A graduate of NTU he has spent his adult working life as a security guard, a martial arts instructor, a trainer in an international gaming company, a teacher librarian and as a teacher for hire.
His interest in poetry has been a constant if not always obvious presence. His work has been published in Tincture Journal, INDaily Adelaide, and the Anthologies The Stars Like Sand and 50 Haikus.
Sean is also a book reviewer, interviewer and podcast producer. He has maintained his Ditmar Award winning review blog The Adventures of a Bookonaut since 2010.
You’ve enjoyed a number of poetry publications recently. Where can we find your poetry? What poetry and prose fiction you are working on now?
Thanks for noticing the poetry publications Helen. I have been fortunate to pick up some paid publications in the last couple of years, my work has appeared in Adelaide INDAILY and in Tincture Journal, there’s also some other work coming out in September and December, I usually flag those publications at my poetry blog here.
I also I mustn’t forget The Stars Like Sand Australian speculative poetry anthology edited by PS Cottier and Tim Jones, launched when I was at Continuum. A great anthology that showcases current and historical speculative poetry by some of Australia’s best poets (and me).
I also post shorter Haiku for which haven’t found a market and published poems (when the licence reverts to me) at my poetry blog. I also have a Poetry Zoo account which houses almost everything, the good the bad and the ugly. I cringe at some of the earlier works I have written, but then I think that it’s good for starting poets to see that all poets write badly and that some of the poems we have come to know and love were wrought from blood, sweat and tears, not just dashed off in 15 minutes with the help of the muse.
I have a couple of novel manuscripts that are holidaying at the moment, but in terms of poetry I have a couple that I am working on that seem to stem from rural loneliness and decline.
In terms of your own fiction writing, what are the benefits and drawbacks (if there are any) of being such a dedicated fan writer and podcast producer?
The benefit to being a fan writer, reviewer and podcaster, is that I read broadly not just in genre but in form as well. You also make connections with people and most authors are gracious with their time and advice. I could lie and say that this leaves little time for writing but I think if you really want to write fiction then you find a way.
At times I feel I should be writing longer fiction but to tell you the truth I haven’t a story that I feel I can tell at this stage and if I am going to make the commitment to a long tale I want it to be a tale worth telling. Poetry has endless depth for exploration and learning and I find that as well as being easy to fit in around everything else I do, the entire process is enjoyable.
I can live without writing fiction but poetry constantly draws me back.
Congratulations on your two recent Ditmar Awards for Best Fan Writer – for your blog Adventures of a Bookonaut – and Best Fan Publication in Any Medium – for Galactic Chat. What is most rewarding about reviewing and interviewing and do you have any advice for newbie reviewers and interviewers?
Ah yes, thanks. I still walk past them and marvel at them. Most of the wider world wouldn’t know what a Ditmar is but they are community awards and that token of community appreciation you can’t buy. Very chuffed and humbled at the same time (plus Kathleen Jennings artwork ftw).
“What is most rewarding about reviewing?” he ponders aloud while casting his eye over the scale model of ancient Babylon constructed from his TBR pile. I think it forces me to read works that, left to my own narrow biases and preferences, I wouldn’t otherwise attempt. Sure, there is free copy but most reviewers would tell you the novelty wears off as the pressure mounts to review more and more in a tighter time frame.
Reviewing also leads to contacts and connections too and that connection with the people that write the fiction you read is another thing money can’t buy.
Advice for folks new to reviewing and interviewing, hmmm. Depends on what your long-term goal is. I have been blogging for six or seven years so the blog format, my own space, suits me. If you don’t want the time and hassle then writing for collaborative blogs is a great idea.
If you are going to do it long term, then you need to try and pick a niche or area that you know you can stand being immersed in for a long time. I still think in the Australian scene we need a dedicated short fiction blogger.
For interviews and particularly audio interviews, I’d say preparation is the big thing, knowing the work, researching your questions, learning to ask open questions.
What Australian works have you loved recently?
I have just finished reading Alan Baxter’s Bound and it’s a fast paced thriller mashed with epic dark fantasy. I have watched Alan plug away over the last 3 years and It’s a blast to see him really begin to hit his straps with this work. I don’t think we have seen the best of him by far, but now is the time to hop on board if you haven’t already.
Maxine Beneba Clarke’s Foreign Soil is another work worth picking up, she’s a slam poet and an author with an amazing gift/facility for telling stories. I don’t generally read realist fiction but Clarke got under my skin in much the same way as Lanagan and Warren do.
I could go on but I just wanted to give you a heads up on the new fantasy Kim Wilkins will be bringing out. I rarely have been too afraid to read a book because of how invested I was in the characters. Scarily good doesn’t really encapsulate the lovely torture reading some of her work was.
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?
I have been reviewing for about four years and I have not noticed a major shift in how publishers are doing things, I get more e-copy from small publishers (which hopefully is a cost saving for them) and I have started to get more e-copy from mid sized publishers, but other than that not much has changed. My room is filled with paperbacks.
I hope that in 5 years time I’ll still be reading and reviewing great Australian speculative fiction. I’d also like to have a poetry collection or two out by that time.