2014 Snapshot Archive: Liz Barr

First published at Elanor Matton-Johnson’s LiveJournal.

Liz Barr is a contributor to the Hugo nominated Chicks Dig Time Lords, a blogger and a committee member for the Continuum convention.

1. You had an essay in the Hugo nominated Chicks Unravel Time in 2012. How important do you think that books like this and it’s sister ‘Geek Girl Chronicles’ and brother Queers Dig Time Lords are to fandom?

Obviously I’m biased, but I think they’re wonderful.  The Geek Girl Chronicles are such a friendly, low-impact way to introduce people to feminist interpretations of pop culture — and different kinds of feminisms, too, because it’s a very individualistic concept.  I wish they’d been around when I was a teen — I remember reading feminist essays on Star Trek, my fandom growing up, and being really put off by the lack of joy in these works.  (There were also concepts which I just straight up disagreed with — and since that was my only exposure to feminist thinking, growing up in a conservative household, for a long time I thought I just didn’t agree with feminism.)

And feminist theories aside, I think it’s great to give women a voice — a louder voice — in fandom.  We’ve always been part of the fannish community, but it seems like every few years we have to muscle up to the front and remind people of that.  The age of all-or-mostly-male anthologies is in the past, and thank heavens for that.

2. You’re involved with organizing and running the Continuum convention in Melbourne (I thoroughly enjoyed my first one this year) – what do you think makes the Australian con scene so good (I’ve only attended a couple, but found them both wonderful experiences)?

I’m glad you enjoyed it!  I think Australian fandom is very welcoming.  A few years ago I went to Aussiecon 4 and knew almost nobody, but I was introduced to a few people, and they introduced me to more, and suddenly I was on the Continuum committee.

Also, I think we’re very lucky in that, although there are certainly disagreements within the community, Australian fandom isn’t politicised the way it is in the United States.  For the last few years, Continuum has been pursuing an overtly feminist, inclusive, diversity-friendly agenda, and we’ve had no pushback whatsoever.  People are very respectful, and I like that.

3. Do you have any fandom projects coming up? What are you looking forward to?

I have to confess that I put off replying to this in the hopes that I’d get the go-ahead to talk about a particular project … but alas, the timing isn’t right.  Suffice to say, your first question about the Geek Girl Chronicles was apt.

Otherwise, unless flailing on Tumblr about Legend of Korra and the sheer animated perfection of Lin Beifong counts as a fandom project, my main interest at the moment is prep for Continuum 11.  I’ve been scouting out possible venues, bribing people to join the committee (I pay in cat pictures), and I have a notebook full of ideas.

And it’s not specifically my project, but I have to give a shout-out to Fablecroft’s upcoming Cranky Ladies anthology — historical fiction based on the lives of history’s difficult women.  It was inspired by a blog post of mine, and if you had told me a year ago that my insomniac Wikipedia-hopping would cause an actual book to come into existence, I don’t think I’d have believed you.

4. What Australian works have you loved recently?

I loved Razorhurst by Justine Larbalestier — it combined three of my favourite things: Jazz Age crime, the razor gangs of Sydney in the ’30s, and ghosts.

I also really enjoyed Glenda Larke’s The Aware, and I have the next two books in her Isles of Glory trilogy sitting on my ereader, taunting me … but I keep putting them off, because I don’t want the trilogy to be over.

In terms of graphics novels, I adored Tom Taylor’s The Deep, and I am beyond excited for the animated TV series.  It’s fun, clever, and family friendly without being patronising.  As soon as my nephews can read, I’m buying the books for them.  (But it’s my brother who’ll really love them.)

5. Have recent changes in the publishing industry influenced the way you work? What do you think you will be publishing/writing/reading in five years from now?

I read a lot more from small presses now, and if I ever finish anything, that’s where I see myself publishing, too.  Australia has such a wonderful small press industry, and the rise of the ebook means that being published with a small press no longer confines you to a small audience.  Of course, then you’re competing with everyone else, but books always find their way to a reader.

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