For the past few years I’ve heard people rave about Angela Slatter’s writing and due to that I was familiar with her name. When Jo Fletcher Books announced they’d acquired two books by her in an urban fantasy series I was intrigued, as it was a departure from her dark fantasy and horror work. I read Vigil earlier this week and it was awesome—I may have a teensy book crush on Verity Fassbinder. I’ll be posting my review for the book later today, but for now here is an interview with Angela on Verity, the inspirations for Brisneyland, and whether a tourist could find their way to places in the book.
Let’s start with the basics. Who is Angela Slatter?
Angela Slatter is an impoverished writer who lives in a garret in Brisneyland, existing on two-minute noodles and black coffee. Well, not quite, although the bits about Brisbane and black coffee are true. I’ve been writing seriously for about twelve years (and entirely frivolously before that); I have an MA and a PhD in Creative Writing, and I’m a graduate of Tin House and Clarion South. My writing tends towards dark fantasy and horror with fairy tale underpinnings.
How would you introduce people to Verity Fassbinder?
Very carefully! I would say “Meet Verity. She’s a friend of mine – different to my earlier friends, but no less fun. Just different. Don’t judge her by the others.”
Vigil is based on your short story Brisneyland by Night. In a 2010 interview with Clarkesworld, you cited the lyrics of an INXS song as the creative spark that inspired it. But are there any other inspirations for Verity’s story?
A whole range of things, but mostly ideas about home and belonging, about things that are hidden, and the kinds of spaces that cities are, how they might be both more and less than they seem. And just being inspired by the space around me, the city I move through every day, and looking at it in a different way – not taking for granted that what you see is what’s really there!
Vigil is set in an alternate Brisbane. Would tourists visiting Brisbane recognise locations in the book?
Absolutely – but folks need to keep in mind that the city in fiction isn’t the city in reality. There isn’t a network of tunnels under the city, although there are bits of some left. The Kangaroo Point Cliffs are definitely there, the café up there is real, as is St Mary’s Church. But there’s no Little Venice, alas, and the cakes are entirely made up – although my sister is currently experimenting with creating them!
In a 2013 Author Spotlight in Nightmare Magazine you spoke about Vigil as being the second book in a trilogy. Will Vigil and Corpselight be the first two books in this trilogy or has it morphed into a duology? Or could there possibly be more books in the series?
Back in 2013 it was going to be the second book in a duopoly, but things changed. I was able to plot a trilogy arc, so Vigil is book one, Corpselight is book two, and Restoration (sales and the publishing world willing) will be the third Verity book. After that we shall have to see what happens!
Vigil is your debut novel and is an urban fantasy, which is quite different from your previous dark fantasy and horror work. Did writing in a different subgenre allow you to experiment more freely with new themes or styles of writing? Or was going in a new direction just a case of variety is the spice of life?
I think it was just a fun opportunity to do something different – I don’t think it’s healthy for writers to write the same thing over and over (even if in some cases it pays them a lot of money) because you end up stagnating. It’s very hard to keep a series fresh if you never have any variety or never have a vacation away from a world you write all the time The longer a series goes in, the more likely you are to write yourself into a corner – and if you get bored, then the writer will certainly get bored.
What’s next for you? Any appearances or conventions planned?
Tomorrow night (19 July) in Brisbane we launch Vigil officially! Very excited about that. Then I’m off to the UK on 7 August, and will be at Nine Worlds in London, then in Newcastle on 17 August for an in-conversation with the lovely Rob Shearman as part of the Novocastria Macabre series, and then at the Dublin Ghost Story Festival from 19-21 August, and then a HWA event in London (date TBC).
Is there something else you’re passionate about other than writing and books?
Reading? That’s totally legit! Reading and history. And cupcakes, danishes and doughnuts.
As a book reviewer, I’m all about the book enabling; I can’t help but want to make people read all the good books out there. But I can always use help. What are your top recommendations of books we should look out for in the coming months?
Rjurick Davidson’s The Stars Askew, Aliette de Bodard’s The House of Shattered Wings, Lisa L. Hannett’s Lament for the Afterlife, Bad Blood by Gary Kemble, Beyond the Woods edited by Paula Guran.
Finally, I have to stay true to my roots and ask a librarian question to finish off with: Do you shelve your books alphabetically, by genre or do you have an ingenious system?
Oh, I don’t know if it’s so much ingenious as terrifying … I shelve them in areas of interest/subject topics … for instance, art and architecture are together, literary fiction in one place, crime in another, fantasy in yet another … I know where to find everything. No one else. Just me.
Bio: Angela Slatter is the award-winning author of the Verity Fassbinder series, along with the collections The Girl with No Hands and Other Tales, Sourdough and Other Stories, The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings and Black-Winged Angels, and Midnight and Moonshine and The Female Factory (both co-written with Lisa L. Hannett). She has been shortlisted for numerous prestigious prizes, including the Norma K. Hemming Award, and has won the World Fantasy Award, the British Fantasy Award and five Aurealis Awards. Her short stories have appeared widely, including in annual British, Australian and North American Best Ofanthologies. Angela lives in Brisbane, Australia with her husband David.