Janeen Webb is a multiple award winning author, editor, and critic who has written or edited a dozen books and over a hundred essays and stories. She is a recipient of the World Fantasy Award, the Peter MacNamara SF Achievement Award, the Aurealis Award and four Ditmar Awards. Her most recent book is The Dragon’s Child (PS Publishing, UK, 2018).The sequel, A Dynasty of Dragons, will be published in 2020. She is currently co-writing an alternate history series, The City of the Sun, with Andrew Enstice: the first book, The Five Star Republic, is due for release from IFWG Publications early in 2021.
Janeen has taught at various universities, is internationally recognized for her critical work in speculative fiction, and has contributed to most of the standard reference texts in the field. She holds a PhD in literature from the University of Newcastle.
1. Tell us about your recent publications/projects?
My most recent book is The Dragon’s Child (PS Publishing, UK, 2018) – a gorgeous production with covers and endpapers by Greg Bridges. The story was described by Rob Hood as “…a modern fairy tale infused with the attitude of a dynastic thriller,” and Anna Tambour commented that “…I never realised how many people in power must actually be dragons.” The book made the prestigious Locus Magazine Recommended Reading list. Here’s a taste:
Meet the shapeshifting dragons of Hong Kong. Adept at passing for human, they are the kind of dragons you’d meet at a Gatsby party – charming, sophisticated, glamorous, outrageously wealthy – and utterly ruthless.
Nothing it seems can challenge their privileged lives – until Lady Feng leaves one of her eggs to be raised by human foster parents in a remote mountain village.
The dragon child hatches. Born with dragon power, raised with human emotion, this child is trouble. And his powers are growing…
You can access The Dragon’s Child here.
The sequel, A Dynasty of Dragons, is due for release from PS Publishing by November 2020.
I am also working on a huge alternate history project, The City of the Sun series, co-authored with Andrew Enstice (with whom I have written several non-fiction books, including Aliens & Savages). We have a three book deal with the indefatigable Gerry Huntman at IFWG Publications. Release of the first book, The Five Star Republic, has been delayed by the pandemic, but we are hoping to see it early in 2021. It seems appropriate in these dark times that this is a positive alt-history – a C19th Australian history you’ll wish we’d had – a green revolution, powered by the sun. There’s a massive amount of original research underpinning this series: the details are painstakingly exact, but the story diverges to integrate fictional characters with real-life historical figures. The events and scientific inventions are all true to the time, but the outcomes are different. It’s a future that’s still possible….
You can read more about The City of the Sun series here.
Otherwise, I continue to write short fiction – I always try to contribute a story to anthologies if I’m asked, but I tend not to write on spec. It has been my privilege to be included in some wonderful recent anthologies. “Monkey Business” appeared in Ecopunk! ( Liz Grzyb & Cat Sparks, Ticonderoga, 2017), and was shortlisted for a novella Ditmar; “A Pearl Beyond Price” appeared in Cthulhu Deep Down Under, Vol.1, (Steve Proposch, Christopher Sequeira & Bryce Stevens, IFWG Publishing, 2017), and won a short story Ditmar; and, most recently, “Apostles of Mercy” appeared in War of the Worlds: Battleground Australia (Steve Proposch, Christopher Sequeira & Bryce Stevens, Clan Destine Press, 2019). I’m in the process of putting together my next personal collection: stay tuned.
2. What has been the best publishing experience of your career so far?
It’s hard to choose a ‘best publishing experience’ – I have been lucky enough to work with some amazing editors over the years. But my short story collection, Death at the Blue Elephant (Ticonderoga Publications, 2014), was a standout experience. The book is close to my heart: I had dropped out of sight while I battled serious illness, and this collection allowed me to step back into the world. Everyone who worked on it was generous with time and talent: Russell B. Farr is always a great editor, and he pulled out all the stops to put the book together; the fabulous Nick Stathopoulos created the stunning cover; Pamela Sargent wrote the wonderful introduction. The collection was very well received: Tanith Lee described it as “Exotic, cunning – often funny – (with)… edges to cut yourself on.” Death at the Blue Elephant was shortlisted for the 2015 World Fantasy Award.
You can access Death at the Blue Elephant here.
3. Which recent Australian/NZ work would you recommend to international fans interested in expanding their Antipodean spec fic knowledge?
Australia has a vibrant community of sf writers, and this is nowhere more evident than in its short fiction. There are far too many wonderful writers to even hope to list here, so my suggestion for interested international fans is to sample some of the brilliant small press anthologies and collections that have appeared over the past few years. I always think of anthologies as akin to a box of chocolates, offering assorted delights that one can dip into and sample at will. In addition to the anthologies listed with my stories above, I’d also suggest: Dreaming in the Dark, ed. Jack Dann (PS Publishing, 2016), which won the 2017 World Fantasy Award for best anthology; Hear Me Roar, ed. Liz Gryzb (Ticonderoga, 2015); the And Then… series, ed. Ruth Wykes & Kylie Fox (ClanDestine Press, 2016 and ff.). Some of the single author collections that spring to mind are: The Finest Ass in the Universe, by Anna Tambour (Ticonderoga, 2015); Singing My Sister Down, by Margo Lanagan (Allen & Unwin, 2017); Mountains of the Mind, by Gillian Polack (Shooting Star Press, 2018); Shadows on the Wall, by Steven Paulsen (IFWG Publishing, 2018); Through Splintered Walls, by Kaaron Warren (Twelfth Planet Press, 2012). Enjoy.