Faith Mudge is a new voice in Australian Speculative fiction, with a growing catalogue of short fiction. She was nominated in the Best New Talent category in the 2014 Ditmar Awards.
1. You were part of the collection To Spin a Darker Stair with Catherynne M Valente two years ago, with a retelling of Rapunzel – why do you think fairytales still have such a strong impact on popular culture, particularly speculative fiction?
Fairy tales are an integral part of fantasy’s literary bedrock. They are classic but also chameleonic, capable of being adapted to almost any time and setting without losing their essential core. Their symbols are so infused with meaning from centuries of retellings that they have become a potent cultural shorthand. Who would trust a spinning wheel? Of course, that familiarity comes with an element of frustration, a feeling of stories not told and archetype characters who deserve the chance to speak for themselves. There’s a certain satisfaction in giving a trapped princess a sword.
2. You were nominated in the Best New Talent category in the 2014 Ditmar Awards, how important to you think a category like this is to the Australian scene in particular and why?
When your body of work is limited and not widely known, this kind of recognition is a tremendous boost. It is not only immensely encouraging, it’s also a recommendation that increases awareness of that work and gives the kind of promotion new writers really need.
3. You’ve done some excellent work with short stories recently, are you looking to write more of these, or is some longer fiction also on the cards? Are there any upcoming projects that you can talk about?
My latest story, ‘Descension’, is in Ticonderoga’s steampunk anthology Kisses by Clockwork. Over the next couple of months my work will also be appearing in Kaleidoscope (Twelfth Planet Press) and Phantazein (FableCroft). I love the shape and style of short fiction, particularly fairy tale retellings, and I’ll certainly continue writing them, but I’m also working on a couple of novel-length speculative fiction projects.
4. What Australian works have you loved recently?
This is my second year doing the Australian Women Writers Challenge, which is how I heard about what turned out to be one of my favourite books so far this year, Allyse Near’s Fairytales for Wilde Girls. It’s Gothically fantastical and rich with fairy tale imagery. I also love Tansy Rayner Roberts’ work – her Creature Court trilogy was fabulous, so I’m looking forward to reading her mystery novel A Trifle Dead, written as Livia Day. Of course, one of the best things about being part of an anthology is getting to read the other stories, so I’ve read a lot of short fiction too! There’s so much talent out there right now. Kathleen Jennings, probably better known for her art, is one of my favourites with ‘Kindling’ (Light Touch Paper, Stand Clear, reprinted in The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2012) and ‘Ella and the Flame’ (One Small Step).
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?
Being very new to the industry, my experience has mostly been with Australian small press. It’s an incredibly open and vibrant environment that deserves much more recognition than it gets, as do all the amazing editors I’ve been fortunate enough to work with. It’s extremely unlikely I’d have received the same opportunities in mainstream publishing, and I’m sure many other writers would say the same. Five years from now I plan to still be writing short stories, but I’d love to have some longer fiction published too! And I intend to be reading (and blogging about) as many books as I possibly can.