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August 21st, 2007

Snapshot 2007

One week later, and the ASif crew (and special guest Kaaron Warren) have finished their the 2007 Snapshot. It asked you what kind of fictional character you'd like to fuck. The truly interesting part of the project, however, is not to have a look at how a whole lot of people wussed out answering that--or, in the case of Les Peterson, revealed himself to be utterly humourless--but to compare it against the 2005 Snapshot, in which I stole questions from that American who stole questions from that French guy, and asked people about their favourite swear word and what they'd say to God. Of course, that's not important either, though it is amusing to watch cunt get shouted out a bunch of times and then come across Shane Jiraiya Cummings who says "I'll add that I absolutely detest the 'c' word. I won't disassociate myself from someone who uses it, but I'll irrevocably consider their IQ to have dropped 40 points."

But, no, the true attraction is watching the changes, the conversations between people, the new arrivals, and the groups that exist.

Perhaps most interesting, at least for me, is the changes. Two years later, Paul Haines has had the "worse professional experience" in the publication of Doorways for the Dispossessed and appears, you could argue, to be chaffing under what many people perceive his work to be, which is dark, gross out, sexually fetishised stuff. Two years ago, he was talking about the strands that tied his work together, and said, "I try to write nice stories, but they just come out all tainted and Haines-like. You'll find a lot of bad language, explicit sex, drug use, violence and nasty people in my stories." Karen Miller was just coming off the release of The Innocent Mage in 2005 and talked a lot about marketing and writing to the audience. Two years later, and her books are being released in the UK and States and, after some work for hire gigs, is returning to a new series. There is perhaps a lesson in that. In perhaps the biggest change in personalities, Lee Battersby, who in the original interview, came across confident, now comes across as bitter, perhaps angry, and arguably withdrawn--the failure of projects from Brimstone Press, and perhaps others I don't remember hearing about, have left their mark. Interestingly, however, many people would say he is more successful now than he was two years ago, contributing to the coveted work for hire Dr. Who gig and having his work reprinted in international Year's Best books, and, yes, even the awards. Which, speaking of, brings us to Shane Jiraiya Cummings again, who, after the announced closure of Shadowed Realms--which he originally described as publishing fiction that was "specifically designed for the upcoming generation that's either too busy or has movie-trailer mentality (or a goldfish attention span, take your pick)"--and which, yes, I know his partner, Angela Challis, edited, but I believe he was responsible for the design... anyhow, now, Cummings is preparing for the final push of his flash fiction drive with a collection from Ticonderoga and Black Box, the sequel to Shadow Box, released a few years back, and claiming that this will most likely be his last "hurrah for flash fiction." Of course, this year he is also judging in the two horror awards, and you have to smile when Cummings, always big on self promotion, notes that "Not a lot of Aussie short horror fiction has resonated with me. It looks to be a lull year, although a couple of anthologies may appear in coming months, and Shadowed Realms has two more issues to be published, so my hopes are high."

In more changes, it was interesting to see Sean Williams hint that there will be no more books co-authored with Shane Dix. Williams' doesn't give that moment much play in his interview, so I could be wrong there (apologies if I am). It is interesting to note that he has moved into solo authored science fiction novels with his most recent release, Saturn Returns, however, and this leads to support that. Of course, Williams, ever prolific, has about six ideas spitting from him as he talks, and while it could be that he has stopped co-authoring with Dix, his career appears to only be growing in strength from the position he was in two years ago, and one need only see that the same energy that was there in 2005 is still there in 2007. Similarly growing strong, Jonathan Strahan who, two years ago, was just beginning to edit original anthologies and is now, by all accounts, doing more, and doing them both by himself and with others, and with all being well received. Perhaps one of the last big changes, however, was the push made by Cat Sparks to establish herself as an author now, rather than a publisher, editor, and artist. Of the conflict, she says that "nowadays, I would rather spend [time] on my own writing. I get bugged about doing another open anthology all the time. There is always room for another decent anthology, but the world doesn’t need another writer. I remain conflicted over the issue." Should another snapshot be done in 2009, it will be interesting to see how that conflict has played out for her.

Two years later, ROR, the writing group of Trent Jamieson, Marianne de Pierres, Margo Lanagan, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Richard Harland and, I believe, Dirk Flinthart, is showing itself to be something of interest with the linked children's book series, the Lost Shimmaron, and it will be interesting to see how that group plays out in the following years. It's an interesting mix of well established and establishing names, and I do have to admit, I find Jamieson to be the odd one out in the group, regarding content and style, but there's nothing to be made of that other than that I can see how the work of the others plays off each other, but not so much his. Ah well. Out of the group, only Harland appears to have not been interviewed this year--and he wasn't in the first year, either--which is a bit of a disappointment. However, moving on. There is the rise of the Cour de Lion, which is Keith Stevenson and Andrew Macrae. The mix of the two appears to be an interesting one. I never thought too much of Stevenson's run on Aurealis, just because it didn't appeal to me, and he didn't appear to be pushing much in the way of boundaries. However, with Cock--a concept I was initially wary of, but which I thought came out nicely--and the planned s l o w, Stevenson appears to be pushing a more interesting direction, which is perhaps due to the influence of Macrae's high concept driven mind? Who can say. Macrae, of course, is the cover artist of 26lies, and in the last year, with Acidheadwar and ordinary magic, revealed himself to be have a surprisingly flexible mind, and one almost concept driven. Anyhow, however the two are working, it's working nicely, and they are set to publish the final Tom Tyson collection by Terry Dowling, as well. In the terms of new writers, David Conyers, A M Muffaz, and Steph Campisi have been thrust a bit more into the light of recent, though Conyers' work is perhaps more niche than the other two, being centred on the Cthulu Mythos, and I suspect it will find a more receptive audience in the small press horror scene of the States than here. Campisi, however, comes up with my favourite interview, where she says, about the local scene, "There's definitely this weird thing going on where people are lauded by the scene as up-and-comers or whatever, and I think contextualise themselves incorrectly as the Next Big Thing or as an Established Writer, and go about mentoring people and the like when really they're pretty much irrelevant in the eyes of anyone who isn't part of the scene." Heh. You just have to love that girl. She'll have hate mail any day now. To duck out of the obvious new people, there was Miranda Siemienowicz, who is perhaps more well known for her work on Horrorscope than fiction, and Gary Kemble, from the Articulate Blog.

Most telling for this year's snapshot, however, was that more than one person was responsible for it. Over seventy people must have been covered this year, which shits over my paltry forty three (though, aren't we all glad I didn't run forty three interviews through this blog again?). But, with seven people involved in the interviewing, a wider and more detailed snapshot of the scene could be produced, and it was good to see Rjurik Davidson, Terry Dowling, Simon Brown, Jacki French, Shaun Tan, Justine Larbalestier, and Lucy Sussex, among others, being interviewed. I'll just pause here for a moment, however, to direct you all to Nick Stathopoulos' interview, in which he notes his attraction to cartoon characters, and then goes on to note that he often thinks of his friends as having cartoon counterparts...

He's a funny guy, is Nick.

Of course, it goes almost without saying, that my favourite thing in all the interviews was to count how many times people said they didn't reach much local work. Oh, yes. It did make me laugh.

Anyhow, I've gone on about the two here for long enough. You want to read them, do so.