Interviewed by Alisa Krasnostein
Marty Young will one day rule the world–or so the voices keep telling him. In reality, he’s an up-and-coming writer and the founder and current President of the Australian Horror Writers Association. He likes to drink scotch and has more books than is sensible.
Q1. You’ve been heavily involved in founding and running the AHWA. Can you tell us a bit about the organisation and what the priorities are for the next year in terms of aims and goals? What inspired you to get involved?
Above everything else, the AHWA provides an opportunity for Australian writers and fans of horror fiction to meet other writers like them. It’s created a society where support, encouragement, ideas, help and opportunities can be readily found, and hopefully it is helping to bring some respectability to the genre. We’ve now got more than 110 members and that number is growing constantly. This bodes well for us twitchy-eyed folk because it means we’ll have somewhere to call home for some time to come. I’m stepping down as President at our next AGM, but I plan to remain involved at the committee level for the foreseeable future.
In 2002, I was quickly growing bored with my PhD and wanted to get back into something I’d always enjoyed, and that was reading and writing horror stories. Spooky stories. Dark fiction if you’d prefer. Give me a Jameson and a great ghost story, park me in the sun and leave me be.
Only it turned out that it wasn’t such an easy thing to join an Australian horror writing group back then because none existed. There had been horror groups in the 1990’s but they had long since disbanded. Science fiction and fantasy were well catered for, but poor old horror was made to feel a bit like a tag-along. So I thought, why not set up our own horror writing group, an Australian version of the HWA?
With more people having access to the internet and to emails, there was a much better chance of this working now than it might have in the past. And, with the invaluable help of those crazy enough to offer their time and energy right from the start, this proved to be the case. We held an official launch during Continuum in 2005, where Richard Harland gave us a boisterous and brilliant kick-off.
The AHWA has achieved a lot thus far (eg, a mentor program, an annual short story competition, the Australian Shadows award, The Writing Show’s Halloween special, a consolidation of resources), but one of our biggest goals remaining is to bridge the gap between the spec-fic scene and the mainstream. We sometimes get too caught up in our own sandpit and forget there’s a much wider world out there. A lot of people still couldn’t name many—or any—Australian horror (or dark fiction) writers, and that’s what we want to change. Call it the lofty ideals of a madman, the dreams of a dreamer, the foolish notions of an All Black supporter, whatever. My dad once told me it’s better to reach for the stars and fail than to reach for the moon and succeed.
Oh, and the AHWA website address is www.australianhorror.com – go check it out!
Q2. You are coediting an anthology with Angela Challis – Macabre. How is it shaping up and what can we expect from the collection?
Macabre has been a long time coming but it is shaping up to be a damn good read, a trip through Australian horror, if you will. We have a collection of great stories by some of the best writers to park their boots in Australia (Terry Dowling, Robert Hood, Stephen Dedman, Sean Williams–the list goes on), not to mention new wild tales by writers who’ll be around for a long time to come. It’ll be a door stopper of a book. We also have some pretty cool announcements to make soon, so stay tuned to the Brimstone Press website (www.brimstonepress.com.au) and keep an eye out for the anthology in 2008.
It’s been a project I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working on. Angela has been wonderful—and a lot of fun!—to work with. She’s taught me a lot about the editing process, and it turns out that editing is something I quite enjoy. Who would’ve thought..?
Q3. Have you been writing much this year or has editing taken grip? What else can we expect to see from you in the coming year?
I’ve spent most of this year working on a novel rather than writing short fiction, although I’ve had a couple of stories published or accepted in places like Fantastic Wonder Stories, DemonMinds, Black Ink Horror (October) and the up-coming Black Box. I was also short-listed in a CSIRO creative writing competition in July. I think I’ve finally shaken off the shackles of science writing and found a bit more rhythm to my fiction writing this year, and that’s been my best achievement of all (somewhere between completing a couple of diplomas in creative writing back in 1994 and getting my university degree in 1999, I’d turned into a geologist and had stopped writing stories altogether. It was only once I finished my PhD in 2005 that I started getting serious about writing fiction again).
My novel will be finished before the end of the year and then I’ll be focusing my efforts on getting that published. I feel more at home in the longer form but I’ve certainly got a lot of short stories crowding around in my head demanding to be finished: Do me first–no, me first–no, no me! They’re a pesky bunch.
So I guess you can expect to see a novel in the near future, plus some short stories. I’d also like to get involved in more editing projects.
Q4 – Do you read much in the Aus spec fic scene? What’s the best thing you’ve read this year?
After spending a number of years involved in the Aurealis and Australian Shadows awards and writing reviews for ASiF, I seem to have taken a year off reading Aussie speculative fiction (it wasn’t something I consciously planned to do). I had a massive pile of books slowly burying my bookcase and amongst that chaos were a number of classics I’d wanted to read for some time now, so that’s what I’m doing this year. Probably the best thing I’ve read so far in ‘07 is a collection of short stories by the 19th century French writer Guy de Maupassant. Not really recent stuff, I know, but then I’m a geologist and I work on a much different time span than normal folk 🙂
Q5 – And finally, if you had the chance to get it on with the fictional character you fancy most, who would it be?
A fictional character, hmm… I’d go for Ellie Sattler, the blonde lass with the legs in Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park, of all books. She’s into dinosaurs.