Aug. 11th, 2016

azhure: (me phoenix)
Ian Mond podcasts a little too much these days.  If he’s not travelling vast distances for the latest episode of The Writer and the Critic with his co-host Kirstyn McDermott, or sitting in a granny flat and arguing with Dave Hoskin and Mitch about all things pop culture for an episode of Shooting the Poo, he’s pacing up and down his bedroom as he discusses the finer points of a new release novel with Jonathan Strahan, James Bradley and sometimes Gary K Wolfe (and even Nike Sulway) for an episode of the Coode Street Roundtable.  Other than that he posts stuff on Facebook and now, less frequently, on his blog The Hysterical Hamster.  

 Over the past year or so, you’ve been spending a lot of time reading through novels which have been shortlisted for awards and reviewing them. How has the experience of that been? Is there anything you’ve seen that the works tend to have in common? Have you come across works that you’ve been surprised to not see on awards shortlists?

Because my tastes are eclectic I have trouble deciding on the next thing to watch or read.  As a result I come up with these insane little projects that, by their nature, remove the need to choose.  Cue awards lists.  Why should I worry about what to read next when there’s so many genre awards out there willing to do all the work for me.  It’s a win / win proposition.  I avoid the anxiety of choosing while at the same time reading those novels purported to be the best genre and literary fiction over a given year.

And last year it was fun reading through more than 20 shortlists.  I can’t say I gained any great understanding of the type of book that was being nominated, there was no commonality that leapt up and slapped me in the face, but I was exposed to works and ideas I wouldn’t have bothered with in the past.  There’s no way I would have picked up Ali Smith’s How To Be Both or Rabih Alameddine’s, An Unnecessary Woman or Karen E Bender’s short story collection Refund if not for my slavish devotion to shortlists.  Note the literary bias.  If there’s one thing that became clear over 2015 it’s that my tastes have drifted away from core genre.  It’s not that I’ve jettisoned genre fiction, but a recognition that I’d rather read books nominated for a Shirley Jackson or Kitschie Award then a Hugo or a Nebula. 

This year, though, I made the decision to appreciably cut down the number of shortlists.  I realised that while it did reduce my anxiety levels to have other people choose books for me, I didn’t have time to read those handful of novels that I wanted to read.  So this year I’ve halved the number of shortlists and I’ll probably cull a few more next year.

I was surprised that that Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson didn’t feature on more lists.  I was certain it would get a Nebula nod.  And I was also surprised that Ken Liu’s The Grace of Kings wasn’t nominated for a World Fantasy Award this year.  It’s a fantastic book and I’m eagerly looking forward to the sequel due out in a couple of months.

You and Kirstyn McDermott are the co-hosts of The Writer and the Critic podcast, which has also recently launched a Patreon campaign. How has the experience been of creating such a podcast? Do you have any advice for people who want to start their own podcasts or Patreon campaigns?

The experience of creating the podcast has been wonderful, mostly because Kirstyn does all the work.  She edits and produces the podcast, she writes the show notes and she also organised the Patreon campaign.  The biggest thing I have to do, other than read the books and sound vaguely coherent about them while we’re recording, is make the 135 kilometre trip from my house to hers.  It’s now been more than five years and 50 episodes and it’s been a total blast.

Given how little I do I feel a bit silly providing advice.  I’m not sure I’d be brave enough, like a Terry Frost, to podcast on my own.  So if you have zero technical knowledge but a burning need to tell the world  about… I don’t know… your love for all things Rutger Hauer, then find someone with the same Rutger loving passion and then get them to do all the work.

Kirstyn is going to kill me.  She’s also started leaving secret messages in the podcast because she knows I don’t listen to the episodes…

What can we expect from you in the future?

In terms of podcasting, Writer and the Critic will continue for the foreseeable future, which, for our Patreon fans, is probably a relief.

And after a medium-ish hiatus Shooting The Poo – the podcast I host with Dave Hoskin and Mitch – will be back with all new episodes.  We have at least three… or is it four… in the can. 

Finally, in a bid to force me to read books published this year Jonathan Strahan, James Bradley and I (with sometimes guest Gary K. Wolfe and Nike Sulway) started the Coode Street Roundtable in January.  We review one new release novel per episode.

Which Australian work have you loved recently?

A Single Stone by Meg McKinlay is astonishingly good.

Which author (living or dead) would you most like to sit next to on a long plane trip and why?

It has to be Stephen King.  I know, I know… boring and predictable, but before Stephen King all I really read was Doctor Who novelisations (Terrance Dicks would be second on my list of people to sit next to).  King didn’t just open me up to a world of horror and dark fantasy but also for a deep love of reading – no matter the genre.



This interview is cross-posted to the 2016 Snapshot blog, along with all the other Snapshot interviews. 

Mirrored from Stephanie Gunn.

azhure: (me phoenix)
image1Amanda Pillar is an award-winning editor and author who lives in Victoria, Australia, with her husband and two cats, Saxon and Lilith.
Amanda has had numerous short stories published and has co-edited the fiction anthologies
Voices(2008), Grants Pass (2009), The Phantom Queen Awakes(2010), Scenes from the Second Storey (2010), Ishtar(2011) and Damnation and Dames (2012). Her first solo anthology was published by Ticonderoga Publications, titled Bloodstones (2012). The sequel, Bloodlines, was published in 2015.
Amanda’s first novel,
Graced, was published by Momentum in 2015. 
In her day job, she works as an archaeologist.
Your most recent work is Survivor, a novella in the same universe as your novel Graced. The main character of Survivor is a woman who has been traumatised and lives with a resultant physical disability. Can you tell us something about how you approached disability and trauma in this work?
When I started to work on the Graced universe, I wanted it to represent a wide range of people – different races, different backgrounds, image2and different levels of ableness. Billie (one of the main characters) came to me with her disability – a broken and badly healed hip caused by physical trauma.
I have friends and family who have been affected by various mobility issues, and drew on their experience (and my own) to ensure that Billie was well-rounded as a character. I wanted Billie to be Billie, and not a representation of disability.  I was also able to use some personal experience as to how it might feel to have a damaged hip, as I injured mine during a trek on the Inca Trail. I know the pain of stairs when you can barely lift your leg!
As well as being a writer, you’re an editor, and have edited several anthologies, including Bloodlines from Ticonderoga Press, which recently won the Aurealis Award for Best Collection. How do you approach editing anthologies, in terms of story selection and working with authors? Are there any tips you can give people who are thinking of working as editors as well as writers?
When I develop the idea for a collection, I have a vague idea of what I would like to see from authors. But authors often surprise me and send me stories I didn’t even consider fitting with the theme! (I love it when that happens.) But the main things I look for are:
– The story is well-written
– The story has a plot
– The story is on theme
– The story explores new ideas or new takes
Once I’ve worked out which stories work best with the theme, I then have to decide which of those work best together. An anthology is a book, and needs to feel cohesive. Some stories may be fantastic, but if they don’t work with the others, or duplicate certain ideas (e.g. If it’s a monster story and there’s two Godzillas, for example) then I have to pick which one works best in the whole.
For people who want to get into editing, the biggest advice I can give is: Don’t rewrite someone’s work how YOU would have written it. That isn’t editing. Editing is bringing out the best of the story in line with the author’s voice, tone and goal.
What work do you have planned for the future? Can we expect to see more in the Graced universe?
Yes! I plan to write more in the Graced series and I have a the sequel novel drafted! But I have also just started working on a new series, as well. A dark urban fantasy with romance elements 🙂
What Australian work have you loved recently?
Cleverman! I just started this series, but I’m loving it. I’m a sucker for superheroes, and I really enjoy seeing Aussie talent on TV!
Which author (living or dead) would you most like to sit next to on a long plane trip and why?
Ohh, this isn’t easy. It would probably change on any given day. Today, I reckon Oscar Wilde. He’d be a blast to hang around with – he’d probably drink the minibar dry.
snaphotlogo2016This interview is cross-posted to the 2016 Snapshot blog, along with all the other Snapshot interviews. 

Mirrored from Stephanie Gunn.


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