The Australian Spec Fic Snapshot 2016: Laura E. Goodin

A picture of author Laura E Goodin

American-born writer Laura E. Goodin has been writing professionally for over 30 years. Her stories have appeared in numerous publications, including Michael Moorcock’s New Worlds, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, Review of Australian Fiction, Adbusters, Wet Ink, The Lifted Brow and Daily Science Fiction, among others, and in several anthologies. Her plays and libretti have been performed on three continents, and her poetry has been performed internationally, both as spoken word and as texts for new musical compositions. She attended the 2007 Clarion South workshop, and has a Ph.D. in creative writing from the University of Western Australia.

For those of us who weren’t able to catch The Cabinet of Oddities, can you tell us a bit about it (and whether we can expect a reprise anytime soon)?
My husband, composer Houston Dunleavy, and I collaborate frequently on pieces. A while back he wrote a piece for one of the low flutes (find out more about these fabulous instruments here!) as incidental music to one of my flash pieces (“The Monster Tarantella”). We realised that it would be intensely fun to get other writers and composers to work together to produce a collection of these sorts of pieces. And when we found out that the Australian Flute Festival was occurring at exactly the same time a few hundred metres away from Conflux last year – well. How much more reason did we need? In the end, all the writers, composers, and players had a fantastic time creating and performing the concert at Conflux, and the audience members were thrilled with hearing brand-new works – both text and music – and with seeing and hearing the wondrous suite of flutes. It really was a joyous experience – but over way too soon, with only one performance. That’s why I’m thrilled to announce there will be two more performances as part of the Melbourne Fringe on September 23 and 24 – keep an eye on their site, as the program launches August 9!

I found your workshop on collaboration (at Continuum in 2015) very valuable and inspiring. What is it like swapping between solo fiction writing and working with other artists?
Thank you – that’s lovely to hear! I confess I find collaboration to be quite stressful, as I’m a solitary creator by inclination. The need to accommodate the creative ideas of another person (or many other people) does sometimes put constraints on what I want to do, which can be nerve-wracking and frustrating. But at the same time, collaboration enormously boosts my creative power, because I can bounce ideas off my collaborators, and because they’re my safety net: ready to tell me when something (if we’re all feeling polite that day) “doesn’t quite work”, or (if we’re not) “sucks”. Better to find that out sooner than later! I also find it exhilarating to watch people use their superpowers, to see them being the most powerful, creative people they can be. One of the great things about being in the arts is that it’s one of the best places to see the human spirit in its most true and glorious form. This is where you can actually see the world being healed from the damage of hatred, fear, isolation, and evil. Yes, of course, solo art also participates in this great work, but collaboration is an explicit living out of the vision of a world where we all value, trust, and rely on each other’s genius.

With performance, writing and academia on your plate, what can we next expect from you?
Interesting question! There’s the Cabinet of Oddities performance in the Melbourne Fringe coming up, of course. Other projects in the works are a full-length play that incorporates a bit of opera here and there; the second novel in my (as yet unpublished, but that could change at any time) Purple Bay University series; a story to be used as the basis for a ballet; research into the history of diversity in speculative fiction; and a few other projects of various sorts that I’m not at liberty to discuss yet! Also, my first spec-fic-related academic publication has just come out: “Uncertain Borders: The Rise and Fall of Genre?”, Science Fiction: A Review of Speculative Literature 18(1), pp. 20-67.

What Australian work have you loved recently?
I will eagerly read anything Jason Fischer or Tansy Rayner Roberts write. Also, I’ve just started reading Anna Tambour’s collection, The Finest Ass in the Universe. She has such a lovely, deft touch with language, and I’m really looking forward both to enjoying the stories and learning from her as I read. I wish I had time to keep up with all the terrific stuff Australian writers are producing, but it’s maddeningly impossible.

Which author (living or dead) would you most like to sit next to on a long plane trip and why?
Oooooooo, that’s a tough one. I think I’d like to be in the middle seat between Ursula K. Le Guin, for her brilliance, her passionate engagement with the world, and her jaw-dropping imagination, and H. G. Wells – um, pretty much for the same reasons. I’d also love to just sit there and listen to them talk across me to each other!


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