Andrew J McKiernan is a writer and illustrator, who specialises in the ‘dark and bizarre’. He was a founding editor of the original Australian dark fiction news blog ‘HorrorScope’, and has recently launched ‘Thirteen O’Clock’ with fellow authors Alan Baxer and Felicity Dowker. His website is http://www.kephra.com.au/ and he tweets athttps://twitter.com/AndrewMcKiernan.
1. You’re a writer and illustrator, but looking at your more recent award nominations, you are now gaining more recognition for your writing than your illustration (for example, your much nominated novelette “All the Clowns in Clowntown”). Has this recognition provided further traction to your writing career? What have you got coming out in 2012?
Award recognition has certainly provided traction for my own enthusiasm and confidence, but I’m not sure it has had any influence on others. Maybe I’ve gained a few extra readers, people curious enough about award short-listings to check out the nominated works they might not have otherwise heard of, but I don’t think it has much influence on editors. Editors are the first people you need to impress when submitting, and with them I think it really is still all about the story. It doesn’t really matter how many award nominations you’ve had in the past. If the stories you’re submitting now aren’t good enough, they’re not going to make the cut. So, yeah, the personal validation that an award nomination brings is great. It means I can be more confident about my writing (something that I do because I love doing it) and not be so worried about doing illustration work (something that I do just because I can).
As for what I’ve got coming out in 2012? I’ve just had a new novelette, “White Lines, White Crosses” published in the NIGHT TERRORS ANTHOLOGY from Kayelle Press, and what is probably my most gruesome story yet, “The Final Degustation of Doctor Ernest Blenheim” will be appearing in Midnight Echo #7. My old column and comic strip about Australian myths and legends from Black magazine, “Black Roads, Dark Highways”, is being revived as a regular feature in Midnight Echo too, which is great because I have a lot of fun writing and drawing those. Emergent Publishing have one of my short stories, “Torch Song”, coming out Tiny Dancer, another release in their Literary Mixed Tape series; that was great fun to work on because Emergent Publishing have such a collaborative way of putting anthologies together. Possibly the most exciting news is that I some stories being reprinted in a couple of international anthologies.
2. Since the last snapshot, the social media landscape has changed considerably, particularly with the explosion of twitter. How are you using social media to further your writing career? Do you think editors and publishers are paying more attention to it when considering whether to work with an author?
Maybe editors and publishers are paying attention when it comes to novels, but I don’t think so with short stories. Again, I still hope that the story is the important thing there, and not whether you’ve got a 1,000 followers on twitter. I am on Facebook and Twitter, but I don’t really use them as tools to further my writing career. There’s nothing worse than being bombarded with messages about some author’s latest self-published e-book release on Smashwords. It actually turns me off the thought of reading their stuff, and I’m sure it’s the same for a lot of others too. Using social media soley as an advertising tool seems like a very bad idea to me. Using to engage with your readers? Well, that’s a totally different thing and I feel that as long as I’m being myself and posting the sort of things I and my readers are interested in then I’m doing the right thing.
3. You have recently established Thirteen O’Clock (http://www.thirteenoclock.com.au/), a dark fiction news and review site with fellow authors, Alan Baxter and Felicity Dowker. Why was it important to you to be part of this initiative and what are you hoping to achieve through the site?
Having been one of the founding reviewers for HorrorScope, I’ve always seen its untimely demise as leaving an enormous hole in the Australian dark fiction landscape. Thirteen O’Clock was created by Alan, Felicity and I to help fill that hole. Dark and weird fiction in Australia has been on the rise in Australia for quite some time now and its quality has never been better. Hopefully, through the site, we can make a few more people aware of that, both locally and internationally.
4. What Australian works have you loved recently?
Trent Jamieson’s ‘Business of Death’ trilogy was great, dark fun. The final collection from the late Paul Haines, ‘The Last Days of Kali Yuga’ was an exceptional collection that I think is already a classic of the Australian spec-fic scene. And Felicity Dowker’s ‘Bread and Circuses’, due soon from Ticonderoga, is going to kick some serious butt; it truly is a well written and hard hitting collection of stories.
5. Two years on from Aussiecon 4, what do you think have been the biggest changes to the Australian SpecFic scene?
I can’t say I’ve seen any radical changes. The Australian spec-fic scene is just continuing on doing what it has always done; dedicated small-press outfits publishing and promoting the work of some great, hard working authors. It is just good to see that the rest of the world is really starting to take notice of that. I don’t think that has as much to do any follow-on from Aussiecon though, just that the persistence of some brilliant editors and authors is finally paying off outside our own shores.