1. Congratulations on your Ditmars! Tell us about your recent work on Galactic Chat, and how the project has developed over the last year.
Thanks! Galactic Chat started as the sister podcast of Galactic Suburbia – the idea was to interview Australian authors, and especially Australian women. I never got involved, really, when it was officially run by GS… but when Alisa and you, Tansy, were sensible and offloaded it to Sean Wright, it seemed to coincide with me having more time and I jumped on board to do some interviews. The goal is still the same – to lean towards Australian women – and as far as I can tell, we’re succeeding. I’ve had a great deal of fun in the interviews that I’ve conducted thus far. Probably my two favourites so far have been Rosaleen Love and Nike Sulway, mainly because I was in total fangirl mode. Many of the other interviews were with people I had already spoken to at cons and the like, but not these two! The other contributors, and there are a few of us, have also done some very fine work – and Sean puts in an enormous amount of time to make us all sound good, and deal with issues like Skype dropping out in the middle of an interview…
2. You’re mostly known in the community as a reviewer and commentator on the field – what’s the main difference between doing this in written form and in a podcast like Galactic Suburbia?
In blogging, I can write something and go away and come back to it later to find better words. In a podcast, it’s one take, and sometimes that means I repeat myself (or, ahem, repeat something I’ve said in a blog review…), or just end up saying “It was really good!!” The really positive side about talking about books etc on the podcast is being able to interact with other people who might have already read it and have a different perspective (this is why I adore our spoilerific episodes), or who make connections that I would never have made which add to my understanding. And it’s a different audience, too, so different people respond with suggestions of new things to read or, again, new connections.
3. Now that you’ve been nominated for a Hugo, won many Australian awards, and have a ton of readers and listeners – what’s next for you? What goals have you still got on your bucket list?
I’m not really much of a one for setting goals, to be honest. That said, one day I’d like to go to Wiscon, and/or Readercon, in America – but I’m inherently shy and introverted, so I don’t think I could go by myself! I would really like to go back to Worldcon, too, so SUPPORT THE NEW ZEALAND 2020 CAMPAIGN EVERYONE. I have a lot of books on my to-read pile (literally and metaphorically); since discovering that HAV, by Jan Morris, which had been sitting there for several years is one of the great books of the last few years, I keep wondering what other gems I’m missing. And just to make that harder, there are also some books I really want to re-read – like the entirety of Simon R Green’s Deathstalker series…
4. What Australian works have you loved recently?
In terms of new books, I adored Secret Lives of Books, the new collection by Rosaleen Love from Twelfth Planet Press, and I made my way through Angela Slatter and Lisa L Hannett’s Midnight and Moonshine really slowly because it was just so gloriously beautiful that I didn’t want it to stop. Rupetta, by Nike Sulway – which won the Tiptree Award this year – is one of my favourite books of the last few years; I also really enjoyed Max Barry’s Lexicon. Plus, I love reading older books: I’m on a (slow) Greg Egan kick, so I recently read both Quarantine and Diaspora, while waiting for the third in the Orthogonal series.
5. The publishing world has changed a lot in recent years, and continues to shift rapidly under our feet – how does this affect you as a reader and reviewer? What changes do you think the community will be facing five years in the future?
I remember reading novels on my computer, back in the day – books that were out of copyright and had been scanned and put on some website. It wasn’t very comfortable but it was pretty convenient.
In 2009, I toured around the UK for four months by bicycle. I read a lot of books, of course; making sure I had enough to get me to the next town with a book shop of some kind, but not so many that it was a struggle to pack them, was quite a thing.
And then there was the iPad, and the world changed.
Ebooks have definitely changed the way I read – making books from small presses such as Aqueduct actually accessible, for instance, when previously the shipping would have made it prohibitive. The costing is a weird aspect, though, and I think this is something that will confront all of us into the future. I have friends in publishing so I know that the cost of making an ebook is about the same as making the paper book, and I therefore know that I should pay appropriately for it. But at the same time, I’m still affected by anchor-price ideas: if I don’t have a physical thing in my hands, why should it be as expensive? Which of course ignores all the work that’s gone into it, and I’m not suggesting is a reasonable reaction! So I think the question of the place of ebooks – and along with that, self-publishing – is an on-going discussion that the industry and readers will be feeling their way through for a while.
That said, five years ago there was no iPad. I should know better than to try and make any predictions.
This interview was conducted as part of the 2014 Snapshot of Australian Speculative Fiction. We’ll be blogging interviews from 28 July to 10 August and archiving them at SF Signal. You can read interviews at:
Tansy Rayner Roberts