First published at Ben Payne’s blog.
Trent Jamieson is a Brisbane writer who shot to acclaim with the popular Death Works trilogy and a couple of weird SF novels. I can’t remember the names but use google, sheesh! He’s also written a heap of shit-hot short stories in his time, most of them somewhat maudlin and weird, which to my mind is a recommendation. I’m pretty sure he’s a pirate.
1. Your most recent novel is The Memory of Death, which I believe takes up after the end of your Death Works trilogy. Was it a tough decision to revisit the characters of that series? What led you back to it?
It does, and no, it wasn’t a tough decision. Bits of that story were written while I was writing the last book in the Trilogy. It was always my intention to go back, but other things got in the way, and I slowly, slowly built the story up. I think I’ll always circle around that story world. I find it such a fun place to write about.
2. Your career as a novelist began in something of a flurry, with five novels coming out in fairly rapid succession. All of a sudden you’ve gone from being a new writer to being I guess, a mid-career writer, which brings with it a whole new set of challenges. What has it been like on the other side of that initial high, and how has it affected the way you see your career?
I think it would be a lot weirder if there hadn’t been roughly fifteen years of writing before that. I’ve always felt like a new writer and a mid-career writer at the same time (well, after about five years of writing I did). Writing’s still the same thing for me, with its peaks and troughs, it’s obsessions that ebb and flow. I think that keeps me generally quite calm about it all. I’ve never been particularly good at the career thing. Outside it might look different, but, inside, it feels pretty much the same.
Except, when I’m hanging with newer writers, sometimes they’ll talk about the good old days, and they’re talking about 2002 or something, and I suddenly realise that I’ve been doing this for ten years longer than them. And then I realise that I am just a little bit old.
3. Your next novel will be a standalone book, Day Boy. What sort of novel can we expect?
If I haven’t fucked it up, it’s the most Trentish book I’ve written. The one most like my short stories (sigh, those things I used to write). It’s lyrical and dark, and has vampires, and it’s about growing up, and the sadness (and joy) at the heart of that. I’m so excited by this book (and terrified by what people will think – I want everyone to love it, of course).
4. Moving away from your own work, what work of other authors are you enjoying at the moment? Is there anybody whose work particularly inspires you?
I’m going to avoid friends – well, mostly – I think Felicity Dowker is awesome (just needs to finish a novel – unless she doesn’t want to), Margo Lanagan, Marianne de Pierres, Maxine Beneba Clarke, Krissy Kneen, Lev Grossman, David Mitchell (his next book “Bone Clocks” is amazing), Kylie Chan (who’s built such a huge series, and world that is so purely Kylie that it deserves every success), James Salter (who I only discovered last year) and Jim Crace, likewise, (who writes SF even when he isn’t, and whose Pesthouse is one of the best Post Apocalyptic novels ever).
5. Publishing has changed so much in the last few years, particularly in terms of the rise of ebooks and the effects of that on the major publishing houses. I’m interested in your perspective on that from the author’s side of things. How do you see publishing as changing and what do you think the future holds?
Honestly, as a profession it feels so much harder. Not the writing but the outcomes. It’s so much easier to be published now, and so much harder to be noticed, or to make money from it. But, hey, that’s also the way it’s been for most writers since the beginning of writing-to-make-a-profit.
Publishing – in all its iterations – has boomed; incomes have declined.
I’m just glad I have a day job as well, and one that keeps the wolves at bay.
As to the future, well, there will always be stories. There will always be storytellers and poets, and people that craft beautiful, tragic, terrible, wonderful, dull, adequate, and superlative things with words. Hopefully those stories will be less of a ramble than this answer – except when that works.
Obviously this will all stop once the comet hits in 2032, then there will just be silenc