2020 Snapshot: Lisa L Hannett

Lisa L Hannett_2018Lisa L. Hannett has had over 75 short stories appear in venues including  Clarkesworld, Fantasy, Weird Tales, Apex, The Dark and Year’s Best anthologies in Australia, Canada and the US. She has won four Aurealis Awards, including Best Collection for her first book, Bluegrass Symphony, which was also nominated for a World Fantasy Award. Her first novel, Lament for the Afterlife, was published in 2015. A new collection of short stories, Songs for Dark Seasons, is out now. You can find her online at http://lisahannett.com and on Instagram @LisaLHannett.

1. Tell us about your recent publications/projects?

In April this year, after what feels like a long time between drinks, my new collection of short stories was published! Songs for Dark Seasons takes readers back to the lonesome dream counties introduced in my first book, the World Fantasy Award-nominated Bluegrass Symphony. Here’s a little blurb from Ticonderoga’s website:

Trailer parks and graves are only temporary homes for souls in these tales, where gods dwell in churches and parking lot groves. Friday night football stars mingle with sirens; hunters’ wives help their kids not to shoot, but to fly; Chanticleers spar their way into local government; and rash-afflicted men take dryads for lovers. In backwater towns, some witches have the know-how to pin pageant queens pretty, while others relieve girls of highfalutin aspirations. Local crow-boys and bloodthirsty Ursines are the best miners around.

In these thirteen stories, forests are imbued with the deepest, saddest strains of country music, cornfield horizons stretch as long as a lone fiddle’s wail, and distant hills make mandolin promises: sweet and catchy and short-lived.

The strange world I’d invented for Bluegrass just kept calling me back — I’d write other stories in other setting, but then there’d be one in Chippewa county and another one in Kaintuck, and then another one, and another… After a couple of years, Songs for Dark Seasons has brought them all together.

Songs for Dark SeasonsFor a while now, my imagination has also been living in another place I can’t help but go back to: the isolated-fishing-folklore-magic-islands setting that features in a few of my stories, like ‘A Shot of Salt Water’ (The Dark) and ‘A Right Pretty Mate’ (Dreaming in the Dark). I’ve got a new piece set here, ‘Deep in the Drift, Spinning’, coming out in Beneath Ceaseless Skies sometime this year, another in the works for next year, and in the meantime I’m working on some new material that will be original to The Fortunate Isles (a new collection of these mermaid-sailor-cursed sea stories).

Longer projects in the works: the umpteenth edit on The North Way, my first Viking Age novel; a popular history / nonfiction book about women in the Viking Age; and after that, a second Viking Age novel… because I’m obsessed with this period, obviously. J

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

Honestly, I feel like I’ve been so lucky in my career, it’s hard to narrow it down to just one best experience. I’ve told this story before, but it’s worth mentioning again: the first time I submitted a short story for publication (to Dirk Flinthart’s Canterbury 2100 anthology back in 2008), it was an 11,000 word whopper that probably any other editor would have rejected outright. Dirk not only didn’t reject it, he also spent way more time than anyone could expect, giving me advice on how to trim the behemoth down to its core story. This process taught me how to write short fiction. I clearly had no idea what I was doing before Dirk took the time to work with me on that piece — It was the best crash-course in writing a newbie writer could hope to have!

And it was so great working on Bluegrass Symphony — a first collection made up of 99% previously unpublished material?! Unheard of! It was so much fun co-writing the next two collections with my dear sister-friend, Angela Slatter (Midnight and Moonshine and The Female Factory), and again being allowed (encouraged, even?) to write these books from scratch even though most collections nowadays are compilations of awesome reprints.

More recently — another a “great editor” anecdote — it was an enormous pleasure working with Scott Andrews at Beneath Ceaseless Skies on the edits for ‘Deep in the Drift, Spinning’. This was the first new story I’d written after having my daughter — it took me ages to finish (and since I’m a slow writer at the best of times, I really mean aaaaages) because I was dragging every word out of my sleep-deprived baby-brain, questioning every single one before I put it down on the page — and so it was not only very reassuring that Scott liked this story enough to take it for BCS, it was also wonderful to get his insights on it. His comments were so well-considered, useful, and always relevant to what I was trying to achieve with the piece. He really got it, and that felt (and still feels) so great.

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

So many great works out lately, I’ll narrow it down to a few:

  • Kathleen Jennings’ debut novella Flyaway will be out in July — a marvellous and enchanting work of Australian Gothic that would be a wonderful way for international fans to get into the Australian scene;
  • Sean Williams’ Her Perilous Mansion is a brilliant YA novel that also happens to be pretty Gothic and totally absorbing — two youngsters take up jobs in a strange mansion, then have to unravel the mysteries in this wondrous place (so inventive and engaging, I gobbled it up!);
  • Cat Sparks’ new collection of short stories, Dark Harvest was recently released — Cat’s short stories have been described as “Australian in flavour”, which clearly just means that they’re awesome;
  • All of Angela Slatter’s “Sourdough” stories! ALL OF THEM. Two volumes have been published to great acclaim (Sourdough and Other Stories was nominated for a World Fantasy Award; its sequel, The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings won the WFA) and the third book The Tallow-Wife is going to be out soon… Plus there are a couple of novels set in this world due out over the next two years, so there’s plenty of magical fairy-tale witchy goodness in store for international readers. Yay!

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