2016 Snapshot: Simon Dewar

Interview by David McDonald.

sdSimon Dewar currently lives in Canberra, Australia, with his wife and three daughters.

He has fiction published in the Bloody Parchment: The Root Cellar and Other Stories, as well as the forthcoming anthologies The Sea from Dark Continents Publishing, and the forthcoming Death’s Realm anthology from Grey Matter Press.

By day, he is an ICT systems engineer; by night he writes, and edits, the literature of anxiety. You may find him on twitter:  @herodfel

Your first anthology as an editor, Suspended in Dusk, was a huge success, featuring some very big names and receiving critical praise. Can you tell us about the experience? Where there any challenges you hadn’t expected in putting it together, or any lessons learned that would cause you to do things differently if putting together another one? And, when can we expect the next one?!

Some things I really learned from editing anthologies are:

1.  Be nice – No one owes you anything. Having got that out of the way, you’ll be surprised at who might help you or want to work with you if you’re considerate and amiable and remember your manners.
2.  Aim High – No one gets Clive Barker or (insert literary genius here) to put a new story or a reprint in their anthology by not actually asking Clive Barker/etc. Sure, you’ll have to be professional, and nice and offer a rate that’s reasonable/not wildly insulting,… but anything is possible. Just be nice and aim high.
3.  Persevere – Editing an anthology, like any artistic endeavour, really… can be a struggle at times. You stare at the page and read the same stories so many times your eyes feel like they’re gonna bleed and it just becomes a giant dyslexic alphabet soup. You can’t get a hold of an author you need to speak to about their story or their bio, or your publisher is moving house you can’t get a hold of them. Point is, obstacles occur that you have to deal with. Sometimes it can feel like your wheels are spinning and you’re not making any forward momentum. My advice here is to pick the low hanging fruit where possible and then tackle larger issues. It’ll keep your morale up and you’ll feel like you’re at least moving forward, if slowly.
4.  Communicate – Let everyone know what you’re doing. Authors appreciate timely communication and candor and publishers will expect it. If there are any holdups, if you’ve given the authors and/or the publisher a heads up, everyone should be cool about it. Most people just want to be kept in the loop and they’re happy. Communication is also something that a lot of people suck at, so people will really like you if you’re proactive about it.

Suspended in Dusk 2 will be due out in a couple of months from Books of the Dead Press! I’m very excited as is full of fantastic dark fiction, ranging from scary, to weird, to emotionally upsetting.

Dusk-New-CoverOn social media, you’ve spoken about your Muslim faith. Do you think this gives you a different perspective at times on speculative fiction, both the scene and in general? Does it influence your own writing?

That’s a really tough question. I don’t know how much it does play a part for me, although being of a minority faith in the western world and my wife and children being People of Colour, leaves me pretty open minded about what and who I’ll read, and who I want to work with.  One of my favourite stories in the forthcoming anthology was by Dan Rabarts who is of Maori heritage and it is rooted in Maori mythology. It’s a soul crushing and haunting story.

For the most part, I really dislike almost all fiction that deals with Islam or Muslims. Most of it is abject cultural (mis)appropriation by western non-Muslims, or regurgitation of tired stereotypes, particularly regarding muslim women. Usually, it’s both. Having said that, I haven’t read much speculative fiction by *actual Muslims* that deals directly with Islam.

We’ve mentioned your editing, but you’re also a talented writer. What projects are you working on, and what can we expect to see from you in the future?

Got a few stories out on submission, so I’m down battling in the trenches with the plebs.  I’ve got about 6 stories written that I’d like to be the basis of my first collection. Some of them I’ve sold, some of them I haven’t.  When I get a few more stories together I’ll push it around a few publishers and see if I can sell it. Working title for the collection is The Child in All of Us.

What Australian work have you loved recently?

I’ve enjoyed some of the short fiction i’ve read of late from Martin Livings, Gerry Huntman and Alan Baxter. These guys are doing cool things at the moment. Also Michelle Goldsmith has a cracking tale coming out in Gamut Magazine which I was privileged to beta read. She’s one of the great new talents here in Australia and I’m sure she’s gonna be huge in coming years.  In truth, I’m going throuhg a lull in reading because I’ve got three young kids (including twins) and so I’m struggling to keep it together. I’ve put Vigil by Angela Slatter and The Grief Hole by Kaaron Warren on my TBR though. And Cthulhu Deep Down Under.

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

Jerome K. Jerome. I’ve never laughed so hard as when I read his novel Three Men in a Boat. He’d tell me stories, and I’d probably die from laughter. Or maybe Joseph Heller, author of Catch 22,  for the same reason.

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