Angela Slatter’s stories are lushly written, complexly plotted, and beautifully reminiscent of the weirder fairy tales. They’ve appeared in Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, ONSPEC, and Fantasy Magazine, among other magazines.
Slatter has two collections out this year, Sourdough & Other Stories and The Girl with No Hands & Other Tales, both in fine hardbound editions. Until her novels hit the shelves, I’ll think of her primarily as a short story writer and of her stories as proof that the short form is thriving.
The short story isn’t dead, it’s just _________?
Angela Slatter: Fighting a vigorous rearguard action against big publishers who don’t see any money in selling short story collections unless they’re attached to big name authors. I do think it’s a form that’s on its way back up — I think people are time-poor and a particular section of the book-buying public will be looking for something complex, satisfying and relatively fast.
Has your understanding of the short form changed much since your first efforts?
Angela Slatter: Oh yes! I read over some of my old stuff now and cringe at the repetitions of words and sometimes the word choices. I think that’s just experience and constantly engaging with the craft of writing, and also reading a lot of other people’s work (either to crit or edit, or for leisure reading) because it shows you good techniques and also mistakes other people make and how to avoid them!
What is the value of speculative fiction? At its best, what role does it play in the world?
Angela Slatter: I’d say its value is that it gives a chance to dream, to think of something other and to maybe imagine something new. At its best it gives people a chance to see something differently and open their minds to new experiences and ideas.
What can a writer who doesn’t usually read speculative fiction learn from reading within the genre?
Angela Slatter: Plotting! And the idea that something happening outside the main character’s head isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Also how to make characters engaging even if they’re not particularly likeable. And that awesome glorious, amazing writing doesn’t just come from literary writers — Kelly Link can totally kick any so-called big L literary writer’s arse into the middle of next week.
If you could see around corners and into the future, what do you think the literary landscape will look like in ten years?
Angela Slatter: Fewer vampires? More zombies? I think ghost stories are set to make a comeback – not the paranormal romance ones necessarily, but I think we’ll be looking at more ghost stories. I think the whole eBook thingy and new kinds of “containers” for book-ish content will really come into its own and I think spec-fic will be the genre that takes the most advantage of it.