1. Who are the short fiction authors you admire (Australian or otherwise, alive or dead)?
‘Admire’ is such an admirably bold word! I admire Terry Dowling and Kelly Link and Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages and Rob Shearman for their short fiction. I admire Paul Haines though I’m also rather *appalled* by his stories (is it even *legal* to publish that stuff, Paul??). I admire Edgar Allan Poe a heck of a lot!
In recent years I’ve hunted out short story collections by authors known best for novels: so, Raymond Chandler and Walter Mosley and J.G Ballard are now also on the list of authors I admire who write short fiction.
2. What is the most memorable short story you have read? And why does it stand out for you?
Man, this is a tough question. I thought about it for too long and now I have a dozen stories in my head. … I have to come back to this one.
Okay, I’m back. I rummaged through a bunch of collections & anthos. I thought I had one when I re-discovered Adam-Troy Castro’s “The Tangled Strings of the Marionnettes”, but turns out that’s a novella. I have hundreds of images pressing on my eyeballs from short stories I’ve read, but the titles escape me. But I’m settling on Charlotte Perkins Stetson’s “The Yellow Wall-Paper”, from 1892. Because it is THE story of an articulate, untrustworthy narrator going quietly mad. It sets the standard. And it was inspired by the author’s own experience of post-natal depression. I’ve also just learned from my trusty OXFORD BOOK OF GOTHIC TALES, that she wrote HERLAND, a utopian feminist novel (under the name Charlotte Perkins Gilman). Which seems worth mentioning!
3. What do you like about the short story form?
The adrenalin jolt of a good, sharp short story, the ‘ha!’ of recognition that comes from a smart, sassy tale well told.
4. How would you describe your own writing?
Full of cranky humanitarianism.
5. Which of your stories are you most fond of right at this moment and why?
It’s almost always the one I’m writing at the time.
6. Where do the ideas for your stories come from? (Take us through an example)
Everywhere. I wrote “The Tailor of Time”, as an example, after surgery, feeling vulnerable and sick and wanting time to speed up so I could be well faster. But also wanting time to stop, so the threat of dying wouldn’t reach out and grab me. I thought, ‘wouldn’t it be great if we could ask some strange, ancient being to just, y’know, stop time for a day’. I was barely able to move around, but I wrote that story in a few short/long days, trapped on the lounge.
7. What is your writing process – from idea to publication? (Do you go it alone or are others involved?)
Usually I note down the idea first of all, & pump as many words as I can into it during that first sitting. Then I go away & do other stuff or other stories & I keep coming back until I have a narrative or an ending. Then I write the rest, run it past a handful of readers, re-write, send, get a bunch of rejections, eventually land a publishing spot, maybe, & start again. I try to hold onto the energy of that first idea while also polishing the slippery little thing into the best shape I can make it. It’s a razor’s edge we writers walk.
8. Do you feel the short story form is valued in Australia? What makes you say this?
I think so. I think Australia is so very unable to support writing in general, as an industry, that short stories are just yet another way to legitimately spend your time while you’re NOT earning money. You know. Just like most Australian novelists. Does that sound cynical?
9. How do you feel about your work being published in non-print forms such as digital and audio?
I’ve been published both those ways & I love it, especially audio. Digital & audio are great because they’re usually free to audiences, so you can reach out to a lot of readers who wouldn’t necessarily spend money on your book without some kind of taster. And digital suits short stories down to the ground.
10. What advice would you like to offer Spineless Wonders?
Well, I used to think Spineless Wonders was an insult until I read your blog. So ‘be prepared for confusion’ might be one bit of advice.
Deborah Biancotti is a Sydney-based writer. Her first published story won an Aurealis Award and her first collection, A BOOK OF ENDINGS from Twelfth Planet Press, was short-listed for the 2010 William L. Crawford Award for Best First Fantasy Book. Her work has appeared in Clockwork Phoenix, Eidolon 1, Agog!, Ideomancer, infinity plus, and Prime Publishing YEAR’S BEST DARK FANTASY AND HORROR. Her most recent work was an essay for 21st CENTURY GOTHIC. She is now working on her first and second novels.
You can find Deborah Biancottti online and you can hear her read ‘Hush’, one of the stories from Book of Endings, here.
Read a review of Book of Endings by Overland’s Rjurik Davidson.