2020 Snapshot: Joanne Anderton

Joanne Anderton is an award-winning Australian author who, until recently, was living and working in Japan. Her spec-fic includes the novels Debris, Suited and Guardian, and the short story collection The Bone Chime Song and Other Stories. Her children’s picture book The Flying Optometrist was a CBCA notable book, and her non-fiction has been published in Island Magazine and Meanjin. http://joanneanderton.com

  1. Tell us about your recent publications/projects?

I’ve been focusing mostly on short work recently. Honestly, thanks to Life Stuff I haven’t had the brain space for anything longer. But that’s okay, because I love short fiction!

I have a story in the upcoming Unnatural Order anthology which I’m really excited about – it plays with science fantasy, which is one of my loves. And another story forthcoming in Dimension6 later this year, which was inspired by a podcast I was on a while ago, in which we talked about AI. I’ve also been writing creative non-fiction, and my most recent piece is a biographical sketch that was published in Meanjin. Actually seeing my name in a copy of Meanjin definitely felt like a bucket-list moment! I discovered creative non-fiction while doing my Masters at UTS and it turns out I love it. I find myself gravitating towards it, and hope to publish more.

I’ve also started working on a novel-length project, for the first time in a long time. It’s a strange side-effect of the pandemic: I was living in Japan but came home earlier than expected and now, suddenly, I have time and brain space again. But I don’t want to scare it off, so… shh.

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

Publishing my children’s picture book, The Flying Optometrist in 2018. It was published by the National Library of Australia, with the support of the Brien Holden Vision Institute. Working with the publishing team at the Library was wonderful – they were so supportive and professional. I enjoyed every moment, I learned so much, and we did a national publicity campaign that even included live morning TV.

The book is written about my father and the work he did as the Flying Optometrist, bringing eye-health services to remote and regional NSW communities. It was rewarding to do the campaign with him and bring attention to a cause that is very close to his heart. I felt privileged to be able to tell his story, and the story of the communities he visited. I hope to do more work like that.

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

I have to be honest, I’ve been head-down in Japanese literature over the past year and have been a terrible local spec fic fan and haven’t read very much! I have to fix this, I know! But it was wonderful to read the weird worlds of Haruki Murakami, Hiromi Kawakami or Yoko Ogawa while living and working in the places they write about. It just felt right. But, that being said, I absolutely don’t think I could go past Alan Baxter’s ‘The Roo’ novella as a great way to introduce Australia to an international audience… *hehe*


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