Interview: with Xander Stronach
Alexander Stronach is an editor and author from Wellington, New Zealand. After years of in the short fiction trenches, he's putting the final touches on his first novel, which has been described as "an absolute gorgeous mess". You can find him raising hell @understatesmen on Twitter.
Hi Xander, please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I'm a strange hairy gremlin, shuffling from shadow to shadow. My ancestors—in times lost to history, seen only in dreams—owned golden palaces that reached out toward heaven; I one day aspire to own a second-hand 1991 Toyota Corolla. Also I make a mean cheese scone.
Do you have any particular writing rituals you are comfortable sharing?
I'm lucky to live very close to a large forest (Otari-Wilton Bush). Whenever I get stuck, I go down there and just sit under a big tree for a while. It's very calming, and it has a way of untangling mental knots.
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 want to see more happy LGBT+ stories; it sometimes feel like gay folks aren't allowed in spec fic unless we're tragic. We're out here imagining endless wild worlds, but we keep stamping them with the same old miseries.
What I mean by that is I want Janelle Monae and Tessa Thompson co-piloting the Enterprise.
What books are beside your bed right now?
Too many! I just finished Washington Black, and I'm making my way through Gutter Prayer, The Night Lands, and Cassandra Khaw's Persons Non Grata.
To what degree do you feel everything has already been written, in some form or another? Have you ever started writing a story, only to discover someone has already written it?
Ideas are cheap. We've all run into an "ideas guy" who offers to tell us their white-hot concept and then split the profits 50/50, and we politely defer and find a way to never bring it up again. That's because we know good prose isn't about what you're writing, it's about how you write it.
What are you thoughts on indie publishing in New Zealand?
It's a lively scene filled with some wonderful people. There's so much great stuff coming from small presses and 'zines right now—I'm really excited about where we're going.