2016 Snapshot: Keith Stevenson (Coeur de Lion)

Interview by David McDonald.

keith_stevenson_colour_lo_resKeith Stevenson is the author of Horizon, an SF thriller published by HarperCollins Voyager Impulse, publisher with coeur de lion publishing and editor of Dimension6 the free electronic magazine of Australian speculative fiction.  Visit him at www.keithstevenson.com

Dimension6, coeur de lion’s free electronic magazine of Australian Speculative fiction, continues to go from strength to strength – you’ve now been running for over two years and seen stories you’ve published there nominated for awards. What are some of the highlights of the past few years, and some of the challenges? What do you see in the future for Dimension6?

Dimension6 has really exceeded my expectations, with more than 6,000 downloads from the coeur de lion site alone since we started. We’ve always been about finding and promoting talented Australian authors, but as a small press, printing and selling physical copies of work is slow and costly. D6 is free and instantly downloadable to any platform you can imagine. It’s also DRM free so it can be easily shared by anyone to anyone (as long as they respect our Commercial Commons licence). In effect we’ve removed every barrier possible between our writers and their readership.

The highlight for me has been finding new authors that are doing some really exciting work and helping them connect with a wider audience. And I’ve been helped in that by the SF community, many of whom have done their bit to promote D6 and even host issues on their websites. It’s a collaborative effort which we can all feel good about. As to the future, as long as I can find good writing, D6 will continue.

You’re also working on your own fiction, a  three book space opera about a galaxy spanning interspecies war called “The Lenticular Series”. It looks like it will be amazing – can you tell us a bit more about it, and how it is progressing?

I hope it will be amazing. I’ve certainly been working on it for long enough. It’s the story of how two people – an alien and an Earth woman – become agents of change for their respective societies in the middle of an interstellar war. I’ve just about finished a full revision of the first book, and book two has been drafted although it still needs a lot of work. But with luck I’ll have something to show my publisher by the end of the year.

eCOV_Horizon_C2D2You’ve had a huge impact on the Australian spec fic scene, but who would you consider as some of *your* influences? Was there any particular book or author who inspired you to write and publish?

The first science fiction book I read was Stand By For Mars! By Carey Rockwell. It was pure kids’ pulp SF, but I loved it. I loved the gee-whiz rocket science and sheer exuberance of it. It was my gateway drug to works by Asimov, Dick, Niven, Pohl, Heinlein and the rest. And at the same time I was writing horror and sci-fi stories for my primary school newspaper. So it’s been in my blood from the very beginning.

What Australian work have you loved recently?

Ben Peek’s writing in the Children Series is so beautifully wrought, evocative and immersive, it blows me away. I look at my own stuff and wish I could write like that. If you haven’t read The Godless and Leviathan’s Blood, you’re missing out. It’s epic fantasy with an Australian sensibility: dark and politically and socially aware. He’s my gold standard right now. And Rjurik Davidson’s Caeli Amur series is another immersive – and very dark – piece of writing I can recommend.

Which author (living or dead) would you most like to sit next to on a long plane trip and why?

It would have to be Isaac Asimov. His prose may not hit the literary heights but he knew how to take detailed scientific concepts and portray them effectively and dramatically within a story. That’s old-school science fiction and it’s still the stuff that really resonates with me. The original Foundation Trilogy is such a rich piece of imagination built on the simple concept of a science that predicts the movement of large societal forces. And here’s a guy that gave Gene Roddenberry some great advice that led to the amazing character dynamic between Star Trek’s Kirk, Spock and McCoy. I think spending a few hours in a jet together would teach me a lot.
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