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Lyn Battersby (Triffitt) is part of the editorial committees on TiconderogaOnline and Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine. Ticonderoga released a new issue earlier the month, and you can go to that right now and read.

1) You're an editor involved with Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine and TiconderogaOnline, both different venues with different demands. About the only thing that links them is that there is a committee involved in the selection of fiction that appears in the work appearing in each. Some have claimed that committee style editing ensures that only bland fiction is seen in the world, but I figure there must be some shit flung and fought for in those places. Give us a rundown on the committee experience, both pro and con.

In my experience, working within a committee means working with a lot of different people with different sized egos. I'm a very non-confrontational person and prefer to keep the peace, so I tend to take the lemming approach and follow the crowd. I leave the politics to the Chiefs of the Tribe and make do with being a gatherer. Or so I thought until ASIM 11. Once it was became my turn to sign my name to an issue, my stance changed. I read a lot of stories for that issue. A couple of them came through the slush-pool, but on the whole the stories I chose were ones that I solicited through the various groups that Lee belonged to at the time. As I found stories I liked, I had to put them into the pool to see how the other members viewed them. Not all were warmly received. One story I accepted was rejected by the group. I had to write to the author and tell him that I couldn't print his story after all. He was lovely about it and offered another story in its place. I took it and then bought the story for TicOn instead. I received a lot of flak for that issue of ASIM from the other members, yet the public loved it. I had people telling me that it was the best issue the co-op has put out to date and it seems true, after winning Best Professional Production at this year's Swancon. TicOn is a little easier. There's only four of us reading the material and once a 'yes' is entered with either a 'maybe' or another 'yes' it's accepted. While Lee and I don't necessarily share the same tastes in reading, we both have a good eye for what works and what needs work. Lee and I work well together, have respect for each other's opinions and don't let our individual egos get in the way of the product. After all, we're only in this for the love of the genre.

On the whole, I've enjoyed my TicOn experience more than the ASIM one. I love working with Lee. Together with Russell and Liz, we've been able to put out a product that reflects our own personal taste. We like the gonzo stuff and disdain the mundanity of modern fantasy. No fluffy bunnies for us.

2) You're a relatively new name to the production side of the Australian small press scene, but do you have a vision of the kind of work that should be in publication that drives you to hunt and rescue, as an editor must, from the slush pile? And, is there a kind of work that is struggling to find a venue in this scene?

Generally, I look for two things in a story. Good craftsmanship and originality. And therein lies the rub. I know there are many good writers out there who know how to make one sentence follow another coherently until a readable story is formed. I believe I had an issue full of them. Originality, however, is another matter. Australia isn't
keen on pushing the envelope. ASIM could be so influential if it just dared to let the alternative voices speak, but it prefers stories that centres around cute aliens and talking cats. I'm beyond that. I like stories that make you think, that make you question the reality you exist within. (Having said that, Sally Beasley published my story "The
Memory of Breathing" within issue 17, a story that tries to do just that.) Sites like TicOn and Shadowed Realms are trying to put out new authors and new ideas, but there's room for a lot of improvement within the scene.

3) It's been said that the Australian Speculative Fiction is not drawing in enough new readers to see it expand. How would (assuming you agree with it) go about bringing new and younger readers to the work?

I don't agree with it. I am a member of a writing group that meets together once a month, plus I attend workshops and conventions and what I see convinces me that SF readership is expanding. We have two young writers (aged under 20) at our group, plus Swancon has quite a large young fan base that continues to grow. I have 5 children and all are either reading SF (John Marsden, Emily Rodda, Dave Luckett) or having it read to them.

4) You're dead. A cage containing a flying monkey fell on you. The Wizard of Oz has much to answer for. Still, you're dead, and you got to Heaven (assuming you believe, blah blah) and you see God. You say?

At last, an easy one! I spent 14 years of my life as a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses. This meant I believed, with all my heart and soul, that only a few people made it to Heaven (the 144,000) and that the rest of us would die, stay dead for a while and then be resurrected after Armaggeddon to live forever in the new Paradise that would be established upon the earth. If I did make it to Heaven and met God, I believe I would say; "Well, that's 14 years of my life I'm never getting back."

5) Favourite swear word?

Being a Witness has made it very hard for me to learn to swear. Lee has taught me to say the occasional F word, but I really have to psyche myself into it. I guess my favourite is 'bugger'. It suits so many different occasions, and, as an ex-Witness, I can make it sound really filthy.


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Apr. 13th, 2005 01:11 am (UTC)
Don't forget there were a number of co-op members who loved your issue, and "that" story:)

Apr. 13th, 2005 02:59 am (UTC)
A small number. I read the emails :)

Besides, I think the comment was on the overall feeling of editing by committee. A comment on difficulties faced when putting together an issue of a magazine is not an attack on the whole magazine. The fact is, there was a lot of kerfuffle over that issue, and pretending there wasn't and that everybody lived together in perfect harmony, gives an inaccurate picture of what it's like dealing with up to 20 individuals with their own agendas.

Personally, I like working alone, with a very few people of my own choosing. Working with Lyn, Rusty & Liz on TicOn has its moments, and there's only 4 of us. Trying to get a committe as large as ASIMs to pull in the same direction would be my personal version of editor-hell.


Apr. 13th, 2005 05:43 am (UTC)
Hey Lee,

Yeah, it's cool... i didn't interpret it as an attack. I agree that working with a committee is certainly an interesting experience... there have certainly been tense moments... though i suspect less than in an organisation full of those appalling Real Life people...:)

I'm glad the issue turned out well anyhow, and that lyn picked up a Tin Duck for it...

Apr. 13th, 2005 03:50 am (UTC)
I do appreciate that some members were supportive of me, and I'm thankful to them for it. People like yourself and Sally Beasley made the experience easier to bear.

I don't feel my time with ASIM was all bad. I gained a lot of valuable experience and learnt to trust my own judgement. I also made some good friends, both amongst the editors and the authors that I published. It gave me wonderful insight into where Australian SF is heading, and made it possible for me to take a proactive role with Ticonderoga.

Love Lyn
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