Jul 29, 2014

Snapshot 2014 - Sue Bursztynski



1. You have been involved heavily in ASIM and edited issue 60.  What trends have you noticed in submissions?  What's changed over the years of your involvement?

Do you mean what has changed in what we're buying or what we're receiving? I can only go by the slush I've read, but I do seem to have seen a fair bit of Steampunk recently. We get a lot of fantasy too. We do like humour if we can get it, but we don't receive as much as we'd like and probably our readers would lose interest anyway if that's all or most of what we published.

I tried to have a balance of SF, fantasy and horror; there aren't as many Australian pieces in issue 60 as I would have liked, but I could only choose from what was available. I admit I had more space-themed stories than some other issues, but just couldn't resist whenever a great space story came my way. I did still publish historical fantasy, stories based on mythology and one very unusual vampire story.


2. You work as a Librarian, and you are one of this year's Aurealis Judges for the Children's section?  YA is becoming increasingly popular  and more widely read by those of us who are age rich. But for those readers who limit themselves to adult Speculative Fiction, which authors and books do you recommend and what specfic stories are engaging the younger fans among us?

I don't read a lot of adult books; the best spec fic I've read is YA, such as Michael Pryor's Steampunk Laws Of Magic series. However, I recommend the classic writers - you can't go wrong with the likes of Harry Harrison, Poul Anderson, Gordon R Dickson and such. There's an ebook republishing scheme called SF Gateway which has a lot of the classics. More recently: Lois McMaster Bujold, Stephen Baxter, Connie Willis, Juliet Marillier, Margo Lanagan, Harry Turtledove,who also writes YA, Kate Forsyth, ditto, Terry Pratchett... Actually, so do Juliet Marillier, Terry Pratchett and Margo Lanagan. I have plenty of other favourites, but they're all YA writers.

Younger fans, in my experience as an old teacher librarian, are reading and loving dystopian and vampire romances(I have a hard time persuading our girls to read anything in which the vamp is a bad guy.). In my library, the Ranger's Apprentice series(John Flanagan), and others are big fans of Garth Nix's books. Interestingly, the very girl-centred Old Kingdom books have an all male fandom at my school.


wolfborn_ARTWORK:Layout 1

3. You write fairly broad fantasy, historical fantasy and mythic retellings - what can we expect from you in the future? 

I do write a lot of historical fantasy, as a lover of history and mythology, because that's what I know about. I also write a little straight historical fiction, two published so far and working on a third, though not sure yet if it will sell. If it doesn't, I might have to rework it as a fantasy.

I sold a lot of children's non-fiction, including education books, though there's no market for it now unless you're one of a company's stable of writers. If there's another opportunity to do that, I will try it. I can't do hard SF because my knowledge of physics and chemistry is minimal, but I'd like to have a go at borderline SF, which I can research without having physics qualifications(in fact, I sold one a few years ago, a children's chapter book called Grey Goo). SF is what drew me to spec fic in the first place, "sensawunda" - look at the cover of ASIM 60 and you'll see what I love. And I read New Scientist regularly for ideas.


4. What Australian works have you loved recently?

Recently, as in the last few months, Ambelin Kwaymullina's The Interrogation Of Ashala Wolf and The Disappearance Of Ember Crow - wonderful dystopian fiction, can't wait for the next one, though I'll have to; like me, Ambelin Kwaymullina has a full time day job! Some books by Kate Forsyth, including her recent Two Selkie Stories From Scotland from Christmas Press. The last of Juliet Marillier's Shadowfell trilogy.


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

These days it's much harder to sell anything to large press, which is cutting back and taking fewer chances - the last thing I sold to a big publisher was my novel Wolfborn and before that even came out, my publisher from the Woolshed imprint of Random House lost her job and Woolshed no longer does spec fic, so I couldn't sell them another fantasy novel in that imprint.

Small press is now the way to go and thank heavens we have some wonderful small press publishers in Australia! I'm reading (and submitting to) both small and large press, but I mostly stick to small press for my fix of SF and big press for YA and children's books(though the fabulous Ford Street is supplying me with YA as well).

Five years - who knows?

photo (1) Sue Bursztynski is a Melbourne writer, author of ten books for children and teens. Her short fiction has appeared in anthologies from Ford Street Publishing, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, Pearson, Peggy Bright books, Specusphere and Fablecroft. She blogs at The Great Raven about YA, children's and genre fiction and is a member of the Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Maazine team. Her YA novel Wolfborn was a Children's Book Council of Australia Notable Book. Her story for younger readers, "The Sheepdog In The Stable" will be published in November in Christmas Press's forthcoming anthology, Once Upon A Christmas Annual.




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 collating the links at SF Signal. You can find other interviews in this series at the links below:

Did you enjoy this post? Would you like to read more? You can subscribe to the blog through a reader, by Email or Follow me on twitter.

Snapshot 2014: Craig Hildebrand-Burke


1. Most of us in the Speculative Fiction scene will have come across your work with Momentum Publishing as a blogger & commentator. You also write fiction. What current creative project do have on the go that you might want to share?

I'm working on a novel, one that I've recently resuscitated after running into a dead-end a couple of years ago. It's somewhat of a haunted house/ghost story but set in an old boarding school - kind of the antithesis to Hogwarts, where the school is the danger rather than the haven. There's aspects which echo the gothic tradition of ghost stories, but I've also looked a lot to things like 'Salem's Lot, which managed to take the old and put it in a newer, contemporary setting, while also focusing the story on a small, insular community. There's something wonderfully inescapable and claustrophobic about boarding school communities, that makes them ripe for this kind of story. I hope.

2. You blog lists a couple of short fiction publications Watch, which appears in Etchings, Issue 12 and A Way to Go in Tincture Journal, Issue 1, does your work contain the same speculative fiction flavour that your non-fiction is based upon or do you like writing in a number of genres/modes?

On the surface, no. Watch is actually taken from the abandoned manuscript I mentioned above, but I took all the speculative flavour out of it to make it stand on its own, and A Way To Go was inspired by a story in the papers I read about two teenagers that ran away from home. Ideally, I'd love to write more short fiction that does play comfortably with genres - particularly horror, which I think can be a perfect genre for short stories - but it's hard to find places and publications for these. However, Canary Press is publishing a genre-only issue later this year, which perhaps is a sign that there might be more room for this in short fiction.

3. You are an English teacher by day, but in terms of you writing fiction or non fiction what goal are you headed towards?

I try to balance the two. I've been writing for Momentum now for about a year, and that's made the work-life-writing balance even harder to manage, but it's settled into a good pattern lately. First plan is to get this manuscript finished, and then we'll take it from there. I think most people realise that solely writing fiction for a living is difficult, so sharing the load with teaching - where I still get to engage with books and writing on a daily basis - is a pretty good deal for me.

4. What Australian works have you loved recently?

I do go on a bit about Steven Amsterdam's books - Things We Didn't See Coming and What The Family Needed - and though they've both been out for a while I still heartily recommend them to anyone I can find. I've recently read Angela Meyer's collection of flash fiction Captives, which was just wonderful, as is The Great Unknown which she edited, a collection of different writer's work taking inspiration from shows like The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits.

I'm also judging the horror entries for novels and short fiction for the Aurealis Awards, so I'm gearing up for a lot of good local reading in the next six months.

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

Well I wouldn't be doing this, to begin with. There's been this wonderful democratising of the whole thing, where writers, publishers and readers are all occupying the same space and having the same conversations. And I know the divide hasn't always been there, but I think for someone who's coming from just being a reader and someone who wanted to write, it's a lot less daunting and there seem to be no artificial hurdles anymore - it's just about the writing. Having worked that out in the last couple of years for myself has given me a real kick to finally deal with this backlog of fiction that I've got in my head, which I can hopefully start to produce with a bit of regularity.

Craig Hildebrand-Burke is a writer and teacher from Melbourne. He currently blogs for Momentum, contributing on books, writing, film and television. His short stories have been published both in print and digital, and writes reviews, opinion pieces, and other bits of writing in a variety of places and publications.
He teaches English, Literature and Creative Writing to secondary students, and has been a participant in both the Digital Writers' Festival and the Emerging Writers' Festival discussing genre fiction in the digital age, and the future of teaching writing to students. He tweets from @hildebrandburke and can also be found at www.craighildebrandburke.com

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 collating the links at SF Signal. You can find other interviews in this series at the links below:

Did you enjoy this post? Would you like to read more? You can subscribe to the blog through a reader, by Email or Follow me on twitter.

Jul 28, 2014

Snapshot 2014: Adam Browne



1. Your latest major work to come out was "Other Stories’ and Other Stories through Satalyte publishing.  What's currently in the works for you or what's engaged your interest(distracting you from writing)?

Yes, it was nice to release a collection; partly because I've long wanted to use that title; also because I got to write an original story with my daughter, Harriet - some say it's the best story in the book. My father was urging me to rerelease my short stories, and I dedicated the book to him for the sometimes anxious support he's given me over the years. One of the stories is now up on an audio magazine - might be there no longer by the time this is published - the one I wrote with Harriet will be there in August too: here's the link: http://farfetchedfables.com/ - also, we recorded some readings by Francis Greenslade - such an amazing actor.


pyrotechnicon1-199x3002. Pyrotechnicon was you first novel (and deliciously baroque) and you've released a collection of shorts. Where to in the future, more adventures with Cyrano?

Currently, I'm working on a book about the mid-19th Century christian mystic Jakob Lorber, illustrations and commentary on the animals and plants that he was given to know about by God, especially those that live on the planet Saturn. It's a chimeric book. The head is the introduction, some sort of dry arthropod, the body gets wobbly and ornate - a mollusc like one of those lurid nudibranchs - dunno about the hinder parts yet: I think there'll be hooves, but they're of the fabulous sort - belonging to a unicorn, maybe. (BTW, I learned the word for the unicorn's horn the other day - alicorn - salutary in ointment form against leprosy...) Thomas Edison features in the book too. I've wanted to write an Edisonade for a while. I stole quite a bit from Thomas Edison Conquers Mars, an unauthorised sequel to War of the Worlds.

Also working on a novel. Slowly. Sort of in the same universe as Pyrotechnicon, but set in the far future. On an otherworld Venice, the galaxy suffering a carnival plague. About 30000 words after more than 2 years.


3. What Australian works have you loved recently?

OtherStoriesweb-500x523A few Australian novelists have stood out even so. I value intelligence and novelty above all in my fiction, for which reason  Andrew Macrae's novel Truck Dreaming is a must.  I always read whatever Lee Battersby publishes for the same reason - Jack Dann too - I'm looking forward to his latest; I reckon the output from the small publishers Satalyte and Couer de Leon is worth a look as well. 

But always and above all it's Anna Tambour. She has an exquisite intelligence, a raw sensorium, a febrile imagination, a naturalist's eye and a Renaissance breadth of knowledge. One of her short stories once gave me the feeling that a new sulcus, if that's the word, was opening in my frontal lobes. A gaping not entirely pleasant vertiginous sense that an entirely new Category had been added to the world. Which sounds figurative and hyperbolic I know, but it's true. It was literally the case. Over my career as a reader of sf, there have been times when I've almost given up on it.  PK Dick rescued me once. Gibson on another occasion. Tambour is my current saviour.


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

The Internet and Facebook have changed my reading patterns.  I still read a lot but it's online stuff: the Web is a  wunderkammer.


Adam Browne was born in 1963 and lives in Melbourne, Australia with his daughter, Harriet.  His stories have been published widely.  He received the Aurealis Award for best Australian short story in 2002, and the Chronos Award for best Victorian short story in 2009.  His story ‘Space Operetta’ was adapted as an animated film, Adjustable Cosmos, in 2010.

His illustrations have been exhibited in Australian galleries.  Pyrotechnicon (Being a True Account of Cyrano De Bergarac’s Further Adventures Among the States and Empires of the Stars) is his first novel and published through Coeur De Lion.

He has recently released ‘Other Stories’ and Other Stories. through Satalyte Publishing.

You can find Adam at his Blog.

You can find other interviews in this series at the links below:

Did you enjoy this post? Would you like to read more? You can subscribe to the blog through a reader, by Email or Follow me on twitter.


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