresh Factor but all about the geeky stuff we like, so from that the Geek Dudes was born: a fortnightly round table with @chrissfresh, the Bravest of all Daves, Producer Paul Jones and myself (who somehow got the moniker ‘dirty uncle Mitch’ on the show…I don’t get it myself) breaking down all the geek news from the previous two weeks. There are plenty of reviews, heated discussions and wild speculation. It’s not for the faint of heart. The STP cast earns its explicit tag on iTunes; Geek Dudes generally take explicit to a new level. We don’t try to be explicit and we aren’t proud of it, it just kind of happens.

The final podacst I do is the Massive Attack podcast or the MApodcast for short (not that it’s that much shorter). This is a podcast I do with my best mate and is not to dissimilar from the Geek Dudes except we travel down to wrong town a hell of a lot less and it’s just the two of us. We record monthly and basically chat about what we like, TV, movies and computer games. We discuss what we have been doing, watching, reading and playing. It’s essentially what we do on a regular basis at each others house anyway; the only difference is we record it.

If you want to listen to me in particular, I would suggest the MA podcast as I say a lot more in that than the other two.

2. I know it’s like asking you which is your favourite comic, but you can tell us… who is your favourite co-host?

Favourite comic would have been easier. I’m not sure I can answer that. It’s pretty tough. They all have their own things that make them special and bring so much to each show. One is funnier, one cleverer while one is more generous and another is more entertaining. Then you have one that is scarier and another that is more impulsive while one is temperamental and another is more emotional. I’m not going to say who’s who. They can stress over what they think they are amongst themselves.

If you had to force me to choose though, I would have to say Joe from the Massive Attack Podcast, and that’s only because he lets me speak more than anyone else, so that plays into my vanity the most.

3. You aspired to publishing once upon a time – any thoughts in that way these days?

Not really. I mean sure, I would with unlimited funds and time. But to make a project really successful you need to not just produce a book but to sell them all and pay the contributors appropriately and I am just not in a position to do that properly right now. I think podcasts is scratching the itch of producing something for others to consume. What I like about it is the delivery system is well established, it’s very cheap to produce, and free for the end users. I’m not finished with podcasts either. I am not saying I have another one coming out or anything but it wouldn’t take much to convince me to do another one. Who knows, maybe I’ll just become a producer and create an empire of podcasts and be the new Chris Hardwick with his Nerdist empire…

4. Are you reading or listening to anything Aussie that you love?

Not reading a lot at the moment but what I am reading is whatever Tom Taylor is doing. He is kicking goals in the comic industry at the moment and has been shaking up the DC universe with Injustice and Earth 2. Earth 2 also had Aussie Nicola Scott on art duties doing some great work. Tom also has a great creator-owned all-ages comic called The Deep that you should check out. Big news of last week was that Tom has just jumped ship to the Marvel universe and is writing a bold new direction of Marvels current it-guy, Iron Man. I’m looking forward to that.

I am always dropping old podcasts and looking for new ones to take it’s place and find I am partial to Australian podcasts. Here’s a few that are currently on my playlist:

PaleoTerry Frost has two podcasts; Paleo-Cinema and Martian Drive-in are great movie podcasts, even if he is totally wrong on every level about the Star Wars films. Paleo-Cinema is a show produced by Terry by himself, and he thoroughly researches two films per show and talks at length about each one. They are all films of Terry’s choosing and he has one stipulation; the film has to be at least 20 years old.

MartianMartian Drive-in is similar to Paleo-Cinema but the films are more of the sci-fi bent and can be from any era, no time limit stipulation, and from time to time Terry gets in a guest which mixes things up nicely.

AFBThe Action Figure Blues podcast is exactly what it says on the packet; a podcast about action figures and toys from guys with way too much money. Seriously, the amount of stuff these guys buy on a regular basis is ridiculous.

HellHell is for Hyphenates is “a film lovers podcast”. The hosts Paul Anthony and Lee Zahariah (from ABC TV’s The Bazura Project) are joined monthly by a different guest each episode to discuss recent viewings of films and explore the career of a particular filmmaker of the guests choice. It’s can get pretty high-brow with its chatter, which is never a bad thing. It has definitely expanded my knowledge and appreciation of certain films and their makers.

Non CanonicalNon-Canonical was a fantastic Australian comic review podcast that included some choice interviews with some great names in the industry. They produced 208 epsiodes before calling it quits as a regular weekly show a few months ago, but have sworn it’s not over and will be back with specials in the future. I am hoping for to this be true.

RadLoungeTwo of the hosts from Non-Canonical were obviously not ready to give up yet, as Lucas and Larry decided to keep going by starting up a new podcast called Radioactive Lounge. It’s obviously not the same dynamic without the other hosts but they are more that capable of filling the void Non-Canonical left. They record a live show from the Melbourne Comic shop All-star Comics once a month with a live band, which adds a very different dynamic,

Something WonkySomething Wonky podcast is a left wing weekly satirical look at news and politics. Thank god they are funny otherwise it would be pretty depressing.

EmpireEmpire of Enthusiasts is a great little week in geek round up with a bunch of Melbourne comedians. It’s actually a YouTube show they release as an audio podcast. I like the show but find the audio version so much easier to throw onto my phone and listen at work or driving.

SupermanFinally there is Radio KAL, the official podcast of the Superman homepage. It’s a weekly news show related to all things Superman and with the new movie not far away they are never short of things to discuss. Not an Australian podcast exactly but one of the co-hosts is an Aussie so I think it counts.

5. What do you think you might be working on in spec fic five years from now?

Hopefully still podcasting. I am digging catching up with my mates on a regular basis and passionately talking about things I love (and hate) and while we are all still enjoying that and it’s not imposing on us time wise or financially, I don’t see why we can’t keep it going. Who knows? Five years ago I wouldn’t have thought I would be doing three podcasts so anything could happen. Look out for me on TV or something!

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://benpayne.wordpress.com/tag/snapshot2014/

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: Wolfgang Bylsma (Gestalt Publishing)

August 6th, 2014 at 8:00 am (Interviews)

Wolfgang serves as Editor-in-Chief and Managing Director for Australia’s leading independent graphic novel publishing house, Gestalt.

He has a passion for encouraging creative endeavours with both individuals and communities. 

Wolf has also acted as an industry mentor through the Australian Society of Authors and served as consulting editor for two other graphic novel publishing endeavours.

The-Deep-V2-Here-Be-Dragons--470x7201. The Deep series by Tom Taylor and James Brouwer has been very well received – what can you tell us about the success of this series, and how far do you think it will go?

The Deep has been one of our strongest titles in terms of both critical and popular acclaim. It has certainly helped raised Gestalt’s profile overall, and opened up the all-ages market to us whereas we had previously been specialising in titles for mature readers (15+).  There’s a great sense of adventure in The Deep, and something of a purity that goes with that.  These are stories about the kind of family we WANT to have ourselves – where each member is accepted and respected as an individual, and yet can come together to overcome the peril they are faced with.  Last year I took The Deep to the Asian Festival of Children’s Content in Singapore and the Li’l Lit Festin Manila, and they received great interest. Being inclusive of the world we live in and developing characters that go beyond the traditional ‘caucasian hero’ narratives has also helped The Deep find a wider audience.

I’m also immensely excited about the animated television series that is in production, especially having negotiated securing key roles for both Tom Taylor and James Brouwer on the series, in an effort to ensure the integrity of the storytelling and the ethos behind it remains intact in the translation from print to screen.

My greatest hope is for The Deep to achieve a mass-market audience, whether from the TV series or from some other activities we have in the works, it’s one of the titles that I’m most proud of having been involved with.

2. Since you started Gestalt Publishing in 2005, you have published some of the biggest graphic artists and writers Australia has to offer – you clearly have your finger on the pulse of the industry, and I’d love to hear about how you carved out this position for Gestalt?

Our approach with Gestalt was always to help foster new talent that we saw as being worthy of greater recognition, and whilst we have battled immensely limited resources at every step in order to accomplish this, it’s a wonderful feeling to have been involved with some of these creators.

It’s always been about being open to talent, and to find new ways to support writers and artist whose work resonates with us personally, as well as artistically.  As we fund the majority of our work from our day job income, we are essentially publishing the kinds of books that WE want to read but find lacking in the market place.

Beyond that, though, there are a great many creators in Australia that we would LOVE to work with, but just don’t have the resources to approach. As much as we strive to help bolster the idea of there being a graphic novel industry in Australia, there is still some way to go before we have a plethora of creators working full-time on their projects and surviving financially from doing so. I remain hopeful for the future, however.

3. You and Gestalt have been the subject of a documentary, Comic Book Heroes (aired on the ABC in August 2013, and recently won four WA Screen Awards!), which doesn’t happen everyday! What was that experience like, and has it affected the way Gestalt has operated?

CBH-WASA-WEBThe Comic Book Heroes documentary filming process really involved a love/hate relationship with the director, Nick Dunlop. There was a great deal of trepidation at first and some of our creators continued that concern throughout the process, unsure of how much to trust the camera and the story that was going to be told.

Throughout the process, though – it became apparent that Nick was, in essence, one of us – in that he had to employ similar tactics to raise funding to create the documentary (before getting a producer or broadcaster attached) and I think a certain sympatico developed out of this.

I still have some issues with the version of the documentary that went to air – in that some elements were presented that could easily be misread or misconstrued – but overall, I think it was a relatively accurate portrayal of SOME of the stress that we find ourselves under.

One of the great outcomes from the broadcast of Comic Book Heroes has been the outpouring of support for what we’re doing.  We were inundated with messages of support from people around the country, and I’ve had people come to the Gestalt booth when we’re exhibiting at conventions around Australia wanting to let us know how much they appreciate what we’re striving to achieve.

4. What Australian works have you loved recently?

It’s an unfortunate by-product of running Gestalt alongside the day job and raising a young family that I have little time to read much of anything these days, other than the books I’m editing.

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?

The way we work has certainly been impacted by the shift in publishing, especially in relation to the digital domain offering additional opportunities to the traditional market.

To that end, we’ve been developing more titles than previously – with the specific focus being to offer them as digital titles first and foremost before potentially producing them as print. For some of the longer works we have in development, we’ve been releasing individual chapters as digital issues in order to create more exposure, interest, a trickle of revenue and a level of pre-awareness for titles ahead of their print runs.

As for what we’ll be publishing five years from now, I’m reluctant to guess! Our approach to story will remain the same, but who knows what changes to the market may mean for digital and/or traditional publishing. The one thing that we’ll continue striving to do, however, is to offer our stories in whatever format people want to read them in.

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://benpayne.wordpress.com/tag/snapshot2014/

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: Michael Pryor

August 5th, 2014 at 8:00 am (Interviews)

Pryor1cropped lo resMichael Pryor writes fantasy and science fiction for teenagers. He has published over thirty novels and more than 50 short stories. He has been shortlisted for the Aurealis Award six times, and seven of his books have been CBCA Notable books. His latest book is Machine Wars for middle grades readers, and his website is www.michaelpryor.com.au.

1. Your latest book is Machine Wars, a science fiction novel, but most of your books in recent years have been fantasy (particularly steampunk) – how do you have to adjust your headspace for these different types of storytelling? 

The aspect I notice most of all, moving from Fantasy to SF, is the language I use. I’ve been using deliberately formal, slightly old-fashioned language in my Steampunk Fantasies to help scene setting, but ‘Machine Wars’ is a near future story so I had to re-set my language use for a more contemporary feel. It took a little while!

2. All of your work to date has been for young people (I think!), although I can attest to the appeal for adults as well. Do you have any inclination to write for an adult audience? 

I have written short stories for adults, but not for some time, and I would like to take up writing for that audience again, and in a longer format. In fact, the Work in Progress is just that. To tell more would be premature, I’m afraid, since I’m at the very tentative first steps in my first draft. Stay tuned.

3. What can we look forward to from Michael Pryor in the near future? 

As mentioned, I hope this adult novel will come to fruition, but I’m also working on a piece of madcap silliness for younger readers, plus a fantasy romance for older readers. This latter is something close to my heart, and it’s in a space where I feel not enough male writers are writing. We’ll see how this one goes.

4. What Australian works have you loved recently?

I’m really impressed by the quality of the stories that are coming through Aurealis this year. For a hit pick, keep an eye on a story from a new writer, Steven Ma: ‘Ballard and Ballard: A Biopunk Detective Tale of 2080 AD’. Its setting is urban Australia and it’s gritty, wry and stylish.

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?

The changes in the publishing industry keep coming, and they’re hard to ignore. I like to think that I’m still writing in the same way, doing my best to tell engaging stories with characters to care about, but the takeovers, mergers and re-alignments in the industry can be nervous-making – and I probably write best when I’m confident and assured that the business side of writing is stable. Five years from now? That’s a long time in publishing! I’d like to think that I’ll still be writing a couple of books a year, maybe one for adults and one for teen/YA readers. I wouldn’t like that to be written in stone, though. One of the delightful things about my life at the moment is the flexibility. I’m able to take up challenges and opportunities that present themselves unbidden, and that’s invigorating.

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://benpayne.wordpress.com/tag/snapshot2014/

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: Stephen Ormsby (Satalyte Publishing)

August 4th, 2014 at 8:00 am (Interviews)

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 9.48.47 PM

Stephen C. Ormsby was a novelist with 2 books published by small press in America, before moving into publishing with his wife, Marieke.

Find Satalyte online at http://Satalyte.com.au, on Twitter at @SatalytePublish and on Facebook at  https://www.facebook.com/SatalytePublishing

1. Satalyte Publishing is a fairly new operation, but you’ve hit the ground running – what made you decide to start your own publishing house?

I had a couple of novels published in America through small press, but had terrible trouble getting them to Australia. As I say, I threw a tantrum in the corner, stomped my feet and told my wife, Marieke, that I’m going to start a publishing house. Her reaction was ‘umm, okay, you do know that we are pregnant.’ I replied that can’t be that hard. We still laugh about that one. Well, at least one of us does!

2. In less than 12 months you’ve released nearly 20 books – that’s an astonishing achievement! How have you selected the projects and found the time to produce them all?

Finding time, now that a fun question. We are actually doing this full time at the moment, and hope to continue doing so. When we opened submissions, we found that there was so much interesting stuff out there. It was so hard to knock them back, and that leads to our unfathomable workload.

3. What’s coming up next for Satalyte?

We hope to continue at the frenetic work rate, and if all goes to plan, we should release some 30 novels in the next year. We will still be on the convention trail, and look like hitting Conflux, Supanovas as well as a number of book launches. Lots of kilometres to travel.

4. What Australian works have you loved recently?

To tell you the truth, I do not get that much time to read anymore. I am mostly editing, and am finding hard to read works without looking through an editor’s eye. There are so many that I would like to read, but they are just stacking up on my TBR list.

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?

Another honesty – I do not have any real knowledge of the publishing industry five years ago. I was only a reader, and a part time writer. I had never considered that I would be doing this even that time ago.

I believe we will see that print will come back, with ebook plateauing. I see that Australian authors and their respective works will find more relevance in the market, through the hard work of a new wave of presses and the stalwarts.

In five years time, I hope to have Satalyte Publishing in a position that we will be able to publish the best Australian writing to the world.

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://benpayne.wordpress.com/tag/snapshot2014/

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: Greg Mellor

August 3rd, 2014 at 8:00 am (Interviews)

Greg Mellor is a Canberra-­based author with over 50 published short stories.

His debut SF collection Wild Chrome was published in 2012, and he has several SF novellas coming out, starting with Steel Angels in 2014 and Weapons of Choice in 2015. He is a regular contributor to Clarkesworld Magazine and Cosmos Magazine, plus his work has appeared in Aurealis and AntipodeanSF and a range of Australian and US anthologies. He reached the finals of the Aurealis Awards a few times and is a member of the SFWA.

Visit www.gregmellor.com to see his latest publications.

He likes cats, cars and consciousness theories.

1. You have a new novella coming out this year – who is publishing it, and can you tell us a bit about it?

01 steel angels sneak peekSteel Angels is set in a post-apocalyptic future where the Earth has dried out and the fragmented societies left behind are dominated by cartels that control the limited resources and supply chains. A community of people – the angels – have chosen a different path and salvaged some of the old defence and space technology. They now live in helium eyries in the stratosphere. Their bodies are part genetic art, part technological augmentation and they are seeking transcendence of a kind and a way off the planet.

The story follows Micah, the reluctant protagonist sent by one of the cartels to capture an angel and bring back the technology and the secret to immortality. Micah gets more than she bargained for and ends up confronting the beautiful, powerful angel called Gale. What follows is a cat and mouse game of lust and betrayal as Micah discovers how far the cartel is willing to go to unlock the angels’ minds. And as she gets closer to Gale she uncovers the brutal truth behind the angels’ experiment to evolve human consciousness.

The story is definitely hard SF, but laced with some philosophy about the evolution of consciousness and a few shocking moments and a fast pace that is characteristic of my short stories. I was deeply moved by Nicholas Humphrey’s book Soul Dust, which outlines a theory of how human consciousness is possible. I’ve read a lot on the subject and found his book very inspiring. So much so that I contacted Nick and he kindly gave me permission to quote some of his stuff in Steel Angels.

Initially it was tricky to break out of the short story mode, but I’ve been really pleased with the progress. I‘m still in negotiations with the US publisher and the book is due out at Christmas. The cover art is sorted now. I wanted to keep the imagery consistent with my brand, so I went back to Jamie and Leanne Tufrey. The sneak peak I’ve attached here has just been released on my website and Facebook page. I’m stoked with the final result as it’s a full panoramic that wraps round to the back cover.

2. In 2012 your collection Wild Chrome came out from Ticonderoga, and two stories from the book were shortlisted for the Aurealis Awards (not your first appearance on those lists, either) – you’ve also had stories published in several professional markets. However, I’m interested in the time between 1994 (your first story sale to Aurealis magazine) and the late 2000s, when you came back to publishing your work – can you tell us about that long break between published works?

02 greg 1989Good question! I suppose it goes back a little further than 1994. Writing became a hobby after I left university. I used to write articles on astrophysics for local newspapers and began experimenting with short stories across SF, fantasy and horror genres. I reached the quarter finals of the Writers of the Future contest in 1989, which was really the first time I realised I had some potential in SF. It was a big deal back then and I had a lot of newspaper and radio interviews as the contest had only been running for a few years and provided a starting point for authors like Robert Reed and others.

03 cover aurealis 14The publishing of “Rogue” in Issue #13 of Aurealis in 1994 was also very cool and was another sign that my writing had promise. However I was also at that stage in my life where I needed to find a job that actually paid, and writing wasn’t it. I ended up studying for an MBA and started a career in business consulting and that consumed me for a long time. Plus I did the “get married, take out a mortgage and have a child” routine, not necessarily in that order. I now have a beautiful, sometimes patience-testing, soccer-mad teenage boy.

Even though I stepped away from fiction (a decision that used to nag at my subconscious an awful lot) I found that being a consultant did provide some creative outlet as I was writing reports on a whole range of topics such as business strategy, process reengineering, activity based costing, organisational change and online services. Business writing can be very dry, but I find the subject matter is interesting, plus your writing has to be compelling to the audience otherwise your clients don’t pay their bills!

But that kind of writing was never ever going to be enough – who was I kidding? I started experimenting again with SF in 2004/05 and produced a bunch of disjointed stuff that got some more quarter final places and left me feeling cynical and hollow. However what I did gain was the realisation that I had a whole lot of ideas that just needed a better narrative structure.

After a few more years of child raising and working stupid hours and mortgage repayments I said to myself “stuff this, I can and I will write at a professional level”. One of the triggers for this thought process occurred one day in 2008 when I was reading the submission guidelines to Cosmos magazine.

04 defence of the realm“Our standards are high, so we’re only interested in seeing the best. Unless you’re convinced your work is top-shelf, it’s probably best not to bother.”

Well, that was like a red flag to a bull to me! It was as good as telling me “you can’t do it”, and I don’t receive that kind of commentary very well at all. So it was with a good pool of ideas and, yes, a good dose of rage that I submitted “Defence of the Realm” to Damien Broderick, the editor at the time.

05 TP wild-chrome-webThe story was published in 2009 and afterwards the floodgates well and truly opened up and I published a lot of stories in a very short timeframe. I don’t know that I’ll ever make up for all those years where I wasn’t writing fiction, but then again I think maybe it had to happen this way. I know now, after all the doubt and denial, that writing is an essential part of me.

The support I received and the feedback from readers of Wild Chrome was astonishing. It was the most profound affirmation, I can’t even begin to describe how important it was and still is.

3. In the 2012 Snapshot, you told us that you felt very comfortable in the short story form and were starting to move into novellas – is there now a novel on the horizon?  

I’ve got so much baseline material to work with that I need to give the novellas the space they deserve. Steel Angels this year will be followed by Weapons of Choice in 2015. This story appeared in a very condensed version in my collection, but there are ideas in there that just can’t be left in the shorter format. I have other stories from the collection that could also be expanded into a novella, such as Stranded Light, but I’m also very excited about some of the new stuff including Voodoo Protocol.

06 cover clarkesworld upgradedI’ll keep my hand in with short stories, so expect to see more through Clarkesworld Magazine. “Mar Pacifico” was published last year and “Fusion” is about to come out in Neil Clarke’s Upgraded anthology. Other stories in the pipeline include “Spring Solace”, “Falling from Distant Clouds” and “By Decree of a Forgetful God”.

I am also expanding my product range to include some speculative fiction under a pseudonym. I’ve been working in collaboration with the fantasy and pinup artist Dave Nestler on an illustrated collection of short stories. I’m delighted with how the artwork has come together and I’m about two-thirds of the way through the story writing, so expect to see the book published later in 2015.

I just realised that I neatly dodged the question! The move to novel writing will happen, but it will need to coincide with a reduction in my work hours. Craig Cormick told me he writes a chapter every morning before going to work. I wish I could write that fast! I have a tendency to think a lot about the ideas and the storyline when I should just be pushing the words out on the screen. I guess that will come with time and I am finding that I’m comfortable now writing longer chapters and including more depth and detail in the novella format, so the novel is very definitely the next step.

4. What Australian works have you loved recently?

I’ve read three of Tim Winton’s books this year: Breath, Dirt Music and The Turning. I adore the power and simplicity of his style. And I’m just a little insanely jealous! I like the way he connects the characters with the land in Dirt Music – it’s one of the essential features of good fiction writing but Tim is a master at it. What I liked most about the book was the character arc and the extremes to which people will go to be found or be discovered as human beings who just want to be loved.

I also like the touching and brutal humanity of his characters in The Turning. I think everyone can relate to them in some way. I wasn’t a fan of the movie though. I think it’s really hard to portray the feelings in short stories onto the screen.

Cormac McCarthy also uses that powerful, uncluttered narrative in No Country for Old Men and The Border Trilogy. Not Australian, I know, but it’s that style that has captivated me this year.

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?

Up until recently I would never have contemplated self-publishing. I’m generally my own worst critic, so I have always had the residual fear that if I self-publish stories that aren’t ready then it’s going to do more harm than good to my reputation. You don’t have to dig too deep into the internet to see some of the epic failures in self-publishing.

But you also don’t have to look too far to see some of the epic successes. I’m more comfortable with the idea of self-publishing now and I can use what I’ve learnt over the last few years to approach it with more confidence. I’m fortunate in that I sell every story I write, so the content must be okay. But I would never go into self-publishing with just content alone, I think you have to be willing to back your work with a good editor and a cover and interior design and some thought to marketing and advertising. That’s all doable in self-publishing I reckon if you’ve got the time.

In five years from now I’d like to be publishing (or self-publishing) a novel or two or three novellas a year. I think the only way for me to build my profile in the SF genre is to publish more in overseas markets. However I am expanding my horizons into other genres, so who knows what I might be writing in years to come.

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://benpayne.wordpress.com/tag/snapshot2014/

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: Sue Wright (Tiny Owl Workshop)

August 2nd, 2014 at 8:00 am (Interviews)

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The Lane of Unusual Traders artwork by Simon Cottee

Tiny Owl Workshop is a very small publisher based in Brisbane. Sue Wright is the Tiny Owl go to person. She has too many teapots, too many books, and a mild obsession with pop surrealist art and doodling.

1. Tiny Owl Workshop is a fairly new operation. What made you decide to start your own publishing house?

I’d been thinking about it for a while. I’ve always loved stories, comics and books, they’ve been such a positive in my life, so when the circumstances were right I just plunged in. It’s been such a great creative release, bringing projects to life and curating collections of stories, and I hope to keep going.

2. The newest project for Tiny Owl is The Lane of Unusual Traders, an online shared world environment. Where did the idea for The Lane come from, and where do you hope to take it?

The idea for LoUTs was prompted a while back when Terry Pratchett invited his readers to name some of the places that might be found in The Shades, a particularly sinister part of Ankh-Morpork: the main city in his Discworld series. It was a short leap from there to the idea of a lane and a world slowly brought to life by many writers rather than one (though quite a fabulous one). We hope to take LoUTS as far as possible, but how far it goes really depends on the stories submitted, how well we can weave stories together and how writers, artists and readers engage with the idea and help it grow.

Publishing wise it means books (physical as well as digital), small comics (starting with one pagers), maybe inviting others to curate a small collection of stories related to a Story Lot or event, and games, toys and whatever else may emerge in time. Tiny Owl has also kept LoUTs Story Lot 1 to play with. We’ve made it an inn (recently named The Jolly Strangler by twitterer @Greybeard3). We’ll develop the story of The Jolly Strangler and hope to invite artists to hold exhibitions there, maybe have a writer in residence there. Recently, we’ve been chatting to Matt Hsu, from Brisbane band The Mouldy Lovers, to see if the Mouldies would be interested in being the first band to play at The Jolly Strangler. I don’t know how that will work yet, but it will. While the LoUTs prologue lends itself easily to fantasy-based stories we’re also hoping that a bunch of ‘real world’ stories emerge. It’d be interesting to see The Lane of Unusual Traders split into two parallel worlds that bump up against each other every now. The Lane has seen its first fan-fiction piece and the writer really gets how this could happen.

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The Lane of Unusual Traders artwork by Lauren Carney

3. Could you tell us about some of the other projects you have coming up?

Krampus Crackers is the next project. It’s a flash fiction project being led by Kahli Scott, a young writer who we published as part of the Pillow Fight project in 2013. Kahli’s pretty great, she won the State Library of Queensland Young Writers Award in 2013 and was recently shortlisted for Hotkey Books Young Writers Prize AND is a submission reader for Aurealis Magazine, on top of working full time and living life. The project opens on 25 July and Kahli will be seeking 12 flash fiction stories inspired by Krampus—a fairly demonic character who was BFFLs with jolly St Nick once upon a time. There’ll be fabulous art too, from Simon Cottee, Seana Seeto, Terry Whidborne and more.

Noveltinis will be happening in 2015. Writer Patrick Ness was tweeting about nothing in particular one day—he sometimes just tweets about stuff he’s watching on TV—and he made up the word noveltini. I asked if Tiny Owl could use it, he said yes if we mentioned him, so Noveltini’s will be the name for the novellas we’re planning to publish next year. Artist and writer Kathleen Jennings is also working on a series of fairytale inspired illustrations for a small book that’ll come together in 2015—it may contain hounds. Of course LoUTs will still be happening and we’ll be launching the Unfettered collection and our children’s picture book ‘Will You Be My Sweetheart’ in November this year. We’re also still working with Terry Whidborne on a Fallen Art project and talking to local lovelies the Binky Collective about another found art project happening in 2015.

4. What Australian works have you loved recently?
I’m reading more ‘literary’ journals to check out emerging writers and immerse myself a little more in Australian writing. My older brother, Stephen, also writes for Overland Journal, so I always read Overland. Book-wise I’ve loved reading Robert Hoge’s Ugly, it’s such a warm, personal, real tale. Favel Parrett’s Past the Shallows is just beautifully written and I’m looking forward to picking up a copy of When the Night Comes which comes out in August. Shaun Tan’s Rules of Summer is stunning, visually beautiful and he uses words so sparingly. Tan is a favourite, and Eric is one of those books I carry around with me from time-to-time just for inspiration. Catherine Jinks’ City of Orphans books worked their way to the top of the ‘unread book tower’ recently, so I’ve also just finished reading the enjoyable boggart infested A Very Unusual Pursuit and A Very Peculiar Plague. Boggart catcher Alfred Bunce is a character Dickens would love.

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?

Being so new, yes, definitely. Because we are so small (barely 1.5 people) and don’t quite have media- mogul-sized resources behind us, we have to work differently. It’s no bad thing though. The aim is to build community as we go, keep ourselves open to the opportunities technologies offer, keep connecting local writers and artists to global audiences, and make sure we bring writing, craft and art together to create unique work. What we’ll be publishing 5 years from now depends how the industry develops, what opportunities open up, and whether we’ve earned any money to plough back into other projects. I’ll shimmy out onto this here whippet thin limb and say that in five years the Amazon centralised model will be challenged by the massive growth of initiatives like maker centres and a rebirth of localised manufacturing helped along by changes in printing technology. 3D printing will help transform physical books into amazing tactile works that can be made to order locally and immersive technologies will bring books, games and movies even closer together. So I guess Tiny Owl will be producing amazing tactile books, and, in our magic-happy-dreamland, Weta Workshop will be building the film set for The Lane of Unusual Traders. SnaphotLogo2014

This 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://benpayne.wordpress.com/tag/snapshot2014/

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: 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: 

http://benpayne.wordpress.com/tag/snapshot2014/

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