2016 Snapshot: Matthew Summers

Interview by Helen Stubbs.

Matthew Summers is a reviewer, blogger, Aurealis judge and voracious reader. When he doesn’t have his head stuck in a book he spends his time working for Cohesion Press, editing, and helping raise his beautiful daughter alongside his partner in rural New South Wales.

His blog Smash Dragons has featured everything from news and reviews right through to interviews and opinion pieces. Matthew is passionate about local speculative fiction, and is forever hunting to unearth new writers to read. He is also partial to whiskey, coffee, and all things gaming. You can find his blog at smashdragons.blogspot.com.au 

What are you working on at the moment, as a writer and reviewer?

Right now I’m incredibly busy! I have a huge stack of books to read and review, and entries for the Aurealis Awards to examine and judge. Add to that working from home for Cohesion Press, undertaking an editing and proofreading course, and caring for my beautiful daughter and life probably couldn’t get any busier. I just tempted fate didn’t I?

At this exact moment in time however I’m working on a review for Amanda Kool’s book Tallwood (an incredible post-apocalyptic that everyone should read). That should go live this coming week for people to check out.

In terms of my writing I’m still slowly chipping away at my craft. I’ve got a couple of shorts that I’m preparing for submission, and I’m currently working on an anthology pitch that fans of military horror should enjoy. More news on that front over the coming months!

Tell me about starting Smash Dragons and judging for the Aurealis Awards.

Smash Dragons originally started out as a way for me to share my passion for speculative fiction with others online. I had just moved away from the region that I grew up in, and I was feeling a little lonely and alienated living in rural NSW. I decided to start the blog in order to not only review books that I loved, but also to network online with fellow like-minded people and make new friends. I haven’t looked back since.

Judging for the Aurealis Awards is a dream come true. I’ve been a firm supporter of Australian speculative fiction for many years now, and to be selected as a judge this year is an incredible honour. It not only allows me to dive ever deeper into the vast talent pool of writers we have here in this country, but it also allows me to discover new writers whose work I may not have looked at before.

What do you plan to work on next?

The big project I’ve got coming up later this year is a revamp of my blog. It needs an overhaul, and I’ve lined up a professional website designer and graphic artist to help me out with it. The other major project that will consume a lot of my spare time in the coming months is a cosmic horror novel idea that I’m toying with. I’m hoping to be able to get started on that as soon as I’ve wrapped up the other projects I’m working on right now.

What Australian work have you loved recently?

Wow… that’s unfair! How much time do we have? I could literally talk all day long about local speculative fiction! What have I loved recently? I’m a big fan of cosmic horror, and I just finished the anthology Cthulhu: Deep Down Under. That was a brilliant collection filled to the brim with Aussies like Kaaron Warren, GN Braun, Aaron Sterns and Jason Franks. I’ve also recently re-read Alan Baxter’s Alex Caine books. They are wonderful stories that everyone should check out (on a side note people need to pre-order Alan’s upcoming collection Crow Shine… it looks brilliant). Vigil by Angela Slatter was also outstanding, and if you love high-octane fantasy you can’t go past the work of Mitchell Hogan. His new one (A Shattered Empire) is out on the 22nd. Andrew J. McKiernan’s collection Last Year, When We Were Young also blew my consciousness into orbit when I read it, and anything that Cohesion Press (yes I know I’m biased) puts out is on another level and always includes Australians like Greig Beck. I recently read Greig’s upcoming book Fathomless… and holy hell I’m never swimming at the beach again. Makes Jaws look tame.

There are also some very exciting new authors starting to appear on the scene, including Amanda Kool, DK Mok, and Paul Rasche. I would implore readers to check out their work as well.

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

Another tough question! It would be a toss up between Ursula K. Le Guin and Ramsey Campbell I think. Both are legends of the genre, and would provide incredibly fascinating conversation I think.

I also wouldn’t mind sitting next to Edgar Allan Poe… because that would be a surreal experience. He could read The Raven over and over to me to pass the time on the flight.

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