Foz Meadows is a bipedal mammal with delusions of immortality; she also writes fantasy novels, makes with the geeky criticism, and loiters with intent in the presence of cheese. An Australian expat, she now lives in Scotland with a philosopher and a Smallrus. Surprisingly, this is a good thing.
1. Congratulations on your Hugo nomination for Best Fan Writer! Your blog has formed a core part of your writer identity for so long – which piece of your “fan” critical writing are you most proud of?
Thank you! It’s still a bit weird to me that I have regular readers: in one form or another, I’ve been writing online since my early teens, but it’s only in the past year or two that I’ve actually started to develop an audience. Which inevitably colours how I now perceive my own work, because I can never tell how a given piece is going to be received, and that makes me a bit biased in favour of the stuff that gets less widely circulated. I still don’t have any one thing that I’m most proud of, but generally, if I come away from a post feeling like I managed to articulate something important in amidst all the ranting, then it goes in the win column.
2. Since the last Snapshot you became a mother for the first time. How has this affected your writing, both the creative and practical sides of the work?
Weirdly, is the short answer. I’m still me, possessed of the same desire to sleep until noon and stay up writing until 3am, but it’s slightly harder to manage when a small, demanding person requires your attention on a 7 to 7 schedule. Particularly when I was pregnant, and then again when my son was still under a year old, general exhaustion, mental fatigue, depression and health issues all made it hard to write regularly, and if there’s one thing that’s been a staple of my life since I was about ten, it’s that I start climbing the walls pretty quickly when I can’t write, or if I can’t write as much as I want to. This second year has been much, much better, and in the past month especially, I’ve been able to hit daily wordcounts that are closer to what I was doing pre-child, which I’d worried I just wouldn’t be able to manage any more, and that… that is a relief, frankly. Because, I mean, I love my son! I really, really do. But you can love your children without being ready or willing to sacrifice the most integral parts of yourself on the altar of motherhood just because there’s enormous social pressure to do so. Adjusting your life doesn’t mean abandoning everything it used to entail, but when people collectively assume it does, it becomes much harder to justify making the effort.
More than trying to find time to write as a new mother, what upset me most was the idea that I shouldn’t be trying at all, that I should just accept that it had ceased to matter. I’d meet other parents, mostly other women, and I’d try to ask them about what they did outside of childrearing, what jobs or hobbies they had, and somehow all these previously solid conversational gambits just turned into dead ends, like, “Oh, I used to do that, but now I don’t, so let’s change the subject.” Nobody would ask what I was interested in or what I did, and I still get really upset at playgroups, when people default to introducing their children but not themselves, like we’re just extensions of them now; or worse, when conversation about the things I care about, like narrative and culture, are deemed taboo, because we should all be talking about our kids instead, or about “neutral” topics that can’t possibly offend or exclude anyone. And to put it bluntly, fuck that noise. I’m a mother and that’s important, but I still want to talk about politics and Lois McMaster Bujold and Supernatural, I’m still going to write every day for preference, and I’m still going to binge watch TV series and blog about it – but I’ll also read my son Owl Babies and Dinosaur Zoom! and help him play Lego. It’s a brave new world.
3. What are you working on right now?
Apart from various novel and short story projects, fanfiction! It’s actually been really freeing, and I’m loving the hell out of it: it’s nice to just write something for its own sake, because it’s fun, without constantly thinking about whether you can sell it, and if that happens to push you into writing things you wouldn’t otherwise, so much the better.
4. What Australian books or stories have you loved recently?
Earlier in the year, I reread the Pagan books by Catherine Jinks, which is still one of my favourite series of all time. I also really enjoyed These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner, and Trudi Canavan’s latest book, Thief’s Magic.
5. The publishing industry has changed a lot in recent years, and continues to shift rapidly under our feet – do you feel the pressure to adapt to survive? What do you see yourself doing differently in the future?
While I can imagine feeling pressured in a few years if I’m not where I feel I should be, right now, I’m just savouring being able to write again, getting my feet back under me and having a great time. The industry is shifting, yes, but why adapt to something that hasn’t finished changing yet? If the ground is still shaking, you don’t treat that as the new normal: you ride out the shockwaves and see where you end up – and as long as that’s still a place where I get to write, I’ll be happy.
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