Interview by Ben Peek
Lyn Battersby (Triffitt) is part of the editorial committees on TiconderogaOnline and Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine. Ticonderoga released a new issue earlier the month, and you can go to that right now and read.
1) You’re an editor involved with Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine and TiconderogaOnline, both different venues with different demands. About the only thing that links them is that there is a committee involved in the selection of fiction that appears in the work appearing in each. Some have claimed that committee style editing ensures that only bland fiction is seen in the world, but I figure there must be some shit flung and fought for in those places. Give us a rundown on the committee experience, both pro and con.
In my experience, working within a committee means working with a lot of different people with different sized egos. I’m a very non-confrontational person and prefer to keep the peace, so I tend to take the lemming approach and follow the crowd. I leave the politics to the Chiefs of the Tribe and make do with being a gatherer. Or so I thought until ASIM 11. Once it was became my turn to sign my name to an issue, my stance changed. I read a lot of stories for that issue. A couple of them came through the slush-pool, but on the whole the stories I chose were ones that I solicited through the various groups that Lee belonged to at the time. As I found stories I liked, I had to put them into the pool to see how the other members viewed them. Not all were warmly received. One story I accepted was rejected by the group. I had to write to the author and tell him that I couldn’t print his story after all. He was lovely about it and offered another story in its place. I took it and then bought the story for TicOn instead. I received a lot of flak for that issue of ASIM from the other members, yet the public loved it. I had people telling me that it was the best issue the co-op has put out to date and it seems true, after winning Best Professional Production at this year’s Swancon. TicOn is a little easier. There’s only four of us reading the material and once a ‘yes’ is entered with either a ‘maybe’ or another ‘yes’ it’s accepted. While Lee and I don’t necessarily share the same tastes in reading, we both have a good eye for what works and what needs work. Lee and I work well together, have respect for each other’s opinions and don’t let our individual egos get in the way of the product. After all, we’re only in this for the love of the genre.
On the whole, I’ve enjoyed my TicOn experience more than the ASIM one. I love working with Lee. Together with Russell and Liz, we’ve been able to put out a product that reflects our own personal taste. We like the gonzo stuff and disdain the mundanity of modern fantasy. No fluffy bunnies for us.
2) You’re a relatively new name to the production side of the Australian small press scene, but do you have a vision of the kind of work that should be in publication that drives you to hunt and rescue, as an editor must, from the slush pile? And, is there a kind of work that is struggling to find a venue in this scene?
Generally, I look for two things in a story. Good craftsmanship and originality. And therein lies the rub. I know there are many good writers out there who know how to make one sentence follow another coherently until a readable story is formed. I believe I had an issue full of them. Originality, however, is another matter. Australia isn’t
keen on pushing the envelope. ASIM could be so influential if it just dared to let the alternative voices speak, but it prefers stories that centres around cute aliens and talking cats. I’m beyond that. I like stories that make you think, that make you question the reality you exist within. (Having said that, Sally Beasley published my story “The
Memory of Breathing” within issue 17, a story that tries to do just that.) Sites like TicOn and Shadowed Realms are trying to put out new authors and new ideas, but there’s room for a lot of improvement within the scene.
3) It’s been said that the Australian Speculative Fiction is not drawing in enough new readers to see it expand. How would (assuming you agree with it) go about bringing new and younger readers to the work?
I don’t agree with it. I am a member of a writing group that meets together once a month, plus I attend workshops and conventions and what I see convinces me that SF readership is expanding. We have two young writers (aged under 20) at our group, plus Swancon has quite a large young fan base that continues to grow. I have 5 children and all are either reading SF (John Marsden, Emily Rodda, Dave Luckett) or having it read to them.
4) You’re dead. A cage containing a flying monkey fell on you. The Wizard of Oz has much to answer for. Still, you’re dead, and you got to Heaven (assuming you believe, blah blah) and you see God. You say?
At last, an easy one! I spent 14 years of my life as a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. This meant I believed, with all my heart and soul, that only a few people made it to Heaven (the 144,000) and that the rest of us would die, stay dead for a while and then be resurrected after Armaggeddon to live forever in the new Paradise that would be established upon the earth. If I did make it to Heaven and met God, I believe I would say; “Well, that’s 14 years of my life I’m never getting back.”
5) Favourite swear word?
Being a Witness has made it very hard for me to learn to swear. Lee has taught me to say the occasional F word, but I really have to psyche myself into it. I guess my favourite is ‘bugger’. It suits so many different occasions, and, as an ex-Witness, I can make it sound really filthy.