2007 Snapshot Archive: Angela Slatter

Interviewed by Ben Payne

First published at ASiF!

Another of the rising stars of local writing, Angela has sold stories to a number of prominent overseas mags, including Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet and Shimmer.

1. Unlike the majority of local writers, perhaps, you’ve appeared chiefly in overseas publications rather than local ones. Was this a career strategy? What were the reasons for your choice of market?

Mmmm, ‘strategy’ is a very strong word. Basically, I was doing my MA in re-loaded fairytales and my supervisor was great as she was very determined to have me on a ‘publishing program’, so whenever a story was ready she would give me my marching orders and I would sent it out into the wild blue yonder. I spent time researching markets and making lists (yay for Ralan.com and Duotrope), found that there wasn’t a large market in Australia and the market there is constitutes a very small pond, so figured there was no harm in sending stories o/s. I got lucky – my first sale was to Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, my second to Shimmer … and having those on my publications list is really helpful in cover letters coz it seems to lift me out of the slush-pile a bit faster.

2. Your work often slips into the literary fantasy genre, in particular working on retellings of fairytales. What is it that attracts you to this form? What do you think drives your work?

Traumatic childhood? Nah, very happy childhood, just a twisted brain. I always loved fairytales, as a kid that’s what I’d choose to read of have read to me. As I got older I started to think about how dark they actually were: narcotic gingerbread houses, children freezing to death, some truly questionable parenting skills. One day I was telling my nephew (who was 4 at the time) some stories to keep him amused during a black-out and I started to tell tales, then had to keep changing the stories coz I was thinking “Oh my God, this isn’t a story for a little kid! He’ll never sleep again!” When I was looking for an MA topic, that’s what I remembered and I was drawn to the idea that these old stories that were sanitised by the Brothers Grimm, were actually ancient tales to teach people about the dangers of life. I like that there is a kind of formula to them, and I like subverting the formula or taking it to a logical but nasty conclusion. When I write I do have to make a conscious effort to not automatically go into fairytale mode – I’m wary of having that as the only form I use, so I’m trying to break out and do some different short stories in sci-fi mode.

3. What’s your impression of the local publishing and writing scene?

Ummm, how to put this. It’s still very small – I’m in Brisbane so it’s even smaller still, but it IS a very active and growing scene, I will say that. One of the problems is breaking in to small cliques … sometimes I feel like there aren’t a lot of chances offered to newbies – that the awards, etc are going to the same people over and over and no one new gets a look in. It’s like trying to get into a club: someone needs to put you on a guest list so you can get beyond the velvet rope! Still and all, there’s a lot of positive stuff, like Twelfth Planet and the new Pulp Fiction Press, which is making a real effort to foster new talent.

4. Enough about writing. What have you read lately that you’ve particularly enjoyed?

Ah, between reading for reviews and my PhD, my pleasure reading is kind of on the slim side … but I have loved Miéville’s Un-Lun-Dun … Connolly’s The Unquiet … and I just finished Kelly Link’s Stranger Things Happen, which is one of those books that just stuns you coz it’s so surreal and amazing. On the nerd-side, I’ve been reading Dennis Seward’s The Monks of War which is about the military orders of knights, the Hospitallers, Templars and the Teutonic Knights – as research for a novel, but I’ve been really pleasantly surprised by how readable it is. Yes, I am a big nerd.

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?

Personal question! How rude … but probably Christopher Eccleston’s Dr Who … closely followed by David Tennant’s Dr Who. Now I just know that’s gonna come back to haunt me somehow.

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