It still feels a little surreal to have won, in all honesty. My Writers of the Future experience started like it does for many other entrants, by writing as much as I could and sending in my strongest story every quarter. I did this for about three years, collecting two Finalist spots, two Semi-Finalist spots, and two or three Honorable Mentions, before finally winning my quarter outright. While the early kudos were encouraging, it felt a little like always being the bridesmaid, which only made me try that little bit harder each time. The WOTF contest was great in terms of setting myself achievable goals, becoming persisent and productive, and learning to edit a work to suit a particular market. In many ways my frontal assault on WOTF was the logical follow-on from the Clarion South workshop, and indeed many of my entries first went through some brutal critting sessions from my old class-mates. For which I am eternally grateful! And many of these close calls went on to be published elsewhere, so as far as processes go I could have done worse 🙂
The workshop is coming up a bit later this year, and I’m equal parts excited and terrified. The prize includes a trip to America, a one-week writing workshop with tutors such as Tim Powers and KD Wentworth, the opportunity to meet the judges (who are one and all luminaries and legends) and a black-tie awards ceremony where I will be up for the grand prize against the other three quarterly winners. Eep!
As an SF writer, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. This contest is a wonderful thing for up-and-coming authors, many of whom have gone on to do great things. I can only hope to do the same!
2. What have you had published recently and what’s coming up next?
I’ve recently gone through a quiet patch on the short-story front, mostly because I’m trying to work in longer forms. My last print appearances being in Midnight Echo #3 as well as the awesomely absurd Zombonauts, an anthology of “zombies in space” stories. I’m most excited about the novella I wrote in a shared zombie apocalypse setting, “After The World: Gravesend”. It’s just hit newsagents Australia wide, and is available online at http://www.blackboox.net/products/After-the-World%3A-Gravesend.html.
Some more short stories of mine are appearing soon, with two ASIM stories on the cards (More zombies! Eurydice rebooted!), another Midnight Echo piece (giant carnivorous kangaroos!), and an Aurealis story (the sequel to “for want of a jesusman”!). Later in the year, the Writers of the Future anthology will see print, and will contain my story “The House of Nameless”, as well as all the other winning stories, illustrations, essays from SF legends, in short All That Is Cool 🙂
3. So, what’s next for Mr Fischer? I hear there’s a novel in the works? What other aims do you have now you’ve achieved your Writers of the Future goal?
There is a novel, progressing in fits and starts. It’s going by the working name of “Candle-Craft”, and is a crazy bastard mixture of Gormenghast and Red Nails, with all sorts of Fischer Wrongness glueing it together. The words “epic steampunk/fantasy” could also apply. I’ve collected copious notes, maps, character backgrounds, all sorts really, and while I initially salivated over my own setting, I’m starting to bring it back to a focus on my characters (which works much better). I’ve had one person quietly ask to be Tuckerised, and I reckon I’d like to do this at least once per novel. In fact, I will! This I swear on the Internet.
So I’m chipping away at “Candle-Craft”, a little bit at a time, and really enjoying each writing session. Savouring the process, rather than obsessing over it. Keeping it fun seems to work better for me than self-flagellation, and I personally find publicly accountable word-counts are counterproductive and scary. So I don’t do them at the moment, but admire those who can.
The last novel I attempted was the infamous “Tusk”, which was basically a fantasy Planet of the Apes, where telepathic elephants have enslaved mankind. It…didn’t quite work, but the central idea was great fun, so I might try and rework that next – I’m suspecting a total re-write is required, which hurts my everything. And there are a couple of other things I can’t really talk about at the moment, which is the most annoying and frustrating thing to mention in an interview. But yes, there are irons, being liberally applied to various fires…
I figure I’ll hop back onto the short-story horse when the novel is done, and after I hit Writers of the Future I expect to crank out a whole bunch of short work, fired up and unstoppable.
4. Which Australian writers or work would you like to see on the Hugo shortlists this year?
I want to see that list covered with locals, but in all practicality I would even be happy to see just some of our strongest writers on the various shortlists. Um, Karen Miller, Paul Haines, Sean Williams, Richard Harland (loved Worldshaker!), young whippersnappers like Angela Slatter, Peter M Ball, Deb Biancotti, Chris Green, Ian McHugh, I could go on but it’s starting to become a laundry list. Aussie Aussie Aussie!
5. I believe you’ll be at Aussiecon 4 in September? What are you most looking forward to about it?
All going well I’ll be Worldconning, and I’m looking forward to catching up with folks, meeting other folks, buying tonnes of books, and catching the buzz. Will there be another Australian Golden Age of SF brought on by a local World-Con? If so, it sure would be cool to witness its beginnings. The last Worldcon apparently launched a gagillion local SF magazines and gained some of our local writers international attention – hopefully this will give our local SF community a shot of enthusiasm, and recharge our collective gusto.