Interview by David McDonald.
Jason has won an Aurealis Award and the Writers of the Future Contest, and he has been on shortlists in other awards such as the Ditmars and the Australian Shadows. He is the author of dozens of short stories, with his first collection “Everything is a Graveyard” now available from Ticonderoga Publications.
His YA zombie apocalypse novel “Quiver” is now available from Black House Comics, or viahttp://www.tamsynwebb.com/.
of a resurgence. Is it length you particularly enjoy writing? What are some of the challenges unique to this form?
Thank you very much! I was pleased as punch that my elephant fantasy story got such recognition, which isn’t bad considering it started life as a bloated arts grant novel some ten years ago. Proof positive that some stories need to marinate for a year or two. I don’t think this story would have worked as a true short story, and it definitely didn’t work as a novel – so naturally enough it fell into the middle ground of a novella. Most of my recent pieces have been well into
novella territory, which tells me that perhaps it’s my favourite format right now.
I think the internet and e-readers are the novellas best friend, which might explain why they are seeing some more love at the moment. It’s probably the right amount of reading for a return commute, gives enough meat to the reader that they can invest themselves in your characters and setting, but isn’t such a slog that it takes them weeks to get through. I loved Stephen King’s Green Mile when that came out, a book in novella-sized instalments, and it was fun to take a similar approach to my novella-fix up book “Quiver”. It’s only a recent invention that novels are 100,000 words on average, and readers from fifty or more years ago were probably quite comfortable with novellas and shortish novels.
I was fascinated to read about you writing a story “Treasure of Light” for the Story City app. Can you tell us a bit about how this came about, and what it involved?
Story City is a lot of fun to work for, and through their collaborative workshop process you get to bounce ideas around with other creatives such as writers, artists and musicians. My original ideas were definitely MA 15+, so once hearing that PG stories had a better chance of working for a broad audience, I floated the idea of a treasure hunt around Adelaide. I love the history of the place, and decided to tell the secret story of Colonel Light and his lost treasure, as found in several historic locations. Part of the process is walking around with the director and artist to make sure the actual walk works, and that the locations make sense. I had a barrel of fun making this story, and if you get the chance try out the Story City app, there are some great stories and it all runs through the GPS on your phone as you walk around – narration, music, art work, everything.
If you could pick one of your stories to be turned into a movie, which one would you pick–and why?
I would love to see “Undead Camels Ate Their Flesh” (Dreaming Again, Harper Voyager) turned into the ultimate B-movie, and I have actually shopped it around! Turns out the idea is whacky and fun but it would just be too expensive to film hundreds of animatronic or CGI zombie camels wrecking the shit out of Alice Springs. Damn you, reality!
What Australian work have you loved recently?
I’m still going to have to go with Andrew MacRae’s Trucksong (Twelfth Planet Press). I love that fricken book so hard and it bears up well under a re-read. Most recently I adored Lisa Hannett’s Lament for the Afterlife, it is SO trippy and is relentless – her tale of war is soul-scouring, and her concept of the characters whose thoughts float around as words is haunting and so clever that I hate her for drawing it from the finite bucket of ideas.
Which author (living or dead) would you most like to sit next to on a long plane trip and why?
Definitely Miguel de Cervantes. He would flip his shit, turn over the service carts and wreck the plane, probably while screaming “what madness is this sky-wagon?” in very old Spanish. I would help the staff to restrain him in a chair with his big puffy collar, and I would be the one to get him epically shitfaced on the little bottles of hooch. The plane is of course going to Bali, so I would buy some beach wear from the nearest bogan, get Miguel into some modern duds, and let him slip away into a new life where he would probably run a bar and self-publish epic tales on Kindle.