Interview by David McDonald.
Holly Kench is a writer and editor, with a classics degree and a fear of spiders. She lives in Tasmania, Australia, where a lack of sun provides ample opportunity for hiding indoors and reading. Holly’s fantasy has appeared in anthologies including Kaleidoscope, edited by Alisa Krasnostein and Julia Rios, and she is the co-editor of the science fiction anthology Defying Doomsday with Tsana Dolichva.
Congratulations on the release of Defying Doomsday—what an awesome project! Can you tell us about the inspiration for this project and why it was important to you?
The inspiration for Defying Doomsday was all thanks to my amazing co-editor, Tsana Dolichva, who came up with the idea of apocalypse stories with disabled and chronically-ill protagonists. As soon as Tsana described the concept to me, I was ALL IN. Both of us are huge fans of apocalypse fiction but we were both sorely aware that many people, including people like us, are very rarely characters who starred in these sorts of stories. Not only is this disappointing in terms of disability visibility, but it seemed like a missed opportunity in fiction for exploring the experiences of often unheard voices in science fiction. I’m a big fan of diversity in fiction generally, and Defying Doomsday provided an exciting opportunity to find authors and stories that would be able to prove disability not only has a place in fiction, but can enrich our characters and stories. I’m so grateful we were able to find a publisher in Alisa Krasnostein at Twelfth Planet Press, who saw what Defying Doomsday could become, and that it is now getting such positive responses from readers.
I believe that this was your first anthology as an editor? Were 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?! Can you tell?
Yes! I’ve had plenty of previous editing experience working as a freelance editor of short stories and novels, as well as editing for Visibility Fiction, but this was my first dalliance as the editor of an anthology. I was really lucky to have such a fantastic co-editor in Tsana, and together we had a lot of fun working on this project. The main thing I learnt was how important a good team is for putting together this kind of anthology. It was a privilege to work with a group of such amazingly passionate people, especially our authors who put so much into their stories and have also done so much to promote the project. I’m very proud of Defying Doomsday and know that its strength comes from the passion of the people who worked on it with me, including those working quietly behind the scenes. In the future, I wouldn’t dream of taking on anything like this without making sure I have a similar group working with me.
When can we expect the next one? Gosh! Tsana and I are both keen to put together a follow up anthology, and have definitely talked about it, but at this point I think we’re still catching up on sleep since the release of Defying Doomsday! Sleep first, sequel… hopefully one day.
If you could do whatever project you wanted next—where budgets and the like were no issues— what would it be (hint, it should be a “Stuffed Olive’s Illustrated Guide to Life”, but that’s just my opinion)?
Oh! My poor Olive blog has been so neglected lately. Honestly, I’d love the time to put some Olive stories into a book—I love the idea of an illustrated guide to life! Hah. That’s definitely on the “If I had the time/money” list. For now, though, I’ve got a few comics coming out on the blog that illustrate the Olive-esque stories of some of the Defying Doomsday Pozible backers!
What Australian work have you loved recently?
I’m currently reading A Tangle of Gold by Jaclyn Moriarty. It’s the third in The Colours of Madeline trilogy and I cannot recommend this series highly enough, especially to those who enjoy young adult fantasy that crosses worlds, with characters who already have their heads a little in the clouds. These books are just magical! I was so excited for A Tangle of Gold to finally be released this year, but once it came out I put off reading it for a while because I really don’t want the series to end…
Which author (living or dead) would you most like to sit next to on a long plane trip and why?
This might sound silly, but I’d love to sit next to any of the Defying Doomsday authors. I haven’t met any of them and it would be great to talk books and stories with them, find out their inspirations and discover which stories led them to be the authors they are today.