1. Your last book ‘Time-Machines-Repaired-While-U-Wait’ was the 2008 Science Fiction Novel Aurealis Award winner, yet ironically the book was not distributed in Australia at the time because it was published through a Canadian publisher (EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing). Has winning the AA helped your exposure in Australia? How important (if at all) do you think the Award was in an Australian edition of the novel finally becoming available from Fremantle Press last year?
My Canadian publisher, EDGE, does not have a distribution arrangement outside of North America, which is why it's always been so difficult to get hold of my books here. Over time we've tried to find a way around this problem, and with Fremantle Press coming on board last year to do a local edition of Time Machines, there was much rejoicing both here in Perth, and in Calgary! :)
As for the Aurealis Award win (my second in the Best SF Novel category), it was tremendously good for me. I wound up getting quite a bit of press attention, and even wound up interviewed by ABC Radio National's Book Show. It also really helped sell Time Machines to Fremantle Press when we were trying to set up that deal. All in all, I'd have to say it's been a real boon for me and my work.
2. You’re going to be a panellist at the Perth International Writers Festival (specifically the Perth Writers Festival) in a couple of weeks. Are you expecting this to be a different experience compared to being a panellist at a Convention? What’s it like meeting ‘the public’??
I have no idea what to expect of the Perth Writers Festival. The only experience I have of anything that might be like it is sf conventions, where everything's very relaxed and cruisy, and I know a fair number of the people who are there. I'm hoping that the PWF is much like that, but I really don't know. Tell the truth, I'm very nervous about it. I keep wanting to say, "You want me? Of all people? Me? Really?"
3. I understand you’re currently working on a follow-up to ‘Time Machines’. How’s it progressing so far? Have you got any other projects planned for 2010?
Spider's next case, currently titled PARADOX RESOLUTION NO EXTRA CHARGE aka EVEN TIME MACHINE REPAIRMEN GET THE BLUES, is at about the two-thirds mark in the second draft. I'm hoping to have it wrapped up some time in April. After that, I start heavy-duty planning for a new sf/mystery project called BRAINWAVE, which I expect will take best part of a year or so to finish. Unless some bolt from the blue turns up in the meantime, but here's hoping.
4. Which Australian writers or work would you like to see on the Hugo shortlists this year? What have you enjoyed reading?
In the last year I've read, maybe, two or three science fiction novels, none of them current, and none of them by Australian authors. The only one I can clearly remember was Poul Anderson's TAU ZERO (1970). The rest of the time I've been reading either literary fiction or mystery thrillers, including lots of crime fiction from Scandinavia (I love Henning Mankell's Inspector Wallander books, and Arnaldur Indridason's mysteries set in Iceland), and working to improve the overall quality of my own writing. I did start reading one of the collaborations between Stephen Baxter and the late Sir Arthur C Clark, THE LIGHT OF OTHER DAYS, but found (despite usually loving Baxter's work) that I just couldn't finish it. So dull, such flat and lifeless characters. The niftiness of the key idea wasn't enough to keep me reading. I did read GRAVITY'S RAINBOW, which certainly gave off a buzz very much like science fiction, which was pretty neat.
Who would I like to see on the Hugo shortlists this year? I can't comment, as I've not read anything eligible, at least in fiction. In Best Fanzine, though, I would like to see The Australian SF Bullsheet on the shortlist. Edwina Harvey and Ted Scribner have been doing a tremendous service for the local sf world for a long time now.
5. Will you be at Aussiecon 4 in September? If so, what are you most looking forward to about it?
I'm hoping we'll be there, but as of right now I'm not sure. The main thing I'm looking forward to is catching up with some of our overseas friends, including my Canadian publisher, Brian Hades and his fabulous wife Anita, who have always treated Michelle and me like family. Also, I've never been to Melbourne before, so it would be nice to see someplace new and interesting, and sample the legendary Melbourne coffee I've been hearing about all my life.
This interview was conducted as part of the 2010 Snapshot of Australian Speculative Fiction. We'll be blogging interviews from Monday 15 February to Sunday 22 February and archiving them at ASif!: Australian SpecFic in Focus. You can read interviews at:
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