Donna Hanson is the author of Australian Speculative Fiction: A Genre Overview (2005). She was the Chair of Conflux, the 2004 National Science Fiction Convention, which won the Ditmar Award for Best Fan Achievement (2005), and the Chair of Conflux 2 in 2005. She is currently President of The Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild (CSFG), an organisation dedicated to the promotion of speculative fiction writers and artists both in Canberra and throughout Australia. Donna has co-edited the CSFG anthology Encounters: An Anthology of Australian Speculative Fiction (2004) and edited the CSFG collection The Grinding House (2005) by Canberra author Kaaron Warren.
Q1. Where do you find the energy and motivation for your heavy involvement in the local scene? Why do you contribute so much and what kind of rewards do you take away with you?
Energy? Is that what you call it? I don’t feel that energetic sometimes and there are people out there who do a lot more for the local scene than I do. Okay in the past I may have had energy to do things. At present I think old age is slowing me down. My first motivation had to be mixing with people who loved speculative fiction and who were comfortable being geeky (like me) and then I found that I had some skills which would be useful for organizing things. As I continued to grow as a writer I found I could contribute in other ways, for example with editing. The most rewarding thing is the energy I get back from people, the things I learn from them and the stumbling upon a wider network of people. I have grown a lot in the last seven years and the speculative fiction community in Canberra and elsewhere in Australia has been integral to that growth. I don’t think I can separate it out. I’ve made some great friends as well.
Q2. You have some anthology projects coming up next year. Can you tell us a bit about them?
My imprint, Aust Speculative Fiction, will publish an anthology next year edited by Nicole R Murphy and me, called Kiss of the Lily. This will be a collection of speculative romance stories, which hopefully look at the sacrifices made for love. They will have love and speculative elements in equal proportions. Nicole and I both read romance and speculative fiction and thought it would be a great project to work on together. Hopefully, Nicole will able to infuse me with some energy.
The other project I have is the publication of a collection of stories by Robbie Matthews. These will all be Johnny, the Werewolf detective stories. I’ve always loved these stories and Robbie’s performance of them. I think that the collection will have wide appeal to adults and young adults. I don’t have any other project under consideration at the moment. Though I should mention that the CSFG is currently examining a theme for its next anthology.
Q3. What are your longterm goals? Where do you want to be in 5 years time?
Long term goals mmmm. Well I have dreams sometimes of publishing Australian speculative fiction successfully but I’m not sure I have the stamina to put into a small press business for that long. Though you never know. There are so many obstacles to getting the books to market that it can wear you down. I have so much admiration for Bill Congreve for sticking it out for as long as he has done. Also there is always the need to write myself and I find that I need to put more time to my own writing, particularly when my day job gets demanding. I can safely say that I’d like to be published myself in five years and also getting ready to take long service leave.
Q4. Do you read much of the Aus spec fic scene? What’s the best thing you’ve read this year?
Except for the lure of George RR Martin this year I have read exclusively in the Aus spec fic scene. I’m quite excited by how much is coming out and the range of titles. I’m still reading novels but I have had my socks knocked off by Dark Space by Marianne De Pierres and I was impressed by Joel Shepherd’s Sasha. I’m reading Saturn Returns by Sean Williams right now and I’m finding that very enjoyable indeed. Glenda Larke’s work continues to be a favourite of mine with her Mirage Makers Trilogy. The setting is Romanesque and her depiction of character enviable. I wish I had her skill. I haven’t finished working my way through the pile so I’m sure there is more in store for me. However, what I’m waiting for is the sequel to Anthony Eaton’s Nightpeople. I have my fingers crossed that it will come out this year.
Q5 – And finally, if you had the chance to get it on with the fictional character you fancy most, who would it be?
Fictional romance. Do you mean any character? My all time favourite it James Fraser from Diana Gabaldon’s Crosstitch series. Gilfeather from Glenda Larke’s Isle of Glory Trilogy is a favourite too, though Glenda tells me he’s really old now so I should forget about him. Damin Wolfblade from Jennifer Fallon is kinda up there too. I’m sure there are more as I tend to fall in love with characters…