2020 Snapshot: Jack Dann

Jack Dann has written or edited over seventy-five books, including the international bestseller The Memory Cathedral, The Rebel, The Silent, Junction, and The Man Who Melted. He is a recipient of the Nebula Award, the World Fantasy Award, the Australian Aurealis Award (three times), the Ditmar Award (five times), the Peter McNamara Achievement Award and also the Peter McNamara Convenors’ Award for Excellence, the Shirley Jackson Award, and the Premios Gilgames de Narrativa Fantastica award. He has also been honoured by the Mark Twain Society (Esteemed Knight).

Dann’s major historical novel about Leonardo da Vinci—entitled The Memory Cathedral—won the Australian Aurealis Award, was #1 on The Age bestseller list, and a story based on the novel was awarded the Nebula Award. The Memory Cathedral was also shortlisted for the Audio Book of the Year, which was part of the Braille & Talking Book Library Awards.

Dann’s short stories have been collected in Timetipping, Visitations, Promised Land (a companion volume to The Rebel), and the retrospective short story collection Jubilee: the Essential Jack Dann. His collaborative stories can be found in the collection The Fiction Factory. A collection of Dann’s stories for the Masters of Science FictionSeries (Centipede Press) is forthcoming.

Dann is also the co-editor (with Janeen Webb) of the groundbreaking Australian anthology Dreaming Down-Under, which Peter Goldsworthy called “the biggest, boldest, most controversial collection of original fiction ever published in Australia.” It won Australia’s Ditmar Award and was the first Australian book ever to win the World Fantasy Award. He has also edited a sequel to Dreaming Down-Under: Dreaming Again

His anthology Gathering the Bones, of which he is a co-editor, was included in Library Journal’s Best Genre Fiction of 2003 and was shortlisted for The World Fantasy Award. His anthology Wizards, co-edited with Gardner Dozois and  titled Dark Alchemy in the UK and Australia made the Waldenbooks/Borders bestseller list and was shortlisted for the World Fantasy Award.

Dann is the managing director of PS Australia, and his latest anthology Dreaming in the Dark—the first volume in the new line—won the 2017 World Fantasy Award. He has also been granted the degree of Doctor of Philosophy by The University of Queensland and is an Adjunct Senior Research Fellow in the School of Communication and Arts.

1. Tell us about your recent publications/projects?

Well, my most recent novel is Shadows in the Stone, published in Australia by Gerry Huntman’s IFWG Publishing. The book looks gorgeous with a cover by Bob Eggleton

and interior illustrations by John Martin from his 1827 version of Paradise Lost.

The word of mouth for the book has been great. Kim Stanley Robinson said that “Shadows In the Stone creates such a complete world that Italian history no longer seems comprehensible without his cosmic battle of spiritual entities behind and within every historical actor and event.

In a Locus review, Paul Di Filippo wrote: “With flavors of the work of Gene Wolfe and John Crowley, James Morrow and K.J. Parker, Dann’s new book is guaranteed to take the reader on a whirlwind journey of danger and enlightenment behind the cardboard reality we mistake for the universe’s true substance.”

And it was recently reviewed in Parallel Worlds: “The conclusion is so epic in scope and yet so personal in its impact that it feels like the story the Christian Bible never finished telling.”

So far so good… <Grin>

(Shadows is available in hardcover, softcover, and electronic editions on sites such as Amazon, Booktopia, Book Depository, Angus & Robertson, and Apple Books.)

Other projects: I wrote the introduction to Kate Wilhelm’s two volume Masters of Science Fiction collection, published by Centipede Press. I just received my copies from the publisher and understand that the editions have already sold out. Kate was a wonderful writer…and a lovely person. Centipede is also doing a Masters volume of my work: Masters of Science Fiction: Jack Dann. It should be out next year, finger’s crossed. And I’m writing short stories, novelettes, the usual. I will have a story called “Grieving the Spirit” in Deb Sheldon’s forthcoming Spawn anthology. And there are all sorts of other projects in play, including a book about how to write counterfactual fiction, i.e. alternate history. And maybe another anthology. I know I’ve missed lots of stuff, but, then this is all off-the-cuff.

2. What has been the best publishing experience of your career so far?

Oh, there have been a few, but when I first read your question, a memory immediately sprang to mind. The Memory Cathedral (my novel about Leonardo da Vinci) had just been published by HarperCollins in Australia–it had been previously published by Bantam in the US. My partner Janeen Webb and I were taking a mini-vacation at lovely resort near Portsea and were having a drink and lounging by the pool. I had picked up a complimentary copy of The Age and started browsing through it. When I came to literary section and saw the bestseller list, I started shouting and dancing around like an idiot. (In fact, most of the other guests unfortunate enough to be trying to relax by the pool must have indeed thought that an asylum escapee had just wandered onto the premises.)

My novel had just made the bestseller list. And it took me completely by surprise. Obviously! The book went on to reach number #1 on the list, beating out The English Patient.

But that moment by the pool…well, that was a moment!

Oh, incidentally, a new edition of The Memory Cathedral will soon be available on Amazon–and by the time you read this, it will probably already be published! My novel The Man Who Melted is also now on Amazon with a beautiful new cover by Greg Bridges.

3. Which recent Australian/NZ work would you recommend to international fans interested in expanding their Antipodean spec fic knowledge?

Okay, I know I’ve been blowing my own horn on this interview, and without embarrassment, I’ll have to do it once again. My anthology Dreaming in the Dark, which is the first book published in the PS Australia imprint (of which I’m proud to be the managing director), showcases the extraordinary talent we have in Australia. I would show Dreaming in the Dark to international fans. Like its predecessor Dreaming Down-Under, edited by Janeen Webb and myself, it won a World Fantasy Award. And how can you go wrong with all-Australian writers such as Sean Williams, Paul Brandon, James Bradley, Rjurik Davidson, Terry Dowling, Lisa Hannett, Jason Nahrung, Kim Westwood, Sean McMullen, Angela Slatter, Richard Harland, Adam Brown, Venero Armanno, Rosaleen Love, Alan Baxter, Anna Tambour, Janeen Webb, Garth Nix, Kirstyn McDermott, Kim Wilkins, and Simon Brown?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s