Peter M. Ball is a Brisbane-based writer whose work includes the faerie-noir novellas Horn and Bleed, and his short fiction has appeared in publications such as Daily SF, Apex Magazine, and Eclipse 4. When not writing he’s organising the Australian Writer’s Marketplace GenreCon taking place in Sydney in November of 2012. Find him online at petermball.com and on twitter@petermball.
1. You’ve recently taken on a position at the QWC and are running the new writing convention, Genrecon. What can we expect from Genrecon, and how will it be different from other spec-fic conventions?
Lets set aside the big one as obvious: GenreCon caters to all genres, from horror and fantasy and sci-fi through to romance and crime. There’s great writers in all of these genres and we wanted to celebrate them and their work
After that the biggest difference is going to be the lack of content for readers and fans. GenreCon is all about writers and writing, with a program focused on craft, the business of being a creative professional, and a research stream that’s all about getting things right in your fiction. Couple that with the kind of things that are rarely seen at spec-fic cons in Australia, such as pitching sessions with publishers and agents representing genre fiction, and we’re hoping to create a convention that helps launch the careers of new genre writers around Australia.
More importantly, because we’re running under the Australian Writer’s Marketplace banner, we’re hoping to catch the attention of people who wouldn’t ordinarily go to a sci-fi convention and connect them with the rich and supportive community of writers and fans currently active in Australia. I know that I’ve benefited from all the conventions I’ve been to since I started writing SF, but I wasn’t even aware that they existed prior to attending Clarion South in 2007.
2. In addition to your short fiction, the last few years have seen you attract attention for your novellas, Horn and Bleed. Can we expect to see more long fiction from you? Is there a novel hiding under the bed?
There’s nothing hiding under the bed, but there’s a big list of novel ideas on my hard-drive and a bunch of works in various states of completion. I’ve backed away from writing short fiction in recent years so I can start figuring out how novels works, and I’m discovering that I rather enjoy writing in long form. I’m not good at it yet, but I’ll get there. It took a few years of writing short stories before I really figured out the form and felt comfortable writing them, and I figure it’ll be the same with novel-length fiction.
I do have a couple of novellas that I’m close to completing, for definitions of close that equates to “by the end of the year, maybe.” I’m a somewhat slower writer than I used to be due to changes in my working life, but the trade-off is that I’m happier with what I’m doing and feel the freedom to do explore some more interesting ideas.
3. Where can we find some new Peter M. Ball, and what are you working on at the moment?
I spent 2011 writing a 12-peice short story cycle, Flotsam, for the Edge of Propinquitywebsite. It was an experiment in a lot of ways, pushing myself to do a lot of things I didn’t ordinarily do as a writer, and the results were pretty mixed so I didn’t promote it as well as I should have. I’ve also got a handful of short stories coming out towards the end of the year, including a cyberpunk fable, The Minotaur’s and the Signal Ghosts, in Stone Skin Press’s The Lion and the Aardvark anthology.
I’m currently working on a short novel I’m currently calling The Untitled Victorian Planetary Romance, Part 1. It’s basically playing with the John Carter-esque end of the Steampunk spectrum and exploring some of the real issues I had with the sexual and colonial politics at work in Burrough’s A Princess of Mars. Obviously the finished novel will probably get a better title – the current one feels a bit on the nose.
4. What Australian works have you loved recently?
My favourite Australian work this year has been an issue of The Review of Australian Fiction featuring novelettes from Kim Wilkins and Meg Vann.
The Review is a great concept – each issue pairs work by one established author with the work of an emerging writer of the author’s choice – and I think it’s easy to forget just how phenomenal Kim Wilkins is as a fantasist because she produces so much. I was really excited to see her working at the novelette length, and I’m really interested in seeing what’s coming from her forthcoming collection with Ticonderoga as a result of this piece.
I have to admit, though, that the real reason I picked this issue up was Meg Vann’s novella, Provocation. I first met Meg at a writing course a few years ago, and for a long time she was one of the best unpublished writers I knew. I’m really glad that’s no longer the case.
5. Two years on from Aussiecon 4, what do you think are some of the biggest changes to the Australian Spec Fic scene?
Short story collections. I mean, holy hell, those thing are everywhere these days. Between the Twelve Planets series and the Ticonderoga collections, fans of short stories (which I am) are seeing a lot of really cool collections coming out in a variety of formats.
I’m also really interested in seeing the increased discourse about gender and feminism in Australian SF. I’m a haphazard feminist – it comes with the territory when you’re white, male, and middle-class, for obvious reasons – but I’ve always been interested in the discourse that surrounds feminism and the discussions about gender that results from that.