I've started writing a script -- spec fic for the stage! And it's got opera bits in it! And swords! It's going slowly, because I'm trying to fit it in around a number of horrendous time-sucks, including earning a living and getting ready to move for the third time in five years. I'm also in the musing stage of a swashbuckling novel, which also has swords in it, and a short story that coincidentally ALSO has swords in it. And a poem that doesn't have swords in it, but I'm thinking that it suffers thereby, and I may remedy it soon. I spent much of last year collaborating with my husband, composer Houston Dunleavy, on a bunch of texts that he set, and on a one-man musical we wrote with the actor and produced in Sydney. This year's writing has been more solitary. So far, at least.
Your most recent work was a play "Useless Questions" performed in Sacramento in February, you also write Libretti, what do these writing outlets supply that say, short fiction doesn't?
Performance writing provides some really daunting, and yet exhilarating, challenges. Your writing must be entirely pared down to where the bone shavings are curling from the blade. It must be as spare, and yet as intense, as poetry, and still give the audience the lavishness of a novel -- with no descriptive passages or inner monologues to do the hard work for you. And then, once you've written it, you have to workshop it, because it must function in real time. And then you must get it produced, which you'll probably have to do yourself. And then you have to surrender control over the work almost entirely as the director and the actors bring their own incandescent talents to it -- and you have to be able to passionately love what they do to it, with it, for it. And THEN you have the nail-biting terror of the audience watching it RIGHT THERE IN FRONT OF YOU OH GOD WHAT IF THEY HATE IT. Yeah. You know you're alive when you write for performance, all right.
Among your many creative outlets and productions I don't notice a novel. Is this a form that you want to attempt in the future or do you find that plays, libretti, poetry and short fiction allow you to do what you want creatively?
Oh, there are novels. They languish. We will not speak of this again.
What Australian works have you loved recently?
I am humiliated to admit that I have read pretty much zero fiction over the past year, let alone Australian works, let ALONE any works by my friends. I'm reading a lot of nonfiction, largely to give myself some background to yet ANOTHER novel, which will includes swords only incidentally. I'm branching out.
Have recent changes in the publishing industry influenced the way you work? What do you think you will be publishing/writing/reading in five years from now?
You know, I can't honestly say that recent changes in publishing have had any effect on my working style or my career objectives. I figure my first job is to make sure I have some product; how I sell it is something that I'll worry about later. This may be tragically, regrettably naive of me, but I feel yucky if I start trying to market my "brand" or whatever. I have to trust the writing. If I try to force opportunities, they'll look...well, forced. Dancer John W. Bubbles was quoted by Maurice Hines as saying, “Never do a step that you don’t love because the audience will see it.” I feel the same way about what I write: if it's for the sake of getting published, rather than for the sake of the story, the reader will be able to tell. They will.
As to what I'll be publishing/writing/reading in five years? I'm hoping to release some of those novels into the wild. I'm hoping to be writing works of heart-stopping artistic courage that make everyone who reads or sees them strive to be ever more fully human. And I'm hoping to be reading more of my friends' fabulous stuff.
Laura E. Goodin is a writer of science fiction, fantasy, old-fashioned adventure, humor, plays, libretti, poetry, and (very occasionally) nonfiction. Her work has been published and/or performed on three continents, and plenty more projects are in the works.
Laura is interested not only in the wondrous and sublime that form the core of speculative fiction, but in how music, drama, and other performance arts can incorporate a bit of surreality, unreality, and hyperreality. Encountering strangeness and wonder in unexpected places and unexpected ways is what she finds most intriguing and exciting about being a writer.
Laura can be found here at her website.
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 collating the links at SF Signal. You can find other interviews in this series at the links below:
- Tsana Dolichva
- Stephanie Gunn
- Kathryn Linge
- Elanor Matton-Johnson
- David McDonald
- Helen Merrick
- Ben Payne
- Alex Pierce
- Tansy Rayner Roberts
- Helen Stubbs
- Katharine Stubbs
- Tehani Wessely
- Sean Wright
- Nick Evans