Russell B Farr is a name that keeps popping up for anyone with a cursory interest in the Australian scene, and going by the answers to the questions below you can see what a solid and silent achiever he is.
Thanks Russell for your time, I can see it’s precious.
- Ticonderoga has put out some wonderful work of late, Bluegrass Symphony and Damnation and Dames to name just two. What are you working on at the moment?
We published 5 books in 2010, 7 last year, and are on target to publish 9 this year with 8 titles for 2013 already contracted. It’s been a long time since I only worked on one title at any time.
What am I working on at this very point in time?
Finalising the covers for The Bride Price (Cat Sparks, April 2013), Blood Stones (ed Amanda Pillar, October 2012), The Scarlet Rider (Lucy Sussex, mid-2012), The Year of Ancient Ghosts (Kim Wilkins, June 2013), The 400-Million-Year Itch (Steven Utley, August 2012) and Invisible Kingdoms (Steven Utley, February 2013).
Also doing the final edits on Bread and Circuses (Felicity Dowker, June 2012), finalising material for The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2011 (eds Liz Grzyb and Talie Helene, June 2012).
There are edits waiting for the two Utley collections, Greg Mellor’s collection (Wild Chrome, October 2012),
Then there’s promoting Damnation and Dames, and Bread and Circuses...
I’m also pondering what sort of special celebration our 50th title will be, as it’s due for publication mid-2014.
So what I should say is that what I’m working on right now is making sure I spend time with my wonderful fiancé, Liz Grzyb.
- Ticonderoga has been a solid presence in the Australian Speculative Fiction community since the late 90s, looking back what swells your heart with pride?
I guess I do feel a bit of pride just for still being here, as I doubt this is what I imagined when I started TP way back in 1996.
I’m proud to have been able to deliver books that really needed to be published, such as Troy (Simon Brown, 2006), Steven Utley’s Silurian Tales (The 400-Million-Year Itch, August 2012, Invisible Kingdoms, February 2013), and Sara Douglass’ The Hall of Lost Footsteps (November 2011).
I’m proud to have been able to work with so many fantastic writers over the years, too many to name but open every TP book to the contents page and there they are.
I’m proud to have put together the Belong anthology, dedicate it to my parents, and give my mother a copy before she passed away last year.
I’m probably proudest whenever someone comes up to me and tells me that they bought, read, and loved a book we’ve published.
- What does the future hold for you and Ticonderoga? Where to next?
As I said above, we’ve got 9 books coming out this year, and should be settling into an 8 or 9 book per year schedule. I think I’ve said before that barely a day goes by without me thinking of stopping the press, but there’s never a week that goes by where I don’t think I’m doing the most worthwhile thing I can. While that continues I guess I’m here for the duration, though I do expect to review things in a couple of years as we approach 20 years in this biz.
We’re contracted into 2014, with a bunch of fabulous titles coming up. This year will see us publishing (in addition to those mentioned above) awesome collections by Lezli Robyn (Bittersuite, August), Greg Mellor (Wild Chrome, October) and Angela Slatter and Lisa L Hannett (Midnight and Moonshine, November). Next year we’ve also got fabulous collections by Juliet Marillier (March 2013), Jason Fischer (October 2013), and a fantastic original sf novel by Patty Jansen (November 2013).
- As a publisher of Australian works what particular work by Aussie authors or editors has impressed you recently?
Obviously all of the writers Ticonderoga are publishing are producing impressive work—if they didn’t impress me we wouldn’t be working together and I’m humbled that these amazing talents are willing to work with TP. Similarly I think all of our editors are top notch.
Top of the list of editors in Australia right now has to be Jonathan Strahan, he’s truly deserving of all the accolades and success, having worked hard for a long time. He’s pretty much without peer. Also peerless is Stephanie Smith, the powerhouse behind HarperCollins/Voyager, and I’d hate to be the one taking over from her.
There’s a bunch of excitement in the indie scene, but I guess the press that seems most impressive would have to be Fablecroft. They’re still finding their feet, but I feel have a lot of potential.
As for writers, where do I start? I don’t want to miss any out but probably will. There’s great work coming from Jo Anderton, Alan Baxter, Marianne de Pierres, Rjurik Davidson, Thoraiya Dyer, Margo Lanagan, Ian McHugh, Nicole Murphy, Trent Jamieson.
I probably should also do a shout out to Penelope Love, as I think she’s perhaps one of the most creative and under-rated story writers around. Also Kaaron Warren, who gets better with every story (almost putting her 2010 Ticonderoga collection, Dead Sea Fruit, to shame).
- Two years on from Aussiecon 4, what do you think are some of the biggest changes to the Australian Spec Fic scene?
I’ve been pondering this recently, and I think the biggest change has been a lack of change. In 1999, Aussiecon 3, a lot of independent presses geared up for a big show, produced some fabulous work, and either aimed for this to be their swan song or burnt out in the aftermath. There was a definite trough in the couple of years following.
There was certainly a big push for Aussiecon 4, a lot of awesome titles on display, and while it represented a winding down for a couple of presses overall the genre is showing a lot more resilience than a decade ago. It’s a good thing that there’s a lot going on right now.
Russell B. Farr is the founding editor of Ticonderoga Publications and has published almost thirty titles since 1996. His recent anthology, Belong, explores the concepts of home and migration. In 1999 he established ticon4, now Australia’s longest running semi-professional science fiction webzine. Previous works as editor include the award-winning anthology Fantastic Wonder Stories, award-winning collections Magic Dirt: the Best of Sean Williams, and Angela Slatter’s The Girl With No Hands and other tales, and Australia’s first work-themed anthology The Workers’ Paradise.
As editor of Ticonderoga Publications, Russell has overseen the publication of landmark story collections by Simon Brown, Stephen Dedman, Terry Dowling, Angela Slatter, Stephen Utley, Lucy Sussex, Lisa L Hannett, Justina Robson, and Kaaron Warren.
Russell lives in Greenwood, Western Australia, with his wonderful fiance Liz Grzyb, a sociopathic cat and a somewhat neurotic dog. [Source: Russell B. Farr]
This interview was conducted as part of the 2012 Snapshot of Australian Speculative Fiction. We’ll be blogging interviews from 1st June to 8th June and archiving them at ASif!: Australian SpecFic in Focus. You can read interviews at: