Gary Kemble’s award-winning short fiction has been published in magazines and anthologies in Australia and abroad – most recently in the Rage Against the Night anthology and Midnight Echo 7. You can follow him on Twitter: http://twitter.com/garykemble
1. In 2011 you received an Australia Council New Work grant to work part-time on your novel, ‘Skin Deep’. Did it go as you’d hoped? Now that #grantyear is over, what’s the next step for you and your manuscript?
It went very well. I didn’t quite hit my target, which was to have a polished manuscript that I could send off to publishers and agents, but I got very close. I had the help of a fledgling editor, Claudine Ryan, and also some very good beta readers. Now the real work begins. 🙂 I’m currently trying to place the MS with a suitable agent or publisher.
2. I note that part of your request for funding was to enable you to have time for research and planning, rather than simply writing time. Do you think this translated into a deeper level of detail in ‘Skin Deep’ than you otherwise could have achieved? Do you think it will change how you write in the future?
The research was very important to me. I don’t know if it’s my lazy imagination or my background in journalism, but it’s very important to me that I get the ‘real-world’ stuff right. So I did a lot of reading on bikie culture, the SAS, organised crime, money laundering, and tattooing. Tattoos are a big part of the story so (given I have no tattoos myself) I made sure I spent some time with tattooists so I could see with my own eyes what they do and how they do it.
I found this a massive help when I sat down to write (although, of course, there’s a lot of overlap between the researching and the writing – sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know until you sit down to write about it). It’s funny — you think you know a lot of stuff, but when it comes down to the nitty gritty… What sort of weapon would an SAS sniper use? How do organised criminals launder money? What’s it like when an rickety fishing boat carrying hundreds of asylum seekers goes down off the coast?
I realised that this was a weakness in previous writing projects and I think working on Skin Deep last year confirmed that, yes, it was a weakness and, yes, if I put the time in I can address that weakness.
3. There’s a lovely post on your blog about how editing is like counselling (http://garykemblenews.blogspot.com.au/2011/08/grant-year-week-32-editing.html), in that it’s more about being asked the right questions than being told what to do. Has editing ‘Skin Deep’ been different to editing previous short or long fiction? How does the editing process for fiction compare to that for non-fiction?
Thanks! I’m glad you liked it. I don’t know how it is for other writers/editors. I think both Claudine and I were both finding our way a little bit, but I really liked the editing process (usually I hate it) and I think it really worked for this project.
In terms of previous projects — this is the first time where I’ve actually had an editor to work with, and I loved it. Previously, I’ve just been flailing around by myself! I think working with Claudine really taught me a lot about the structural editing process and (hopefully) future projects will benefit from that.
For short fiction, it’s like gold dust when an editor works with you to get the most out of a story. I really appreciate it when they take the time to do this.
In terms of non-fiction, I haven’t had much edited lately, or done much editing of non-fiction. Generally, the stuff that I’ve had edited in that area has been fairly down-the-line journalism, so the editing is more nuts and bolts, sentence-level stuff.
4. What Australian works have you loved recently?
I really enjoyed Stephen M Irwin’s The Broken Ones. I know it has worldwide appeal but as a BrisVegan I still got a vicarious thrill, seeing The Broken Ones play out in my home town.
5. Two years on from Aussiecon 4, what do you think have been the biggest changes to the Australian SpecFic scene?
I can’t believe it’s been two years! That’s kind of amazing and kind of depressing. I haven’t been that engaged in the scene, to be honest. Work and family life have been pretty full-on.
I think the outpouring of emotion when Paul Haines passed away, and also the way the community has rallied to help out Rocky Wood, shows that it’s really about the people. I’m proud to be a part of that community.