Keith Stevenson is a speculative fiction editor, reviewer, podcaster and author. He’s the publisher with coeur de lion publishing, an Australian-based independent press which has, so far, picked up four Aurealis Awards, one Ditmar, one Vogel and a World Fantasy Award for its published titles. Keith began his editing career as editor of Aurealis Magazine from 2001 to 2004. He set up coeur de lion publishing in 2006 and in 2008 he became the science fiction and horror reviewer for Aurealis Magazine until 2010. Keith also produced and presented the Terra Incognita Speculative Fiction Podcast for thirty shows from late 2008, featuring the best Australian speculative fiction read by the authors who created it. He’s also variously organised, convened or judged in the Aurealis Awards on and off since 2001.
1. Your publishing house, coeur de lion, produced the SF anthologyAnywhere but Earth last year, and three stories were shortlisted for the Aurealis Awards. As the editor and publisher, do you get a kick out of seeing stories you’ve brought to the world being recognised in this way?
Of course. It’s always good to get recognition. coeur de lion is a one person operation and *Anywhere but Earth* was a massive task. It took me a year just to read through the 300+ submissions and select the works, then another year to get the physical and ebook together. I was particularly glad to see Rob Stephenson pick up the award. Rob did a lot of work on that story through the editing process. It was such a rich and layered world he created. I was glad I could help bring it to the reading public. There is a lot of great fiction in *AbE* from a lot of great writers. I love every one of those stories.
2. You halted production on the Australian speculative fiction podcast, *Terra Incognita*, in May last year – what was behind that decision, given the increasing visibility of other Aussie podcasts over the past two years?
Simple. I’d learned all I could and I’d done what I set out to achieve. TISF was was a trail-blazer for independent Australian spec fic podcasts, preceding Galactic Suburbia by 15 months. But, like coeur de lion, TISF was a one person operation. For 30 months I presented, engineered and produced the show and got some fantastic stories read by a lot of very talented Australian writers. That was a lot of work, and once I’d learned how to do it and felt I’d mastered that, I started thinking about the next thing to do. After 30 shows it was time to pull the pin. Those shows are still out there on iTunes and at www.tisf.com.au. And we’re also in the National Archives.
3. What’s next for you, both as a publisher and a writer? Anything new coming up you can tell us about?
coeur de lion’s next book will be Adam Browne’s Pyrotechnicon. It’s a wonderful, chaotic story – the tale of Cyrano de Bergerac’s last, and greatest, adventure amongst the empires and states of the stars. We’ll be launching at Conflux 8 in September, where I’m also editor guest of honour. coeur de lion has put out some pretty huge works over the past few years. After Pyrotechnicon I need to take a breather and wait for the next big idea to hit me.
Personally, I have another short story in the pipeline and my three book Space Opera, The Kresh Wars, is coming along nicely. Another year or so and it will be ready for publication. I also have a bottom drawer novel that I’m thinking of polishing up. After they’re out the way, there’s a rather dark and nasty urban thriller that’s been fermenting for a while. It’s based on a short story of mine that Paul Haines and I then turned into a screenplay. That went nowhere but the story itself is strong. Paul told me I have to finish it, so that’s the longer term plan.
Margo Lanagan’s Sea Hearts, of course. After working on the “Sea-Hearts” novella for X6 I was particularly struck by how the Sea Hearts novel inverted the earlier story and added so much more complexity. The writing is also sublime. Margo leaves a lot of other Australian and international writers for dead.
I’ve read a few other Aussie pieces that were good. Trent Jamieson’s Roil was enjoyable, and it was a fantastically intricate world he created. I enjoyed Things We Didn’t See Coming by Steven Amsterdam. A nice take on post apocalypse stories and the writing is very clean. I’ve also been lucky to read an almost finished draft of Rjurik Davidson’s Unwrapped Sky forthcoming from Tor. Like Trent, Rjurik creates beautifully intricate worlds and mixes eldritch weirdness with genuine human emotion. Hopefully Unwrapped Sky will cause a stir in SF circles not just here but overseas too.
5. Two years on from Aussiecon 4, what do you think are some of the biggest changes to the Australian Spec Fic scene?
Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose. Aussie spec fic grows and wanes. New players come and fill the vacuum left by departure of the old. That was true after Aussiecon 3. I don’t see that anything’s changed since then.