Interview by Ben Peek
Jay Caselberg’s latest novel is Metal Sky. He also has a piece appearing in Nigel Read’s anthology Superluminal 1.
1) I was actually a bit surprised to learn, when Wyrmhole was nominated for an Aurealis Award, that you were Australian. Since then I’ve seen your work appear at TiconderogaOnline and you’ll be in Nigel Read’s anthology Superluminal. It appears to look like you want to establish a stronger profile here, even as you live in London. Is that something you’re actively trying to do, and if so, what’s the attraction?
My first Australian publication was “Stone Feather” in Altair #1 in 1998. I’ve never not sent to Australian publications, just the “bigs” tend to pay more. I’m an Aussie, and once an Aussie always etc. Yeah, there’s something nice about appearing in Australian venues and I keep sending stories down that way. And even though I live in London, I’m not there much. I spend more time in Germany and other places for work.
2) You began publishing in 1996 with the name James A. Hartley (people might remember two stories in Robert Stephenson’s magazine Altair in the late 90’s), but from 2000, you’ve also began work under the name Jay Caselberg. What was the reasoning behind the change?
Actually I appeared three times in Altair, #1, #2 and #4. Heh. The name thing. A long story, but both names are legitimately mine. Anyway, about nine months or so before I sold the first two books to Roc, Ace signed a fantasy author by the name of James A. Hetley. (Hi Jim.) Roc and Ace being both subs of Penguin share the same sales force, and you know, the names are a bit similar. Part of it is also down to John Clute who told me that James A. Hartley was a terrible byline and I ought to change it. When I told him about my other name, both John and Judith thought it was great and said I had to use it.
3) With such a gap between you and the physical presence of the local scene in Australia, do you pay much attention to it? Or is the local scene in London of more revelence?
I keep an eye on what’s going on, but I also see folk over at most of the major conventions. I spend quite a bit of time over in the US when I can and dip in and out of the Brit scene when I can. Relevance? It’s all a part of the same multi-tentacled beast that is genre and I’m not that sure we’re really distinguished by national boundaries.
4) You’re dead. Margaret Thatcher’s head got itself a mechanical spider body and, well, you were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Still, you go to Heaven (assuming you believe) and you see God. You say?
Dammit. There is a Hell.
5) Favourite swear word?
Bollocks. It bursts roundly from the mouth (metaphorically speaking, of course) but still has that essential ‘k’ sound to it.