Updates‎ > ‎

Interview with Kaaron Warren

posted Feb 14, 2019, 11:40 PM by Grace Bridges   [ updated Apr 21, 2019, 1:22 AM ]
Kaaron Warren, a multi-award-winning Australian author of science fiction, fantasy and horror, is a Guest of Honour at GeyserCon in Rotorua.

With 5 novels to her name, over 100 short-fiction publications and 7 short story collections, Kaaron is an internationally-recognised name among readers of dark fiction. Her work has won a Shirley Jackson Award, Australian Shadows Awards, Ditmar Awards and Aurealis Awards. Kaaron’s novel Tide of Stone has recently been listed for the Locus Awards. Kaaron has been a guest of honour at Conflux (Canberra’s Speculative Fiction Convention), Baltimore World Fantasy Convention 2018 and StokerCon 2019 .

During GeyserCon, Kaaron will take a small group offsite to discover ways into story through found objects. 
Kaaron will also be discussing feminism and crime and punishment in science fiction and fantasy. You’ll have the opportunity to get to know her better during a kaffeeklatch (an informal chat session) or by listening to her guest of honour talk. 

Today, we’ll talk to Kaaron about her writing process. 


What are you writing now? Where did your inspiration for this story come from?

I’m working on a short story inspired by the destruction of a series of government housing accommodation towers in my city. These were close to town, so people had easy access to transport, shopping and services; all the things that make such a space a big seller in the market. At the moment, there are massive piles of rubble. Every time I go past I’m struck by the fact that in those piles are people’s lives and memories. Tenants grew up in these apartments, and brought up their children, and made and lost and made friendships, made and lost and made careers. Now it’s all rubble, to be used in other buildings or in landfill.
Every time I go past, I wonder about the ghosts caught there.
That’s what I’m writing about.

What’s your favourite world or universe you’ve developed as a writer, and why do you enjoy it so much?

I’ve created so many worlds, this is a tricky question! The world of The Grinding House, set in a future time when a disease called Spurs melds the bones together, is one of my favourites and one I’d like to re-visit. I liked writing about the end of the world and the people who are the last survivors, but doing it from a simple, domestic angle. It’s a deeply creepy story and a terrifying world, one I’m glad doesn’t exist, but I really enjoyed exploring it.

Your literary career spans many years. How have you developed as a writer during this time?

We all change as people over time, regardless of what job we do. Sometimes I read my early stories and wonder about the person who wrote them, because they seem so distant from who I am now.
I still find writing difficult. I don’t think it’s got any easier over the years; in some ways it’s harder, because there are expectations of other people and of myself.
I’ve learned much over the years from reading, from critiquing, from being edited. Do I listen to any of it? Probably not. I still write from the gut and see where it leads me.


Would you like to share an excerpt of your work?

   Heading back to the bottle shop, he saw that someone had wheeled an old piano into the courtyard by the library, hoping to liven up the dull shopping precinct. They’d painted it with flowers, and the words play me. Wearing the borrowed suit, in this assumed identity, Shawn felt as if he would be able to play. That he could sit at the seat and make beautiful music. If he looked like himself no one would take him seriously for a second, but as he approached the piano people began to gather. An attractive woman bent over the keys, looking at him sidelong as if asking him for a song. He thought that if he could play she would stand close, put her hand on his shoulder and ask him to perform some kind of love song. Another, whose high ponytail made her look a bit like his late wife, stretched her fingers out at him.
   “Go on, mate,” the drunk from the supermarket who’d abused him said, “give us a tune,” and for a moment, Shawn thought he could. He sat down, contemplating the keys. There was a crackling, like someone opening a packet of chips at the theatre, and he shshshshshed loudly, making a joke, hoping for a laugh. A crowd gathered but they were odd, all of them, dank in smell and opaque, like looking through smoky glass. One appeared to have burns on one side; she was almost naked but seemed barely bothered. He didn’t look too hard at any of them, standing too close and pressing him, some of them with palms out prayerfully. He sat at the piano and the crowd closed in. He took a deep breath, as if waiting for something magical to happen. As if he would be able to play.
   He couldn’t. It didn’t. He plunked, as anyone who can’t play the piano will do. He was the same with the guitar, useless, although he’d buy them from the second hand shop all the time, every time someone pinched one.
   “Sorry, folks,” he said, but no one laughed or even responded. 

What’s your favourite feedback from a fan?
All feedback is lovely, but recently at the World Fantasy Convention, a writer told me that one of the stories that inspired him to be a writer was “The Grinding House”, the novella I mentioned above in the question about favourite worlds. I love that I’ve inspired another writer, because I was inspired myself by writers.