2020 Snapshot: Kirstyn McDermott

Photo by Paul Ewins

Kirstyn McDermott has been working in the darker alleyways of speculative fiction for much of her career. Her two novels, Madigan Mine and Perfections, each won an Aurealis Award and her most recent book is Caution: Contains Small Parts, a collection of short fiction published by Twelfth Planet Press. She produces and co-hosts a literary discussion podcast, The Writer and the Critic, and has just completed a creative writing PhD at Federation University with a research focus on re-visioned fairy tales. Kirstyn lives in Ballarat, Australia, with fellow writer Jason Nahrung and two distinctly non-literary felines. www.kirstynmcdermott.com

  1. Tell us about your recent publications/projects?

Well, my biggest recent project has been completing my PhD in creative writing. That occupied the last six years of my life and resulted in seven novelettes, an exegesis about collaborative relationships among women in re-visioned fairy tales, and an uncountable number of grey hairs. I’m intensely proud of the work I did during that time, both in terms of the fiction and the academic research, but I’m so very relieved that it’s finally over. Some of the novelettes have been published long the way, and I’m hoping to find a home for the collection as a whole very soon.

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

It would have to be publishing “Triquetra” (my take on “Snow White”) with Tor.com a couple of years ago. Ellen Datlow acquired and edited the novelette, and she is a dream editor to work with – smart, perceptive and so respectful of the author and their work. Plus, she’s an editor I’ve followed for decades, ever since I began as a wee baby writer in the horror genre. The retold fairy tale anthologies she published with Terri Windling are superb, as are all her solo anthologies really. It’s definitely a career highlight to have her publish a story of mine!

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

Just one? So unfair! It’s also difficult, as I’ve had my head stuck in fairy-tale collections and anthologies for so long, I’m somewhat out of touch wit the Australian spec fic scene right now. But here are three quick recommends: Flyaway by Kathleen Jennings, her debut novella published by both Tor and Picador here in Australia; Into Bones Like Oil by Kaaron Warren, the kind of creepy, weird and distinctly Australian fiction that only Kaaron can produce; and Songs for Dark Seasons by Lisa Hannett, a collection I was lucky enough to read in manuscript a while ago and which I am so very, very excited to see finally become a real book at last!


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