Friday, March 1, 2019

FEATURED AUTHOR: J.S. BREUKELAAR



ABOUT THE BOOK 



A collection of twelve of J.S. Breukelaar's darkest, finest stories with four new works, including the uncanny new novella "Ripples on a Blank Shore." Introduction by award-winning author, Angela Slatter. Relish the Gothic strangeness of "Union Falls," the alien horror of "Rogues Bay 3013," the heartbreaking dystopia of "Glow," the weird mythos of "Ava Rune," and others. This collection from the author of American Monster and the internationally acclaimed and Aurealis Award finalist, Aletheia, announces a new and powerful voice in fantastical fiction.





Book Details: 


Title: Collision: Stories

Author: J.S. Breukelaar

Genre: Speculative fiction

Publisher: Meerkat Press (February 19, 2019)

Print length: 205 pages









INTERVIEW WITH J.S. BREUKELAAR


Q: What’s the story behind the title of your book?

A:
The title story, "Collision” is about a collision of worlds in a multiverse, the result of which is a kind of coming together and mutation, if not extermination, of a whole bunch of other worlds. This is a theme in many of my stories—worlds, ways of being human and not—in many of the stories it’s the genres themselves that collide, or at least gently jostle. So it seemed like a good title to stamp on the whole collection.   

Q: Do you have another job outside of writing?

A:
I teach literature and creative writing.

Q: Where’s home for you? 

A:
I was born in the US, so that, particularly New York, will always be one home. But Sydney, where I work and where my family and friends are, is another. But I am most at home on the page, wherever that is. 

Q: What do you love about where you live?

A:
I love Australia because it’s dangerously beautiful, and it has universal health care and gun control and relatively safe schools for most kids. The people try, by and large, to be good to each other, although I know that I speak from a position of privilege and that is not the case everywhere, and at all times—Australia is mightily wrestling with the demons of a dark colonial history, and its current policies on refugees remain much less humane than they should be. 

Q: What’s your favorite memory?

A:
The birth of my children.

Q: What’s one thing you wish your younger writer self knew?

A:
Reach out to other writers. Find workshops or take creative writing classes. Learn basic story mechanics and other hacks that can make the “write, write, write” mantra much more productive. 


Q: What is your most embarrassing moment?
A:
Sending an email to a well-known writer that was meant for my husband. Luckily I didn’t say anything bad about anybody, but I did gush about that particular writer, who’d said some nice things about my work, and I smooched all over my husband, so the whole thing was a complete and utter face-plant.

Q: Yikes! What makes you nervous?

A:
Sending an email to the wrong person.


Q: That was my guess. What makes you scared?

A:
Every morning, those long drawn out seconds before my fingers hit the keyboard.

Q: What makes you excited?

A:
Travel.

Q: How did you meet your husband?

A:
I picked him up in a bar.

Q: What are your most cherished mementoes?

A:
My statue of Don Quixote that my kids gave me is one of them. A Mont Blanc fountain pen from my husband, a filigree necklace that belonged to my grandmother. A note from my uncle telling me I could do this. 

Q: What’s one of your favorite quotes? 

A:
“Those of us who are going to live are going to have to start living by our own lights.” Neal Stephenson, Seveneves.

Q: Are any of your characters inspired by real people?
A:
Many of the characters in the stories collected in Collision are inspired by real people, but by the time they’re half-way through the story, they’re only loosely connected to their model. In “Raining Street,” for instance, the character of Marie is inspired by a lady who lived next to us in an upscale neighborhood that we couldn’t afford. Like Marie, she gave me tips about where to go to find affordable food for my family, but unlike Marie, this lady was a good witch, and I’ll always be grateful to her for sending me into neighborhoods far from home, where I found a bunch of stories.

Q: Is your book based on real events?

A:
Some of the stories are loosely based on real events—I mention some of these in my notes—my friend’s wedding that got washed away in a storm inspired “Like Ripples.... “; some of the other stories are a response to the 2016 elections. I lived next to a Rhodesian Ridgeback once who was a forced of nature.

Q: Are you like any of your characters? 

A:
Yes, there is some of me in all of my characters. Otherwise I couldn’t create them.

Q: One of your characters has just found out you’re about to kill him off. He/she decides to beat you to the punch. How would he kill you?

A:
They kill me all the time. I die a thousand deaths when they elude me, when they refuse to tell me what they need to do next, when they stink, or suck, or fail to believe in themselves. Writing is constant death and resurrection, and your characters will always find a way to outlive you. The moment you don’t believe that, you’re done.

Q: With what five real people would you most like to be stuck in a bookstore?

A:
Lana and Lily Wachowski, Barack Obama (you knew I’d say that), Patti Smith, Ray Bradbury. 

Q: Who are your favorite authors?

A:
Too many to mention. Jeff Ford, Shirley Jackson, Stephen Graham Jones, John Langan, Karen Joy Fowler, Cormac McCarthy, Kelly Link, Emily Dickenson, Stephen King, among others. 


Q: What book are you currently reading and in what format?

A:
I’m reading The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner in paperback.

Q: Do you have a routine for writing? 

A:
Mornings before 9 am, longer if I’m not teaching. A break around the middle of the day when I attend to admin chores, and then more writing in the afternoon if I can after the day job.

Q: What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received about your writing?

A:
My agent emailed me after he read Aletheia and said that I was the Cormac McCarthy of Gila Monsters. I can’t top that. Close to it are the blurbs on Collision from John Langan and Stephen Graham Jones and Kathe Koja and Sebastien Doubinsky. I hold the book in my hands and still can’t believe those blurbs are on it.

Q: What’s the worst thing someone has said about your writing? How did you deal with it?

A:
There was a time when every story that was rejected was the worst thing anyone could say about my writing, and by extension, me. I dealt with it often badly by crying or getting drunk or feeling that I should give up. But then, because I really didn’t want to give up, I’d consider any feedback they’d offered, and address it if I could without breaking the story. But sometimes it broke anyway. A broken story can sometimes be fixed for the better. Either way, I’d send it back out again. And it usually got picked up. 

Q: Are you happy with your decision to publish with Meerkat Press?
A:
My road to publication with Meerkat Press was through my agent who is also Superman. I had a collection that was slated with another publisher, but that fell through, so Superman went into overdrive. I also have a couple of angels in my corner—writers much more established than I am who also stepped in and got the word out. One of these is Angela Slatter, who magicked up some competing interest in the work and who wrote the introduction, and the other is Sebastien Doubinsky who had work coming out with Meerkat. He recommended Aletheia to the CEO Trica Reeks, and she dug it. I couldn’t be happier with Meerkat—this is a savvy press with vision and fire, which supports writers, and literature, above and beyond the call. The road to publication is a rocky one filled with pot holes and littered with roadkill. But if you make friends along the way, nothing else matters.

Q: What are you working on now?
A:
I am completing a novel called The Bridge which is about a pair of twins spiritually conjoined to a mysterious old woman with one eye.



OTHER BOOKS BY J.S. BREUKELAAR

Aletheia
American Monster



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

J.S. Breukelaar is the author of the novels American Monster, a Wonderland Award Finalist, and the Aurealis Award-nominated Aletheia, as well as the forthcoming collection of short stories, Collision, from Meerkat Press. You can also find her work in magazines such as Lightspeed, Gamut, Black Static, Unnerving and anthologized in Welcome to Dystopia, Women Writing the Weird, among others. She has a PhD in creative writing and teaches literature at the University of Western Sydney, and is a columnist and instructor at LitReactor.com.

Connect with the author:
Website  |  Meerkat Press  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads  |  Instagram

Buy the book:
Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Book Depository 

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