2020 Snapshot: Eleanor Whitworth

Eleanor has been published in a range of magazines and anthologies including: Meanjin, SQ Magazine,Not One of Us, B-Cubed Press, Black Hare Press and Deadset Press. She lives in Sydney with her husband, young child and a yearning to express the beautiful and cantankerous nature of life. You can find her on Twitter as @elewhitworth or more backstory at eleanorwhitworth.com.

  1. Tell us about your recent publications/projects?

I’m primarily a short story writer. This year, I (finally!) discovered anthologies and the art of responding to a theme and expressing my writerly concerns. The first anthology was Stories of Hope, a response by Deadset Press to the devastating Australian fires. Upcoming are Oz is Burning by B-Cubed Press and Ancients (flash fic) by Black Hare Press. At some point during lock-down I also had an epiphany that it’s time for me to write a novel. I’ve been terrified by the prospect ever since and have not done a thing, so let’s just see how that goes!

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

A highlight for me was publishing my first SF story in SQ Magazine in 2017. The story, ‘A Thousand Million Small Things’, went on to make Tangent’s Best Online 2017 Recommended Reading List. From that, I learnt that a piece can have a life beyond your expectations, so it’s important to always treat your work with respect. Participating in the 2018 Hardcopy program was another transformative experience, and I met several spec fic writers who have become fast friends and essential beta readers – these relationships have changed my personal and professional life for the better. And beyond that, this might sound obvious, but it’s the groups that have opened up via the anthology publications, the sense that I belong to a lively and passionate community.

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

I’ve just finished The Old Lie by Claire Coleman. It’s a mesmerising masterpiece that slowly tightens its grip on the reader as the various character threads come together across the backdrop of an intergalactic war. It could be triggering for some people as it effectively articulates the brutality of war, and there’s a powerful metaphor at work. It was this latter aspect that reminded me of N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth series: Coleman is SO GOOD at putting the reader in the character’s position to experience the world through their eyes. For me, this book goes on the essential reading list. I also recently read After Australia, an anthology edited by Michael Mohammed Ahmad, which is definitely at the speculative end of the spectrum (and also features a story by Coleman). There’s some amazing writing in this anthology, but as far as feisty alternative history goes, I particularly enjoyed The East Australia Mango Bridge by Roanna Gonsalves.

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