After a long time -millennia in fact- I have finally managed to sit down with, and chat to, South African fiction writer, Abigail Godsell.
So give us a little of your writing background.
I’ve been writing for publication for a while now. I first started out in Something Wicked Magazine, run by Joe Vaz and Vianne Venter. They were willing to beat a high-schooler’s horror prose into something readable and launch a career by treating her like a professional to boot. I still don’t think anyone has put into words how much the SA spec-fic scene owes these two people and the magazines, books and website they produced.
In 2012 I was lucky enough to be taught by renowned authors Christopher Mckitterick and Andy Duncan on a short summer course at the James Gunn center for science fiction in Lawrence Kansas. I learned so much and grew so much as a writer there!
In 2014 the first volume of my short novel series Idea War was released by Wordsmack publishers. I went on to release two other volumes and host a book launch with them before they sadly closed their doors.
Volume 1 of Idea War is this year a grade 8 high school set work (self-published and printed) and I’m working on finishing up and launching the rest of the series over the next two years.
Currently I’m working on launching a new anthology published by the really exciting small press Sera Blue that is a collection of a lot of the bits and pieces of work from the last few years or so.
How long have you been writing?
Technically, I’ve been writing professionally (meaning that I get paid sometimes, not that I earn a living from it!) for almost ten years now.
Did you receive specialised training?
I studied a two week summer course (the Young Gunns program) on science fiction short story writing at the James Gunn center for science fiction affiliated with Kansas University.
How do plan a book? Layout, diagrams, brain storming?
I do a little of everything, different projects and different times in my life need different tools, but a lot of the planning feels pretty organic, like the characters just doing the things that they want and need to get done. There’s a flow and I fit that makes my best stories feel more like I discover them than make them.
And your favourite genre to write?
Favorite genre is currently sci-fi, but that changes with mood, workload and weather.
Where do you draw your greatest inspiration from?
Greatest inspiration is easily from everyday life. This world is weird and beautiful, and its hard not to find things to write about.
Where do you stand on the digital VS physical books debate?
I think if you can as a writer, having both is good. I like physical, always have, and dislike e-books, but there is so much reach and accessibility that e-books provide. I’d say both are good.
Where do you think books are going in the 21st century? Shall the stories become more complex, or are we dumbing down?
I think in the 21st century what we’ve seen is a explosion of new voices thanks to the internet and the acceptance of self-publishing as viable and legitimate. To me, that’s the most exciting thing in the world because it means new and more storytellers and new and different stories. It can be a difficult and confusing world to navigate as a reader, and because people are so different you’re likely to come up against stuff that someone loved but you think is a bit weird and naff. It’s just so worth it, for the scale and diversity that opening up the industry brings.
What can you tell us about your latest work?
The latest work is an anthology, published by Sera Blue, called Relative Scale. Its a collection of short stories in fantasy, horror and science fiction, dealing with magic, science, fear, choices and growing up.
Was Rick Deckard a replicant?
What’s next for you?
Next is working on finishing up the Idea War series, because really now I’m sick of listening to these characters yak at me.
Advice for those interested in joining your field?
Don’t lose your love of writing, and how much you enjoy playing with stories. That’s always been the core of it for me, the constant playful question of ‘What if?”
Any last words?
Only last thing to say is thank you. This is an industry that’s built by people helping each other, and I’m very grateful for 925 rebellion for the time and space. (Our pleasure. -Ed)