Australian Speculative Fiction (ASF) is all about showcasing Australian and New Zealander authors. One of the many projects currently under way is the Drowned Earth Novella series—a series of eight novellas written by different authors all set in the same scenario – a flooded Australia.
To get to know these amazing authors they have been kind enough to answer some questions.
Marcus is next to tell us all about his writing journey and Drowned Earth Novella.
What can you tell us about your Novella?
My story takes place in Melbourne, 6 years after the waters catastrophically rise by 90 metres. The coastline is completely changed, the Bellarine and Mornington Peninsulas are gone; the CBD and most of suburban Melbourne is underwater. People have formed ramshackle communities along the new coast but are struggling through a serious food and water shortage—fisheries are becoming depleted and the fish that are left are quickly becoming contaminated; scavenging isn’t turning up much anymore. Only the raiders and pirates eat regularly.
Essentially, the story is one of conflict between those who have been left behind to adapt to this new hostile world, and those who would preserve the former social order for themselves—with the latter at the top. The main character, Maria, sole survivor of her family, finds herself embroiled in a conspiracy that is more or less “business as usual”—while her community of Endurance Point, and others like them, are left to starve and die, the oligarchical elite of the old world continue living in comfort, unnecessary opulence, wanting for nothing aboard secret floating lotus cities after having abandoned the flooded mainland. Maria becomes something of a warlord and a hero for the common people left behind, but there’s a rising question throughout the tale whether she ends up becoming the villain by the way she goes about fighting her enemy. That moral dilemma will be a big part of my speculation in the story.
What drew you to submitting your pitch in the first place?
I wanted to challenge myself to break away from shorter pieces—not that I’ll ever stop writing for anthologies, but they’ve become something of a comfort zone in the past year, which has distracted me from my larger goals. My first novel, Land of the Righteous, has been four-and-a-half years in the making, but it’s an absolute behemoth and there’s been a lot of setbacks, so when the Drowned Earth opportunity came along, I saw it as a perfect challenge: something smaller and achievable but that would push me closer towards that bigger goal. It also helped that I’d been toying with an idea like this some years back, and the kernel was still there, persistent and wanting to be written.
Opportunities like this are fantastic to really flex your writing muscles and collaborate alongside other fantastic authors. Is the collaboration that is necessary for a project such as Drowned Earth something that you have ever participated in before?
No, but I’m really excited about it. You have the benefit of bouncing ideas of other professional writers, testing what works and what ideas don’t resonate quite as well. I think the experience will make me a much better writer. The process reminds you that writing, often touted as an exclusively solitary profession, is in fact the product of many hands and eyes… The child raised by a village.
Describe your writing style…
I’d say it’s generally pretty dark, sometimes bleak, a little philosophical. I like to think there’s always something deeper being speculated upon beneath the surface, but a good and entertaining story always remains the priority. That’s one thing I hope readers can say of my style, is that it’s entertaining, a good ride.
What kind of research do you do for your writing? How’s that google history looking…
Lately it’s been a lot of mythology stuff, but often I’m researching guns types, prison floor-plans, weapons, cults, obscure demonic grimoires, body decomposition, Biblical passages pertaining to the apocalypse. I’m probably on some kind of watch list.
I think my university studies have made me more discerning about what sources I use, because I want to be as credible as possible if I’m featuring something I don’t know much about. I like to ground my stories in some sort of reality or believability, to help float the more creative, wild and outlandish elements of the story, suspend disbelief even if only a little.
What has influenced you most as a writer?
I’d like to say positive things like reading awesome authors from a young age, such as Stephen King, HP Lovecraft, Clive Barker—and on a stylistic note I wouldn’t be lying. But honestly, from a motivational point of view, people trying to convince me from not to write. Family, (former) friends and even a few teachers who told me, in a nutshell, that writing wasn’t a real job, or that it was foolish/hard/not respectable, all that just lit a fire under my ass. It’s all I ever wanted to do since age eight, so I set out to prove them wrong.
Any advice you would give your past self or other writers just starting out?
Patience. Oh boy, patience. And be kind to yourself. The last years of my teens and all the way through my twenties, I spent much of that time beating myself up because I wasn’t published yet. I started to hate myself because I defined myself by the tortured artist cliché and little else. What I neglected was to live—life is that thing that happens while you’re busy making other plans and castigating yourself. As it turns out, all those crazy years of ups and downs, a bit of experience under my belt, gave me plenty to reflect upon, and a lot of inspiration to write.
Where can we learn more about you or follow you on social media?
I’m most active on Facebook, but I’m on all the major social media platforms:
Marcus Turner – Author on Facebook
@FuryThePhoenix on Twitter
@marcusturnerwriter on Instagram
You can also find me on my website: streamofmadness.wordpress.com
Check out our kickstarter for more details about the novellas. They are all standalone stories that can be read in any order.