2007 Snapshot Archive: Stephen Dedman

Interviewed by Kathryn Linge

First published at ASiF!

Stephen Dedman is a writer and author of four novels, a non-fiction book and more than 100 short stories. He’s also fiction editor of Borderlands magazine, co-editor of the ConSensual anthologies, a former associate editor of Eidolon, and a member of the Horror Writers’ Association’s Bram Stoker Awards Oversight Committee and the Katharine Susannah Pritchard’s Board of Literary Advisors. His blog is: http://stephen-dedman.livejournal.com/ and his website is: http://www.stephendedman.com/

1. You’ve recently submitted a PhD thesis in Creative Writing, examining the relationship between the US military and American sf. What interests you most about that topic?

The topic came out of the novel I wrote as part of the thesis. The novel was, in part, about scientists whose work was of military value, and I knew I was going to have to do some research into different aspects of the military – the people as well as the hardware – to do justice to both sides. As well as the novel, I had to write an essay on some aspect of sf, and my original idea was to explore changing attitudes to the US military among sf writers from Heinlein’s Starship Troopers to Verhoeven’s film of the same name. However, the more I read and the more news footage I saw of the Iraq invasion, the more I realized that the relationship had been a mostly but not entirely symbiotic one since the 1930s. There is still stuff happening that I wished I could have put in the thesis, but I had to stop somewhere.

Given your lengthy writing career and substantial output, do you think completing the thesis will augment your writing particularly?

I don’t know: I don’t know how many people are ever likely to read my thesis. But now that I’ve finished that, I’m hoping to write more short fiction in the next few months, and start on another novel in November.

Most importantly, are you going to make people call you Doctor Dedman when you’ve graduated?!

Only people who insist on calling me Mr Dedman now, so mostly telemarketers – though I am looking forward to getting ‘Dr’ on my credit cards. Everyone else can still call me Stephen, or whatever else they’ve gotten used to calling me.

2. Soon after 2005 Snapshot, your horror short story collection Never Seen By Waking Eyes, and Other Stories (Prime) was published and received very positive reviews. At the time there was mention that a collection of your sf material might also be published. Is this still in development or has it been usurped by other projects?

It’s been shelved for now, unfortunately – the original publisher had overextended themselves, and I haven’t managed to get an Australian small press interested. If anyone is, please e-mail me.

How large a body of work does an author need before they consider publishing a collection?

About 80,000 – 100,000 words of short fiction that they’d be happy to see reprinted and which has a similar target readership.

3. You’ve previously mentioned your pride in having supported yourself largely through writing for the past 10 years or so. Has this involved much sacrifice, financial or artistic?

Yes; a goat every month and a virgin on blue moons. And do you know hard it is to find virgin goats these days?

Ok, seriously… financially, sure. If I’d stuck with the full-time jobs I’ve had in the past, I wouldn’t have to worry as much as I do about making ends meet – though I probably would have spent much more than I do on the sort of crap that’s supposed to make people happy if they ever get the time, so my credit card balance might not look any better.

Artistic… not much. Everything I’ve written, I’ve written as well as I could at the time – and, to quote Hemingway, some days I get lucky and write better than I can.

Have you needed to accept writing assignments that you would otherwise have turned down?

Only if you count occasionally having to review, assess or mark the occasional piece of pretty poor work to earn a crust. But those have been relatively few, and I consider myself more than compensated by the wonderful stuff that’s come my way that I probably wouldn’t have read otherwise. The role-playing and tie-in projects I’ve done – the Shadowrun novel, the Doctor Who story, Monster Noir, etc – have been great fun, and I’d gladly do more of them if I had the chance.

What are your plans for the future?

No plans, just fantasies and nightmares. It’s not easy to plan ahead when you’re a freelance writer and casual tutor.

4. Enough about the writing, what’s the best thing you’ve read this year?

Because of the thesis, I haven’t had the chance to read as widely as usual in the past year… In the past 12 months, definitely Shaun Tan’s The Arrival. In 2007, John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War.

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 and why?

Damn, there are so many, even if you leave out my own female fictional characters, many of whom I adore… If I had to pick just one, it’d be Mystique from X-men. She’s smart, she’s bi, she’s incredibly limber, she’s good looking when she wants to be but isn’t ridiculously young and doesn’t bother with cosmetics, and she’s a former deputy director of DARPA so we’d have plenty to talk about.

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