Interview: with Hannah van Didden

Hannah C. van Didden plays with words in the second-most isolated capital city in the world. You will find pieces of her in places like Atticus Review, Southword Journal, Gravel Magazine, Twitter and her blog thirtyseven - and she hopes you'll see her first novel on a bookshelf near you very soon. Her story The Unknown opened Breach's first issue.

Do you have any particular writing rituals you are comfortable sharing?

I write daily. I feel naked if I don’t have two notebooks and at least two pens within reaching distance. I change my writing environment often - sometimes several times in a day. I have dear friends whom I write with regularly, who support me, and who are not afraid of passing on uncomfortable truths.

Given the wide amount of fan fiction being published in countless places online, what are your thoughts on fan fiction in general?

I read a funny story the other day - on Twitter - about someone who was twigged to a friend’s fan fic reading of Harry Potter when they raised unlikely plot twists involving the main characters and sordid sex acts. I don’t know if this story is true or not, but it amused me at the time - and it made me wonder just how much of a creator’s income is diverted by fan fic. Of course, it could drive readers to the origin story, and it may be sanctioned by the author themselves (though I understand this is rare), but it’s hard enough to make a living as a writer as it is. I would rather give kudos and dollars to the creator of that world I love, rather than a reader’s slanted ideal of the source.

Hey, I just thought of something. Are you into fan fic, Bartholemew? Is that why you’re asking me this question...? Answer truthfully now. I promise not to judge. Much.

*blushes* What are your thoughts on indie publishing in Australia?

In Australia, we’re fortunate to have means and windows for approaching publishers/publications directly. I keep hearing that indie publishers give you a solid start, along with more personal consideration, editing, and marketing. Indie publishers also seem to take on stories that bigger publishers won’t touch which, I think, is key to their massive representation in awards shortlists.

And zines. What can I say? They’re so hot right now.

Are there any horror/fantasy/sci-fi tropes or sub genres which you feel are played out? And vice versa, what tropes would you like to see more of?

I don’t feel like I’m troped out of anything. What I want to see is authentic writing. If what is burning within you is a zombie apocalypse or vampire story, I just want it to be written brilliantly and new, from the pit of your heart. And I want to be surprised.

I want to read thoughtful stories by true and inspired voices, not by writers who are so concerned with fitting words to conventions that they potentially self-censor away their best work.

On a related note, I do love this list of stuff to avoid from Strange Horizons.

What books are beside your bed right now?

Here’s a small selection, because my list is ridiculously huge:

Waer, by Meg Caddy

In-Human, by Anna Dusk

There’s So Much They Haven’t Told You, by Michelle Ross

Wabi-Sabi, by Francesc Miralles

I Am Not I, by Jacob Needleman

…but technically these books aren’t by my bedside. I value my marriage, so I have stopped taking books to bed and started growing to-read stacks on my desk (in the living room) from which I take one book at a time. And I have worn a reading groove in my couch, into which huddle with one of my grandma’s crocheted rugs, oftentimes with a grey tabby next to me, sometimes until four in the morning.

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