David Carroll is one third of ‘Edwina Grey’, whose novel Prismatic won an Aurealis Award for best horror novel last year. He has also written short stories, non-fiction and roleplaying material over many years, including the book All Tomorrow’s Zombies, recently published by Eden Studios. He is a committee member of the Australian Horror Writers Association and runs the Tabula Rasawebsite with Kyla Ward.
Q1 What’s changed for you since the 2005 Snapshot?
I’ve cut back on the whole ‘bouncing baby bandicoots’ thing. In an attempt to reduce invectives in the workplace, I have more or less settled on ‘bollocks’.
Q2 What are the best and worst things about writing under a shared pseudonym like Edwina Grey? Would you do it again?
Prismatic seems to me to have been miraculous, in that so many things could have gone wrong, but didn’t. The three of us worked on our separate sections to produce a first draft in a short period of time, and had there been any major problems, or even inconsistencies, it all would have collapsed. We foresaw some of the potential pitfalls, which is why, for example, the three sections are in such different voices. We made that an advantage. It made our job easier, and from reviews it seems that different people preferred different sections, and still thought the novel worked well as a whole.
Having said that, if we did do another novel there is a real danger that three separate voices would descend into gimmickry. I think we would all do it again, and have discussed possible angles, but time constraints and our separate projects have got in the way thus far.
A big disadvantage is that it is harder to do publicity without a ‘real’ author. I also wonder if it will cause complications when trying to present projects under my own name to publishers down the track. Then again, the advantages of having a novel already published far outweigh any strange explanations that might be needed.
Q3 What are your follow up writing plans after Prismatic? Where do you plan to be in two year’s time?
I do have plans, but they in some disarray at the moment. One of the problems is that the novel on which I am working is about a decade old in conception. Even though I have strengthened and tightened the original premise remarkably, just in the last year, the original inspiration has faded away, leaving it somewhat hollow. I also have a strange habit of coming up with historical fantasies, and being intimidated by the research. I think I’d be able to do it – I’ve proved that in the past, to myself at least – but it also seems that I can research an idea out of existence.
I mentioned last time I was on the verge of giving up writing for RPGs. Given the fact I had a SF zombie book released this month, I could be accused of backsliding, but that was actually written in 2004. The ‘fabulous project’ I alluded to back then – Stephen King’s Dark Tower: the Roleplaying Game – never happened. Another book I wrote, The Angel Investigator’s Casebook, was cancelled. It is all seeming a bit pointless.
Hopefully all this uncertainty will resolve itself well within two years, and I’ll have been sending out novel manuscripts to agents.
Geographically, that’s also an interesting question, but one that’s still just floating through our consciousness at the moment.
Q4 In 2005, you said that you read little of the Aus spec fic scene because you don’t tend to read short stories, SF or conventional fantasy. Is that still the case? What’s the best thing you’ve read this year?
Yeah. My short story reading this year has been almost non-existent, although I am finally catching up with Paul Haines’ collection, Doorways For The Dispossessed. It’s just I whenever I have a spare moment, there is another novel (or ten) calling out for attention. Ken MacLeod’s The Execution Channel was excellent, and I’m in the middle of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, whose classic status is obviously well-deserved. Closer to home, I read Richard Flanagan’s The Unknown Terrorist about mass paranoia in Sydney, which was fascinating if not entirely successful. I’ve also read good stuff from Joe Hill, Neal Stephenson and Manda Scott, and rereading Susan Cooper, so there’s been plenty of variety.
Q5 and finally, if you had the chance to get it on with the fictional character you fancy most, who would it be?
I was always fond of Miriam from Whitley Strieber’s The Hunger – she is extraordinarily cool, beautiful, and ready for anything. (The movie got two out of three.) It would probably end badly.