Margo Lanagan has published four collections of short stories — White Time, Black Juice, Red Spikes and Yellowcake— and two novels, Tender Morsels and Sea Hearts(published as The Brides of Rollrock Island in the UK and, in September, the US). She has won the World Fantasy Award four times for best collection, short story, novel and novella—she has also won five Aurealis Awards and four Ditmars, and her work has been nominated for Hugo, Nebula, International Horror Guild, BSFA, Seiun, Shirley Jackson, Bram Stoker and Theodore Sturgeon awards, and twice been placed on the James Tiptree Jr honor list. Margo lives in Sydney.
1. Sea Hearts (or The Brides of Rollrock Island) has been out for just a few months now (editor’s note: it’s EXCELLENT!). It’s a very different book to Tender Morsels, your last major novel — what has the reaction from the reading public, and the critics, been like?
Pretty uniformly wonderful, I have to say (and thank you, editor!). There was a reprint here in Australia in February, right after release, and the reviews have been great both here and in the UK, as well as one or two US ones by people who’ve had copies smuggled to them. I think readers of Tender Morsels are relieved at the lack of rapeyness in this book. The Goodreads site is thick with stars!
2. 2011 saw the release of Yellowcake, the latest in your collections of short stories (following White Time, Black Juice and Red Spikes). Has the experience of putting together a collection of your own work changed over time? Could you tell us a little about the process?
Yellowcake was different from the previous collections; they were written, all original stories, with a collection in mind, whereas Yellowcake was compiled from previously published stories, and had only one original, “Into the Clouds on High”. Some principles were the same, such as aiming for the maximum variety, alternating male and female, young and old voices where possible, having some lightness here and there (not too much, now!) to relieve the general horror and angst. But all the stories were completed and more or less set in stone, so the process was more like shifting pieces around on a board than growing a collection story by story. I feel as if the next collection should be a grown one, rather than another assembled one.
3. There is a current trend of fairy tale retellings in books, television and film — clearly Tender Morsels was the forerunner for this! If you had your way, would you like to see Tender Morsels adapted for the screen? Do you think there’s hope for such a project?
There was a nibble from a moviemaker, but the word that came back to me was that the novel was a bit too Pan’s Labyrinth. I couldn’t see that as a problem, myself, but the interested party clearly did. I think a stunning film could be made of it. The process would be excruciating to watch, though, like having someone pull out your heart through your chest wall and toss it from hand to hand. I wouldn’t want to watch too closely.
4. What Australian works have you loved recently?
My Aus. spec. fic. reading has been pretty much nonexistent lately, but I’ve enjoyed Peter Temple’s The Broken Shore and Truth, Kate Grenville’s The Lieutenant, and Krissy Kneen’s Triptych.
5. Two years on from Aussiecon 4, what do you think are some of the biggest changes to the Australian Spec Fic scene?
In the last two years, the onslaught of the women, I’d say. The VIDA survey actually has made, not just some editors take a good hard look at their practices, but women ourselves more assertively claim some attention. Cross-genre efforts like the Australian Women Writers Challenge are very cheering to see. Also, we’ve got some doozies of women writers in the spec fic field. Kaaron Warren, for example, is beginning to horrify the whole world in the best possible way, and Alisa Krasnostein’s Twelve Planets series (which I’m honoured to be part of, withCracklescape coming out in August) is showcasing us beautifully.