2016 Snapshot – Margo Lanagan


Margo Lanagan

Photo credit: Steven Dunbar

Margo Lanagan has published 5 collections of short stories (White Time, Black Juice, Red Spikes, Yellowcake and Cracklescape) and two novels, Tender Morsels and Sea Hearts. Among her many awards are five Ditmar and nine Aurealis awards, and four World Fantasy Awards (for short story, collection, novella and novel). Margo lives in Sydney.

1. Everyone’s talking about the series Zeroes, that you’re co-writing with Deborah Biancotti and Scott Westerfeld. The second book, Swarm, is due to come out September this year. One of the biggest talking points from your fans is trying to work out who’s responsible for which parts, or which characters. Can you give us any hints at all, or can you say a part that you wish you wrote? Or can you tell us about a scene that was cut that you really enjoy? 

I’m sorry, on all those three subjects my lips are sealed. Why would I spoil the fun of watching people guess—and, except for SwarmMLtwo people on earth (one a blood relative and one a friend of 35 years’ standing), guess wrong? And even those two people only narrowed it down to three.

Okay, here’s a hint: none of us gets to ‘ship our own two characters. So if two Zeroes are getting it on, they are not being written by the same author.

And that is ALL that I’m saying. Tempt me no further.

2. Are there any worlds or characters from your past work that you’ll revisit and bring to your readers again as a tie-in? Tender Morsels and Sea Hearts are in the running as favourites for this.

If I were going to revive anyone from Tender Morsels, it’d probably be either Ramstrong or Muddy Annie. I would send Ramstrong on a proper quest—for what, I don’t know, but it would certainly involve bear transformations. Muddy Annie would get a romance of some kind, probably with a nobleman. It would end badly for him, probably, but she would waltz off into the woods quite happily. And there are probably dozens of stories inside the Eelsisters’ convent that would be worth exploring.

And I wouldn’t mind examining Trudle Callisher’s childhood—she’s the second witch, Misskaella’s apprentice, in Sea Hearts. I should think she had a lot of fun discovering her witchly powers, and she had a pack of quarrelsome sisters she could make a nuisance of herself with.

TheStarlitWood3. You have a short story called ‘When I Lay Frozen’ coming out in The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales’ due to be released in October this year through Saga Press. What can you tell us about this piece of work? (The anthology has such a beautiful cover!)

It does look gorgeous, doesn’t it? My story is a reworking of Hans Christian Andersen’s ‘Thumbelina/Tommelise’. My Tommelise is as tiny as Andersen’s, but instead of winsome charm she radiates sex pheromones which have a predictable effect on all the giant creatures she meets. That effect remains mysterious and frightening to her because, being an exotic Turkish tulip transplanted to Denmark, she herself finds no mate to reproduce with. My story follows Andersen’s fairly closely, but it’s loads darker and more distressing, with sickeningly big spiders and cockchafers and a deeply creepy mole.

4. What Australian work have you loved recently?

I’ve been privileged to read an advance copy of Kathryn Heyman’s novel Storm and Grace. It’s a mostly naturalistic ‘love’ story, but is periodically invaded by sirens, so for that, and for the otherworldly depictions of freediving, I’m going to count it among my fantasy picks. Angela Slatter’s Vigil introduces Verity Fassbinder, a human/Weyrd hybrid whose job it is to keep the peace between the two—and wherever there are peacekeepers, you just know some fascinating conflict is taking place. Kaaron Warren’s The Grief Hole is for those who like their ghosts served up chilled and twitching, in battered Tupperware, bwaha! And Rose Mulready’s novella The Bonobo’s Dream is a futuristic fiction that is dreamlike in a good way, a cool, unsettling mix of beauty and dystopia.

5. Which author (living or dead) would you most like to sit next to on a long plane trip and why?

Flannery O’Connor, because I suspect she would, like me, cover herself with a blanket and eye-mask and try to sit motionless and unconscious the whole way.


This interview was conducted as part of the 2016 Snapshot of Australian Speculative Fiction. We’ll be blogging interviews from 1 August to 14 August and archiving them at our Snapshot headquarters

2016 Snapshot – Juliet Marillier


JM with HarryNew Zealand born, Australian resident Juliet Marillier writes historical fantasy novels and short stories, mostly for adult readers. Her work is published internationally and has won numerous awards. Juliet’s lifelong love of folklore, fairy tales and mythology is a major influence on her writing. She is a member of OBOD (the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids.) Juliet’s next novel, DEN OF WOLVES (Blackthorn & Grim series, book 3) will be published in November 2016. When not busy writing, Juliet rescues waifs and strays. Juliet’s website: www.julietmarillier.com. You can also find Juliet on Facebook.

1. Your current series Blackthorn & Grim has been doing quite well in the awards, with Dreamer’s Pool taking out an Aurealis Award, and Tower of Thorns taking out the Tin Duck to say the least. The third book, Den of Wolves is due for release in November this year. Are there any little titbits of character backstory that hadn’t found a place in the series that you’re able to share with us now?

Readers will find out more about the link between Blackthorn and her mysterious fey mentor, Conmael, in Den of Wolves. Also, there’s a more substantial crossover with the Sevenwaters series in this novel. I always loved Son of the Shadows best of the Sevenwaters books, and I was able to revisit some aspects of that story in Den of Wolves, which takes place in more or less the same area, but significantly later. Titbits of backstory? Not at this stage. Den of Wolves does tie up the major threads of the Blackthorn & Grim series, but it leaves a lot of backstory untold. Which is fine with me, as in real life some things always remain a mystery!

2. Your fans are always eager for another book in the Wildwood series and you say you have the story worked out, and that it depends on a publisher. Would you ever consider small press or self publishing through a crowd funding campaign to make it happen sooner?

If I had time and if it didn’t clash with an existing project for a major publisher, then I might consider that, yes. I make my living as a writer so I do need to balance the business considerations with the artistic ones. I would probably try to get one of the Australian specialist small presses interested, rather than self-publish. Crowd funding is an option I’d have to discuss with the publisher concerned.

Den of Wolves US Final3. What’s on the horizon once Blackthorn & Grim is over?

I’m currently (July 2016) working on a proposal for a new adult fantasy series. I don’t want to say much more about this project in case it doesn’t come to fruition. It does feel weird to have reached the middle of the year without a current novel on the go, but I have worked on some shorter pieces and will have two essays on writing published in anthologies later this year, one for Serenity Press and one for Writers Digest. I’ll be visiting the US later in the year to attend a couple of conventions and to present workshops at the Writer Unboxed ‘Unconference’ in Salem.

I have a novella in the forthcoming anthology Aurum, from Ticonderoga. My story is called Beautiful. It’s a version of East of the Sun and West of the Moon, one of my favourite fairy tales, told from an unusual perspective. I’m proud of the story and thrilled to have this opportunity to share it with readers.

4. What Australian work have you loved recently?

I was fortunate enough to be sent an advance copy of Thoraiya Dyer’s debut novel, Crossroads of Canopy, coming out early in 2017 from Tor Books. It’s stunningly original, with world-building that draws the reader right into the story. Highly recommended!

I also really enjoyed Alison Goodman’s Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club, a heady mix of Regency romance and dark fantasy, elegantly written. It takes a really adept writer to create the period so convincingly and still allow her female characters to be strong individuals with agency.

5. Which author (living or dead) would you most like to sit next to on a long plane trip and why?

I hate it when people want to chat on long plane trips. Even interesting people. I would rather read my book, get on with some writing, or sleep. Under different circumstances I’d like to talk to Mary Ann Shaffer, co-author of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, about her process for putting together an epistolary novel and her creation of such a memorable cast of characters. Sadly, she is no longer with us, though I have exchanged emails with Annie Barrows, the other co-author of my favourite novel, and discovered to my surprise and delight that she had read and enjoyed my books.


This interview was conducted as part of the 2016 Snapshot of Australian Speculative Fiction. We’ll be blogging interviews from 1 August to 14 August and archiving them at our Snapshot headquarters

2016 Snapshot – Deborah Biancotti




Deborah Biancotti is the author of A Book of Endings and Bad Power, and co-author of the New York Times bestselling novel, Zeroes. She has been shortlisted for the Shirley Jackson Award and the William L. Crawford Award for Best First Fantasy Book. Her novella, Waking in Winter, is available from PS Publishing. Deborah lives in Sydney, Australia. You can find her online at deborahbiancotti.com and on Twitter @deborah_b.

ZeroesSwarm1. Everyone’s talking about the series Zeroes, that you’re co-writing with Margo Lanagan and Scott Westerfeld. The second book, Swarm, is due to come out September this year. One of the biggest talking points from your fans is trying to work out who’s responsible for which parts, or which characters. Can you give us any hints at all, or can you say a part that you wish you wrote? Or can you tell us about a scene that was cut that you really enjoy? 

Nope, nope, and not really. Actually, there was this one scene in a dorm room I really liked, but it got cut for speed. And for the likelihood of that character actually being in a dorm room in the first place. It was a nice scene, though. Also one of my secondary characters was axed. It’s a shame. She was great! I felt like a lot of my character’s backstory disappeared with those two deletions, but then backstory is not necessarily story, and only story gets to make it to the page. Particularly when you have that many characters.

WiW_cover2. Waking in Winter is about a pilot, Muir, who discovers something mysterious in ice that could very well be Ningyo (a Japanese fish god). What inspired this work, what else can you tell us about it, and will there be related work in the future?

It was the ducks. Well, not just the ducks. It was a bunch of things, many of them focussed on these icy, extreme landscapes (that we’re losing as the Earth heats up). I’ve always loved stories set in the snow. The danger; the alienation; the concealment; the exoticness; and the kind of self-knowledge that emerges in extreme environments, under extreme pressure. And the beauty, the quiet, the history, the mix of peace and deadliness.

In recent years I’ve been taking a page out of Justin Cronin’s book. Well, not literally. But when he described working on The Passage, he said he ‘put in everything I’ve ever loved’. I thought that was a brilliant plan for designing and creating a book you could be proud of, and a story that could continue to excite you for however long you thought, wrote and talked about it.

So, Waking in Winter has a lot of things I love. A remote, icy landscape; a bunch of outsiders and misfits and screw-ups; the threat of the unknown; a messed-up approach to religion and belief; maybe a teasing suggestion that faith is faith, irregardless of what you choose to believe in; a heroine who’s not prepared to take a lot of shit anymore; and an ultimate choice. And ducks. Lots of ducks.

ZEROESseriesUS3. You seem to write very well with others, such as the collection Ishtar, and our previously discussed series Zeroes. What about co-writing appeals to you, and are there other authors you’d love to write with one day?

Ha, ha, ha, I write well with others. Let’s go with ‘why, yes, that is true’. I mean, I really like collaborating. It’s how most modern TV writing is done, which is probably why I became so interested in it. There’s a lot of brilliant storytelling happening on TV.

There’s plenty of authors I’d like to write with. There are other collaborations I’ve started working on, too, long may they live. Team work is one of those weird, addictive alchemies: sometimes it works to create magic; sometimes you worry that nobody’s going to make it out of this thing alive. You know. It’s like gambling. With the mafia.

I love the possibilities of teamwork, the way ideas can be extended or exchanged or hell, just rapidly abandoned, and all these outcomes can happen faster and with more hilarity than working on my own. I love that I never feel completely hamstrung or intimidated by a story. Two minds — or three — really are better than one. SOMEONE in the team will come up with a solution. One of my team mates (Scott, I think) said it best: in a team, there’s this sense that you’re almost daring each other to go further, write crazier, think bigger.

4. What Australian work have you loved recently?

I really love Claire Zorn’s The Sky So Heavy (post-apocalyptic stylishness) and The Protected (tragic coming-to-terms story). And Laura Buzo’s Holier Than Thou
(smart twenty-something disenfranchised coming of age story)). Plus I really enjoyed Kate Hendrick’s The Accident (it’s about an accident, if you haven’t guessed, and all the lives impacted by it). Two Wolves, by Tristan Bancks, is exactly the kind of book I would’ve loved as a tween: plucky kid goes on the run after his parents go ON THE RUN. These authors are all more or less in the YA camp (Two Wolves is a bit younger than that, but still eminently readable for us old folk).

For a change of pace, I’ve finally picked up Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine, which is the kind of witty, fresh non-fiction writing you wish all academics could generate (but, they can’t).

Plus I have a bunch of Australian books on my bedside table (read: library reserve list) that I’m now embarrassed I haven’t read yet. I can’t even name them, I’m so embarrassed how behind I am (and also then my friends will know I haven’t read their books yet, which will make our next conversations potentially more awkward).

DebB5. Which author (living or dead) would you most like to sit next to on a long plane trip and why?

Hmm, tough question. There’s a difference between loving a writer’s writing and wanting to spend twenty hours trapped beside someone on a plane. I’m actually going to say Elizabeth Gilbert, because I love what she says about the creative process. About showing up, and about inspiration. And particularly about the value of curiosity over passion. I just want to sit beside her and say, ‘you are so fucking right about passion, Liz! Passion? Fuck passion!’

That could be the start of a great conversation.

Also I suspect she flies first class. So if I’m sitting beside her, I’m drinking mimosas and staying up late watching movies in complete freaking comfort while wearing airline socks.


This interview was conducted as part of the 2016 Snapshot of Australian Speculative Fiction. We’ll be blogging interviews from 1 August to 14 August and archiving them at our Snapshot headquarters

2016 Snapshot – Kim Wilkins


Kim Wilkins has published 26 books in 20 languages under her own name and her pseudonym Kimberley Freeman. Although she has published across genres, fantasy is where she comes to roost. She has a PhD in English and is a senior lecturer at University of Queensland, where she works as program director of the postgraduate Writing, Editing, and Publishing program. She is also an accomplished academic, who publishes on medievalism and popular fiction, and leads a large research project about Australian popular fiction, which is funded by the Australian Research Council.
kimw20161. Your current Blood and Gold series has the second book, Sisters of the Fire due for release August this year. Daughters of the Storm was absolutely amazing, and readers have been desperate for these characters since first reading them in The Crown of Rowan (first released in the anthology Legends of Australian Fantasy in 2010). What’s something we can look forward to seeing in Blood and Gold, and is there anything readers will need before we start? Tissues? Chocolate? (We already know we’ll need absolutely no commitments in the near future so we can sit down and not move until we’re done!)

You’re very kind. I loved writing about Bluebell and her sisters and it was sheer delight to plunge back into that world. In Sisters of the Fire you can expect lots of magic, KimWcoverlots of tors and moors and rugged coastlines, a lovely new male character nicknamed Snowy (whom I wrote as a challenge from my boxing trainer to “create a male fantasy character who isn’t a warrior or a wuss”), and the rise of a woodland tribe who think Rose’s daughter Rowan belongs to them. And I’d recommend strong tea and good gingerbread, but that’s just a rule for life.

2. The Year of Ancient Ghosts, a collection of yours released by Ticonderoga Publications, contains award-winning and nominated novellas (very deserving of the recognition!) Are any other of the novellas going to be developed into longer work or can you share any background information that lives in your head about any of these characters?

3. At our last Snapshot interview series, you mentioned that you’re working on a secret project that will be a Viking themed urban fantasy. Can we have an update on this work? When can we expect to see it, it sounds intriguing!

I’ll answer two questions with one here: the Viking-themed urban fantasy is actually a short novel that starts with the novella, Wild Dreams of Blood, from that collection. It follows Sara as she takes on seven challenges from Odin, who has let loose seven supernatural monsters in the city. But she also has to learn how she came to be Odin’s daughter, and why there is somebody out to get her. PS Publishing are going to be publishing this in the next six months or so (I think) and it’s called Odin’s Girl. 

3.5 And our bonus question, as the above two were combined; Sara is a character from Wild Dreams of Blood, named for the much missed Sara Douglass. Does she feature in Odin’s Girl, or who can we expect to love from your upcoming novel?

Yes,  I named her Sara when Sara D was very ill. I liked the idea of somebody with superhuman strength who bore her name. My Sara is the main character in Odin’s Girl, but there’s also a new ally by the name of Ben Midnight, who’s a paranormal investigator. Plus a few Norse myths thrown in for fun…

4. What Australian work have you loved recently?

Lisa Hannett’s Lament for the Afterlife, which is a complete mindfuck of a book. I think she is such an imaginative and gifted writer. She moves from subtle to sledgehammer with incredible grace. I also think Rjurik Davidson is an amazing talent and loved his Unwrapped Sky. And I got to read Jack Dann’s new novel before anyone else as his PhD advisor! It is immense and complex and beautiful, as you’d imagine.

KimWGroup5. Which author (living or dead) would you most like to sit next to on a long plane trip and why?

Kate Forsyth, who is my favourite travelling companion and a kindred spirit! We have travelled together a few times now, and plan to do so again next year. A trip to England doesn’t feel right without her. Last year, we spent a week together in a little village in Dorset (with Lisa Hannett, too!) and went completely mad drinking champagne and visiting magic wells in the moonlight. It was a fantasy writers sleepover. Kate is an absolute dream to travel with. She is quiet and bookish and we can be so happy in each other’s company reading and writing; or, alternatively, chatting and drinking. I could do long haul with her easy (especially in business class).


This interview was conducted as part of the 2016 Snapshot of Australian Speculative Fiction. We’ll be blogging interviews from 1 August to 14 August and archiving them at our Snapshot headquarters

2016 Snapshot is here!

SnaphotLogo2016The Aussie Spec Fic Snapshot has taken place five times in the past 11 years. In 2005, Ben Peek spent a frantic week interviewing 43 people in the Australian spec fic scene, and since then, it’s grown every time, now taking a team of interviewers working together to accomplish.

From August 1 to August 14 2016, this year’s team of interviewers have their turn. Greg Chapman, Tsana Dolichva, Marisol Dunham, Nick Evans, Elizabeth Fitzgerald, Stephanie Gunn, Ju Landéesse, David McDonald, Belle McQuattie, Matthew Morrison, Alex Pierce, Rivqa Rafael, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Helen Stubbs, Katharine Stubbs, Matthew Summers and Tehani Wessely scoured the country (and a bit beyond) to bring you this year’s Snapshot.

You can follow all the action here at the Snapshot site, via Twitter @AustSFSnapshot or on Facebook, and follow our interviewing team to keep up with all the happenings!

You can find the past five Snapshots at the following links: 2005, 2007, 2010, 2012, 2014.

Katharine’s personal snapshots include (with links to be updated after each are posted: