2020 Snapshot: Octavia Cade

Octavia Cade is a New Zealand writer. She has a PhD in science communication, and enjoys using speculative fiction to talk about science in new and exciting ways; she’s also particularly interested in the intersection between science and horror. She’s had close to 50 short stories published, in markets such as Clarkesworld, Asimov’s, and Shimmer. A collection of short stories is currently in press, and two poetry collections, several novellas, an essay collection on food and horror, and a short novel have all been published by various small presses, and she’s had a number of academic papers published as well. She’s won three Sir Julius Vogel awards, and is a BSFA and Bram Stoker nominee. Octavia attended Clarion West 2016 and is the 2020 writer in residence at Massey University.

1. Tell us about your recent publications/projects?

My most recent publication, out earlier this year, is the cli-fi novel The Stone Wētā. It’s based on the Clarkesworld short story of the same name I wrote a couple of years back, and it’s about scientists smuggling climate data in the face of hostile governments. That, sadly, is something ripped from the headlines, as I wrote the short story after seeing news stories about scientists and archivists getting together to protect data, believing that state interference had the potential to disappear, alter, or generally suppress it. I’ve a PhD in science communication, so this is something I can get pretty exercised about.

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

The best publishing experience of my career so far? It’s not so much the publishing as the writing. I’ve been lucky enough to have been able to attend Clarion West, in 2016, and to hold the writer-in-residence position at Massey University earlier this year – three months in a flat (during New Zealand’s very strict pandemic lockdown!) with nothing to do but write. Both these experiences resulted in published works, which is of course gratifying, but it was the experiences themselves which were the most rewarding. They both allowed me time and space and resources to jump to a new level in my writing, and I’m immensely grateful for that.

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

I absolute adore The Swan Book by Alexis Wright, which is I think the finest piece of SFF writing to come out of the last decade. That it didn’t win the Booker – that it wasn’t even shortlisted! – is completely inexplicable to me. It combines climate and myth and indigenous experience and is just generally outstanding in every respect. I’d also recommend the first volume of Year’s Best Aotearoa New Zealand Science Fiction and Fantasy, which is a new series come out of Paper Road Press. I’m in it, so I’m biased, but if you’re interested in the best short fiction from Kiwi writers it’s all there, in one handy volume. It includes a story by Andi Buchanan, who is a mate of mine and who is one of the best short story writers working today, in my opinion – their “Girls Who Do Not Drown,” included in that anthology, is incredible.


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