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The Never Never Authors – Angus Yeates

The ebook launch of The Never Never Land, CSFG’s speculative anthology of
Australian myths, yarns and campfire stories, is coming on 1 July 2016.
We interviewed some of the authors to hear what inspired
their unique version of the sunburnt country.

theneverneverland

‘The Swagman’ by Angus Yeates is a post-apocalyptic reimagining of one of modern Australia’s most enduring mythological figures.

Tell us a bit about yourself

I grew up in a remote town (Kalgoorlie) in Western Australia before moving to Perth. After studying a Bachelor of Arts at university I moved to Canberra where I’m currently based.

As a child, my time was split between city and country Australia. I think this, combined with a healthy amount of travel, gave me a love of learning and an intense curiosity about the world and other people. I think this more than anything drew me to writing.

Currently I divide my life between my full-time job in the public service, and family and friends, writing and some of my hobbies, which currently include martial arts and acting.

What was the inspiration behind your The Never Never Land story?

The theme certainly helped. In ‘The Swagman’ I wanted to explore a quintessential myth from colonial Australia and not just get a story and throw in eucalypt trees and red dirt.

At the risk of sounding hopelessly metaphysical, I also wanted to explore the link between man, myth and the landscape. I think Australia is hugely underrated for dystopian fiction, to which it lends itself to so well. Australia is a haunting and lonely landscape and a place where the old and new blend uneasily. Hence the story of a man on the run from the ghosts of his past.

What did you bring from the rest of your life to your story and writing that you think enhances it?

I think that all art-forms can teach something about writing. The more I’ve done public speaking, stand-up comedy and acting, the more I’ve learned about writing. What patterns of speech should a character have in dialogue? If you’ve done enough public speaking then you gain more clarity around dialogue. How should I structure the story for a reveal? Stand-up comedy teaches you about structure and different ways to treat reveals. How should I pitch this character? What mannerisms will he have? Do I know how he speaks? Acting helps with these because it’s absolutely necessary to think about these things before playing a character – it removes you from just thinking about a character’s thoughts and gets you thinking about their actions more broadly.

Was there anything hard you found about writing the story?

Of course. For me it was my perennial problem of keeping my short story ‘short’. It’s not something that comes naturally to me, but it’s an important discipline and, unsurprisingly, was where I learned the most. There should always be something hard about writing every story or I’m probably not stretching myself enough.

Why did you decide to submit to The Never Never Land?

The decision was a no-brainer. I’d read some of the previous anthologies published by CSFG, so I knew it was a high-quality publication. I also had some ideas that I thought fit well.

What did you learn about the writing/publication/editing process from your experience of being involved with Never Never Land?

It was my first publication, so more like ‘what didn’t I learn’… That it’s not as easy as I thought it would be? That writing is fun, but sometimes editing feels like hell (and if it doesn’t then I’m probably being lazy)? That I need to edit until I’m sitting rocking in a corner and praying to the writing god to make it stop? (Well, maybe not that last part).

But seriously: that competition is a good thing and producing a final product is a group effort. That beta readers are like gold and editors are like diamonds and their advice should be treated as such. The importance of listening and accepting feedback, and sometimes the decisiveness and wisdom to reject it if I feel it does a disservice to the story.

What was your favourite other story in TNNL?

Oh such a hard choice!

For example, I’m envious of the writing in Dan Baker’s ‘Against the Current’, which is so rich, languid and otherworldly, like the river the protagonist travels up. It’s like Australia’s answer to Heart of Darkness. I love the wryness of Thoraiya Dyer’s ‘Tirari Desert, Saturday’ and the whimsy in Kimberley Gaal’s ‘The Nexus Tree’.

But I’m going to say Charlotte Nash’s ‘Seven-forty from Paraburdoo’. I grew up in Kalgoorlie – a remote mining town in Western Australia. I’ve been along some of those roads at night and they’re long and remote and lonely. If it’s just you and the darkness then that can be a scary thing. The fear of breaking down or hitting a kangaroo is constant. Sometimes there’s no phone reception and no one to help you. The story captures this anxiety fantastically. It also captures the salt-of-the-earth characters that work in the industry perfectly. It won me over with its writing and finely-nuanced mix of darkness, loneliness, mateship, distance and death.

What are you working on now?

I have a novel that’s cooking away in the background (burning on the stove?) that I go back to whenever some other shiny short story idea hasn’t caught my attention.

At this immediate point in time I’m working on a short story about a girl who travels to fix her sometimes artificially not-so-intelligent toy. Through it I’m exploring humanity’s relationship with technology and how it can make us more human. I think that too often (in Hollywood particularly) technology is portrayed as bad (e.g. Elysium, Terminator) or shown in how it makes someone powerful and good or evil depends simply on the user (pick any superhero movie). But I think these dominant views are over simplistic. What do machines teach us about ourselves? How can technology bring us closer together and make us more human than we are?

Where do you want to take your writing? What are your writing goals?

I’d like to complete a novel and hopefully get it published. Once I’ve done that, I’ll see where I go to from there. Don’t get me wrong – I dream big like any writer, but baby steps…

Where can we find you?

At www.angusyeates.com.

 

theneverneverland

The Never Never Land is available now in paperback and
will be launching in standard ebook formats from 1 July 2016.

The Never Never Authors – Rivqa Rafael

The ebook launch of The Never Never Land, CSFG’s speculative anthology of
Australian myths, yarns and campfire stories, is coming on 1 July 2016.
We interviewed some of the authors to hear what inspired
their unique version of the sunburnt country.

theneverneverland

‘Beyond the Factory Wall’ by Rivqa Rafael is about Jewish magic and steampunk inventions in a women’s penal colony.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I used to say I’m an editor and writer, but these days I’m putting writer first (imposter syndrome, I’ll beat you yet). Mostly I write science fiction, but every so often I stray into fantasy, as I’ve done in ‘Beyond the Factory Wall’, which is steampunk with magic. When I’m not writing fiction or editing science books and papers, I’m likely reading, video gaming, working on my Brazilian jiujitsu skills, or kid wrangling (my partner and I have two, who we’re raising to be as geeky as we are). I am overly fond of parentheses.

What was the inspiration behind your The Never Never Land story?

It diverged a long way from the original inspiration, the real-life story of Jane Hawkins, a midwife who was accused of witchcraft and exiled from her Puritan American colony for assisting the birth of a severely deformed stillborn. When I heard a talk about the abuse that women suffered in jails in colonial Australia, the ideas merged and evolved into the story as it’s published. I mixed in the Jewish elements to create an alternate history that meshed the two concepts in a way that made sense (at least to me).

What research did you do for the story?

After those sparks of inspiration, I did a lot of research online before visiting the Cascades Female Factory in Hobart. As well as taking a tour of the historic site, I was there for a dramatised tour with brilliantly convincing actors, who really drove home the injustices that these women were subject to. Much of the detail in the story was drawn from the scribbled notes I took at the Factory. I followed that up with a couple of books bought from the site’s shop, which were also invaluable.

Was there anything you found hard about writing this story?

The subject material was difficult. Female convicts and prisoners were abused by wardens and free settlers, and had their babies taken away from them regardless of their wishes. And the idea of a midwife being accused of witchcraft for delivering a deformed baby was deeply unsettling. Anything with stolen or dead children pains me. An earlier draft featured a stillbirth scene that was agonising to write. It was even harder to edit out, but it just didn’t fit with the final story.

Why did you decide to submit to the TNNL anthology?

I wrote the story for the anthology – the ideas were brewing in my mind at exactly the right time, so it was an obvious choice.

What did you learn about the writing/publication/editing process from your experience in being involved in The Never Never Land?

So, so much. Although I’m an editor, I don’t edit fiction, and being edited at all was a relatively new experience for me. Ian McHugh edited my story, and we went through several rounds of editing in which he challenged me to streamline and flesh out (yes, both, simultaneously!) the story. It’s immeasurably better than it was when I submitted it.

What was your favourite other story in TNNL?

Of all the questions, this is the hardest! At a pinch I’d say Kim Gaal’s ‘The Nexus Tree’, which is hilarious, pitch-perfect Aussie gloriousness.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on various short stories while I gird my loins to start redrafting my science fiction novel.

Where do you want to take your writing? What are your writing goals?

The usual: world domination, of course. It’s required for CSFG membership.

Where can we find you?

My other short stories are available in Hear Me Roar (Ticonderoga Publications) and Defying Doomsday (Twelfth Planet Press).

My occasionally updated blog is at www.rivqa.net, but I’m most active on Twitter as @enoughsnark.

theneverneverland

The Never Never Land is available now in paperback and
will be launching in standard ebook formats from 1 July 2016.

The Never Never Authors – Thoraiya Dyer

The ebook launch of The Never Never Land, CSFG’s speculative anthology of
Australian myths, yarns and campfire stories, is coming on 1 July 2016.
We interviewed some of the authors to hear what inspired
their unique version of the sunburnt country.

Photo by Cat Sparks

“Tirari Desert, Saturday” by Thoraiya Dyer is a pointed story of border protection, journalistic integrity and violent xenophobia. It opens The Never Never Land.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m an Australian writer with over 40 short stories published here and overseas, and my debut fantasy novel Crossroads of Canopy, about hijinks in a kilometres tall, magical rainforest, is coming out in January 2017. I used to be a veterinarian. I didn’t get expelled for incompetence or anything, just took a break to have the Small One and then became a writer instead!

What was the inspiration behind your Never Never Land story?

Mururoa Atoll protesters. And living in a mining town.

Is it more important to have stories set in Australia, or by Australian authors, or both?

The Never Never Land guidelines made me immediately enthusiastic, because I’d just been re-reading Dreaming Down Under which is an excellent anthology (it won the World Fantasy Award in 1999) but I was struck by how few of the stories were actually set here, as though Australians had to prove not only how well they could write SFF, but prove how worldly they were.

Was there anything you found hard about writing this story?

Making it short enough to fit the guidelines. This is my eternal dilemma. Right now I’m trying to prune a novelette down to short story size and I wonder why I must always do this to myself.

Why did you decide to submit to the TNNL anthology?

Because we live in an amazing place with so many stories.

What did you learn about the writing/publication/editing process from your experience in being involved in The Never Never Land?

I learned to specify lunar orbit when I mean lunar orbit and solar orbit when I mean solar orbit 😉

What was your favourite other story in TNNL?

So many! See my review on Goodreads. I loved the finished anthology.

What are you working on now?

Worldbuilding for a novel. Transforming our ancient saltwater crocodiles into a means of transport. I hope that when the novel comes out in three years you find them as awesome as I do, hahaha!

Where do you want to take your writing? What are your writing goals?

I want to be a writer for my job and make enough money to give the Small One as many choices in life as possible. I want writing about tree kangaroos or saltwater crocodiles in a fantasy novel to be equally or less remarkable than writing about horses or deer.

Where can we find you?

My website, thoraiyadyer.com or on Twitter @ThoraiyaDyer

theneverneverland

The Never Never Land is available now in paperback and
will be launching in standard ebook formats from 1 July 2016.

Members News – January to March 2016

Update: Edited to correct the spelling of Rivqa’s name – sorry Rivqa!

Awards Season

Several of the major Australian genre awards are upon us, with nominations recently announced for the Aurealis and Ditmar Awards. CSFG members were well-represented on the shortlists:

In the Aurealis Awards shortlist:

  • Kimberley Gaal featured with two nominations for Best Young Adult Short Story (“In Sheep’s Clothing” from Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine #61, and “The Nexus Tree” from the CSFG anthology The Never Never Land). Congrats Kim!
  • Clare McKenna and Kaaron Warren will be facing off for Best Science Fiction Short Story for “The Marriage of the Corn King” (Cosmos) and “Witnessing” (The Canary Press Story Magazine #6) respectively
  • Tehani Wesselly has been nominated as editor for Best Anthology for Focus 2014: highlights of Australian short fiction (FableCroft Publishing)

In the Ditmar Awards shortlist:

  • Cat Sparks has been nominated for Best Novella or Novelette for “Hot Rods”, Lightspeed Science Fiction & Fantasy 58
  • Alan Baxter has been nominated for Best Short Story for “The Chart of the Vagrant Mariner”, in Fantasy & Science Fiction, Jan/Feb 2015
  • Tehani Wesselly as co-editor has been nominated for Best Collection for Cranky Ladies of History, edited by Tansy Rayner Roberts and Tehani Wessely (FableCroft Publishing)
  • Shauna O’Meara has been nominated for Best Artwork for her beautiful cover for CSFG’s own The Never Never Land
  • Rivqa Rafael and Tim Napper have both been nominated for Best New Talent
  • Tehani Wesselly has also picked up nominations for the William Atheling Award for Criticism or Review for her collaborative review project Reviewing New Who and Squeeing Over Supergirl

In a bit of unusual news for CSFG, Donna Maree Hanson (under her Dani Kristoff pen name) is a finalist in the Australian Romance Readers Association 2015 awards for her paranormal romance novel Spiritbound!

Congratulations to all the nominees and good luck for the upcoming awards!

Books

Kaaron Warren shared the very exciting news of a new book deal with Australian speculative fiction publisher IFWG, who will be publishing her novel The Grief Hole later in 2016.

Gillian Polack’s new non-fiction work History and Fiction: Writers, their Research, Worlds and Stories is out from Peter Lang International Academic Publishers in the UK in April-May. The book is about how writers use history in their fiction and includes interviews with a number of CSFG authors.

Short Stories and Flash Fiction

Tim Napper has been busy lately: he has sold short stories to Lontar: The Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction and Grimdark Magazine (appearing in issue #6, out now). His previously announced story ‘The Flame Trees’ is coming out in Asimov’s Science Fiction in April or May. Tim has also sold two translated stories to Austrian magazine Visionarium and the Hebrew-language SF site Blipanka.

Rivka Rafael has a short story forthcoming in Twelfth Planet’s anthology Defying Doomsday.

Zena Shapter’s short story ‘Let the Tempest Hold Me Down’ will be free to read from 24 March at Sci Phi Journal. Zena adds “Sci Phi Journal is an online science fiction and philosophy magazine that ‘explores questions of life, the universe, and anything that delves into the deep philosophical waters of science fiction universes. Oh, and I’m also supposed to encourage peeps to subscribe (in March!) because the journal’s authors get paid a percentage of subscription fees.”

David Versace has a flash fiction story in the February releases at EGM Shorts called ‘Incidental’.

Literary Festivals

Canberra’s Noted Festival is coming up in March. Kaaron Warren will be running a workshop on getting away from the desk to find inspiration for writing horror: Where the Wild Words Are

Academia

Finally, congratulations to Donna Maree Hanson, who started her PhD studies at the University of Canberra in February.

 

 

Members’ news – October to December 2015

CSFG members have been busy as usual – here’s the latest news. Congratulations in particular to everyone who picked up various awards and gongs! And here’s to a bountiful and successful writing year in 2016!

Short story

Alan Baxter has enjoyed a few publications in an end-of-year rush:

Alan also has a heap of stuff coming out next year:

  • “Under Calliope’s Skin” – SNAFU: Future Warfare anthology (ed. Geoff
    Brown and A J Spedding, Cohesion Press, due Feb. 2016)
  • “Served Cold” – Dreaming in the Dark anthology (ed. Jack Dann, PS
    Publishing, due 2016) (Novelette)
  • “Golden Fortune, Dragon Jade” – And Then… anthology (ed. Lindy Cameron,
    Clan Destine Press, due mid-2016) (Novelette)
  • “Crying Demon” – Suspended In Dusk 2 (ed. Simon Dewar, Books of the Dead
    Press, due mid-2016

Darren Goossen’s “Every Useless Parameter” is coming out soon in Kaleidotrope,

Tim Napper’s short story “A Strange Loop”, which the CSFG critiquing group helped him to polish, will appear in the next next Interzone (#262 – Jan/Feb).

Serial fiction

Kaaron Warren and Craig Cormick have serialised stories coming out over ten days during the Christmas & New Year period on the RiotAct website. This link takes you to Part One.

Novels

Elizabeth Dunk (the nom de plume of Nicole Murphy) has the third in her series of contemporary romances Much Ado About Love coming out on 5 January 2016.

Gillian Polack has sold her novel Secret Jewish Women’s Business, to Satalyte. Gillian describes it as “a very Australian feminist Jewish novel with magic and superpowers and bushfires”.

Non-fiction

The Wheeler Centre has commissioned new CSFG member Nalini Haynes to write a piece on disability: “Eye and Prejudice: A vision for equity

Chris Large recently interviewed Ann Leckie for Aurealis #86 (the current issue). He also spoke with Trudi Canavan about the release of her new novel Angel of Storms. That interview will appear early in 2016 when Aurealis goes global.

Gillian Polack study of the past decade or so will be going to press sometime in 2016. History and Fiction: Writers, their Research, Worlds and Stories. Several CSFG writers were interviewed in the early stages of this and are quoted.

Awards and Honours

Alan Baxter is going to be the Special Guest at Conflux 12 in October 2016.

Donna Maree Hanson is about to commence a PHD in Creative Writing at the University of Canberra; her topic will be Feminism in Popular Romance.

Nalini Haynes recently graduated with an Associate Degree in Professional Writing and Editing. Her grades were sufficiently high to attract an invitation to join the Golden Key International Honours Society.

Chris Large’s story “Future Me, Future Her” was highly recommended by the SciFi Film Festival and won a Dimension6 encouragement award at the ceremony.

C.H. (Celia) Pearce won the Marjorie Graber-McInnis Short Story Award for a speculative short story titled “Torvald’s Year”.  The ACT Writers Centre will publish the story on their blog and in their magazine early next year.

Workshops

Gillian Polack teaches creative writing course through Belconnen Community Service every Wednesday morning during term.

Gillian also has a number of courses available through the Australian National University Centre for Continuing Education:

(These will all go on the Workshops and Courses page soon)