Let’s make one thing clear: if you’ve assembled a list of best speculative fiction authors in Australia, and Anna Tambour isn’t on it, you’ve either not read her or you’re wrong.
Anna is, quite simply, one of the most original and fascinating speculative voices this country has ever produced. Her novels and collections, such as Monterra’s Deliciosa and Other Stories, and Spotted Lily, have garnered fans everywhere they’ve touched, and awards lie up to throw nominations at her. her 2013 novel Crandolin, for example, was shortlisted for the World Fantasy Award. Her most recent publication is her 2015 collection The Finest Ass in the Universe. As with all her works, it’s a sublime treat.
Despite all this, (and the fact you can find her online at her website here), Anna remains one of the most humble and self-effacing people I’ve ever met. When I asked her for a bio, she sent me this:
There are for each of us, according to his turn of mind, certain books that open up horizons hitherto undreamed of and mark an epoch in our mental life. They fling wide the gates of a new world wherein our intellectual powers are henceforth to be employed; they are the spark which lights the fuel on a hearth doomed, without its aid, to remain infinitely bleak and cold. And it is often chance that places in our hands those books which mark the beginning of a new era in the evolution of our ideas. The most casual circumstances, a few lines that happen somehow to come before our eyes, decide our future and plant us in the appointed groove.
— J.H. Fabre, The Hunting Wasps
This, then, is one of my very favourite people in SF:
Precious Things: Anna Tambour
My greatest literary treasure is the first book I ever read by myself–a collection of stories such as “The Little Red Hen” and “The Brownies’ Circus” and poems such as “The Owl and the Pussycat”, “Who Has Seen the Wind?”, and possibly my greatest influence for making me a committed and possibly committable satirist, A.A. Milne’s immortal “The King’s Breakfast” whose glorious illustrations are as important as the words (as are the illos for all the other stories and poems here, including “The Little Red Hen”).
This book taught me the joy of music in language, the heights simple linework illos can reach–as well as making me sad for children of today who are so often barraged by unnecessary intrusions about the creators themselves. I didn’t give a fig about not knowing the others or the disgracefully uncredited illustrators. I just read and gazed and thought about and further thought from this launch pad.
The book itself is irrelevant to anyone else, but still reigns close enough to stare me down when I forgot how irrelevant I am.