2005 Snapshot Archive: Matthew Nikolai Chrulew

Interview by Ben Peek

Aurealis #31Matthew Nikolai Chrulew has a story in the most recent Aurealis. The image next to this, I believe, is the cover. It’s by Cat Sparks. There is currently a holding page for Aurealis, but as to where you can by the 220 page collection that just got released, I’ve no idea.

1) You’re a new writer on the scene. What would you say your goal is with your fiction and why does that mean people should bother hunting out Matt Chrulew’s work?

I can think of two main modes in which I write. One is to create some nasty or intriguing machine or schema or logic and follow the thing through to the end. Like, what would happen if a WWII soldier went to Valhalla? Like, what if cockroaches had strategic intelligence and a takeover plan? These stories tend to be either abject and dark, or just plain wrong.

My other mode is romance. Sort of. I love relationship stories, I love domestic situations, I love depicting intimacy — it’s one of the hardest things to write. And I love giving them that little twist, throwing in a bit of grime like we all have with our partners, families, pets. And spec fic, horror especially, is the best genre for playing around with that stuff.

I’d really only be happy knowing that people hunt out my work because they like what they’ve read. But if my mates don’t read it I’ll kill them.

2) What’s your long term plan? Do you even have one?

Well first I’d actually like to get all the stories I currently have in the drawer into the hands of some nice publishers. Some have been hanging around for over 5 years and the odour is rankling. I literally have twenty stories sitting at 90% done. I blame Clarion — I squeezed (some might say shat) out a load of words there, and since then… well you know the excuses. Kids and degrees and higher degrees. Perhaps I have a problem with finishing things, but there’s a different sort of concentration required to do a final rewrite, and unfortunately that sort of headspace normally gets reserved for my academic work.

Long term, I want what everyone wants — someone to buy my novels and give me enough money to write more. Unfortunately, I don’t think any of my ideas are commercial enough to make that happen. There’s the cannibalism project, the alternate biblical history project, and the extraordinary creatures project. But then again, there’s Tom Harris, the man we all resent Dan Brown, and everyone’s favourite scapegoat, “fantasy.”

I’m also a huge fan of the short story suite. If I can even approach what Terry Dowling has done with his Tom stories and Blackwater Days, I’ll be content. But people are familiar with my Terry-worship. The only reason the restraining order was withdrawn is I shaved off the mo’.

3) Your honest opinion of the quality of the local scene, it’s positives and negatives.

I’ll leave it to the people with real experience and investments to comment on the publishing caper. But the local market seems healthy to me. I mean, there’s people who will read your work and buy it if they think it rocks. Or for some other inscrutable reason. Like “The Destination of the Dimension Differentiator” in Fables — that was a whim of a story with it’s head twelve inches up its own arse, but for some reason Lily still decided to publish it, and I’ll be eternally grateful.

As far as writers go, there’s so many with so much talent it scares me shitless.

4) You’re dead. There was wild pigs and there was nothing left of you, not even bones. You go to Heaven (assuming there is, blah blah) and God is there, waiting. What do you say?

Tata-sa, tata-sa-tarishti, tata-sa-te tata-vate-sa-taristi tata-tatasitiwi, tata-sa tataish…

You do understand tongues don’t you? What’s with the horned guys? No God, I didn’t mean it! I didn’t know what I was saying…

5) Favourite swear word?

Sh… or f… Most of the time I have to keep it to a phoneme as the little ones are very quick learners with keen hypocrisy radars.

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