2010 Snapshot Archive: Jack Dann

First published at Alexandra Pierce’s LiveJournal.

Jack Dann is a multiple-award winning author who has written or edited over seventy-five books, including the international bestseller The Memory Cathedral, which was 1 on The Age Bestseller list, The Rebel: an Imagined Life of James Dean, and The Silent, which Library Journal chose as one of their ‘Hot Picks’ and wrote: “This is narrative storytelling at its best… Most emphatically recommended.” He is the editor of the groundbreaking anthology Dreaming Down-Under (with Janeen Webb), which won the World Fantasy Award in 1999, and Dreaming Again, which Bookseller+Publisher chose as their ‘Pick of the Week’. B+P gave it five stars and wrote: “Here are stories that engage with the building blocks of our culture and others that give shape to our shared darkness and light. Dreaming Again is at once quintessentially Australian and enticingly other. If you read short fiction you’ll want this collection. If you don’t, this is a reason to start.” Dann lives in Australia on a farm overlooking the sea and “commutes” back and forth to Los Angeles and New York. His website is found here.

1. You’ve recently published The Dragon Book, an anthology with Gardner Dozois, which I really enjoyed – and I’ll admit that at first I was unsure just how original a dragon anthology could manage to be in 2009. What attracted you to the idea? Were you ever concerned that the stories might end up being too similar to one another, and to previous stories?

Thanks for the good words about the book. Gardner and I have been very pleased with the result. Well, regarding originality, Gardner and I edited a reprint anthology in our Magic Tales series called Dragons in 1993. We were attracted in (and around) 2007 to the idea of an original anthology on the same theme for a young adult audience. I think it’s a question of the authors you request to write stories for the volume. It turned out-happily, as we expected–that the stories would, indeed, be very different from one another, and that we would find ourselves surprised not only by diversity, but by the stories themselves. That’s one of the joys of editing. Finding the authors who will write the stories that always feel new.

2. Gardner Dozois has been your partner in anthologizing for a long time – more than 30 years, with or so 40 anthologies, by my count. There’s obviously something that works there, for the two of you. How did you two start working together? What is it that keeps a relationship like this going, over that period of time and that body of work?

Well, Gardner is one of my best friends. He and his wife Susan are family. Gardner and I were young Turks together in the halycon days of our youth–the 1970’s. He brought me into the Guilford Writers Workshop, a workshop modeled on Damon Knight and Kate Wilhelm’s Milford Writers Workshop, and it was at those workshops–reading and work-shopping stories by Gardner, Joe and Jack Haldeman, George Alec Effinger, Michael Swanwick, and others–that I made lifetime friendships and started to make my bones as a writer. Even way back then, Gardner became my editor…or rather I pestered him into reading and editing everything I wrote. (In those days, I would visit Gardner and Susan and stay until Gardner had work-shopped my story or novel. (Of course, it never occurred to me that I could possibly be an imposition!) And then Gardner and I started writing stories together, and we also collaborated with Michael Swanwick and Susan. We laughingly called ourselves “The Fiction Factory” and during the 80’s our stories were selling to the highest-paying markets of the time such as Playboy, Penthouse, and Omni. We were happily surprised… over and over again. I collected those stories in a collection titled (of course) The Fiction Factory. I always found collaborating with Gardner, well, easy. When we wrote together, I always felt liberated because if something was wrong with the copy I drafted, Gardner could ‘fix’ it. So my unconscious stayed out of my way, and I wrote fast and free. If I was working over later drafts, I’d feel as if I wasn’t really writing–I was editing; and as I ‘edited’, the pages would somehow pile up on the desk as I typed away on an electric Selectric typewriter. Anyway, to cut to the chase, I would say that love and friendship have carried the days… and the years of collaboration.

3. What are your plans for 2010 and beyond? Can we expect more anthologies with Dozois – or, dare I ask, another complement to the Dreaming Down Under and Dreaming Again series of Australian short stories?

Yes, Gardner and I have more projects in the cooker. Regarding another Dreaming anthology…well, it’s too early for that. Maybe in ten years or so the time might be right for a Last Dreaming Again. Takes time for new talent to appear and develop… and time to see the changes in style, genre, and content of our ‘name’ authors.

4. With Aussiecon4 coming up this September, there’s been some buzz about nominating Australians for the Hugo awards. Which Australians do you think have put out work this year that you’d like to see nominated?

Okay, confession and truth time-I’ve been knee-deep in a new novel, which means I haven’t been reading widely in the genre for the past few months. I would suggest that Paul Haines and Margo Lanagan are getting a buzz for excellent work produced last year, but I dare not extrapolate further, lest I display foot-in-mouth-and-ignorance disease.

5. Will you be attending Aussiecon4? If you are, what are you most looking forward to?

Yes, I’ll be there. After all, how could I not be! Looking forward to seeing pals I haven’t seen for a while, such as Stan Robinson, and basically hanging out. Oh, yeah, and I’ll probably do panels, launches, and the like in the interstices.


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