1. Most of us in the Speculative Fiction scene will have come across your work with Momentum Publishing as a blogger & commentator. You also write fiction. What current creative project do have on the go that you might want to share?
I'm working on a novel, one that I've recently resuscitated after running into a dead-end a couple of years ago. It's somewhat of a haunted house/ghost story but set in an old boarding school - kind of the antithesis to Hogwarts, where the school is the danger rather than the haven. There's aspects which echo the gothic tradition of ghost stories, but I've also looked a lot to things like 'Salem's Lot, which managed to take the old and put it in a newer, contemporary setting, while also focusing the story on a small, insular community. There's something wonderfully inescapable and claustrophobic about boarding school communities, that makes them ripe for this kind of story. I hope.
2. You blog lists a couple of short fiction publications Watch, which appears in Etchings, Issue 12 and A Way to Go in Tincture Journal, Issue 1, does your work contain the same speculative fiction flavour that your non-fiction is based upon or do you like writing in a number of genres/modes?
On the surface, no. Watch is actually taken from the abandoned manuscript I mentioned above, but I took all the speculative flavour out of it to make it stand on its own, and A Way To Go was inspired by a story in the papers I read about two teenagers that ran away from home. Ideally, I'd love to write more short fiction that does play comfortably with genres - particularly horror, which I think can be a perfect genre for short stories - but it's hard to find places and publications for these. However, Canary Press is publishing a genre-only issue later this year, which perhaps is a sign that there might be more room for this in short fiction.
3. You are an English teacher by day, but in terms of you writing fiction or non fiction what goal are you headed towards?
I try to balance the two. I've been writing for Momentum now for about a year, and that's made the work-life-writing balance even harder to manage, but it's settled into a good pattern lately. First plan is to get this manuscript finished, and then we'll take it from there. I think most people realise that solely writing fiction for a living is difficult, so sharing the load with teaching - where I still get to engage with books and writing on a daily basis - is a pretty good deal for me.
4. What Australian works have you loved recently?
I do go on a bit about Steven Amsterdam's books - Things We Didn't See Coming and What The Family Needed - and though they've both been out for a while I still heartily recommend them to anyone I can find. I've recently read Angela Meyer's collection of flash fiction Captives, which was just wonderful, as is The Great Unknown which she edited, a collection of different writer's work taking inspiration from shows like The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits.
I'm also judging the horror entries for novels and short fiction for the Aurealis Awards, so I'm gearing up for a lot of good local reading in the next six months.
5. 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?
Well I wouldn't be doing this, to begin with. There's been this wonderful democratising of the whole thing, where writers, publishers and readers are all occupying the same space and having the same conversations. And I know the divide hasn't always been there, but I think for someone who's coming from just being a reader and someone who wanted to write, it's a lot less daunting and there seem to be no artificial hurdles anymore - it's just about the writing. Having worked that out in the last couple of years for myself has given me a real kick to finally deal with this backlog of fiction that I've got in my head, which I can hopefully start to produce with a bit of regularity.
Craig Hildebrand-Burke is a writer and teacher from Melbourne. He currently blogs for Momentum, contributing on books, writing, film and television. His short stories have been published both in print and digital, and writes reviews, opinion pieces, and other bits of writing in a variety of places and publications.
He teaches English, Literature and Creative Writing to secondary students, and has been a participant in both the Digital Writers' Festival and the Emerging Writers' Festival discussing genre fiction in the digital age, and the future of teaching writing to students. He tweets from @hildebrandburke and can also be found at www.craighildebrandburke.com
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
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