Interview by Ben Peek
1) You’re a new writer on the scene. What would you say you goal is with your fiction and plays and why does that mean people should bother hunting out Iain Triffit’s work?
My goal is primarily to amuse myself and shock and/or surprise the audience (in no particular order.) The two plays I co-wrote with Brett Danalake accomplished both these goals, and I’m still chuffed that Rob Hood thought my story was too dangerous for Daikaiju. The brave man decided to publish it anyway.
I’m trying to move out of this distinctly adolescent phase, and I guess my overall objective with my writing is to shift people’s perspectives, to make people think something they’ve never thought before. I want to challenge people’s preconceptions, especially my own.
I haven’t thought about why people would bother seeking out my writing, maybe if you want to laugh and think at the same time and develop a case of conceptual hiccups.
2) What’s your long term plan? Do you even have one?
The overall plan is to find a nice cushy writing job in radio and television, and use that to finance my short story writing. While I’m not trying to emulate his style (I can’t drink that much) I very much want to emulate Warren Ellis’ freedom of movement between mediums as well as genres. To be able to more than survive as a writer I want to be able to work in as many mediums as possible — prose, radio, theatre, I’ve even done a tiny bit of television (and Brett and I are working on tv scripts at the moment.) I’m working on a film script (aren’t we all?) and maybe, just maybe one day, I’ll fulfill every genre writer’s dream and get my own miniseries with DC Comics where I get to kill off one of their second string characters.
I can dream.
3) Your honest opinion of the quality of the local scene, it’s positives and negatives.
The first thought that entered my head when I read this question was the phrase “circle jerk”. Which is unfair, but does sum up the ambivalence I have about the “local scene”.
The positives as I see it are:
- there are some great writers out there, some of whom I’m lucky to know personally.
- there’s a thriving small press scene supporting current writers and actively promoting new writers.
- Australian writers are making a greater impact overseas than our overall population would warrant.
- there’s good eating at the various BBQs and writing groups.
- everyone’s too cosy.
- Too many people have said they don’t watch the news any more because it’s so negative, and it’s getting in the way of their writing.
- most Australian SF/Fantasy that I’ve read (and I really don’t read that much now)seems to be recycling tropes that the US and UK have discarded, thus preserving our second string status.
- everyone’s working on a fucking teenage (sorry — “young adult”) fantasy novel — how many more do we need?
- the fan community seem to be bent on building the literary equivalent of the Israeli Security fence to keep the “mainstream literary community” out
- which isn’t required because the “mainstream literary community” hate SF/Fantasy anyway.
- and the food at Magic Casements sucks. Honestly.
When I think about the local scene, I think of a story a Russian friend told me about the Tolkien fans in Moscow during the ’70s. They were able to play rock music, smoke drugs and basically live as they liked without the threat of the gulags because the KGB judged them to be harmless. They had absolutely no interaction with the outside world, and therefore it was easier to leave them as they were. They were no threat to the state, lost within their own community of self-gratification.
I think the worst thing a writer can be is harmless.
4) You’re dead. The tax department poisoned your mail in an attempt to not pay money to people. You go to Heaven (assuming there is, blah blah, you know the drill) and God is there, waiting. What do you say?
“You’re pretty small for a consensual hallucination.”
5) Favourite swear word?
It’s more a phrase — MF Christ — short for Motherfucking Christ! — it kind of describes a spiritual feedback loop