Thoraiya Dyer’s work has appeared in Apex magazine, Cosmos, Nature and Redstone SF. Her fantasy story, “Fruit of the Pipal Tree,” was the winner of the 2011 Aurealis Award in its category. An original collection of her short fiction, “Asymmetry,” will be published in 2012 as part of Twelfth Planet Press’ Twelve Planets Series. You can find her website here.
It’s been a pretty exciting year for you so far, with both local recognition in the form of Aurealis and Ditmar nods, and internationally with your name appearing on the Locus Recommended Reading List and some overseas professional sales. How difficult is it for an Australian to get noticed on the international stage?
Erm. Thank you for that tough first question! I think it’s difficult. Winning an Aurealis Award does not get you snapped up by an agent the same way that winning a Nebula does. But I don’t have an alternate reality me (perhaps me from a reality where Dad didn’t get kicked out of the USA for working on a student visa, and got his degree from the Northrop Aeronautical Institute instead of going to Sydney University? OMG, alternate reality me would have a Californian accent and hate vegemite!) to compare with, so I can’t be sure that’s it. What if I’m just writing the wrong things?
I always feel like I’m writing the wrong things. Like, I’ll get to those things I should be writing after I’m finished writing this less appropriate and yet utterly absorbing thing that’s inside me and I have to get out of the way first.
Wrong things aside, I think no matter where I was from, I would worry about finding that balance between deep personal experience and the universal human experience. If you can nail that, you can get international notice. You can get international critical notice like Margo Lanagan, and/or you can be wildly beloved by hordes of international fans, like Juliet Marillier. Practice makes perfect. I intend to keep practicing!
Last year at Swancon you won the Ditmar for “Best New Talent”. Do you feel that recognition made any difference to your writing, as a spur or encouragement?
Not really. The people who thought I deserved it will continue to believe in me, no matter whether I succeed or fail, and anyone who didn’t, well, I’ve got nothing to prove to them. The best thing about winning BNT was having the Small One come up onto the stage with me to get the award. She remembers that room, full of friendly folk who were all dressed up and very generous with their Easter eggs and glow sticks. She remembers the clapping and the “statue Mum got because she is the best!”
As long as I can keep tricking my daughter into thinking I’m the best, all will be right with the world.
Obviously you have a real talent for the shorter form, but we have also seen an wonderfully received novella from you as well. Do you have a preferred format? Are we likely to see a novel in the near future, or more short stories, or both?
You’re very kind. I have no preference. I get enjoyment from short stories, novellas and novels. Unfortunately I have yet to meet the editor who prefers my novels. But I’m sure he or she is out there. My novel-length soul editor. I wonder what other writer’s novel they are pitching to their corporate masters right now? *romantic sigh* We’ll be together one day.
What Australian works have you loved recently?
“Sea Hearts” by Margo Lanagan and “City of Lies” by Lian Tanner.
Short stories “Possession” by Ben Peek (Steampunk Revolution, Tachyon) and “Stalemate” by Narrelle M Harris (Showtime, Twelfth Planet Press).
Artworks “The Lovers” and “Thinkie, Thinkie” by Marta Tesoro (http://www.rabbittownanimator.com/)
Two years on from Aussiecon 4, what do you think are some of the biggest changes to the Australian Spec Fic scene?
Another tough one. I wasn’t really “in” it last time; Aussiecon 4 was my first con, and if they hadn’t been selling books in the dealer’s room, I probably would have failed to recognise my own editors. Um, the short story submissions I sent to Ben Payne were so bad that he closed both his magazines in disgust before I could submit again? Aurealis stopped being a print magazine? ASIM went quarterly? Angry Robot came along and took a shine to us Antipodeans? A Paul Haines-shaped hole appeared? I can tell you what’s happened in my little corner, with my post-it notes of potential markets creeping up the wall or scrunched up on the floor. But you should ask Jonathan and Gary at the Coode St Podcast about “the scene”. I need at least 2 hours of interesting waffle for my next session on the treadmill, hahaha.