Interview by Tehani Wessely.
Foz Meadows is a genderqueer author, blogger, essayist, reviewer and poet, and in 2014, she was nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer for her blog, Shattersnipe. Her third novel, An Accident of Stars, is due out from Angry Robot in 2016. She currently lives in Brisbane.
You’ve just had the first book of a new fantasy series, An Accident of Stars, released from Angry Robot – can you tell readers a little about the genesis of world?
There are two main cultures in An Accident of Stars – Kenan, a feudal hierarchy with queer polyamorous marriage as the default, and Vekshi, which is a theocratic matriarchy. I didn’t worldbuild either one extensively before starting the book, but tried to grow them organically as the story progressed. It was very much a case of, “I want the characters to do X, so what kind of cultural logic might account for that?”, and then seeing where it went, which is always a great deal of fun. Once you’ve got the first few data points, the cultures start to create themselves, and suddenly you’re getting ideas on the basis of details you didn’t have at the outset. Plus, it’s fun to poke holes in the idea that the way we live now is somehow an obvious, inviolable endpoint – as it’s a portal fantasy, two of the four POV characters are originally from Earth, which means we get to see Kenan and Vekshi culture through their (very different) lenses.
You recently moved back to Australia after a few years overseas – do you think there were opportunities for your writing that the UK afforded in a different way to Australia?
Listen, the UK is going through some rough stuff at the moment, what with Brexit and Theresa May and the Labor party eating itself like some prodigal oroborous, so I don’t want to gratuitously salt the wound, but apart from attending a few good cons – and don’t get me wrong, I had a lot of fun and met a lot of awesome people that way, some of whom I’ve subsequently worked with – the UK was basically where my soul went to die. Possibly there will come a point in the future, far from now, where I’m able to talk with some degree of emotional objectivity about how much I hated living there, but today is not that day. Tomorrow doesn’t look good either. So, uh. I mean, in a practical sense, there were lots of cons to go to, with a greater degree of geographical accessibility, and that was good! And I made a lot of great friends, most of them in the SFF community! But personally, living there nearly destroyed me for a number of reasons, and I can’t really disentangle that fact from any other aspect of the last five years just yet.
Are you still writing fan work (essays or fiction) in the same way you were when you received your Hugo nomination for Best Fan Writer, or are your publishing commitments taking too much of your time?
That distant, echoing cackle you hear is the sound of my not-so-inner procrastinatrix laughing at my deadlines. Seriously, I don’t know what it is about my brain that automatically interprets “do the thing” as a challenge to do the exact fucking OPPOSITE of the thing, or perhaps to work on some shinier, newer thing that nobody actually wants yet, but either way: it is accurate to say that my deep respect for and abiding dedication to my publishing commitments is yet to prevent me from:
- having opinions on the internet;
- writing fanfic at 3am; or
- weeping softly into my drafts folder as I contemplate wordcount.
That being said, I have slowed down a little on the blogging and reviewing in recent months, but that’s due more to mental health issues than anything else. (See above, re: life in the UK.)
What Australian work have you loved recently?
I have very complicated feelings about C.S. Pacat’s Captive Prince trilogy, which I utterly adore on one level and want to throttle on another. This has not prevented me from reading the whole trilogy twice this year, because QUEER PRINCES. I’m also really loving Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner’s work on the Starbound trilogy, which is gorgeous, solid, compelling YA SF romance. I also belatedly stumbled on K. S. Nikakis’s The Whisper of Leaves earlier in the year, which I really enjoyed – it’s one of those books which manages to evoke that lovely sense of Stories That Were Important As A Teenager without actually being a story I read as a teenager, though I can’t quite articulate why. Either way, I’m keeping an eye out for the sequel!
Which author (living or dead) would you most like to sit next to on a long plane trip and why?
Douglas Adams, because he tragically died just before the creation and proliferation of a great deal of technology presaged in his writing, and I’d love to hear his take on it all. It’d be worth the cost of whatever immortal soul was traded for his resurrection just to hear him rant about in-flight wifi.