Jul 29, 2014

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:

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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:

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Snapshot 2014: Kate Forsyth

SnaphotLogo2014I’d like to welcome Kate Forsyth to kick off my run of 2014 Snapshot interviews and thank her for taking the time to answer my questions.


1. You are about to lead a writing workshop in the Cotswolds. What were the factors in choosing this location and what do you think taking writers out of their everyday surrounds can do?

When I was asked to run a writers retreat overseas, the organisers left it up to me to choose the setting. They already had a retreat in Paris, and they wanted something different ... something magical and full of history and romance and atmosphere. I thought about where I'd most like to go ... and the idea of Oxford & the Cotswolds came into my mind. I mentioned it to the organisers and they loved the idea! It took a while to find the perfect Cotswolds village - luckily for me, part of the research was to travel through the Cotswolds checking out pubs and restaurants and pretty little villages. I think we're found somewhere amazing in the beautiful old village of Broadway - it's called the Jewel of the Cotswolds.

I think travel is very important for writers. It shakes us up, gives us new perspectives and new ideas, and allows us a space of time in which to dream, imagine, and play. A writers' retreat amplifies this experience. My plan is to have a 3 hour class every morning, and to leave the participants free in the afternoons so they can write or  explore as they wish. The workshops will be all about finding new ways to think about writing; about opening up the imagination and the creative mind.


bitter-greens 2. I have loved your two most recent adult books, Bitter Greens and The Wilde Girl and I love hearing you talk about the adventures you have while researching. In this digital age with a lot of information at our fingertips, how important was it to be physically present in some of these locations?

For me, its very important. I can see what it looks like from a photo or website, but I cannot FEEL the place. Writing is all about what lies within. When I travel to a certain setting, I have been living inside my character's skin for months and so I stand there, feeling what they may feel ... it opens up the story to me in new and very interesting ways.


3. I note that you have a transmedia event called The Impossible Quest, being launched internationally in September. Can you tell us about the project and what you hope to achieve with it?

It's such an exciting project! Basically, I have written five fast-paced,action-packed, fantasy adventures - old-fashioned narratives in which the reader will hopefully be totally absorbed into the story. Separate to the stories but intimately linked to them is the website, which contains a locked vault where all sorts of treasures lie - games and quizzes and thousands of dollars worth of prizes ... the secret codes to unlock all this treasure are hidden within the books. The only way to find them is to read the stories closely ...


the-wild-girl 4. What Australian works have you loved recently?

'The Caller' by Juliet Marillier

'Ophelia and the Marvellous Boy' by Karen Foxlee

'Evergreen Falls'by Kimberley Freeman

'The Sequin Star' by Belinda Murrell (disclosure needed: she's my sister!)

'The Winter Bride'by Anne Gracie

and I'm now reading 'Burial Rites'by Hannah Kent


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

The international publishing industry is changing fast and I think its important to be aware of the changes, and the opportunities they bring. The transmedia project 'The Impossible Quest' is an example of me and my publishers playing with new ways to publish books. I'd like to do more with new technologies, seeing how far we can push the boundaries - I have lots of ideas! However, I still think that readers want a totally immersive reading experience which new technologies can disrupt. So I'll be looking at ways to use new technologies to enrich the reading experience, but not to disturb it too much. I'll also be looking at ways of using new technologies to help in the marketing & promotion of books, to reach out to a global audience without having to spend half my life in airport lounges.


Kate H-S sml Kate Forsyth wrote her first novel at the age of seven, and is now the internationally bestselling  & award-winning author of thirty books, ranging from picture books to poetry to novels for both adults and children. She was recently voted one of Australia's Favourite 20 Novelists, and has been called 'one of the finest writers of this generation'. She is also an accredited master storyteller with the Australian Guild of Storytellers, and has told stories to both children and adults all over the world.

Her most recent book for adults is a historical novel called 'The Wild Girl', which tells the true, untold love story of Wilhelm Grimm and Dortchen Wild, the young woman who told him many of the world's most famous fairy tales. Set during the Napoleonic Wars, 'The Wild Girl' is a story of love, war, heartbreak, and the redemptive power of storytelling, and was named the Most Memorable Love Story of 2013. 

You can read more about Kate at her official website: www.kateforsyth.com.au


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 follow interviews daily from the following:

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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