Aidan Doyle is a Melbourne based writer and computer programmer. His first short story was published in Aurealis in 1993. He attended Clarion South in 2009 and has since been published in places such as Lightspeed, Strange Horizons and Fantasy. He has visited more than 80 countries and his experiences include teaching English in Japan, interviewing ninjas in Bolivia and going ten-pin bowling in North Korea.
You’ve found success in writing for both children (including an Aurealis nomination), and for adults (with numerous pro sales and mentions on international RRLs). Do many of the same skills and methods translate between the age groups, or is there a big adjustment in mindset required?
My natural writing style – lean, and with an emphasis on plot and humour is suited to writing for children. The main adjustment for me when writing for different age groups is subject material. Some of my stories for adults revolve around the regret of the passing of time, which is a theme that doesn’t have as strong an appeal for children.
You are a bit of a citizen of the world, regularly travelling to some amazing destinations! Do the different locations bleed into your writing, or inspire you?
For me travel is one of the best ways to get ideas. The people you meet and the history you learn. Worldbuilding is important in speculative fiction and it helps to have seen a bit of our world. I lived in Japan for 4 years and many of my stories are set in Japan. Last year I did a trip from Svalbard to Antarctica and I have a few ideas for stories set in those locations. Lots of markets these days like stories set somewhere other than a generic New York style big city.
I am a big fan of your writing goal tracker Planet Bingo (in fact it is my desktop screen saver on my writing machine). How important is the setting of goals to your writing process?
Jeff VanderMeer was one of my tutors at Clarion South and stressed the importance of setting goals. His Booklife writing guide has lots of useful information on the topic. I’m a big fan of checklists and to do lists. It is easier to achieve your goals if you know what they are! I use Workflowy (http://workflowy.com/) to keep a list of current activities. I also use Trello (http://trello.com/) with a small group of other writers to compare our weekly or monthly writing goals and encourage each other.
Jeff stressed the importance of setting concrete goals (I’m going to write 10 short stories this year versus I want to write more) and goals that are within your control (I’m going to submit 5 stories to Clarkesworld this year versus I want to be published in Clarkesworld). That being said, it’s nice to record your achievements. Christie Yant created a writing career bingo spreadsheet and I adapted the idea and made a program (http://www.aidandoyle.net/2013/08/21/writing-career-bingo/) that spits out an image with planets when I achieve a goal. Taking over the galaxy one planet at a time.
What Australian works have you loved recently?
The amount of historical detail in Hannah Kents’ Burial Rites is amazing. Jason Franks’ Sixsmiths is very funny. Cat Sparks’ collection, The Bride Price, is packed full of short story goodness.
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?
The main thing for me is that it’s now much easier to submit to overseas markets. Email is much quicker and cheaper than overseas postage and international reply coupons. I have a young adult novel out on submission now and I’m close to finishing a middle grade novel based on my Aurealis nominated story. After that I have plans for some young adult novels and a novel based on my swordwriter stories.