Dirk Strasser has written over 30 books for major publishers in Australia and has been editing magazines and anthologies since 1990. He won a Ditmar for Best Professional Achievement and has been short-listed for the Aurealis and Ditmar Awards a number of times. His fantasy novels – including Zenith and Equinox – were originally published by Pan Macmillan in Australia and Heyne Verlag in Germany. His children’s horror/fantasy novel, Graffiti, was published by Scholastic. His short fiction has been translated into a number of languages, and his most recent publications are “The Jesus Particle” in Cosmos magazine, “Stories of the Sand” in Realms of Fantasy and “The Vigilant” in Fantasy magazine. He founded the Aurealis Awards and has co-published Aurealis magazine for over 20 years.
It became obvious to me while we were looking for a new editor for Aurealis that the magazine needed a complete overhaul. It was doing reasonably well, but it it looked to me, after not being involved in the day-to-day running of it for quite a while, that we were running madly just to stay on the same spot. Postage just kept going up, and we had to keep increasing our prices, and subscribers understandably don’t like it when magazines increase their prices. It was also incredibly expensive for overseas people to buy Aurealis. I realised that we weren’t going to increase our readership the way things were going. I finally came to the conclusion that epublication was the way forward. Although I set up the first four or five e-publication issues, Stephen Higgins, Michael Pryor and I decided from the beginning that we would be joint editors. The three of us have the joint final say in the choice of stories, covers and format of Aurealis, and we are rotating the actual editorship between us.
Aurealis now is published as a epublication for all eReading devices each month (except December and January). We publish two stories per issue plus a large number of up-to-date reviews, interviews, articles and news. I’m really enjoying being in the thick of things at the moment. A monthly schedule means you can see the fruits of your labours pretty quickly.
2. You were instrumental in setting up the Aurealis Awards in 1995 – did you envisage at the time that the awards would achieve the status they currently enjoy?
No way. At the time, I just hoped they would remain alive and of interest to the Australian SF community. We had no money at first, and I remember that we handed out certificates at the first ceremony because we couldn’t afford actual trophies. They are much much bigger than I thought they would get. I still get a kick out every time I see “Aurealis Award winning” on a piece of marketing from the big publishers.
3. You have written both a great many short stories and novels in the past – are there more books on the near horizon for you?
There is an epic series on the scale of George R R Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire that I have been working on for many years called The Seven Prophets. It’s a fantasy with a strong historical element which uses a totally different mythological basis to most fantasy books, so I’ve had to do an enormous amount of research. I’m really confident that the overall plan and first book in the series, The Hidden Prophet, is now finally ready, so I’m hopeful that the series going to be picked up by a major publisher.
4. What Australian works have you loved recently?
I loved Sara Creasy’s Song of Scarabaeus and the sequel Children of Scarabaeus. There is a great scene towards the end of the first book where the protagonists are literally descending into a forest. Forest journeys are a dime a dozen in SF, but this one is unique. I’ve really enjoyed actively reading and selecting stories for Aurealis again. I obviously really like any story that we’ve accepted, but I’d have to say that Jason Fischer’s “Rolling for Fetch” in Aurealis #49 really stands out to me as a brilliant story.
5. Two years on from Aussiecon 4, what do you think are some of the biggest changes to the Australian Spec Fic scene?
It appears to me that that the Australian SF scene is still on an upward spiral, and has continued to even greater heights over the last two years. Australians are winning World Fantasy Awards. Australian writers and editors are making their mark with significant works. I see more diversity and even more dynamism and enthusiasm than a few years ago. Maybe as communications and technologies become faster and faster, we’re no longer defined by our small corner of the world and it’s easier for our voices to be heard.