Michael Pryor writes fantasy and science fiction for teenagers. He has published over thirty novels and more than 50 short stories. He has been shortlisted for the Aurealis Award six times, and seven of his books have been CBCA Notable books. His latest book is Machine Wars for middle grades readers, and his website is www.michaelpryor.com.au.
1. Your latest book is Machine Wars, a science fiction novel, but most of your books in recent years have been fantasy (particularly steampunk) – how do you have to adjust your headspace for these different types of storytelling?
The aspect I notice most of all, moving from Fantasy to SF, is the language I use. I’ve been using deliberately formal, slightly old-fashioned language in my Steampunk Fantasies to help scene setting, but ‘Machine Wars’ is a near future story so I had to re-set my language use for a more contemporary feel. It took a little while!
2. All of your work to date has been for young people (I think!), although I can attest to the appeal for adults as well. Do you have any inclination to write for an adult audience?
I have written short stories for adults, but not for some time, and I would like to take up writing for that audience again, and in a longer format. In fact, the Work in Progress is just that. To tell more would be premature, I’m afraid, since I’m at the very tentative first steps in my first draft. Stay tuned.
3. What can we look forward to from Michael Pryor in the near future?
As mentioned, I hope this adult novel will come to fruition, but I’m also working on a piece of madcap silliness for younger readers, plus a fantasy romance for older readers. This latter is something close to my heart, and it’s in a space where I feel not enough male writers are writing. We’ll see how this one goes.
4. What Australian works have you loved recently?
I’m really impressed by the quality of the stories that are coming through Aurealis this year. For a hit pick, keep an eye on a story from a new writer, Steven Ma: ‘Ballard and Ballard: A Biopunk Detective Tale of 2080 AD’. Its setting is urban Australia and it’s gritty, wry and stylish.
5. Have recent changes in the publishing industry influenced the way you work? What do you think you will be publishing in five years from now?
The changes in the publishing industry keep coming, and they’re hard to ignore. I like to think that I’m still writing in the same way, doing my best to tell engaging stories with characters to care about, but the takeovers, mergers and re-alignments in the industry can be nervous-making – and I probably write best when I’m confident and assured that the business side of writing is stable. Five years from now? That’s a long time in publishing! I’d like to think that I’ll still be writing a couple of books a year, maybe one for adults and one for teen/YA readers. I wouldn’t like that to be written in stone, though. One of the delightful things about my life at the moment is the flexibility. I’m able to take up challenges and opportunities that present themselves unbidden, and that’s invigorating.