STEPHEN DEDMAN ASKS……
1. Had you submitted any other stories to WRITERS OF THE FUTURE before winning the prize for ‘Carrying The God’?
I’d submitted one about a dozen years before.In those wacky pre-computer days of 1989 I’d read Michaelmas and discovered that Algis Budrys was running the competition. I sent a half-enquiry, half-fan letter, asking for details. In it I jokingly referred to myself as “The world’s greatest unpublished 18 year old”. I received a handwritten reply, and a signed copy of the first WOTF book, to “Lee Battersby, The World’s Greatest Unpiublished 18 year old”, from Algis. I had a story in the mail a week later 🙂 I didn’t place, but 13 years later I sold a reworked version to EOTU magazine, just in time to relate that story whilst I was in LA for the competition winners’ workshops. Sadly, Algis was ill so I wasn’t able to meet him in person, but apparently he thought it was lovely. The story, incidentally, was Brillig and is in the collection.
2. Was winning that award the impetus for you deciding to become a full-time writer, or was it one of the many other sales you’ve made or awards you’ve received since?
The decision to become a full-time writer had little to do with writing. After my first wife died, I returned to work part-time, as it was all I was able to handle. My 10 years in the Public Service came up a few years later, which meant I could access some super, and I decided that I needed a change of lifestyle. Lyn and I sat down, worked out what money we had coming from various sources, how long it could last, and decided to live like dilettantes for a while. It was a now-or-never kind of thing. We’re looking at getting a bit of part-time work again, but I doubt I’ll ever return to full-time employment. I’m just not suited to it, emotionally, and my dreams are in another direction. It’s too important for me to be surrounded by family and work I can devote my heart to. Writing is the only work I’ve felt that way about. It might be nice for people who have ambitions to work in Dayjob, but I’d rather live the lifestyle I have than work 40 hours a week.
3. What, in your opinion, would be the ultimate accolade you could receive for a short story?
A Nebula would be nice 🙂 There are signposts to the improvement of my work. I’ve always said a Tin Duck would be a big thing. To win one I’d have to get past you and Dave Luckett. I’d love to be reprinted in Datlow & Windling’s Year’s Best, but it seems the longer I write the less I interest them. As tacky as it sounds, I’d be impressed if someone wanted to make a movie from one of my pieces. It would signify that a creator of mass entertainment believes something within my piece can plug into the mass subconscious, which I think is at the heart of what most writers dream of– to influence as many people as they can. But money’s good too 🙂
4. What’s the longest spell of writer’s block you’ve ever endured, and what ended it?
I’m always moaning that I’m blocked, but the truth is that Real Life ™ has become too big: this year I’ve written little, but I’ve had a baby and wedding enter my life, both of which are vastly important. I get round the problem of blockage by having a number of projects going: right now I have a novel, the collection, 3 short stories, judging 2 story competitions, a cartoon series for Swancon 2006’s PRs, and 2 pieces for next year’s Swancon art show. If that fails to work, I find myself potting a lot of plants, or painting something, or tie-dying every sock in the house. The urge to create is strong, it’s just the avenue that sometimes needs changing.
5. You finish your alternative Napoleon Bonaparte novel, sell it, and sell the film rights. Do you want to write the screenplay, and if not, who should do it? And who do you want to direct?
Hey, finishing this goddamned book would be dream enough! 🙂