Cat Sparks lives on the sunny south coast of New South Wales where she works as a graphic designer and runs Agog! Press with her partner, author Robert Hood.
In 2004 she was a graduate of the inaugural Clarion South Writers’ Workshop and an L Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future prizewinner. Since 2000 she has published forty+ stories and received eight Australian SF awards. She recently became a member of SFWA.
Q1. You’re well loved and respected for your anthologies that you have edited. Which one are you most proud of and why? And can you tell us about the upcoming publications from Agog Press?
The best of the Agogs is probably Agog! Ripping Reads, but I have a real soft spot for Agog! Terrific Tales, the second of the anthologies I edited. There are so many brilliant stories in there, the standouts being Brendan Duffy’s ‘Louder Echo’ which was included in Hartwell and Kramer’s Years Best Fantasy that year, and Leigh Blackmore’s ‘Uncharted’, which unfortunately got overshadowed by ‘Louder Echo’, but is an extraordinary piece of storytelling. Kaaron Warren’s revolting ‘Bone Dog’, Kyla Ward’s ‘Kijin Tea’, Simon Brown’s ‘Waiting at Golgotha’, Scott Westerfeld’s ‘That Which Does Not Kill Us’, Lucy Sussex’s ‘Runaway’… so much wonderful stuff in that book. As editor I got lucky, finding myself in the right place at the right time, surrounded by classy writers who wanted to be in my book.
Coming up, Agog! Press is producing Daikaiju3 – Giant Monsters Vs the World, edited by Robert Hood and Robin Pen. Because you can never have too many giant monsters. After that will beCanterbury 2100 edited by Dirk Flinthart. Dirk is an amazing writer and all round powerhouse of talent. I’m really looking forward to working with him. Inspired by the classic 14th CenturyCanterbury Tales of Chaucer, this anthology will feature stories of the future, the stories that people tell to amuse, impress and entertain one another during the long, dark, post-climate-change evenings that are inevitably to come.
And after that one? I’m not sure. The Agogs take up a lot of time and energy. Time that, nowadays, I would rather spend on my own writing. I get bugged about doing another open anthology all the time. There is always room for another decent anthology, but the world doesn’t need another writer. I remain conflicted over the issue.
Q2. I really feel this year has been a strong year for you as a writer, with some really stand out stories – ‘The Bride Price’, obviously, but also ‘A Lady of Adestan’. You also have a few more stories to come out this year. Which story(ies) do you see as being the biggest triumph to see in print and why?
This has been a big writing year for me. I have nine stories seeing print altogether and am close to finishing the first draft of a novel that has been driving me nuts for the past few years. I’m particularly proud of a bleak science fiction story which appears in the current issue of the Canadian magazine On Spec: ‘Hollywood Roadkill’. It’s a very dark story – much darker than I am – about a group of outcasts trying desperately to get back into a city. When I switched jobs a year and a half ago, my fiction got dark, no doubt because I spend 4 days a week working on books investigating miserable social justice issues. Child poverty, Indigenous disadvantage, consumerism, alcohol abuse, etc. It’s all bleeding into my text.
Another story I’m particularly fond of is ‘Sammarynda Deep’, included in the anthology Paper Cities edited by Ekaterina Sedia 7 to be launched at World Fantasy Convention this year. ‘Sammarynda Deep’ is the prologue to my novel. The backstory that sets my protagonist stumbling across the sands of a hostile desert. I have another SF story, ‘Seventeen’, hot off the Mac and out there now looking for a home that I’m pretty keen on too.
Q3. What are your next goals for your writing? What markets would you most like to see your name in the ToC?
I’m very fortunate these days to be in a position where I sell pretty much every story I write. It has become a matter of where I sell my stories. It’s very easy to get crap into print & call yourself a “published” author but I don’t see the point in aiming low. My immediate goal is to finish my novel, then launch straight into a robust and enthusiastic rewrite. To keep myself on track, I have forbidden myself from writing any more short stories until I have a complete first draft of the novel in the bag. This is kind of like forbidding myself from drinking Savignon blanc and eating chocolate. Cruel and unusual punishment, no matter how lofty the intent. So far so good (with the novel, don’t ask about the booze and chocolates). I have a bunch of notes for shorts all ready to get stuck into next year.
Writing has become my dearest, truest love. I know that’s gross, but I can’t help it.
I want to be published in: F&SF, Asimovs, Analog, Interzone, Strange Horizons, Clarkesworld, Weird Tales, Fantasy Magazine, Realms of Fantasy, Chizine, Polyphony… etc. Who doesn’t?
Q4 Do you read much of the Aus spec fic scene? What’s the best thing you’ve read this year?
I usually read a lot of Aussie short SF but I kinda blew my gasket judging the Aurealis awards last year. So the best things I’ve read this year have not been Australian: Relics, a fantasy novel by Pip Vaughn Hughes, and ‘Muse of Fire’, a SF story by Dan Simmons from Strahan & Dozois’ The New Space Opera anthology. I am currently reading and enjoying Karen Miller’s Empress of Mijak. I’m sure Ms Miller finds this highly amusing as she well knows that I don’t generally like ‘that sort of thing’. My favourite Australian writers are Stephen Dedman, Kim Wilkins and Terry Dowling.
Q5 And finally, if you had the chance to get it on with the fictional character you fancy most, who would it be?
Fox Mulder. No question. There’s been a big black X taped to my bedroom window for at least a decade. I can’t believe you actually needed to ask.