Peter M. Ball is a Brisbane writer who attended Clarion South in 2007. His novella, Horn, was published by Twelfth Planet Press in 2009 and his most recent short stories have appeared inStrange Horizons, Apex Magazine, Shimmer, and theInterfictions II anthology. He can be found online atwww.petermball.com.
1. Horn has had such great feedback, from reviewers and readers. How
are you following it up, and are we going to see Miriam Aster in full-length novels someday?
The impetus for Horn was essentially a dare that raged out of control, so the question of what comes next has been looming ever since I started talking to Twelfth Planet Press about the possibility of doing more with Aster. Right now I’m working on a second novella that Twelfth Planet has scheduled for release later this year, and there’s a half-finished draft of a third novella floating around my computer as well. My goal is to use the three books to create a kind of triptych of the relationship Aster has with the faerie and the queen-in-exile Anya Titan, making connections for the people who want them to be there while keeping each as a stand-alone story.
An Aster novel may come one day, but there’s an economy to the novella that suits the Hardboiled Detective genre elements I’m playing with in her stories. This means I’d either be writing a very short novel – the kind that publishers tend to shy away from – or I’d need to find another angle on the character that’d give me the scope to expand.
2. Over the last year or two you have regularly appeared in overseas genre magazines such as Strange Horizons and Fantasy, and several high profile anthologies. What advice would you give to Australian writers who want to break into the overseas markets?
Don’t overcomplicate it. I wrote stories, I submitted them to overseas markets, and I repeated the process with dogged persistence until editors started saying yes. It’s exactly the same thing you do when submitting to Australian markets, except the overseas markets have slightly larger slush piles and tend to be in a position to pay a little better.
Befriend some Americans. You’ll need them to send you stamps if you want to submit to several of the more recognised print markets, since they’ll require a SSAE with your submission and International Reply Paid Coupons are generally more trouble than they’re worth.
Duotrope and Ralan are useful, but they’ll take time away from your writing if you let them. Actually, hell, lets be honest: Duotrope will eat your soul if you’re the type to start agonising over response times. Don’t let it. Distract yourself by writing a new story instead of wondering what it means that an editor has held your story for 70 days when the market average if 68. It’ll work out better for everyone involved.
3. What’s next for Peter M. Ball? What have you been working on, writingwise, and what are your goals for the next couple of years?
I’ve got stories coming up in Weird Tales, Electric Velocipede and a few other magazines, plus some projects with Twelfth Planet press that includes the novellas mentioned above. I’m also working on a novel, Black Candy, that I’m hoping to get finished in the first half of 2010.
Beyond that, the plan is basically write, write some more, and keep writing until someone takes the keyboard away and tells me I have to stop.
4. Which Australian writers or work would you like to see on the Hugo shortlists this year?
A bunch of friends have been recommending Australian writers for the Campbell award and I’m surprised by the fact that Angela Slatter wasn’t on their lists. I suspect folks are assuming she’s not eligible for various reasons, but she is (I checked) and she really deserves to be there – the fact she’ll have two separate short-story collections available by the end of 2010 is testament to the quality of her writing. Seeing friends like Chris Green, Jason Fischer, and Lisa Hannett on the Campbell list would bring me similar glee, and Lisa’s story In the Lot and In the Air was one of the stories from 2009 that really seemed like it should get more attention than it did. Rob Hood gets my vote for Best Fan Writer thanks to the Undead Backbrain, and I’d like to see any number of the Australian editors on the list – possibly too many, at this point – so I’ll go with the obvious in Jonathan Strahan and Alisa Krasnostein. I could go on, possibly indefinitely, so I’m going to stop myself there and acknowledge that seeing any Australian on the Hugo listings will bring me joy. Even as I type this I’m getting little pangs of regret about some the names that aren’t on my list (Paul Haines! Sean Williams! Karen Miller!), so it isn’t like we have a shortage of talented folks who deserve it.
5. Are you planning to go to Aussiecon 4 in September? If so, what are you most looking forward to?
Yep, I’ll be there. I’m primarily looking forward to the various launches that have been announced, finding a comfortable spot to chat with old friends who wouldn’t have gathered if the worldcon wasn’t happening, and generally indulging my inner geek for a few days. The usual con stuff, I guess, but since it’s my first worldcon I’m not entirely sure what else to expect.