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Iain Triffitt, author of short fiction.

Iain Triffitt currently has fiction appearing in the anthologies Daikaiju!, edited by Robert Hood and Robin Pen, and Agog! Smashing Stories, edited by Cat Sparks.

1) You're a new writer on the scene. What would you say you goal is with your fiction and plays and why does that mean people should bother hunting out Iain Triffit's work?

My goal is primarily to amuse myself and shock and/or surprise the audience (in no particular order.) The two plays I co-wrote with Brett Danalake accomplished both these goals, and I'm still chuffed that Rob Hood thought my story was too dangerous for Daikaiju. The brave man decided to publish it anyway.

I'm trying to move out of this distinctly adolescent phase, and I guess my overall objective with my writing is to shift people's perspectives, to make people think something they've never thought before. I want to challenge people's preconceptions, especially my own.

I haven't thought about why people would bother seeking out my writing, maybe if you want to laugh and think at the same time and develop a case of conceptual hiccups.

2) What's your long term plan? Do you even have one?

The overall plan is to find a nice cushy writing job in radio and television, and use that to finance my short story writing. While I'm not trying to emulate his style (I can't drink that much) I very much want to emulate Warren Ellis' freedom of movement between mediums as well as genres. To be able to more than survive as a writer I want to be able to work in as many mediums as possible - prose, radio, theatre, I've even done a tiny bit of television (and Brett and I are working on tv scripts at the moment.) I'm working on a film script (aren't we all?) and maybe, just maybe one day, I'll fulfill every genre writer's dream and get my own miniseries with DC Comics where I get to kill off one of their second string characters.

I can dream.

3) Your honest opinion of the quality of the local scene, it's positives and negatives.

The first thought that entered my head when I read this question was the phrase "circle jerk". Which is unfair, but does sum up the ambivalence I have about the "local scene".

The positives as I see it are:

- there are some great writers out there, some of whom I'm lucky to know personally.
- there's a thriving small press scene supporting current writers and actively promoting new writers.
- Australian writers are making a greater impact overseas than our overall population would warrant.
- there's good eating at the various BBQs and writing groups.

The negatives:

- everyone's too cosy.
- Too many people have said they don't watch the news any more because it's so negative, and it's getting in the way of their writing.
- most Australian SF/Fantasy that I've read (and I really don't read that much now)seems to be recycling tropes that the US and UK have discarded, thus preserving our second string status.
- everyone's working on a fucking teenage (sorry - "young adult") fantasy novel - how many more do we need?
- the fan community seem to be bent on building the literary equivalent of the Israeli Security fence to keep the "mainstream literary community" out
- which isn't required because the "mainstream literary community" hate SF/Fantasy anyway.
- and the food at Magic Casements sucks. Honestly.

When I think about the local scene, I think of a story a Russian friend told me about the Tolkien fans in Moscow during the '70s. They were able to play rock music, smoke drugs and basically live as they liked without the threat of the gulags because the KGB judged them to be harmless. They had absolutely no interaction with the outside world, and therefore it was easier to leave them as they were. They were no threat to the state, lost within their own community of self-gratification.

I think the worst thing a writer can be is harmless.

4) You're dead. The tax department poisoned your mail in an attempt to not pay money to people. You go to Heaven (assuming there is, blah blah, you know the drill) and God is there, waiting. What do you say?

"You're pretty small for a consensual hallucination."

5) Favourite swear word?

It's more a phrase - MF Christ - short for Motherfucking Christ! - it kind of describes a spiritual feedback loop


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Apr. 12th, 2005 09:52 am (UTC)
You've got a fairly damning analogy there with your Russian Tolkein fans, but what's the alternative? How can we be dangerous, and to who?

Are we supposed to be changing society? Because society doesn't really give a damn... I don't think Clive Barker or Ramsey Campbell have changed society, and if they can't, how can we? Maybe Stephen King has had an effect, in his reinforcement of US paranoia and self-hatred but is that a good thing? I would think so, because he (and Barker and Campbell and a whole heapa others) can show us the darkness and make it feel truthful -- it makes us feel we understand a bit better. But so what? Does it give the readers as a whole the power to act on that understanding, or does it just make them draw away into themselves.

(You know, I love Silence of the Lambs, the movie, but that scene where the woman is kidnapped because she tries to help the injured man just makes me feel sad sometimes.)

And what about everyone who just likes writing about vampires and werewolves and shit like that?

What about fantasy, where we can have nice messages about the little people making a difference (or just a whole lot about evil races)? Does that help by cheering people up and making them more than just capitalist automatons? Does SF help by inspiring the technology under development now, and highlighting the perils along the way? Or are we too distracted by flashy effects to understand we're killing the planet?

Does any genre automatically become hidebound when it has its tropes in place?

I'm not disagreeing with you here, though we have it better than some. Australian comics is a more extreme example than specfic writing. I've seen it move from an outward looking and quite hopeful field of talent 20 years ago, to an insular group who do most of their selling at cons -- to other comic writers whilst the crowds check out the Dragonball Z(?) or Harry Potter star or whatever. It's not a good thing, but all that hopeful energy just went nowhere that anywhere here could point to (unless you happened to pack up and sell stuff to the States, and does it even matter if Ben Templesmith is painting 30 Days of Night and Gary Chaloner is working on Will Eisner's characters?). Time after time there were comics produced that were aimed at the mass market, and time after time not much happened. Maybe they just didn't try hard enough, but I don't see much alternative to the current state of affairs, sad though it might be.

I guess what I'm saying is: what's the point? And even if we're happy to say that the writers we admire have achieved something to aspire to (even if that haven't solved world peace), does the fact that we're working in a country where the goals are that much harder excuse a little insularity?

Am I sounding bitter here?

(And aren't there are lot of questions in this reply? I'm sure I'm over my quotient of 5.)

Anyway, here's something to focus our mind. Weird Tales debuted in 1923. It never had a big audience, it never made a profit. Howard Lovecraft never inspired a blockbuster movie. But what do you think we can do to escape our insularity and have half the effect on world literature that the Weird Tales team did?
Apr. 12th, 2005 08:58 pm (UTC)
Less glib reply
Writers don't change society, they change the people that change society. Barker and Campbell have exposed the dread underlying sex, and Barker especially has made people aware that they can feel the way they feel about sex without guilt. That they aren't alone, and if they're perverse, they're perverse in a good way.

This is not harmless.

If you like vampires, werewolves and shit, but aren't interested in why you like vampires and werewolves and shit, if you aren't prepared to investigate your own feelings and motivations, then why write? Why not solely immerse yourself in other people's creativity? There's already plenty of numbing crap out there, why consciously add to it?

Being a writer is a conscious decision and taking responsibility for decisions is a political act. By trying to affect others with your writing, you are trying open doors in them that the rest of society is trying to shut.

That is not harmless.

Writing creatively (whether fiction or non-fiction, or both) is always dangerous, if you're prepared to let it take you somewhere you've never been before.

This is what Weird Tales allowed to both its writers and readers.

I can see I do have a place in the local scene now (and it's scary how much of Lee Battersby interview raises similar issues, only more eloquently expressed) - I am the pea under the seven mattresses under the princess. I won't let you go back to sleep.
Apr. 12th, 2005 11:40 am (UTC)
ha ha, made you write
Apr. 12th, 2005 10:15 pm (UTC)
Over 500 words too. Will I get into writer's heaven?
Apr. 12th, 2005 11:05 pm (UTC)
you're doing better than I am.

"Writer's Heaven"? I wonder what the page rate is...

Or are you published automatically, like LiveJournal?

Hang on...
Apr. 12th, 2005 11:18 pm (UTC)
The pay is great, but the editor's a bastard.
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