Sara Creasy grew up in a tumbling-down Victorian house in the West Midlands, UK, where she tapped out her first stories on a tiny blue typewriter. After moving to southeastern Australia as a teenager, her love of all things fantastical hooked her on science fiction. Meanwhile, in real life, a biology degree led to work as an editor in the educational publishing industry. She was associate editor of Australia’s science fiction and fantasy magazine Aurealis for several years, and her involvement with the SF community inspired her to write her first novel, Song of Scarabaeus (2010), which was nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award and an Aurealis Award. The sequel Children of Scarabaeus (2011) was also nominated for an Aurealis Award. Marriage to an American resulted in a second intercontinental move, and she lived in Arizona for five years before returning to Australia with her husband and baby daughter in 2010. She now lives in Melbourne.
1) Your first novel, Song of Scarabaeus, was nominated for both a Philip K. Dick award and an Aurealis Award for best novel. I’m always curious to know what sort of effect award nominations (especially recognised international ones like the Philip K. Dick) have on a person’s career. Did either nom give your career a boost in terms of sales and profile?
It’s hard to track book sales quite that accurately, but I noticed a resurgence of buzz about the book after the Philip K. Dick Award nom – this was 9 months after the book’s release, and most of my sales had been in the first few months. I think it’s probably true what they say, though, that word of mouth is the main source of sales. You can blog and do book signings and get award nominations till the cows come home, but ultimately you need readers talking about your book to other potential readers (and the internet is invaluable there, of course).
2) In 2010 Tricia Sullivan commented on the lack of women writing SF in the UK in recent times, compared to the mid 80s and 90s. Have you noted the same phenomenon, and if so what do you attribute it too?
This year and last, the Aurealis Award shortlist for Best SF Novel was dominated by women, so perhaps there’s an upward trend, at least in this country. In the past ten years there has been a huge upsurge in romantic science fiction written by women. If you accept a broad definition of SF and include paranormal romance and urban fantasy, the scene is very much alive and kicking for women writers.
3) What can you tell us about the book you’re working on now?
I’m alternating between two books and a toddler, to the detriment of the two books. One is a far-future space adventure in the vein of Song of Scarabaeus. The other is very different – it reads more like a fantasy or historical, and I have to really be in the right mood to tackle it.
4) What Australian works have you loved recently?
I am deep into Marianne de Pierres’s Sentients of Orion series, book 4 of which beat me to the Aurealis Award last year. It’s a phenomenal space opera but somehow you don’t actually realise that while you’re reading it. It’s written from very personal perspectives.
5) Two years on from Aussiecon 4, what do you think are some of the biggest changes to the Australian Spec Fic scene?
I’ve was living in the US from 2005 to 2010, and am still finding my feet again in Australia – this time with a family taking my attention. I hope to become more involved in the spec fic scene here. Obviously the recent paranormal/urban fantasy trend has taken off like it did in America and elsewhere, which is opening up spec fic to readers who perhaps previously shied away from SF, thinking it was all space battles and technobabble. Maybe they liked mysteries and romances and historicals, and now they can enjoy similar elements in these newer subgenres.
The rise of epublishers and electronic self-publishing is another big change in the scene. Anyone, anywhere in the world, can put their work out there. As a reader, it’s great to have choice, but it means I have to find reviewers and editors I trust before I fork out my money on books that haven’t been through an editorial filter. As a former slush pile reader, proofreader and editor, I admit I’m biased about storytelling and quality editing. Ultimately what rises to the top has a great deal to do with, again, word of mouth. Which I think is how it should be.
This interview was conducted as part of the 2012 Snapshot of Australian Speculative Fiction. We’ll be blogging interviews from 1 June to 8 June and archiving them at ASif!: Australian SpecFic in Focus. You can read interviews at: