I’d like to welcome Chuck McKenzie as the second author in the my 2012 Snapshot interviews and thank him for taking the time to answer my questions.
Now you have been active as both a writer and an editor, but you have just recently opened a book shop. How is that going and do you have any writing on the go?
The bookshop is travelling really well – better than I’d anticipated, in fact. Word-of-mouth is sending us more customers every day, and forthcoming advertising should only increase our traffic. Unfortunately, I tend not to write much any more – running the store is pretty much a 24/7 occupation that leaves little time over for artistic pursuits.
Looking back over the last 10 years, what of your own work stands out, what are you insanely proud of?
I’m particularly proud of three of my published short stories – ‘The Mark of His Hands’, ‘Predatory Instincts’, and ‘Confessions of a Pod Person’. While I’m rather immodestly fond of quite a few of my short stories, these three in particular seem to have had a particular impact upon readers, and are still remembered today, which I’m very proud of.
Running a small business is a 24/7 job, is there time for writing and do you have plans that you can tell us about?
See my answer to question 1. 🙂 I have plenty of story ideas bubbling away in my head – what I don’t currently have is the time or motivation to write them.
Notions Unlimited is a specialist spec fic bookshop which supports small press? What Australian works have impressed you the most, in recent times?
There are several small press publishers whose entire back-catalogues I’ve found extremely impressive. Ticonderoga Publications, Twelfth Planet Press and Brimstone Press in particular are all fantastic in terms of the quality of their titles and production values.
LegumeMan Books are also producing some wonderful titles. In terms of individual titles, I’ve most enjoyed Brett McBean’s ‘Tales of Sin and Madness’, Martin Livings’ ‘Carnies’ (which is only available now direct from the author, and thus I count it as a small press title), the ‘Macabre’ anthology (edited by Marty Young and Angela Challis), and ‘Belong’ (ed. Russell B. Farr).
But really, there’s so much great stuff coming out of the Aussie small presses at the moment, I’d need far more space in which to rave about all the worthy titles.
Two years on from Aussiecon 4, what do you think are some of the biggest changes to the Australian Spec Fic scene?
I suppose the biggest changes are those caused by the collapse of A&R and Borders – certainly the increasing popularity of e-readers and online sales were already evident at the time of A4. Many small publishers and suppliers went to the wall once 2/3 of all the booksellers in Australia vanished overnight.
Even bigger publishers had to tighten their belts, which has resulted in many of them being more cautious in taking on ‘unproven’ authors. On the upside (for me), booksellers are being pushed to explore alternatives to their usual business models in order to make ends meet, and one of the more successful growing trends is in niche marketing.
A specialist bookseller such as myself can reasonably expect customers to come from further away than they would if looking for a general bookshop, and often make bigger purchases, as there is far more of ‘their favoured genre available. I think this is a trend we’re going to see more of in the bookselling industry over the next few years.
Chuck was born in 1970, and still spends much of his time there. Over the past fifteen years, Chuck has been actively involved with the Australian speculative fiction community; as an award-nominated author, with dozens of short stories to his credit; as a judge for both the Aurealis and Australian Shadows awards; as a staff reviewer for both HorrorScope: the Australian Dark Fiction Blog, and the zombie-themed subsite NecroScope (of which he is also Editor in Chief); and as a bookshop manager, supporting and promoting speculative fiction – and Australian small-press publishing in particular – wherever possible.
Chuck hopes that Notions Unlimited Bookshop with become a nexus for the local speculative fiction and fannish community. He also refuses to apologise for his choices of in-store music.[source: Notions Unlimited]