Tehani Croft was a founding member of Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine in 2001 and started FableCroft Publishing in 2010. Now firmly entrenched in Australian speculative fiction and independent press, she has edited for Twelfth Planet Press (among other duties), judged for the Aurealis Awards, CBCA Book of the Year and the WA Premier’s Book Awards, convenes the Aurealis and Norma K Hemming Awards, reads far more in one genre than is healthy, and writes reviews, non-fiction and interviews. In her spare moments, she works as the head of library services at a great school near Brisbane.
1. Tell us about your recent publications/projects?
As most people know, FableCroft has been on hiatus for a couple of years now. I have a couple of ideas for books I would love to edit still, but family and work and life in general has meant I haven’t been able to progress any of them at this stage. Ah well, life moves on. However, I have been very involved in the spec fic scene in Australia still, as judging coordinator for the Aurealis Awards and convenor of the Norma K Hemming Awards, both of which take up a great deal of time and mental energy. Not sure how long I’ll be able to maintain my work there, either, but I would hate to let it go, because it’s a wonderful way to stay embedded in the publishing scene in Australia.
2. What has been the best publishing or SF community experience of your career so far?
Hmmm, so I WROTE these questions for Snapshot and I didn’t realise how hard this one was to answer! Okay, so in some ways, it’s very difficult to go past the experience of being a founding member of Andromeda Spaceways Publishing Co-operative, and starting ASIM. I was nobody anyone knew, but thanks to the magic of the internet and some fabulous people I met online (many of whom I still count among my friends today), we started a brand new thing that is still being published now, nearly 20 years later! Meeting all those people in real life at ConVergence (the 2002 Natcon) where we launched the first issue of ASIM definitely counts as a highlight for me.
That said, I’ve had plenty of other fantastic experiences:
- editing multiple issues of ASIM, and working with the ASIM crew for all those years – what a great group!
- working with Alisa at Twelfth Planet Press.
- starting FableCroft in 2010 and having a space at the AussieCon 4 in Melbourne that year with Worlds Next Door and Australis Imaginarium.
- The first (and every subsequent) time something I published was shortlisted for an award – I’ve won a few of my own over the years, but I’m always ridiculously excited for my authors to see their work recognised from one of my publications.
- helping to run the 50th Natcon (Swancon 36 in 2011).
- raising more than $2000 for the pre-publication version of After the Rain for the Queensland floods fundraising.
- the absolutely fantastic crowdfunding campaign Tansy and I ran for Cranky Ladies of History (and pretty much everything about the whole process of editing and publishing that book, including my very favourite convention panel ever, at Continuum with a bunch of the authors waxing lyrical about their chosen “lady”).
- working with the creators of every book I’ve ever published.
- and every single instance that one of the authors I published early in their career gets a book publication deal or other accolade – it makes me happy every time!
3. Which recent Australian/NZ work would you recommend to international fans interested in expanding their Antipodean spec fic knowledge?
This answer could go on forever… I’ll cherry pick some of my favourites, in basically reverse chronological order of my reading them:
The Elementals trilogy by Amie Kaufman, an excellent middle grade fantasy series that I couldn’t put down.
Monstrous Heart by Claire McKenna, which has a fantastic Gothic aesthetic with brilliant world-building.
Blackbirds Sing by Aiki Flinthart, a mosaic novel alternate history told through the eyes of women.
Anything by Juliet Marillier but most especially her Blackthorn & Grim trilogy which is astonishingly good folk fantasy and won the Sara Douglass Book Series Award in 2018.
Anything by Tansy Rayner Roberts, who continues to inspire me with her approach to writing and publishing and to kick it out of the park with every single story she writes. You could start with her excellent, multi-award winning Creature Court series, which is dark urban fantasy (sort of…), but her lighter work, much of which she has published through her Patreon, is also fantastic, as is her gender-swapped, queer, space opera retelling of The Three Musketeers, Musketeer Space.
Kim Wilkins’ Blood & Gold trilogy, which manages to combine grimdark fantasy with some truly excellent character work and storytelling, and which I fell in love with several years before the novels were ever published thanks to the prequel novella in Legends of Australian Fantasy back in 2010.
Icefall by Stephanie Gunn, which is one of the best pieces of SF storytelling I think I’ve ever read.
The Beast’s Heart by Leife Shallcross manages to retell a well known story in such a way that I couldn’t stop reading it.
How to Bee (middle grade near future soft apocalypse) by Bren MacDibble and All the Dark Spaces (YA SF) by her alter ego Cally Black, books which made Bren a debut author two times over in the same year and deserved every single one of the multitude of accolades they received.
Angela Slatter’s gorgeously written interconnected Bitterwood collections are dark and twisty and brilliant.
I couldn’t write a recommendation list without including Jo Anderton’s Bone Chime Song collection, which is an excellent set of stories (disclaimer: yes, I published it!).
Margo Lanagan does not set a foot wrong in her work but possibly my favourite to recommend would be Sea Hearts (also published as The Brides of Rollrock Island), partly because I adored the original novella it was built on (from coeur de lion’s D6 anthology) but mostly just because of how dark yet still completely compelling it is.
Bittergreens by Kate Forsyth remains one of the best examples of fairytale retellings I have ever read, twining history and fantasy into a beautiful triple tale. I’ve been a fan of Kate since I read her excellent Witches of Eileanan series, back before I even dreamed of becoming a part of the Australian spec fic scene!
Again, anything by Glenda Larke, but her Watergivers trilogy is a particular favourite, and won the inaugural Sara Douglass Book Series Award in 2015.
I had better stop, because I literally could list pages and pages of excellent Australian spec fic (and I haven’t even started on the blokes!). People like Ambelin Kwaymullina, Kirstyn McDermott, Kaaron Warren, DK Mok, Faith Mudge, Cat Sparks, Thoraiya Dyer, Charlotte Nash, Pamela Jeffs, Claire G Coleman, Suzanne J Willis, Deborah Biancotti, Rowena Cory Daniells, Marlee Jane Ward, Lisa L Hannett, Shauna O’Meara, Narrelle M Harris, and so many talented other Aussies continue to write engaging, thought-provoking, classy work, despite the ever decreasing marketplace and the challenges of the world – we’re lucky to have them. My apologies to anyone I didn’t include – I promise it’s not that I don’t love your work, it’s only that my brain is very full and very tired right now…