Snapshot 2010: Margo Lanagan

tender+morsels+new+coverMargo Lanagan has won three World Fantasy Awards, four Aurealis Awards and four Ditmars, and been shortlisted for many other awards, including a Hugo, a Nebula, the James Tiptree Jr (twice), a Bram Stoker, a Theodore Sturgeon, a BSFA and an International Horror Guild Award. She is the author of the novel Tender Morsels, and three speculative fiction short story collections, White Time, Black Juice and Red Spikes.

1. The new Australian edition of Tender Morsels has an awesome Shaun Tan cover – are you excited about the novel being repackaged? Was there a reason (other than woot, Shaun Tan) for the cover change?

Well, it’s being repackaged not once, but three times, so I’m excited three times over, which is not a pretty sight, let me tell you. A Vintage (UK) paperback is coming out, the cover based on the adult UK cover (but different colours and with the words ‘A WORK OF GENIUS’ emblazoned across it), and Knopf put out a gorgeous paperback on 9 February, and now on 1 March the Shaun Tan cover from Allen & Unwin will hit Australian shops.

The reason for the Australian cover change is that this is a Young Adult edition, whereas the first edition was aimed at adults. So, new cover and the words YOUNG ADULT printed on the back. Contents exactly the same, except printed slightly smaller (because YAs have such wonderfully sharp eyes).

2. What have been the best and worst things about the reception and reader responses to Tender Morsels?

The worst thing was how willing people were to jump in and deliver an opinion based on what they were told, either by squeamish friends or by lazy journalists, about the book, without just going to it, reading (more than the first 20 pages of) it and forming their own opinion. People’s willingness to fling unsubstantiated judgments around was pretty disappointing, if also kind of hilarious.

The best thing was that the people who liked the book REALLY liked it, and passed it around, and pressed copies on their friends. Reading reviews by people who understand what you were on about is a great relief after a slew of articles accusing you of having perverse tastes and corrupting minors. You only need a couple of the former to be able to give the latter the finger and move on.

3. You’re currently working on a selkie novel, based on your novella “Sea-hearts” from the X6 anthology – what can you tell us about it? When will we be able to read it?

Oh, I could go on and on, at this stage; I’m more than two-thirds of the way through the first draft, and full to the brim with this story. Or at least, to the tear-ducts; this is one saaaad tale. The novel is called THE BRIDES OF ROLLROCK ISLAND. The X6 novella makes up the last third; for those who’ve read that, the first third is from the POV of Messkeletha, the witch in that story, and the middle third is from Daniel’s father’s POV.

The story is based on various selkie stories from Scotland and Scandinavia – nothing obscure, nothing you can’t find with a bit of light Googling. (Selkies being seals that transform into humans on land, for those wondering what this is all about.) It’s about an entire island that succumbs to the mysterious magical beauty of the selkie women, and traps them on land, for romantic and reproductive purposes, by hiding their seal-skins from them so that they can’t return to the sea. If you like having your heart pulled out through your chest wall, this is the story for you.

Deals are being hammered out as we speak, but I would expect BRIDES to be released in 2011, early or late depending on which country you’re in, and either preceded or closely followed by a collection of reprinted short stories, called YELLOWCAKE. Probably both books will be marketed as YA; but, you know, that doesn’t mean a whole lot these days. Everyone over 15 should like it, and perhaps some under. There are a couple of racy sex scenes associated with this novel, but they are being issued separately as short stories; I’m doing a podcast of one of them with Keith Stevenson at the end of March.

4. Which Australian writers or work would you like to see on the Hugo shortlists this year?

Kaaron Warren for anything she’s written, Deb Biancotti for A Book of Endings, Paul Haines for ‘Wives’, Jonathan Strahan for anything he’s edited. I reckon you and I should get a look-in, too, Tansy. 😀 Yes, a Hugo shortlist stacked with mates would please me greatly!

5. Are you planning to go to Aussiecon 4 in September? If so, what are you most looking forward to?

It’s all a bit up in the air – I’ve got a son doing his HSC this year, and I’m not sure whether he’ll need a mum around at that time of year or won’t care one way or another. If the latter, I’ll be there!

Having never been to a Worldcon, I’m not entirely sure what I should be looking forward to, but I imagine the Hugos (after-) party would be a goodie, and seeing which northern hemisphere friends take their lives in their hands and fly all the way around here for this will be interesting. And the panel Kyla’s got me pencilled in for in the horror stream (The Eternal Border: Are there taboos in dark fantasy? At what point does the fantasy stop and the psychosis begin?) sounds like one we’ll have a lot of fun with. My ears prick up and my nostrils quiver in the proximity of a good taboo.

Also interviewed today: Marianne De Pierres, Richard Harland, Karen Miller, Ben Peek, Narelle Harris, Paul Collins, Damien Broderick, Justine Larbalestier, Shane Jiraiya Cummings, Angela Slatter, Dion Hamill

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  1. […] De Pierres, Richard Harland, Karen Miller, Margo Lanagan, Ben Peek, Narelle Harris, Paul Collins, Damien Broderick, Shane Jiraiya Cummings, Angela Slatter, […]

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