2007 Snapshot Archive: Andrew Macrae

Interviewed by Ben Payne

First published at ASiF!

Andrew Macrae picked up a Ditmar recently for his artwork on the cover of Ben Peek’s 26 Lies, One Truth. He forms one half of Cour de Lion publishing, soon to release a Terry Dowling collection. And his own writing can be found in Daikaiju 2.

1. You recently won a Ditmar and got Boingboinged for your typewriter art, in particular the cover you did for Ben Peek’s 26 Lies, One Truth. Tell us how you got into the artform and give us a quick insight into the mechanics of the process.

Well I love typewriters and started collecting them about three years ago. This whole obsession stemmed from a dream I had about a typewriter I used to play on as a kid. It belonged to my grandmother, and when she went blind after a stroke, they decided to teach her to type. The machine had these two red baubles glued to the home keys. Well, the typing thing never worked out for my grandmother and the typewriter ended up at my parents’ house. I wrote a bunch of kid stuff on it. I thought it got lost somewhere when my parents moved house.

In this dream I had, that machine was full of strange magic. The red baubles glowed and the white carapace swam with energy. I leaned in to take a big whiff and the smell of it nearly knocked me out: solvents and ink and machine oil.

So I decided the dream was trying to tell me something and I went out looking for typewriters. To date my collection includes a 1936 Royal KHM, a 1928 Remington Noiseless portable, a 1965 Olympia SG3, a 1968 Hermes 3000 and an 80s IBM Selectric III electric typewriter with the funky golf-ball type head.

There’s an odd coda to this story. My aunt heard I was into typewriters and last year she gave me one she found when she cleaned out her shed. Turns out it’s the one from my dream that I thought was lost, the very same machine I used to play on as a kid! So it’s back in my possession, lending me its strange magic.

I think about the typewriter art pieces as kind of stencil graffiti for the internet. They are assemblages of images rendered by hand onto acid-free paper using one of my typewriters. I particularly like the effect of using red and black ink to produce two-colour art. That two layer thing is an idea I stole from stencil graffiti.

Check it out!


2. As one half of Coer de Lion, you published the Cock anthology last year, and are directly and indirectly responsible for the endless succession of bad puns that resulted. Aside from that, how did you find your first foray into editing? Were you happy with the final product and the reaction? What did you learn from the process?

It was great. Keith Stevenson and I had a lot of fun with those puns, and we’re very proud of the book. It was born out of a drunken conversation at the pub, and basically that’s the tone that stuck with it all the way through, although there was a serious intent behind it to explore different kinds of masculinity through speculative fiction. The launch party at Continuum 4 last year was a blast, everyone got into the _c0ck_ spirit. I really enjoyed working with the authors and I learned a lot about the process. It was our first foray into publishing, so we deliberately kept the scale of it small so we can build on it.

Our second book is definitely more ambitious – we’re currently producing _Rynemonn_ by Terry Dowling. Nick Stathopoulos is doing the cover, and I’m really excited about the project. I can’t claim any of the credit, because Keith has done all the hard work, liaising with Terry and Nick and basically keeping the whole thing going by sheer force of his will and his enthusiasm for the book.

After that’s finished, we’ll start work on a new anthology called _ s l o w _ . The basic premise is “quiet SF” – we’re looking for pieces that don’t rely on pyrotechnics for their effect, but rather focus on internal dynamics for story movement. The idea was inspired by a couple of stories I read while reading for _c0ck_ – “Domine” by Rjurik Davidson, which you guys ended up taking for _Aurealis_ 37, and “Stonework” by Wendy Waring which got accepted into _Interzone_ last year. We’ll be putting out the guidelines for that soon, so keep your eyes out!


3. You’re currently heading to Uni for more writing. Where do you see your writing in terms of its progress over the last few years, and what do you hope to get out of the period ahead?

Yes, I’ve given up my permanent full-time job in the public service to go back uni to do a PhD in creative writing. It was a big gamble for me, but so far it’s working out great and I’m much happier in myself for having taken the leap.

I did a Masters degree a few years back, and got peer-reviewed publication out of that, so along with the few shorts I’ve published, that was enough credentials to get accepted into Victoria University. It’s not the most prestigious research institution or anything, but it really suits me well and I’m getting on great with my supervisors. I’m still kind of wary about the whole creative-writing-as- scholarship thing, but I think the fact that universities are able to exploit this niche is more of an indictment of state-based arts funding in Australia than anything else. Ask me again in three years and I’m sure I’ll have a better position on it all.

Mostly I’m just looking forward to concentrating on the fiction for a while, and having the time and headspace to dwell in ideas again.

My goal is to grow as a writer and be happy with what I produce – I just want to do the best I can with whatever small amount of talent I’ve got, work on my discipline and hone my expression.

4. You, you, you, isn’t it? Come on, man, give us a break! Tell us what other authors you’re enjoying at the moment. Any recommendations?

I’ve been on a big William S. Burroughs kick of late. I’ve just reread his last three novels, _Cities of the Red Night_, _Place of Dead Roads_ and _The Western Lands_. I did my Masters on cyberpunk SF, so I’ve still got a real soft spot for writers like Gibson, Sterling and Rucker. I love the 60s New Wave: Russ, Ballard, Aldiss. Philip K Dick’s paranoid visions just seem to be more relevant than ever. Jack Dann says the present moment is like the 1950s but with technology – maybe that’s why Dick’s work is still so germane. Dick really nailed the whole schizophrenic aspect of postmodern culture, before it even happened. I enjoy Paul di Fillippo’s pastiche shorts. Howard Waldrop is probably the best short story writer evah.

I like Peter Watts, Jeff Vandermeer, Jeff Ford. I just read Kelly Link’s “Magic for Beginners”. Man, that’s an awesome piece. I love Kaaron Warren, her stuff is so freaking weird. Really subtle, with this off-beam feminist take on things. Deb Biancotti is great, Lucy Sussex’s fiction is always strong. Matt Chrulew is someone to watch. He writes bizarro religious space alien cannibal new age Derridian horror. I don’t know, I’m lucky enough to call a few of the current crop of Australian sf writers my buddies, so it’ll sound like a suck job if I go on listing them all.

And you know, more than anything, the best thing about writing is getting to meet all the amazing freaks, geeks and dreamers who put themselves and their work out there.

5. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you’re given the opportunity to get it on with the fictional character you fancy most. Who’s it gonna be?

The ben peek character from 26lies. That dude is hawt.

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