Interview by Helen Stubbs.
Ion Newcombe is the editor and publisher of AntipodeanSF, Australia’s longest running online speculative fiction magazine, regularly issued since January 1998. He has been a zealous reader and occasional writer of SF since his childhood in the 1960s. His qualifications and employment range from horticulture through electronics — and eventually to tertiary qualifications in literature and communications from USQ and Deakin. Ion, aka “Nuke”, lives in the New South Wales North Coast holiday destination of Nambucca Heads, where he is self-employed in IT training, computer support, desktop publishing, editing, writing, and website implementation. He is also the resident tech-head, skeptic, and Vice President of community radio station 2NVR, where he produces a number of shows including The AntipodeanSF Radio Show, a podcast featuring stories from AntipodeanSF magazine.
What are you working on at the moment?
I continue to edit and publish AntipodeanSF. Each monthly issue has 8-10 pieces of flash speculative fiction, usually from Aussie authors. I also produce a weekly radio show featuring 2-3 narrated stories per show, often read by the authors themselves, along with a 10-12 minute segment of audio recorded at one of the panel sessions at “Contact”, the 2016 Aussie Natcon. The radio show is aired as a part of Imagine This, a weekly program on Radio Nambucca 2NVR featuring plays, stories, and old time radio segments. The AntipodeanSF Radio Show is also podcast weekly.
Apart from AntipodeanSF, I have an editing project hovering in the background under construction called Acrux which is to focus on the production of unusual speculative fiction works that I think deserve e-book and paper format treatment, as well as the annual publication of al collection of short stories by authors with prior publication credit at AntipodeanSF. Unfortunately, it’s one of those projects that always seem to get pushed aside by other deadlines and priorities.
When you look back on yourself starting out as a proto-publisher/writer, are there any tips you would give past-you?
Writing advice: keep writing and submitting. You will learn by working at it.
Editing advice: be prepared for the full range of emotional responses from writers whose work you edit — from rage to adulation. Don’t buy into any of it. Just keep editing, with aplomb, and with kindness and respect, of course.
How is your work changing and developing across your career?
Over the years I have discovered that I gravitate towards editing rather than writing. I really enjoy the editing process. My focus has shifted so that I rarely write new material these days.
What Australian work have you loved recently?
I really enjoyed the stories in the Fablecroft anthology In Your Face. It’s a wonderful selection of world-class subversive and on-the-edge speculative literary fiction. It’s also fabulous to see so many past contributors to AntiSF with works included in anthologies like In Your Face.
Which author (living or dead) would you most like to sit next to on a long plane trip and why?
Carl Sagan, because he is such a wonderful scientist, skeptical thinker, and writer of some of my favourite non-fiction media (The Cosmos TV Program, and the book A Demon Haunted World: Science As A Candle In The Dark) and science fiction as well (Contact).