2020 Snapshot: Margo Lanagan

Margo Lanagan has published two dark fantasy novels (Tender Morsels and Sea Hearts / The Brides of Rollrock Island) and seven short story collections, most recently Singing My Sister Down and Other Storiesfrom Allen & Unwin,Phantom Limbsfrom PS Publishing and Stray Bats from Small Beer Press. She has collaborated with Scott Westerfeld and Deborah Biancotti on the New York Times bestselling YA superheroes trilogy, Zeroes.

Her work has won four World Fantasy, nine Aurealis and five Ditmar awards, and has been shortlisted in the British Science Fiction Association and the British Fantasy Awards, and the Nebula, Hugo, Bram Stoker, Theodore Sturgeon, Shirley Jackson, International Horror Guild and Seiun awards, and twice made the James Tiptree Jr Honor List. Her books and stories have been translated into 19 languages.

Margo lives in Sydney, Australia. She currently teaches at the Faber Writing Academy at Allen & Unwin.

1. Tell us about your recent publications/projects?

I had a chapbook, Stray Bats, published by Small Beer Press last year, to celebrate being Guest of Honor at World Fantasy in Los Angeles in November. It was a collection of fifty micro-fictions, many of them inspired by, and riffing on, poems by Australian women. Kathleen Jennings filled it with gorgeous half-wild micro-sketches and drew the perfect cover.

Apart from that, I’ve written a couple of short stories. “The Girl from the Hell”, about a girl whose mother is magically trapped in a rhododendron hell, appeared in Marie O’Regan and Paul Kane’s Cursed anthology from Titan in March. “Tell-Tale TIt”, an extrapolation of the nursery rhyme, has been sent off to its anthology, but I’m not sure of the progress on that one. A queerified version of the Grimm brothers’ story “Fundevogel” has gone with a couple of other stories into a proposal for an anthology of queer fairy tales by Australian authors, queer and allied.

I’ve got a couple more to write this year. And I’m putting together some short stories for a book-length project. It didn’t make much progress for a while there. My lockdown has been wall-to-wall day-job work, teaching, tech writing and instructional design. But I’m getting back into it. It involves family histories, and fantasy, and is pretty squishy and unformed as yet. It needs to get wilder and more loony.

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

I’ve had a long, long, lovely relationship with Allen & Unwin here in Australia, first with Rosalind Price as my publisher and editor, now with Jodie Webster.They’ve always given me really useful editorial advice, and chewed over competing advice from US and UK publishers with me. I feel very well nurtured there.

In terms of high spectacle, however, the US tour for the first book of the Zeroes trilogy, with fellow authors Scott Westerfeld and Deborah Biancotti, is up there. Two weeks of flying into a new city every day for two or three gigs. It seems like the stuff of legend now, all that TSA queuing and addressing auditoriums full of students. It gave me a new respect for touring authors—touring is a kind of glorious nightmare, where you’re alternately a slave and a noble in a palanquin. I don’t know how authors manage it solo—without Scott and Deb I would have fallen in a traumatised heap, I think.

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

Kathleen Jennings’s Flyaway. 

Tamsyn Muir’s Gideon the Ninth. 

Elizabeth Knox’s The Absolute Book. 

Charlotte Wood’s The Nature of Things.

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