Gary Kemble is a writer, and journalist for ABC News Online. His short stories have been published here and abroad, and have won several major prizes. He tweets at: http://twitter.com/garykemble
1. Congratulations on your recent inclusion in the 2009 edition of ‘One Book Many Brisbanes’ competition! Can you tell us a bit about your story, the competition, and the masterclass that you’ll be attending? How do you think the speculative fiction scene in Queensland compares to the rest of Australia??
Thank you! My story is called But Hunt, and it’s about a group of survivors trying to escape Brisbane after an infestation of dog-sized, brain-eating cockroaches.
One Book Many Brisbanes has been going for a few years now. I actually was one of the winners back in 2008, with my science fiction story Untethered. They’ve changed the format this year. They’ve doubled the number of winners and we all get to attend a three-day masterclass, run by Queensland Writers Centre, where we’ll be put through our paces by industry professionals.
I don’t really know much about the speculative fiction scenes elsewhere in Australia, but I do know that Kate Eltham and the rest of the team at Queensland Writers Centre are really supportive of speculative fiction, which is a great help for people such as myself.
2. You were staff writer for ‘Black: Australian Dark Culture’ magazine. How was the experience and how did it differ to working for the ABC?
My time writing for Black was very intense! Angela Challis, Shane Jiraiya Cummings and I were flying by the seat of our pants! I wrote more non-fiction in that time than I would have thought was possible, and then they flew me down to Sydney to cover Supanova.
It was a bittersweet experience because it really showed what the Australian dark fiction community could achieve (it seemed like pretty much everyone was involved in some way), but it also showed what a cut-throat business the magazine industry is. It takes a lot to maintain a presence on crammed newsagency shelves. I think Black would have got there if not for the damned GFC.
I know that Shane and Angela and everyone else involved were gutted, but I’m sure Brimstone Press is cooking something good up over there in WA!
When I write for the ABC I have to rein in my interests to some extent. I’m into horror but I when I have my ABC hat on, I have to think about the broader Australian audience. With Black, pretty much everything I pitched, they commissioned. Haunted cemeteries – yep. The secret lives of transgender dominatrixes – go for it. Satanists at Christmas – why not! It was great fun.
3. On a completely different track, recently you’ve been designing a heap of pop culture t-shirts (http://www.redbubble.com/people/garykemble). Is this a new direction for you or a bit of fun on the side? What’s been your most popular design?
A bit of fun on the side. Last year I pumped out an 80,000-word manuscript in about six months. That was something I had promised myself I would never do again, after previous experiences of rushing into long-form writing projects. Anyway, by the end of it I was pretty disheartened and just a tad burnt out.
I’ve always had an interest in design, and I’ve had a chance to dabble in it in various jobs I’ve held. So yeah, it was a chance to express myself in a different way.
My most popular design is also the one I put the least time into: Guns don’t kill zombies, people kill zombies (with guns) – you can find it at Zazzle: http://www.zazzle.com/guns_dont_kill_zombies_people_kill_zombies_tshirt-235909594899621356
4. Which Australian writers or work would you like to see on the Hugo shortlists this year? What have you enjoyed reading?
I thoroughly enjoyed Stephen M Irwin’s The Dead Path. It genuinely creeped me out. I’d also like to see Shane recognised for Shards, and Shane and Angela for Black. Having said that, that’s probably the extent of Australian work I’ve read lately.
5. Will you be at Aussiecon 4 in September? If so, what are you most looking forward to about it?
I would like to be there but I’m not sure if I can swing it yet. I thoroughly enjoyed Conjure a few years ago, and so I’d like to immerse myself in that kind of experience again.