Lucy Sussex

Questions and Answers

What are you currently working on?
Um, I'm currently completing a PhD thesis on early women crime writers, provisionally called 'Cherchez la femme'. And there are all sorts of projects in various stages of writing around the office. I'm just off to read some science for one of them...Another involves elephants.

3. Who (Fact or Fiction) would you most like to meet, and what would you ask them?
Mary Fortune, the first women to write first-person police procedurals (she wrote c. 1866-1910). I just did a collection of her crime stories, THE DETECTIVES' ALBUM, with Broken Silicon Dispatch Box in Canada. I've been researching her for years and there is so much I'd like to ask her about. But since I er, exposed her bigamy, and the dubious parentage of her second child, she probably doesn't want to meet me.

Is writing your full time occupation, if not what is?
My day-job is as a reviewer for the Sunday AGE & West Australian newspapers (Usually five books a week, at present six). I vary that with editing, the thesis, and writing. There are worse ways to earn a living.

What was your first professional sale? How did it feel when you received the acceptance?
Depends how you term 'professional'. I did get into a national anthology of teenage poets, Neon Signs for the mutes. No pay, but glory. Then I got interested in sf and after attending a Clarion-style workshop sent out a story to a small semi-prozine. They accepted it, then folded. About a year later I was asked to contribute to a sf anthology. I sent in the semi-prozine story, rewritten. So the first three things I ever submitted for publication were accepted. After that things got harder...

If you could give one piece of advice to a would-be author, what would it be?
Persist and don't let the bastards get you down.

Are you a music fan? If so, what?
I live with a music fan, and have regular access to a large and varied collection: everything from 80s indie rock stuff to ethnographic music to er, sounds to scare the neighbours. There are few parts of the collection I can't stand. Which meant that when I was writing the voodoo section of my novel THE SCARLET RIDER, I could go and play genuine voodoo music, as accompaniment.

Is there anything more that can be done with Wizards, Elves and Dragons?
They can be mashed, fried, and served as part of a stuffed artichoke entree.

Short story, single novel or novel series - which do you think is the best medium for Fantasy?
Actually, the novella - the short novel - which is a very congenial word length.

What are your thoughts on writing for shared world series such as Dragonlance and Star Trek?
I have done it, with the Quentaris series (The Revognase). It was enormous fun, but you do need a bloody good gatekeeper/continuity expert. Which we had with series editors Paul Collins and Michael Pryor.

What book are you reading at the moment?
Review books: Daniel Mason's THE PIANO Tuner, which so far is delightful,although the plotline does suggest HEART OF DARKNESS meets THE PIANO. For thesis purposes, Wilkie Collins' NO NAME, which is one of the great subversive Victorian novels of gender.

How does your approach to the editing role differ from that of writing?
Ah well, when I'm being a writer I can't be objective, it's my BABY, hands off. As an editor it's like being a cross between a diplomat and an midwife. I've been edited by some of the best, like Harriet McDougall, and I've edited anybody from Sarah Douglass to Labor Party policy books. At present I've been hired to cut a true crime down from 300,000 words. Which is a chance to play Jack the Ripper.

What's the most memorable thing said in a review of your work?
Actually more memorable was what I did in revenge...

Have you won any awards for your writing?
Ditmar and Aurealis awards, although I have been shortlisted for such things as the Wilderness Society Environment Award for Children's writing. And an anthology I co-edited, SHE'S Fantastical, was shortlisted for the World Fantasy award. Oddly enough, the actual winner in that category was a book I was in: THE PENGUIN BOOK OF MODERN FANTASY BY WOMEN.

Is there something you are particularly proud of?
I guess it would be having my short story 'Absolute Uncertainty' (about Werner Heisenberg) picked by Peter McNamara, bless him, as his best Australian sf story of the last ten years in the WONDER YEARS anthology.

Plug away - what do you have coming out?
The Revognase in the Quentaris series is out and busy being reprinted. I am busy awaiting my editor's copies of The DETECTIVES' ALBUM, as we had to put in an addendum at the last moment to include new scurrilous revelations about the author, including a police description. I've got another of my short story series on antique dolls, 'Frozen Charlotte' out soon in another Peter McNamara anthology, this time of originals. And awaiting responses from other publishers, the usual thing.

Thank you for y'r time


Many thanks Lucy

Relevant Links

Lucy Sussex Main Bibliography
Quentaris Series Main Page
Lucy Sussex's Website