Laura E. Goodin’s stories have appeared in numerous publications, including Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, The Lifted Brow, Wet Ink, Adbusters, Daily Science Fiction, and (forthcoming) Michael Moorcock’s New Worlds. Her plays have been produced in Australia and the UK, and her poetry has been performed internationally. She attended the 2007 Clarion South workshop, and is currently working toward a Ph.D. from the University of Western Australia. She lives on the South Coast of New South Wales with her composer husband and actor daughter, and she spends what little spare time she has trying to be as much like Xena, Warrior Princess, as possible. She lives online at http://www.lauragoodin.com and http://facebook.com/laura.e.
1. You’ve recently been working on opera productions. How do you see performance and written work interacting and what do you love the most about the production/process?
I think the biggest challenge for the performance writer is to leave space. Of course, every writer wants to make sure there is space in their story for the reader – to imagine, to ponder, to be surprised, to be sad or happy, to picture their least-favorite childhood friend in the role of the villain, whatever. That’s what makes the partnership between reader and writer so exciting. This is multiplied geometrically for the performance writer, who has to leave space not only for the audience, but for the actors and singers, the director, the composer, the set and costume designers, the lighting and sound designers, even the people out the front who hand out the programs. It’s all part of the entire creative work. Far more even than when publishing a story, the writer is a member of a team – and not necessarily the most important member!
This teamwork is, in fact, what I love the most about writing for performance. The exhilaration of making something amazing happen with your band of superhero comrades is something that, once you’ve felt it, you crave, and seek it out again and again.
2. I’m really interested in how you meld your different crafts into related projects and how you move from one art form to another. What works best for you and why in terms of the creative process?
Each form I work in stresses a different skill. Plays notably require a freakish sense of dialogue and rhythm. Novels require the ability to manage plot. Poems need a heightened intensity of language and, above all, the ability to suggest, to trigger a response without dictating what that response should be. Short stories need a brisk economy of style. Then there are the hybrid forms: libretti need rhythm and highly intense, poetic language, as they need to support, and be supported by, music. Flash fiction and prose poems combine the strengths of poetry and short stories.
The interesting thing is that the skills I can develop while working in one form start to spill over into the other forms: my plays acquire a stronger sense of plot because of my work on novels; my short stories acquire a more satisfying rhythm and subtlety because of my work on poetry. Moving from one to another can be a bit jarring, but the more I’m able to bring my skills along in all the different forms, the more the forms start to feed into each other, rather than compete with each other.
I hesitate to say much about process, because every time I read about some writer’s process that’s different from mine, I feel threatened and inadequate (we all have our writing demons; one of mine is insecurity about process). So I’d hesitate to put my process (or, more accurately, processes, because I don’t seem to have developed just one) out there lest someone think it means they’re not doing it right. Whatever gets the words out, really. If I want to do NaNoWriMo and just squat over the keyboard for a month, that’s fine if it works. If I agonize over getting one or two hundred words out in a day, but they shine like so many stars, that’s fine too. If I sit at my desk and play solitaire for three days, then write a three-thousand-word chapter in four hours (not that I’ve ever spent three days playing solitaire, no, not me), that’s also fine.
3. What are you working on now and what projects do you have your eye on developing the in the future?
My big project at the moment is my Ph.D., which requires both a novel and a dissertation. The novel is somewhat vexing, because there are particular points I need to make and a particular plan I need to follow at least a little, and as a rule I’d rather just write and see where it goes. I guess it’s just another chance to develop more skills.
I’m also working on the development of my short story “The Dancing Mice and the Giants of Flanders” into an opera, in collaboration with my husband, composer Houston Dunleavy. And I’ve got two or three nascent dramatic works, including a series of somewhat surreal monologues that will form a full-length stage piece. And I’m working on the text for an oratorio based on the story of Adam and Eve. Although I love writing short stories, I haven’t been able to focus on writing any new ones for a while now.
In the future I’d like to keep multitasking! Short works, long works, prose, poetry, theatre, opera, choral works – I want to keep reaching out, honing my skills, gaining new ones, using my writing as a way to work with amazing, talented people of great artistic power.
4. What Australian works have you loved recently?
I am consumed with shame that I have not been keeping up with the recent writing of my Australian colleagues. I even hesitate to name names of Australian authors whose work I enjoy, because I know for certain I’ve missed some amazing stories that would add new writers to my list. *hangs head*
5. Two years on from Aussiecon 4, what do you think are some of the biggest changes to the Australian Spec Fic scene?
I think the main thing I’ve been noticing is that I’m not the only person who’s diversified massively since Aussiecon 4. Friends are doing graphic novels, scripts, podcasts, non-fiction, literary fiction – they’re increasingly refusing to pigeonhole either their work or themselves. Moreover, they’re e-publishing, indie publishing, producing their work themselves, and otherwise disempowering the traditional barriers between their work and their readers and audiences. I find all this very exciting, and I can’t wait to see where all this buzz and chaos ends up leading!
This interview was conducted as part of the 2012 Snapshot of Australian Speculative Fiction. We’ll be blogging interviews from 1st June to 8th June and archiving them at ASif!: Australian SpecFic in Focus. You can read interviews at: