Stuart Mayne is editor of Aurealis Magazine. As The Mayne Press, he recently published the Paul Haines collection A Slice of Life.
1. As editor of Aurealis magazine, you are focussed on Australian writers and artists. How would you characterise the local scene at the moment? What reflections do you have on the slush pile and on the current crop of writers coming through?
The SF scene is very strong. I think that SF writers are using short fiction better than any other writers of Australian literature, whether literary or other genre of fiction. Our established writers, in particular, are writing short fiction at the zenith of it’s technique and structure. I’m thinking of people such as Lucy Sussex, Geoffrey Maloney, Kaaron Warren and Adam Browne.
Given that assessment I personally find it frustrating that I publish only two issues a year. I have enough strong Australian work coming to my in-box that I could easily fill four to six issues a year.
The slush pile is as it always is – a mishmash. I publish about 4% of submissions and as I, mentioned above, could publish twice as much of that. But that still leaves 92% that doesn’t make the grade.
The current crop of newer/younger short fiction writers are good, with a range of skill levels and I have seen a particular development in skill levels from a number of young writers some of whom are being published in Aurealis for the first time this year.
2. You recently published a collection of Paul Haines stories under The Mayne Press, which was nominated for an Aurealis Award. Has the collection been all you hoped for? What future plans do you have for The Mayne Press?
Slice of Life is a fantastic collection. I am very proud of it and am immensely impressed by the work Geoff Maloney did pulling it together into a coherent structure. Paul Haines’ is a very talented writer whose work needed to be made easily available to the Australian audience. It is all I hoped for. But I have no plans to publish any other collections under the TMP imprint.
3. What can we expect from Aurealis magazine this year?
I have two strong issues selected. And I’ve continued to do in these two issues what I do in each previous issue, create an issue with a mix of SF sub-genres along with established and new writers.
I’ve enjoyed allowing my inner horror nerd come out by continuing to include a bush horror story in each issue I’ve edited. I’ve not had enough quality science fiction for my own tastes; science fiction is my preferred genre, but have found one or two for each issue.
Last year I tried to publish two themed issues, but they didn’t quite work as I would have liked, despite great overseas reviews, because I was mixing too many elements. This year I’ve gone back to the principles of Occam’s Razor (a mix of SF sub-genres along with established and new writers).
4. Which Australian writers or work would you like to see on the Hugo shortlists this year? What have you enjoyed reading?
I’d like to see Paul Haines get on the shortlist; I appreciate his male focussed contemporary horror. Would also love to see Adam Duncan, who does the covers of Aurealis, get some recognition for his consistently high quality illustrative work. Kaaron Warren’s Slights was a particularly fine long piece and I think deserves to be shortlisted. On the short fiction front there are many new and established authors who have written very strong fiction that should be considered.
5. Will you be at Aussiecon 4 in September? If so, what are you most looking forward to about it?
Yep, I’ll be there manning the Aurealis table. I’ll be looking forward to getting off the table.