Justine Larbalestier is an Australian-American novelist. Her forthcoming novel isRazorhurst which will be out in Australia in July and in the USA in March 2015. Her previous solo novel was the award-winningLiar. She also edited the collection Zombies Versus Unicorns with Holly Black. Justine lives in Sydney, Australia where she gardens, boxes, and watches far too much cricket.
Your latest novel, Razorhurst, has just been released. It’s set in 1930s Sydney with a supernatural element. What was the most interesting and/or unexpected thing you learnt while researching this book?
That a common slang term for a prostitute during the 1930s was “chromo.” No one knows why. I used it because how could I not?
You’ve previously published two academic books and many essays on the history of science fiction, among other things. Do you have any plans to write more academic work, or are you focussing primarily on fiction?
My scholarly career ended in 2003. I do not miss it. My heart has always been with fiction.
Your website explains that you usually work on several novels at once. Which one do you currently think is most likely to be finished first and can you tell us a bit about it?
I can tell you about it very vaguely. I’ve learned that if I talk about a novel in any detail before there’s a first draft it does not go well. I also can’t outline a book until I’ve finished writing it.
That said, my next novel will be out late 2015. It’s a contemporary about an Australian boy who moves to New York City with his family, falls in love, and, um, has to figure out how to deal with evil.
What Australian works have you loved recently?
A: Larry Writer’s Razor: Tilly Devine, Kate Leigh and the razor gangs which was the spark that led me to writing Razorhurst. Without it my book wouldn’t exist. I’ve also been re-reading all of Ruth Park and Kylie Tennant’s books and they’re even more wonderful than I remembered. Too many of Tennant’s books are out of print. That needs to be remedied.
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?
You’d go mad if you let the paroxysms and dramas of the publishing industry affect your work. I’ve done a great deal of research on the 1930s in Australia and the USA and publishing was in crisis back then too. I sometimes think publishing has always been in crisis.
When I write I don’t think about any of that stuff; I just write. Five years from now I’ll be doing the same thing. Writing, reading, talking about writing and reading with my friends. I have had many different publishers in my career. I imagine I’ll have many more. But whatever happens I will continue to write. I have been writing fiction since I was able to write and before that I told stories. Nothing that happens in the publishing industry will change that.