Deborah Biancotti’s first short story won an Aurealis Award in 2001, and her first collection, A BOOK OF ENDINGS, was shortlisted for the William L. Crawford Award 2010. She is now working on her first novel, working title BROKEN, and has new fiction launching at WorldCon in September.
1. A Book of Endings has been building steam, with many people locally and overseas singling it out as a great collection. Did you achieve everything you hoped to with this book? What did you learn from the experience of putting the collection together with Twelfth Planet Press?
I learned to write under pressure and to forever put aside any hopes I had of being one of those ‘precious’ writers. Editors and friends will just not let me get away with it.
The book-delivery process was incredibly bloody useful, actually, and transformative. I went in a lot more fearful than I’ve come out. I no longer fear deadlines, for example. Though I may occasionally still screw them up. But if I’d had any outstanding issues with the idea of myself as a working writer, those are settled now.
Not sure I achieved everything I hoped to. The world domination still seems a ways off. Editor & publisher Alisa Krasnostein suggested I see the book as a bridge between the writing I’ve done & the writing I want to do next, & for me the book definitely achieves that. There’s a bit of experimentation in the collection, in an attempt to see what would happen if I put some of my more out-there stuff in front of people. The response has been mostly pretty positive, or at least not negative enough that I’ve noticed.
2. Your short stories have always leaned towards the experimental, and you could certainly find an audience among mainstream literary readers – what is it about speculative fiction that draws you in? What does genre have to offer you as a writer?
Well, I hate being bored. That’s really what keeps me reading & writing in genre. I don’t think I’ve ever even really considered working in the mainstream, & my few early forays into mainstream lit (either by reading books from award lists, or joining a non-genre workshop/writing group, or going to poetry readings, etc) all left me feeling like I had a sharp attack of dry-mouth. Maybe I accidentally kept bumping into the pointy, pretentious end of mainstream & missed finding the soft, gooey centre that I’m sure exists.
Nowdays I’m actually reading a lot of crime & thriller writing, & LOVING it! But there’ll always be something genre-like about my writing. The world is too weird NOT to write weirdly about it.
3. You’ve been working on The Novel for some time – how are you finding the transition between writing short and writing long? Are novels where you see your future? What can you tell us about the novel you are working on?
The Novel is 3 years & 1 month old! It’s a near-future psychological thriller – if you’re a mainstream reader. If you’re a genre reader it’s a good ol’ parallel universe urban fantasy — with a Minotaur. It’s getting close to done now, too. This draft is as much fun as the first one was, & a heck of a lot more fun than some of the drafts in-between were.
The transition is tough as hell and advice from novelists is conflicting if it exists at all. Every author has to learn the process for themselves, what works, what doesn’t. It’s bloody hard & you wish there was just one right way to do it so you could get on with the writing.
The best thing I did was stop reading novels I thought I should be reading & start reading novels I enjoy. ‘Cos if you’re going to spend 3 years & a month writing a novel, it really should be one you enjoy reading, right? Right.
It’s so obvious in hindsight.
Yes, I’d love to keep doing novels. They are a bunch of fun! It’s like having invisible friends. You can make up an entire world and live there for a while. Who wouldn’t want that?
I also plan to get faster at it.
4. Which Australian writers or work would you like to see on the Hugo shortlists this year?
All of them!
5. Are you planning to go to Aussiecon 4 in September? If so, what are you most looking forward to?
If I mention ‘the bar’ again people will think I’m an alcoholic. I’m one of the babes born of the 1999 WorldCon in Melbourne, so for me this’ll be a bit of a coming of age. I think what I’m looking forward to is going in as an adult this time, with a bunch of achievements I can point to as ‘this is what I’ve been doing since then’, rather than that really difficult full-of-hope-but-otherwise-untested state pre-published writers have to endure as a first step. Maybe it’s time to do some paying forward.