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The Birthday Interrogation with Ryan O'Neill

Just as his next book is about to hit the shelves, Ryan O'Neill is up for a birthday quiz.


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Would you like to tell us how old you are turning?
43.

At what age did you first start writing?
Kindergarten.

What is the most significant change to the world you’ve witnessed in your lifetime?
The internet. 

What has happened that you wished hadn’t happened?
The internet. 

What is one thing you’d like to exist but doesn’t?
Human decency.

Where were you this time last year?
At home, which is where I like to be. 

What does the next year hold for you?
A new book has just come out, (The Drover’s Wives plug, plug) and a new idea for a book has just popped into my head, so both will keep me busy. 

Which book would you spend your afternoon reading if you had the time today?
A mystery novel by John Dickson Carr.

What’s one thing about yourself most people don’t know that you wish they did?
I’ve been faking my Scottish accent all along. I’m actually from Melbourne. 

Had we organised a present, hypothetically :), what should it have been?
A book voucher, of course!


Thank you for your time, Ryan, we hope you have a very happy birthday.

Birthday Interview with Marlee Jane Ward

Miss Ward is a year older. Let's see what she has to say for herself.


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  1. Would you like to tell us how old you are turning?

    36! I'm an old! Nah, I'm just getting going.
     
  2. At what age did you first start writing?

    I wrote my first story on my first day of kindergarten, it was illustrated and everything. It was one sentence: 'I can swim'. As I could not swim at the time, it was fiction. 
     
  3. What is the most significant change you’ve witnessed in your lifetime?

    I've witnessed long-overdue progression on sexuality and identity, but of course, there's a ways to go. Of course, the technological advancement in just my lifetime has been astounding. And television got really good.
     
  4. What has happened that you wished hadn’t happened?

    The rise of nationalism and xenophobia has really surprised and horrified me. I had such hope that the world would become more open, not less.
     
  5. What is one thing you’d like to exist but doesn’t?

    Teleportation devices. I'm petrified of flying (even though I do it all the time), but maybe I'd just develop a phobia of teleportation, so who knows?
     
  6. If you had a robot helper what would you name it?

    'You there'. Not really, that's a Futurama joke. I guess it would depend on what form the robot took. Also, I'm terrible with names: my first pet was a fish called 'Spot' and I had a cat called 'Kitty' for seventeen years, so it would probably be something silly and basic.
     
  7. What does the next year hold for you? 

    Things keep coming up and surprising me, so I love that element of mystery about what cool things I might get to do. I'm headed to the World Science Fiction convention in San Jose in August and I'm really looking forward to that. The third and final book in my Mirii Mahoney series is due out later this year. I'm also producing and hosting a podcast called Catastropod, which is about the apocalypse in myth and media (mostly media.) I'm really looking forward to releasing that soon.
     
  8. Had we organised a present, hypothetically :), what should it have been?

    I'd have loved some high quality podcast-recording equipment. Failing that, a black vintage dress, size medium.
     
  9. Which book would you spend your afternoon reading if you had the time today?

    I did have time to read a book today! I finished Dyschronia by Jennifer Mills this afternoon in the bath. If I have time tomorrow I'm going to start re-reading The Book of the Unnamed Midwife by Meg Elison for my podcast.
     
  10. If you could travel back in time to meet your younger self, what would you do or say to them?

    I'd tell little Marlee what an exciting and cool life was ahead of her and how she would get to make books like she always wanted. And not to be so sad. And to never start smoking. 

WHY I WRITE by Andreas Heger, author of Cooktown

Andreas Heger gave a short speech at the launch of Cooktown at Better Read than Dead, that we thought was worth repeating.


Jennifer Egan has noted that, of all the forms of artistic expression, the novel is the only truly internal one; it’s the only one that brings you into the mind of another person. The image, although powerful, is external.

For me, this means there is an intimacy in the novel which no other medium can produce. I write for that intimacy – that connection with each individual reader.

The best novels are those that express the human condition in all its raw truth. None of us is without flaws or regrets – and none of us without joy.

In Cooktown, I tried to take an unflinching look at issues like masculinity in Australia today, sexual abuse, identity and our need for human closeness – but I’d ask you to be compassionate with my protagonist Daniel Grey and the other characters. I reiterate: none of us is perfect.

Daniel Grey is given no guide in life. He has lost everything that shaped his identity along with the person he was closest to. Do not underestimate the power of grief and trauma. Daniel is shaped by the society around him as much as by personal decision-making.

This is the beauty of fiction. It allows us to examine ourselves through a compelling story with compelling characters – but with characters who are not real, even if they feel that way. Fiction is what enables us to pull back from the story and examine ourselves and the world around us.


Andreas Heger is a debut author that has appeared on both ABC The Sunday Extra (Listen here) and The Alan Jones Breakfast Show

Drover's Wives off to print!

It’s always a big day, sending a book to print, regardless of how many times we do it. There is no turning back now - except for the proof check I suppose. 

This book has been five years in the making. It was first submitted as an entry to Viva la Novella then appeared as part of Seizure’s AltTxt Project. It is now a beautifully designed book (so beautifully designed it couldn’t be an ebook given the current technology). 

This has been one of the most challenging typesets ever – even though I’ve been typesetting for nearly fifteen years across narrative and illustrated books. Ryan’s jokes are so subtle and so dependent on the correct execution to be understood. It has been a long dance with Ryan correcting me, politely, at every step.

It’s out of our hands now and into yours from July. 

– David

Birthday Interview with Sean Williams

We knew it was Fantastica's Sean William's birthday soon, so we threw him 10 questions to reflect upon his life and times.


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Would you like to tell us how old you are turning?

According to the calendar, I’m turning 51 this year. In my head, I’m a mixture of 18 and 80, but I’m told this is normal. Maturity is apparently the state of being uncertain about everything.

At what age did you first start writing?

I was eight when I started writing - old enough to know that a story had a beginning, middle and end, but too young to know how easy it is to become addicted.

What is the most significant change you’ve witnessed in your lifetime?

The rise of the computer ties for me with the explosive growth of our own numbers across the planet. It’s hard not to foresee a collision of these titanic forces in our near future, but what form that’ll take is anyone’s guess. Some days I’m optimistic, others pessimistic. The reality will undoubtedly sit in the vast space available between those two extremes.

What has happened that you wished hadn’t happened?

Again, a tie: the rise of fascism and (somewhat selfishly) the decline of the West. No one country or way of life deserves primacy over the others, but I grew up in a culture dominated by the US and the UK, and it’s such a shame to see both eroding their hegemonies by embracing venality and fear.

What is one thing you’d like to exist but doesn’t?

Ah, that’s an easy one: the teleporter! I would love to go anywhere I want, anytime I like - assuming I don’t arrive scrambled, of course.

If you had a robot helper what would you name it?

Some people name their cars, but I’m not one of them, so I’m not sure I’d name a robot helper. Also, I suspect it would smack too much of slavery. But if I had to, and if it couldn’t name itself . . . maybe Jasperodus, after the protagonist of Barrington J Bailey’s wonderful novel, Soul of the Robot. He’s is one of the great characters from classic science fiction, a humanoid machine searching for proof that he is truly conscious. (Aren’t we all?)

What does the next year hold for you? 

Next year sees me returning to Adelaide (after a year living in Dublin) and the launch of a new book, my first set entirely in the real world. It contains no ghosts, aliens, superintelligent AIs or apocalypses - just a boy who loses the one thing he loves most. Impossible Music was years in the making and contains more of me than any novel since The Stone Mage & the Sea. I’m so excited that it will at last be making its way into the world.

Had we organised a present, hypothetically :), what should it have been?

Another easy one. When I was growing up, libraries were full of Gollancz yellow jackets - hardbacks of classic science fiction novels that I devoured by the armful. As an adult, I’ve started collecting them. They’re becoming quite rare now, but I’m less interested in the price than the look, so if you could find a tatty old library copy, I’d be very happy!

Which book would you spend your afternoon reading if you had the time today?

I’m going through a big Georgette Heyer run at the moment, so I’d probably tackle the next on my list, The Unknown Ajax. It’s a very tempting thought.

If you could travel back in time to meet your younger self, what would you do or say to them?

Where to start? Don’t smoke the second cigarette, because that’s the one that’ll hook you. Never keep chocolate in the house. Buy a standing desk. Be a better listener. Look up Amanda Nettelbeck: one day, she’s going to rock your world.


The Carter Brown Mystery Writing Awards

The Carter Brown Foundation in conjunction with Brio Books and Stark House Press is delighted to announce a new award for mystery writing.

The competition is open to all writers over the age of 18 writing novella-length adult crime/mystery fiction (around 20,000–30,000 words).

Entries open 1 August 2018 and close 5 pm AEST 31 October 2018. The winner will be announced in February 2019 and the winning entry will be published in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand in May 2019.