Interview by Tehani Wessely.
Stephen Dedman grew up (though many would dispute this) on the outer limits of Perth’s metropolitan area, far enough from a good library that he had to make up his own sf and horror stories. Since then, he’s had four novels and more than 120 short stories published (in a decidedly eclectic collection of magazines and anthologies), as well as reviews, academic writing, and role-playing game material. He currently teaches creative writing at the University of Western Australia, where he received his MA and PhD.
Stephen has won the Aurealis and Ditmar Awards, and been nominated for the Bram Stoker Award, the British Science Fiction Association Award, the Sidewise Award, the Seiun Award, the Spectrum Award, and a sainthood. He likes cats, travel, and startling people.
What short stories or other work have you published recently?
No short stories this year, so far: the last stories I had published were ‘Breach’ in Shadowrun: World of Shadows, and ‘O Have You Seen the Devil?’ in The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper Stories, both late in 2015. So far this year, there’s been one role-playing game supplement, an essay in Van Ikin’s academic journal Science Fiction, and some reviews online. I did receive a carton of advance reader copies of my next novel, North of the Dragonlands, in time for World Fantasy Convention in October last year, but I don’t have a firm publication date for that as yet.
I know you’ve written regularly for themed anthologies – what is the appeal of a theme and is it easier or harder than writing on spec?
‘Easier or harder’ depends on the theme, and not all themes appeal. I receive a lot of invitations to write for anthologies, most of which I ignore unless I like working with that editor or I’m inspired by either the theme or the payment rate. If the pay isn’t impressive, I’ll usually write a story if an idea occurs to me within a day or two; on the rare occasions that the pay is good, I’ll think about it a little longer.
The main benefit of writing for theme anthologies is actually the deadline, which motivates me to finish the work: apart from that, writing to a theme is usually more difficult than writing an on spec story, and selling a story written for a theme anthology if the anthology doesn’t buy it (or the anthology is never published) can be very difficult. When I was an editor for Eidolon and Borderlands, we always knew when the rejections for a theme anthology had been sent out because suddenly we’d be flooded with stories that were variations on the same theme.
Can you tell us what are you working on at the moment that we might see in the next year or so?
May the Armed Forces Be With You is a non-fiction work about the relationship between American sf and the US military, expanded from my PhD thesis; my editor has said the proofs will arrive ‘soon’, and I’m hoping that will be out this year. North of the Dragonlands, similarly, is listed on the Satalyte website as “will be released soon” and is available for pre-order. I have another two novels looking for a publisher, and I have exactly one story submitted to a theme anthology that I’m waiting to hear back from. Apart from that, more role-playing game material.
What Australian work have you loved recently?
Lucy Sussex’s Blockbuster! and Lee Battersby’s Magrit. And I’m looking forward to reading Anna Tambour’s The Finest Ass in the Universe.
Which author (living or dead) would you most like to sit next to on a long plane trip and why?
Shakespeare, so I could ask him what he was doing during the “lost years”.