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Anna Tambour’s recently published stories include “The Dog Who Wished He’d Never Heard of Lovecraft” in Lovecraft eZine, “Cardoons” in Phantasmagorium magazine, and “The Oyster and Alice O.” in Flurb. Some upcoming stories are in: Light Touch Paper, Stand Clear edited by Edwina Harvey and Simon Petrie (Peggie Bright Books); A Season in Carcosa edited by Joseph S. Pulver (Miskatonic Books); Bloody Fabulous edited by Ekaterina Sedia (Prime); and Memoryville Blues edited by Peter Crowther and Nick Gevers (PS Publishing).

Your novel, Crandolin, is going to be released from Chomu Press in November. Can you tell us a bit about the novel and what inspired you to write it?

If that bit were one word: irresistibilities.

What inspired? The opportunity. Fortunately, though it didn’t seem so then, the editor who asked, was soon passed by the corporate digestion.

You have such a unique voice, how does where you live imbue your writing?

Thanks for the kind compliment which doesn’t deserve a rant in return, so maybe have a coffee elsewhere while this runs:

The tragedy is what happens to the many unique voices floating around. They mostly fall into silence while the air reverberates with endless imitations of popular hits. I’ve been fortunate – sometimes by having received constructive rejections; and sometimes by being lucky enough to work with great editors, the latest being the stupendously stimulating Quentin S. Crisp at Chomu, a publisher whose every book could be considered ‘unique’. And by the way, a rejection can be a tonic; it’s the submissions that receive less response than SETI, especially those submissions that have been solicited, that can ruin a writer; they can be as eloquently misleading as a turned-around signpost.

I’ve lived in lots of places (including two doors away from a bikie gang that in their geriatric insomnia, played from 12:30 to 5am nightly [at 5000 decibels], a rolling tape of the theme from Easy Rider). But yes, living in a place uncluttered by humans constantly slaps me with how little I know, and pricks me, often literally – about this roiling mass of curiosities and contrarinesses that is the world. But it doesn’t matter where one physically lives these days. Almost everyone has the ability to shut off observation and contemplation, the more we are Connected; and the more we accept that to write, one must firstly, be taught, and secondly, write every day. The greatest unwritten modern horror story is that of the auditorium in which the victims of creative writing are laid out without their consent, probed and dissected (in front of underage children, no less!). To then think that any student would want, afterwards, to love these defiled creatures is a fiction that is oddly, not a subject in any story I’ve read, but deserves Poe.

And then we come to the oft-quoted Chekhov Imperative: “You must acquire words and turns of speech, and for this you must write every day.” The more one has to follow the dictate to write every day to, in our pumping age, “exercise the muscle”, the less one has a chance to have something to write about because who has the time to live, to observe, to feel, to leap outside of the self when one is tied to the self-centred goal of looking at one’s muscle work? Writing becomes being a writer, a narcissism of our age. What isn’t admitted by those who quote Chekhov, was how much dross he wrote. What makes a great writer is not writing but not writing. A story should in my opinion, be a distillation, a sometimes messy explosion – something that has come out as a result of brewing. And better than any writing course are life experiences, especially two things: failure and cross dressing (and if the shoes rub, all the better). Writers who haven’t failed (and I don’t mean just getting rejection slips for writing!) tend to be shallow; and writers to whom characters are components, are only themselves, mere machines producing at best, unpreservable junk food. The writers we love, lived everywhere from Mannaville to hell itself; but for the most part, followed their own unprescriptions.

What are you currently working on and what would you love to write in the future?

I’m working on another story for Mike Davis, for whom I had great fun writing “The Dog Who Wished He’d Never Heard of Lovecraft”. His magazine is something I admire in every way. It’s not only fun, but presented with style and an eye to detail. And every story gets the royal treatment – a superb audio version too. The fact that I think this magazine is tops despite Lovecraft makes me doubly glad that Mike’s taste has run away with itself, craving other authors.

And in the future? something for noses.

What Australian works are have you loved recently?

I’m a great fan of Adam Browne, having first come across a story by him (with John Dixon) in Andromeda Spaceways. His first novel Pyrotechnicon: Being a True Account of the Further Adventures of Cyrano de Bergerac, by Himself (dec’d), will be released by Coeur de Leon in September, so I hope that people will snap it up at its launch at Conflux. Adam has an unerring eye for time and place, and we both share a great interest in the history of science and natural history. He is also a subtle satirist, usually when one least expects it. And he’s a damnably fine visual artist.

Kathleen Jennings is another writer who is blossoming. She is such a disgustingly talented visual artist that her charm as a writer might be overlooked. Look for stories by her, and buy Steampunk!, published by Small Beer Press, for her comic.

Jennings has just finished the first and maybe second or third draft of her first novel, and I look forward to its release by some lucky publisher. She has an emotional depth combined with a deceptive lightness that is unique, and that would be as fascinating in 200 years.

I’m also not only very much looking forward to reading the novel that Ben Peek is working on, but hoping that it gets an international readership that Peek deserves. Although he could bore anyone with details of structure, his fiction shows nothing of that pedantry. Instead, he is what the bloated Thing maybe was, before Mieville’s hungry Ego hadn’t, when he was very young, mistaken him for a vanilla shake. What I admire about Peek is that his passion about society and the people that are its components are real, yet this fierce interest doesn’t hinder him from writing lucid, visceral fiction of great power and thought-provoking resonance – minus melodrama, manifesto, and Peek.

Thoraiya Dyer epitomises the ideal writer, in my eyes. She has so many interests, talents (that she hones), and could be called to be an expert witness in several fields. I especially love her fiction when it relates to science and the natural world. Yet she is always invisible in her fiction, and is like many people of true worth – so modest that to open her up, you need an oyster knife.  Two recent Dyer stories are: “Complaints Department” in Nature and “The War of the Gnome and the Mountain Devil”. She is also one writer I’d love to spend some time with. I think that we might also share other interests. Psst, Thoraiya, just between us, do you also love a great feeling, perfectly weighted, sharp as bile – knife?

Marc McBride won an Aurealis a few years ago for his (written and illustrated) World of Monsters, a picture-lover’s delight and a mischievously informative mix of fantasy and science that should be in French, Italian, German, Spanish, Czech, and Lunar editions, at least (I’ve nabbed the rights to Asteroid*). The book he’s working on now is one of the most captivating stories I’ve ever read, gorgeously illustrated. It is only one of a whole series, if my boot has any power. I can’t tell you what it’s about, but I will say that it’s bad for morality, being one of those books that adults buy for kids, and steal.

And in case anyone has missed the fact, I should say here that Kaaron Warren is a great classic writer. Her “All You Can Do is Breathe” in Blood and Other Cravings edited by Ellen Datlow is one of the most unforgettable stories Ive ever read – and should, at the least, have jumped the wall to land in The Best Australian Short Stories. Waaren has a cornucopia-worth of books out from publishers around the world, but one of her best is her collection Dead Sea Fruit, by an Australian publisher that has become one of the world’s best independents: Ticonderoga.

Two years on from Aussiecon 4,  what do you think are some of the biggest changes to the Australian Spec Fic scene?

People around the world are enjoying Australian-made creations without knowing or caring that they were made here. And Australians are confident enough now to create works about living here, such as your own anthology, Sprawl.

One change that I wish I could say has occurred, is distribution of our fine independents beyond our shores. Winning a publishing prize in the US is a cruel honour if Australian books might as well swim to reach readers. And e-books are not the answer any more than a picture of a kiss is consummation.


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Kitty is a reader and podcaster living in Perth, Western Australia. She was the convenor of this year’s Swancon 2012 – Doomcon and cohosts the comics podcast Panel2Panel. She spends her days working with Autistic children and her nights getting into fights on the internet. Kitty is a feminist, activist, child welfare advocate and disabilities advocate with the love of two very important people: her partner Brendan and fiance Kat.

1. Having just come out the other side of Doomcon (Swancon 2012), was the con everything you hoped it would be? What were your highlights? 

The con was everything I had hoped, and much better than I expected. I had a fantastic crew working with me to make sure everything got off the ground. I set out to make it as woman-friendly as possible, which was not an easy task. As progressive as the SF community likes to think, it can still be just as sexist as the rest of the world. I benefited a lot from having people in the committee who shared my vision, so when I said I wanted to promote female work and female achievement no one questioned it. More than just supportive, the committee was actively trying to think of ways to make this happen.

There were a few moments that made me quite proud. Most of these moments weren’t inside the con itself, but part of the organisation of it. When the programme books came back from the printers complete with an Anti-Harassment Policy I was over the moon. Every time I had a woman tell me they were excited to be on a panel item I felt glee.

At the end of the day, the thing that mattered the most to me was seeing the end project come together. You get to a point where everything is going to happen regardless of what you do, so you can sit back and ride it out. That was probably the most thrilling experience of the con.

2. You cohost the Panel2Panel podcast with Grant Watson. How did this project come about and can you tell us a little bit about it?

As with all good things, Panel2Panel started with a rant on the internet. Both Grant and I listened to comics podcasts, and we were both fed up with them. A lot were overly sexist, claiming that sexism in comics didn’t matter and that men were “just as objectified” as women, which we know is blatantly bullshit.

I had also wanted to be a part of a podcast for a while. I listened to some great ones, like Galactic Suburbia and Coode Street Podcast, and it looked like so much fun! After talking with Grant on Twitter I realised that there was an opportunity. We both felt passionately about sexism and racism, and we both loved comics. It was a match made in heaven!

Panel2Panel is about talking about something we love – comic books – but also where comics fall short. We discuss some of the problems within the comic book industry, the same problems inherent in any media. Sexism, racism, homophobia, and that’s just scratching the surface! More than that, though, we try to promote female creators, female characters (when they’re done well) and positive changes within the industry. Looking only at the bad is depressing, so we shine a light on the good when it happens.

3. Gender parity is something that is clearly important to you and that you are active in trying to achieve. Can you tell us a bit about some of the projects and actions you’ve been working on towards that?

This is easily the hardest question to answer. I am a consumer of media, not a producer. Add to that a lovely does of Impostor Syndrome and I feel like I can’t actively make a difference, as much as I try.

But I do try.

Most recently I ran Swancon 2012: Doom-Con. I worked really hard to get women onto panels and make women part of the conversation. I’ve volunteered to help out with the running of Swancon 2014: Conjuration, and I can guarantee that gender parity is going to be fought for.

We’ve already mentioned the podcast. There is a personal project of mine that came about because of it. I sometimes buy issues of comic books with female creators and characters and slip them into other people’s boxes. The idea is to get new people interested in women and women’s stories, so that in the future they might choose them.

Finally, I’ve decided to participate in the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge. In 2012 I will read at least 50 books written by Australian women and review them on my blog. So many people are involved, and so many great female authors are being discussed. It awesome to be a part of it all.

4. What work by Australians have you been loving recently?

That’s a much easier question to answer. Recently my To Read shelf seems to be taken entirely by stuff recommended by Galactic Suburbia. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the Twelve Planets series of anthologies coming out of Twelfth Planet Press. The books are all so beautiful and so well crafted that it’s hard to pick a favourite.

I’ve also recently finished the Creature Court trilogy by Tansy Rayner Roberts. I’m always worried when I read books written by a friend that I won’t like them, but in this instance my worries were completely unfounded. I’d recommend them even to people who don’t usually read fantasy.

At the moment I’m in the middle of two books by Australian women; The Courier’s New Bicycle by Kim Westwood and Burn Bright by Marianne de Pierres. I don’t know how much I’ll enjoy them yet, but I’ve never been disappointed by a Galactic Suburbia rec.

5. Two years on from Aussiecon 4, what do you think are some of the biggest changes to the Australian Spec Fic scene?

This is another hard question for me to answer. I feel a lot like I’m new to the scene, and thus unqualified to make these sorts of statements.

The changes I have seen have all been positive ones. This year especially we’re seeing shortlists and awards overwhelmed with deserving women. When I saw that the Ditmar nominees were a majority female I think my heart skipped a beat! Given how hostile the world is to change, this is certainly a wondrous achievement.

I think the Australian specfic community is becoming more aware of the issues that have plagued it, and I can only see good things coming of this in the future.


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Publisher and author, Lindy Cameron is a crime and specfic writer. She is author of the action thriller, Redback; the Kit O’Malley PI trilogy; and the mystery Golden Relic; and co-author of the true crime collections – Killer in the Family & Women Who Kill. Lindy is a founding member and National Co-Convenor of Sisters in Crime Australia, and publisher of Clan Destine Press.

First I want to ask you about Lindy Cameron the writer. What got you into writing, what do you love to write about and where should someone start with reading your work?

I’ve always been a writer (for pleasure and as a journalist) but didn’t decide to write fiction professionally until I turned 30-something.

I began with crime fiction because, along with sf, it’s a lifelong passion. I also wanted to add myself to the then-small body of Australian crime writers. And, as a founding member of Sisters in Crime Australia, I particularly wanted to create some interesting, modern and believable female protagonists.

My first series of books – Blood Guilt, Bleeding Hearts & Thicker Than Water – feature Melbourne lesbian PI Kit O’Malley; Golden Relic is an archaeological adventure; and my latest, Redback, is an action-adventure thriller featuring the kickarse heroine Bryn Gideon, and her crack team of retrieval agents.

I’d say Redback is a good place to start – but they all have something different to offer.

What drew you to start a publishing house and what is the house’s focus and direction? Can you briefly tell us about some of your forthcoming titles?

Many things prompted me to start my own publishing house, but the first was the realisation that, with over 25 years experience in the publishing industry, I actually had all the skills necessary to attempt something so crazy-brave.

The other reason was a growing disillusion with the big-time publishers and they way they have always, or were beginning to treat their authors. This was particularly true of some of the large publishers here in Australia, who’d not only stopped taking many chances on new writer, but were also dropping their mid-list authors in favour of publishing imports from, mostly, the US. They were playing it safe and blaming it on the world financial crisis.

My dream therefore was to create a publishing house for authors; and, one that specialised in genre fiction.

Our prime objective is to uncover, foster and promote new Australian genre writers; and to provide a home where already-published authors can play in new worlds.

Another aim has been to re-publish Aussie genre fiction that shouldn’t be ‘out of print’; and help authors save their backlists from oblivion by inviting them to join the CDP eBookery.

While Clan Destine Press specialises in genre fiction it also dabbles in non-fiction, of the true crime and heroic real-life story variety.

We launched Clan Destine Press in late 2010, and have already published 12 paperbacks and 19 eBooks. We have another seven paperbacks, and their eBooks, for the 2012 list; plus a new series of True Crime eBooks.

Forthcoming titles include: Walking Shadows by Narrelle M Harris (sequel to her vampire crime novel, The Opposite of Life, and launching at Continuum on June 8); The Price of Fame – a paranormal crime novel by RC Daniells (Rowena is already well known for her King Rolen’s Kin series & The Outcast Chronicles); A New Kind of Death, sf crime by Alison Goodman; Legends of the Three Moons, a kids’ fantasy adventure by Patricia Bernard; and Arrabella Candellarbra & The Questy Thing To End All Questy Things 2, the sequel to the hilarious adult fairytale by A.K. Wrox.

You’re also a founding member of Sisters in Crime Australia. Can you tell us what the impetus was behind starting this organisation, a little bit about the work it does and some of its achievements in its 20 year history?

The Australian group of Sisters in Crime followed the formation of the American group back in the 1990s. The US organisation was founded by authors for authors in an attempt to get better representation (in terms of reviews and other publicity) for women crime writers.

SinC-Oz was formed by readers; by fans of women’s crime fiction for the same reason – to raise the profile of all women crime writers but particularly Australian ones.

When we started, back in 1991, we really only needed one hand to count the number of working Aussie women crime writers. Ten years later we held the first SheKilda Women’s Crime Fiction convention and could invite 20 Australian authors to take part. Last year – when we celebrated out 20th anniversary 60 Australian crime writers – all women – filled a weekend of panels and workshops.

SinC-Oz HQ is in Melbourne where for two decades we’ve held regular public events with crime writers from around the country, with visiting international authors and with professionals from the real world of crime fighting. These events have included panels, debates, ‘in-conversations’ and book launches. Our members now include readers, fans, views, writers and published author; as well as lawyers, judges, cops, forensic professionals.

What Australian works are have you loved recently?

Well, apart from my own authors – who are naturally totally awesome – I love Marianne de Pierres’ Burn Bright; and Adrian Bedford’s Orbital Burn.

Two years on from Aussiecon 4, what do you think are some of the biggest changes to the Australian Spec Fic scene?

In terms of books getting published, by me and other (mostly) Indie publishing houses, I’ve noticed a great surge in cross-genre writing. Paranormal crime, sf crime, sf horror – you name the blend, it seems to be out there; and this pleases this particular Publisher of genre fiction very very much.


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Juliet Marillier was born and brought up in Dunedin, New Zealand, and now lives in Western Australia. Her historical fantasy novels for adults and young adults have been translated into many languages and have won a number of awards including the Aurealis, the American Library Association’s Alex Award, the Sir Julius Vogel Award and the Prix Imaginales. Her lifelong love of folklore, fairy tales and mythology is a major influence on her writing. Juliet has two novels due out this year: Shadowfell, first book in a new young adult series, and Flame of Sevenwaters, an adult historical fantasy. She’s currently working on the third instalment of the Shadowfell series. When  not busy writing, Juliet tends to a small but expanding pack of waifs and strays. She blogs monthly on and her website is at

1. The first book in your new series is soon due out. Can you tell us a little bit about the series and in particular the first book, Shadowfell?

The Shadowfell series is being marketed for young adults but I’m hoping it will be a successful crossover series, with equal appeal to adult fantasy readers. It’s a story of tyranny and rebellion, set in an imagined version of ancient Scotland. Shadowfell is much darker and grittier than my previous young adult novels and I’ve loved that challenge. The first book comes out in July (September in the US), though we’ll have copies available at the Perth Supanova on June 23-24, when Shadowfell will be launched. The series is a departure for me in that it’s not based on real history, though the kingdom of Alban is recognisable as the north of Scotland. There’s a cast of uncanny characters, many of whom speak in broad Scots (did I mention I was born in Dunedin?) The book doesn’t fit into any specific period in real Scottish history, so this might be considered my first pure fantasy novel. It’s quite an epic story.

2. As a full time writer what sort of pressure are you under to develop future projects as well as write the currently contracted ones? Does it leave much room for other forms of writing, such as short stories, that don’t pay comparably?

As a mid-list writer of commercial fiction I’m expected to turn in an adult novel a year – less than that and there’s a danger of becoming invisible in the crowded US market. I know many writers who are far more productive than that, with several series on the go at once. I’ve found that a book a year is as fast as I can write while still producing work I can be proud of (and staying reasonably sane.) It can be extremely difficult to balance the need to earn a living from writing with the wish to exercise creative choice and to pursue the projects one feels passionate about. This is a dilemma I’ve been considering a great deal recently as I draw near to the end of my current contracts. I’ve been juggling adult and young adult projects for two different publishers in the US, and of course they don’t synchronise their dates to suit me, so the last couple of years have been stupidly busy. Part of it’s down to my reluctance to say no when writing opportunities come up!

Where short fiction is concerned, my choice to write very little of it is not related to the payment; I find short stories far more difficult to write than novels, so I am very slow at them. But when I do write a short story or novella that I’m proud of, it gives me immense satisfaction.

3. You have a short story collection coming out from Ticonderoga Publications next year. Can you tell us a bit about how the sale came about, the process of developing the book and what we can expect from the book?

I keep a relatively low profile on the WA speculative fiction scene, largely self-inflicted – I am in my comfort zone when at home working, with my dogs for company. So I’ve been slow to learn about what’s happening with local small press. One of the first Ticonderoga publications I read was Angela Slatter’s collection, The Girl with No Hands. I loved the stories and was impressed by the quality of the publication. And I’d contributed a cover quote to Ticonderoga’s Sara Douglass collection, The Hall of Lost Footsteps. (A few weeks before she died, Sara contacted me to thank me for this which was deeply touching as she had given me a fabulous cover quote back when I was a newbie novelist. She and I had been friends since we did a US tour together in 2001.) When Russell Farr put the suggestion to me that Ticonderoga might publish a collection of my short fiction I was really delighted (and challenged – see earlier comment.) What can you expect? The book will contain the best of my previously published short fiction, mostly fantasy with possibly a couple of romance or women’s fiction stories. There will also be some new stories and, I hope, a new novella. The title story will be folkloric fantasy. You can also expect a wonderful cover by a young Western Australian artist. Cover and title will be revealed later in the year.

4. What Australian works are have you loved recently?

I’m really picky about what I read; I think my critic’s hat is rusted on. But it’s been a great year or two for Australian fantasy. I wholeheartedly loved The Girl with No Hands by Angela Slatter – such an accomplished writer, with a real respect for her fairy tale material and a wonderful warmth of approach.

I was impressed by Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan (I have this in the UK edition, entitled The Brides of Rollrock Island.) Margo is our foremost Australian fantasy writer, a great stylist and a highly original storyteller. I tend to use her work a lot for ‘how to do it’ examples in writing workshops.

Then there was Kate Forsyth’s magnificent novel Bitter Greens, historical fiction with a Rapunzel thread woven through the three-strand story. I predict this will be an award-winner for Kate. It’s a brilliant piece of writing.

Am I allowed to include a Kiwi-born, Aussie resident writer? Karen Healy’s Guardian of the Dead was a stunning debut with an unforgettable young female protagonist and Maori folklore forming the uncanny element of the story. I just read her new novel, The Shattering, a YA fantasy thriller, and really enjoyed it.

5. Two years on from Aussiecon 4,  what do you think are some of the biggest changes to the  Australian Spec Fic scene?

I believe specialist small press is playing a bigger role now in publishing quality short fiction within the genre. It certainly seems far more visible. Aurealis Magazine has gone fully digital, and I imagine other publications have done the same or are headed in that direction.

Our writers continue to achieve international recognition – it seems to me Australians are represented more all the time in the big genre awards. At the pinnacle of this is Shaun Tan with both an Academy Award and the Astrid Lindgren Award in the same year. But our writers are making it onto World Fantasy Award ballots and being shortlisted for awards like the David Gemmell Legend Award (congratulations to Helen Lowe … oops, she’s another Kiwi.)

It’s encouraging to see the new talent coming up – writers like Thoraiya Dyer and Lezli Robyn. I predict a stunningly successful debut (as a novelist) for WA writer Lee Battersby, whose dark fantasy The Corpse-Rat King comes out from Angry Robot in the UK later this year.

We’ve had some notable losses within our ranks – the one-of-a-kind Sara Douglass, who raised the profile of Australian fantasy so much on the international scene,, and the incredibly brave Paul Haines. I salute them both.


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Karen Miller was born in Vancouver, Canada, and now lives in Sydney, Australia. She’s been writing spec fic professionally since 2005, and since then has published 17 novels. Her first fantasy novel, The Innocent Mage, was the #1 UK bestselling fantasy debut novel in 2007. Empress of Mijak and The Riven Kingdom, the first two books of the Godspeaker Trilogy, were honor listed for the James Tiptree Jr award. She has also been shortlisted for the Aurealis Awards twice.  As K E Mills, she writes the Rogue Agent series. When she’s not in lockdown in front of her computer, Karen enjoys directing at her local theatre. Her recent productions include The Crucible and Last of the Red Hot Lovers.

Wizard Undercover, your latest Rogue Agent novel just came out. Can you tell us a bit about this book and what is next for the series?

Well, first of all I’ll throw in a quick Guide To for those who aren’t familiar with the books. The Rogue Agent series is about a young man, Gerald Dunwoody, who is failing in his chosen career of wizard. As a last ditch hope, after yet another on-the-job disaster, he takes a position as Royal Court Wizard to the king of another country – and immediately finds himself up to his elbows in alligators, so to speak. As a result of this adventure, he learns some fairly startling things about himself, and by the end is walking a whole new career path.

The Rogue Agent series uses as its historical influences late Victorian/Early Edwardian Britain, so it’s a little more modern than the epic historical books I write as Karen Miller.  There’s a core of ensemble characters who share the spotlight with Gerald: Reg, the ensorcelled witch queen, Monk Markham, his genius best friend, Monk’s sister Bibbie, who’s a bit of  a wild child, and Melissande, a princess masquerading as a private citizen. Together they stumble from adventure to adventure, and while each crisis they’re faced with is self-contained, there are ongoing plot points and story arcs that thread their way through the series.

Wizard Undercover, the 4th book in the Rogue Agent series, picks up where book three, Wizard Squared, left off. After the cataclysmic events of Wizard Squared (no spoilers, I promise!), Gerald and co. are still trying to find their feet again. But even as the ripples are settling, a new international crisis is brewing and Gerald’s sent off to prevent the disaster. This time he’s working undercover, as Melissande’s private secretary, and Bibbie’s along for the ride as her personal maid.  Suffice it to say they soon find trouble. *g* Meanwhile, back at home, Monk and Reg team up to provide support … which makes Monk’s  life much, much more interesting than he was bargaining for.
I start writing book 5 in the series later this year, and it’s due out next year. It kind of brings everything that’s happened so far to a head. And that’s all I’ll say there!
What’s next from Karen Miller- tease us with what you’re writing right now and what we can expect soon from you!
At the moment I’m deep in the throes of a new epic historical fantasy series, called The Tarnished Crown. Book 1 of that is out next year, too. Puff puff pant. *g* This is the biggest, most challenging thing I’ve ever tackled and to be honest, it scares the crap out of me. I’ve got maps, I’ve got photos from research trips, I’ve got historical portraits to help me ‘see’ the lead characters, I’ve got more research books and dvds and cd lectures than I can jump over. It’s a massive, massive undertaking and if I think too hard about what I’m trying to achieve I end up under the blankets sucking my thumb. *g* It’s a 5 act play, basically, in which we follow a number of lead characters as they jostle for power and influence and sometimes nothing more than survival against a broad landscape of several countries and cultures. It’s the rise and fall of dynasties, love, death, betrayal, revenge, war,  redemption, sacrifice, sorcery, treachery, lies, and pirates. Basically all the really cool, juicy stuff you get to play with in epic fantasy! It’s about to consume the next 5-6 years of my life, really. But in a good way!
You had a sf/fantasy/mystery bookstore at one time. As both a bookseller and an author, what are your feelings on the publishing industry at the moment? How do you see the ebook phenomenon playing out and where do you see the genre going in the next 5 or 10 years?
As a former bookseller, I think I’m glad to be former. The front line operators, bookshops, are doing it horribly, horribly tough just now. There are so many pressures from so many different directions. I do miss the customer interaction and talking books and stuff, but the nuts and bolts business side of things? Beyond stressful. Because we are in such a state of flux. Leaving aside the economic pressures on the retail sectors of just about every English-speaking country, which is the main spec fic marketplace, there’s such an upheaval on the production side of things. Ebooks are still finding their place, and they have a major impact on bookstores. I get that there’s a place for them, but I can’t even begin to contemplate a world without proper books, and places where readers can go to browse shelves and make exciting discoveries.

I love the internet, I really do, but I worry that we’re being driven to live more and more inside a cyberworld that denies us our tactile senses and the joy that comes from physical interaction with our surroundings. I want bookshops to survive and thrive. I have to believe they will, when some of the GFC crap settles, eventually.  The one thing I do know for sure is that there will always be stories, because humans are hardwired for storytelling. And that means there will always be storytellers. Beyond that? Honestly, I have enough on my plate trying to figure out the challenges of being a storyteller. I have to believe that if I do my job right, if I tell the best story I can, each and every time, then the story will find a home. At the end of the day, the delivery system is never more important than the story.
As for the spec fic genre … there are cycles and tides, and all we can be sure of is that the ebb and flow will continue. Fantasy and horror have been part of our storytelling lives from the beginning of human history. They’ll never die. They might change costumes, some kinds of spec fic will burn more brightly than others for a while, only to fade a little as another style lights up the sky for a time. But it will always be with us. And while some elements of science fiction might fall out of favour, as more and more we live in a world that forty years ago really was seen as nothing more than scifi, the yearning for something else, something bigger, a new adventure, that never leaves us either. So I have no fears for the genre. As for what the next big thing is? As William Goldman said about Hollywood: Nobody knows anything. So I don’t try to predict that, I’m just enjoying the ride.
What Australian works are have you loved recently?
Well, first of all a disclaimer. Pretty much the only books I’ve been reading for nearly a year now are research books. Ask me about The Hundred Years War. Ask me about The  Wars of the Roses, or the fall of Byzantium, or the Visigoths, or the Carolingian dynasty … yeah. Fiction? Aside from half a page of something well read and familiar to help me fall asleep, I am woefully behind.
But having said that, I did read Garth Nix’s new book, A Confusion of Princes. It’s YA sf, and a ripping good yarn, as you’d expect from Garth. Plus I’ve beta read Glenda Larke’s work in progress and of course, it’s a ripper too. But aside from that? Sad, sad, sad. Back in my bookshop days I was reading pretty much every new release that came into the shop. But reading while you’re writing is very,very tricky. I’m off another research trip soon, so I’ll do my best to take a backlog of great Aussie stuff with me. I know it’s out there. Much of it is sitting on my to be read shelf!!!


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Over the past forty odd years, Rosaleen Love has published on Australian science and society, both in non-fiction, and in fiction. Her most recent books are Reefscape. Reflections on the Great Barrier Reef, Sydney and Washington, and The Traveling Tide, short fiction, with Aqueduct Press, Seattle. Her two first collections of short stories The Total Devotion Machine and Evolution Annie, were with the Women’s Press, London. The Women’s Press was a pioneering feminist press that took genre fiction seriously, like TPP and Aqueduct Press today.

I haven’t written much short fiction in the past five years. For a while it felt as if events in my life were broadcast to the world as episodes of an Argentinian TV soap opera. Coping with that took away the creative urge. However, Alisa’s inclusion of my work in her TPP series has got me writing again, with my former enthusiasm.

1. You have a short story collection coming out next year as one of the Twelve Planets from Twelfth Planet Press. Can you tell us a little bit about your collection and what inspirations you drew on to write it?

I write science fiction because I get intrigued by an idea, and often the idea springs from science. The scientific explanation may not satisfy. Hence the fiction.

One of the stories in the TPP collection is titled ‘The music of what matters.’ I want to write about the experience of music. I’ve read how researchers explore the neurological effects of music, doing brain scans etc, and it all seems to me to add up to something, but it’s not what I really want to know. In the fiction, I explore the feeling of what happens at moments of music-induced euphoria. It’s a challenge, to write about what can’t be expressed in words, in words.

There’s one story I haven’t finished yet, I suspect because I have bitten off more than I can chew, a fable titled ‘The slut and the universe.’ In this story I may (or may not) account for how feminism may be both the root of all evils, and the means of salvation from them.

Two other stories are ‘The inner zebra’ and ‘The secret lives of books’. Those books are causing endless trouble, with their secret lives.

2.You are both a writer of science and of science fiction. How does one inform the other in your work? What draws you to each?

My science writing has ground to a halt, though I still do some. There’s an explosion of brilliant science writing on the web, up to date, illustrated, often communicated by frontline researchers themselves. So the old print media stuff I used to do has been largely superseded. Back in the 80s, I used to write quite a lot about what was happening with climate change, which at that time was referred to as the enhanced Greenhouse effect. That was in the days before the climate change denialists. (Indeed, I’ve been around long enough to remember being told at primary school that the next Ice Age would be a worry). In the 80s, it was possible to work out the important issues, and communicate them. Now keeping up with the climate change literature and politics is more than a fulltime job for the interested amateur.

I find the denialist stuff both fascinating and depressing. It is interesting now to find climate change entering as a topic in mainstream fiction, by writers who would never see what they are doing as science fiction.

3. What do you see as the main themes of your fiction and have they changed, matured, gotten more jaded over time?

It’s interesting to reflect on what might be the main themes of my fiction. Because I worked for a long time in teaching topics on science and society, I’ve always had that interest in the social aspects of science, and I love the idea of the feminist fable. I like turning an idea on its head. I like ideas of transmutation and metamorphosis. I am fascinated by religions, and ways in which devout people live their lives according to abstract principles that can’t all be true (whatever truth is). I think of life as a moral journey and some of that comes out in the fiction, possibly.

I like writing very short stories. The novel will always be beyond me.

I’m not sure I’ve got more jaded over time with what interests me. If I’ve got more jaded, it’s that I can’t be bothered with some recent trends, e.g. zombies and vampires. Can’t wait till the vampires die yet one more unnatural death.

4. What Australian works have you loved recently?

I might skip answering that question as I haven’t read any Australian SF/ Fantasy novels lately. I’ve been reading the TPP series to see what others are writing, and one thing that does strikes me is the general skill in the short story writing. In pace, language, story construction, I think so many are excellent – a lack of Ho Hum boring bits. Perhaps these are skills honed in writing workshops and put into practice. However, there are those vampires everywhere, though I do admit, there’s often an amusing twist in the tale.


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:


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Guy Salvidge was born in England in 1981 and moved to Western Australia in 1990. He studied English at Curtin University, majoring in Literature and Creative Writing, and graduated in 2002 with Honours. Completing a Graduate Diploma in Education in 2005, Guy embarked on a career as a high-school English teacher. His first novel, The Kingdom of Four Rivers, was published by Equilibrium Books in 2009. His second novel, Yellowcake Springs, won the 2011 IP Picks Award for Best Fiction and was published by Glass House Books in the same year. Yellowcake Springs was recently shortlisted for the 2012 Norma K Hemming Award.

1. Your second novel Yellowcake Springs has been shortlisted for the Norma K Hemming Award. Tell us a bit about the book and themes that have caught the judges eye.

Yellowcake Springs is a dystopian novel in the tradition of 1984, but my work has also been heavily influenced by SF writers like Philip K Dick and J G Ballard. Set around 50 years from now in Western Australia, the novel depicts a nightmarish scenario in which a Chinese company has set up a nuclear reactor complex north of Perth in the fictional town of Yellowcake Springs. The plot concerns an attempt by the environmentalist (or ‘mental’) group Misanthropos to destroy the reactor. The narrative follows the lives of three people: Sylvia Baron, an advertising rep in Yellowcake Springs whose husband is involved in the sabotage attempt; Orion Saunders, a down-at-heel vagabond from the depopulated inland ‘Belt; and Jiang Wei, a Chinese man sent to Australia to work in the reactor complex.

My primary aim in the writing of Yellowcake Springs is to lay bare the utter folly of using nuclear power, something that is not as
far-fetched in Western Australia today as one might think. A 2005 report to then PM John Howard recommended precisely this strategy. Another concern is the increasing role that Chinese companies are playing in mining operations in Western Australia. Instead of demonising the Chinese people themselves as an alien other, I chose to write this section of the novel from the perspective of a young Chinese man, Jiang Wei. The novel explicitly depicts a vast gulf in social class between the elite coastal dwellers and the impoverished inlanders. The future of sexuality is also explored in the world of Controlled Dreaming State, an immersive, online world where one can enact every fantasy or situation they choose, something that would not only be extremely addictive, but also potentially causing people to disengage from ‘real’ life.

2. How long have you been writing and how did you get into the sf scene? What have you found the most beneficial or worthwhile?

I’ve been writing fairly seriously since I was around 14 or 15, and I’m nearly 31 now so I’ve been at it for a long time. For many years I was a SF reader without having any engagement with the scene here in WA, despite the fact that I worked in the now-defunct Supernova Books from 2001-03. I started up my wordpress blog around four years ago, and that enabled me to engage with the community a little more, and eventually some of these reviews made it onto ASiF. Through my interest in the works of Philip K Dick, I came into contact with Australia’s grandfather of fandom, Bruce Gillespie. A big thing for me was attending last year’s Natcon in Perth, where I met the late Paul Haines for the first time, and I attended Swancon again in 2012. I also joined the Katharine Susannah Prichard Speculative Fiction group in 2011. The most worthwhile about the scene for me is feeling that I’m not, in fact, operating in a vacuum, that there are other people around who share similar views and interests to myself.

3. What are you working on now and what do you have your eye on to write in the future?

I’ve been working on two projects recently: the sequel to Yellowcake Springs, currently entitled Yellowcake Summer. I started writing that in the summer holidays of ’11/’12 and I suspect it’ll take me another year to have the novel in reasonable shape. The other project was a short story, “The Dying Rain”, for an anthology called Tobacco Stained Sky, which is to be a collection of ‘post-apocalyptic noir’. The book is forthcoming from Another Sky Press in the US. I’m toying with the idea of trying to write a crime fiction novel without SF elements, but that’s a couple of years off as yet. I also want to get something published in one of the Australian small-press anthologies in the not-too-distant future, so I thought I might have a crack at Ticonderoga’s Dreaming of Djinn, if I manage to produce something in time.

4. You are a reviewer at ASif! – what are you reading interests and what do you look for in a good Australian book?

The same thing I look for in any book: a muscular narrative, lean writing, and a tinge of darkness. I tend to have two reading rules,
even though I get roundly criticised for them. Rule #1 is that I don’t read anything published before 1918, and Rule #2 is that I rarely read anything over 350 pages in length. I prefer novels over anthologies, but I’m partial to single author collections. I don’t read fat fantasy and I don’t read space opera either. What I’m after is intelligent, thought-provoking fiction, not escapism. I’m reading less speculative fiction than ever, which isn’t to say that I don’t want to read it. Books I’ve enjoyed so far in 2012 include the crime novels of Megan Abbott, Anthony Swofford’s Jarhead, and Daniel Woodrell’s Winter’s Bone.

5. Two years on from Aussiecon 4, what do you think are some of the biggest changes to the Australian Spec Fic scene?

I’m not sure I’m qualified to respond to this, seeing as I’m new to the scene myself, but it seems to me that while there is some excellent speculative fiction being published in Australia, distribution remains a serious problem. Excluding a handful of specialist bookstores scattered across the country, most of what passes for a Science Fiction and Fantasy section in the average bookstore these days is wall to wall epic fantasy and paranormal romance. Bookstores like Notions Unlimited are shining lights in this regard, and we need to ensure that the physical bookstore doesn’t disappear altogether over the next decade

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:



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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 and

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:


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The Aussie Spec Fic Snapshot has taken place three times over the past eight years. In 2005, Ben Peek spent a frantic week interviewing 43 people in the Australian spec fic scene, and since then, it’s grown every time, now taking  a team of interviewers working together to accomplish! In the lead up to Continuum 8 in Melbourne, we will be blogging interviews for Snapshot 2012 conducted by Alisa KrasnosteinKathryn LingeDavid McDonaldHelen MerrickIan MondJason NahrungAlex PierceTansy Rayner RobertsTehani Wessely and Sean Wright. To read the interviews hot off the press, check these blogs daily from June 1 to June 7, 2012.

As we celebrate the breadth and depth of the Australian spec fic scene,  2012 Snapshot is also a bittersweet time and we take the opportunity to remember two well-loved members of the community who sadly passed away in the past year

In honour of their memory, the first two snapshots are:

A tribute to Paul Haines.

A tribute to Sara Douglass

 You can find the past three Snapshots at the following links: 20052007 and 2010