You’ve just launched Last Year, When We Were Young, which is out through Satalyte Publishing. What does it mean for you to have your best short works available in one collection?
I guess I don’t really see it as a collection of my best short work; it’s all of it. We didn’t do any picking or choosing, just threw it all in and tried to bring some sense of balance through the story order. Apart from two, much older, unpublished stories that will probably never see the light of day, that’s it. All the fiction I’ve ever written and published, jammed between two covers. So, I see it as a huge milestone, but also as a kind of line between what I’ve done and what I hope to do as a writer over the next couple of years.
You have been reasonably prolific in the Australian scene in both fiction writing and art. Is there a particular sale/experience that you hold dear?
Most recently, that would have to be Kaaron Warren travelling to Sydney to help me launch my collection. It was wonderfully generous of her, and quite humbling for me because I admire her writing so much. That she’d take the time to do that for me, and say such nice things to a group of people, is something I’ll always hold dear.
A collection is somewhat of a Milestone and though its only just been released what are you setting your sights on next?
Next, I’m knuckling down to finish my novel ‘A Quiet Place’. It’s an Australian crime novel set in Sydney and rural New South Wales. Sort of ‘No Country for Old Men’ crashes headlong with ‘Wake in Fright’. It’s something I started working on towards the end of last year. I was posting a few paragraphs on Facebook as I wrote them, and after a couple of weeks I got a message from Stephen Ormsby at Satalyte. He wanted to know if he could see what I’d written for the novel, which was only about 5,000 words at that stage. He also asked to see anything else I had. So, I sent him the first 5,000 words and all my published short stories. A couple of days later he came back and made me an offer for both the novel and a short story collection. Means the pressure is on me now to finish what I started and make sure it’s good. I’m very happy with what I’ve written so far though.
What Australian works have you loved recently?
I’ve really enjoyed the first two books in Mark Barnes’ “Echoes of Empire” fantasy trilogy from 47North, and looking forward to the conclusion. Rjurik Davidson’s “Unwrapped Sky” was great too. I’m also keen on giving Ben Peek’s “The Godless” a read. I went off reading most fantasy for a while, but it was great to be lulled back by Australian authors with some really original ideas.
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?
They’ve certainly influenced the way I read. Just over a year ago I discovered I needed reading glasses, but I often forget them or leave them somewhere where I’m not. That’s made me somewhat of an ebook convert. I’ve had an Android tablet for a couple of years now, but don’t play games on it or use it for much. It sat there gathering dust until I installed some ebooks, and now that’s pretty much all it’s used for night-and-day. It has also changed *what* I read – I’ve gone back to a lot of older books that are hard to find print copies of. I ploughed my way through the entire series of Richard Stark’s Parker novels in just over a month. I’m reading a lot more classics, a lot more crime, a lot more ‘literary’ and mainstream works. At the moment I’m reading a lot of post-war post-apocalyptic fiction; The Earth Abides, The Death of Grass, On the Beach, that sort of thing. Before that it was crime noir, and that was just after my devour-everything-Southern-Gothic phase, and the leave-no-western-unread period. All these things influence the kinds of stories I want to write, so I’ve no idea where that will take me five years from now. I don’t see any publishing industry doom ahead of us though, and I’ll just keep putting words together, confident that there’ll always be enough readers out there to read them.
Andrew J McKiernan is an author and illustrator from Narara, on the Central Coast of New South Wales. First published in 2007, his stories have since been short-listed for multiple Aurealis, Ditmar and Australian Shadows awards and reprinted in a number of Year’s Best anthologies. He was Art Director for Aurealis magazine for 8 years and his illustrations have graced the covers and internals of a number of books and magazines. His first collection of short stories, “Last Year, When We Were Young”, was recently released in print and ebook formats by Satalyte Publishing. http://www.andrewmckiernan.com