Jason Nahrung grew up on a Queensland cattle property and now lives in Melbourne with his wife and fellow writer Kirstyn McDermott. He works as an editor and journalist to fund his travel addiction. His dark fiction includes The Darkness Within (Hachette Australia) and Salvage (Twelfth Planet Press). He can be found online at www.jasonnahrung.com
1) What’s it like being married to Kirstyn…. *giggle* …. but seriously, when’s your novella Salvagecoming out and what can we expect from it?
What can I say? Life’s an adventure Salvage is due to be launched at Continuum 8. It’s an Australian Gothic tale inspired by my writing group’s retreats to Bribie Island in Queensland, as well my memories of childhood holidays on Fraser Island. Expect love on the rocks, a near death experience and a close encounter of the supernatural kind to bring about a life-changing realisation for our conflicted heroine.
2) I had no idea at all that you won co-won the William Atheling Award in 2005 for a piece you wrote in the Courier Mail. The subject of the article was, “Why are publishers afraid of horror?” 7 years later and do you still think they’re afraid?
Perhaps not so much afraid as wary, and just as unlikely to call it by its name. Horror is such a difficult genre to define — certainly the ’80s slasher/thriller/schlock is still on the nose with the major houses, though small press like to dabble. You’re more likely to find psychological or Gothic horror or suspense shelved in general fiction; dark fantasy edges that territory. Paranormal romance is not, as the genre title suggests, horror, though it has done a fine job of emasculating the tropes of classic monster horror.
3) Your first novel came out in 2007, The Darkness Within. Now that you’ve written a novella, does this mean you’re working up to a second novel?
I’ve had a couple of manuscripts fall over since TDW came out, but I’ve finally got one to sing. It’s early days yet, contract’s still wet, but I’m hoping to see a new vampire novel out as an e-book before the end of the year. It’s much darker, much more brutal, than TDW or Salvage, though it does take place in the same universe as TD.
4) What Australian works have you loved recently?
We’ve seen a most rewarding number of high quality titles in the past year or two. Some that I’ve read recently include Burn Bright by Marianne de Pierres, The Courier’s New Bicycle by Kim Westwood, the Creature Courtseries by Tansy Rayner Roberts, Eon and Eona by Alison Goodman, the Watergivers series by Glenda Larke, Sea Wives by Margo Lanagan; collections from Lisa Hannett, Tansy, Angela Slatter and Sue Isle have been particularly strong; Jonathan Strahan has edited a handful of extremely strong international anthologies in the past two years and Jack Dann’s co-edited Ghosts by Gaslight has received great notices. Paul Haines died this year and it was a crime for the community as well as a tragedy for his family: The Past is a Bridge Best Left Burnt, from The Last Days of Kali Yuga, shows a writer in peak condition. I’ve also had an advance read of Kirstyn’s Perfections due out later this year and it’s gonna make some readers lose sleep. I’m also greatly looking forward to the return of Kim Wilkins to the spec fic shelves.
5) Two years on from Aussiecon 4, what do you think are some of the biggest changes to the Australian Spec Fic scene?
Boutique presses are increasing in number and expanding their range of operations, but it’s the rise of e-publishing and arrival of mobile reading platforms that’s really changing the publishing landscape. Will it increase the reach of Australian writers across the traditional regional boundaries due to access to Amazon and iTunes, for instance? Can self-publishers and small press forge relationships and (social) media campaigns that can cut through the noise? Legacy publishers are lowering their barriers, too, with some accepting unsolicited manuscripts. Supernova and similar corporate pop culture conventions have opened a new avenue for writers to reach a market that the traditional conventions don’t seem to have had much success reaching out to. GenreCon in November is a new industry-focused convention model for Australia (at least outside of romance, perhaps). Spec fic commentary has continued to move online with the rise of podcasts as a chief method of discussing new work and issues within the genre.The Australian Horror Writers Association has suffered some crises of direction, and other attempts to form genre-specific associations appear to have falllen by the wayside. On a more positive, final note, we’re seeing Aussies such as Margo Lanagan, Shaun Tan, Angela Slatter and Kaaron Warren being recognised by overseas awards bodies, so the word is getting out and the geographic boundaries are being eroded. With writers such as Trent Jamieson and Lee Battersby being added to UK publisher Angry Robot’s line-up and a global focus becoming more the norm for the legacy publishers, that reach will hopefully keep expanding.