Interview by Tehani Wessely.
Angela Slatter is the author of The Girl with No Hands and Other Tales, Sourdough and Other Stories, The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings, Black-Winged Angels and the Tor.com novella Of Sorrow and Such, as well as Midnight and Moonshine and The Female Factory (both with Lisa L. Hannett). She has won a World Fantasy Award, a British Fantasy Award, one Ditmar Award, and five Aurealis Awards. She has an MA and a PhD in Creative Writing, is a graduate of the Clarion South and the Tin House Summer Writers Workshops, was one of the inaugural Queensland Writers Fellows in 2013/14, and was the Katharine Susannah Prichard Established Writer-in-Residence for 2016. Her debut novel, Vigil, was released in July 2016 by Jo Fletcher Books, and the sequel, Corpselight, will follow in 2017.
Your debut novel, Vigil, was recently released by Hachette Australia, with more in the series to follow. Could you give us the “bar pitch” for the books, and a sneak peek at where protagonist Verity’s journey might be heading?
Verity Fassbinder has her feet in two worlds. The daughter of one human and one Weyrd parent, she has very little power herself, but does claim unusual strength − and the ability to walk between us and the other − as a couple of her talents. As such a rarity, she is charged with keeping the peace between both races, and ensuring the Weyrd remain hidden from us.
But now Sirens are dying, illegal wine made from the tears of human children is for sale − and in the hands of those Weyrd who hold with the old ways − and someone has released an unknown and terrifyingly destructive force on the streets of Brisbane.
And Verity must investigate − or risk ancient forces carving our world apart.
I’ve submitted the sequel Corpselight to Jo Fletcher, and suffice to say that Verity is facing a few more challenges to both maintaining her temper and her life as well as those of the people she loves. There are some blasts from the past and more secrets being uncovered. More Rhonda, more Bela, more Ziggi, more David.
On the surface, this series seems to be somewhat of a stylistic departure from your other work (the Bitterwood cycle, for example) but underpinning most of your work seems to always be an anchor of fairy tales or folklore − what is it about these types of stories that appeal to you?
I just love them! I love the idea that these stories are anchored in our pasts, that most if not all cultures start their children’s lives with fairy and folk tales. I love that this lays down a kind of bedrock in the memory that can be accessed in very simple (or complex) ways, for example saying something like “There’s a wolf in the woods” − that will start a train of thought about Little Red Riding Hood and other fairy tale-y kinds of stories. They were my first stories, the very first things I fell in love with.
Other than Verity’s ongoing adventures, what else are you working on over the next year or so?
I have two new collections coming out: Winter Children and Other Chilling Tales, from PS Publishing in the UK, which is mostly reprints except for a new story “The Red Forest”, and another from Prime Books in the US, A Feast of Sorrows: Stories, again, mostly reprints except it contains a new novella and a new story, which are the first tales from another Tartarus collection, The Tallow-Wife and Other Tales, which will be a 2017 publication. I have about ten commissioned short stories to work on, I have Sourdough novel called The Briar Book of the Dead, which I’m working on, and two novellas: The Crimson Road and Fitcher’s Bird. Pitching a new Verity trilogy because I’ll have handed in the third book by March next year and will need some new income! And pitching a Scandalous Lady Detective duopoly. And a few secret things.
What Australian work have you loved recently?
Obviously Lisa L. Hannett’s (criminally overlooked) Lament for the Afterlife, Deb Kalin’s Cherry Crow Children, Juliet Marillier’s Tower of Thorns, Shaun Tan’s The Singing Bones.
Which author (living or dead) would you most like to sit next to on a long plane trip and why