Jodi Cleghorn is a writing and editing dynamo in Brisbane, Queensland, who has been doing excellent work with charity anthologies and her own small press projects. In this interview, she talks about her recent books, her editing, and her recent Aurealis Award win.
You recently became involved with the 100 stories for Queensland project. Can you tell us about this project, what it does, and where we can buy the book?
100 Stories for Queensland is a collection of donated flash fiction (stories under 1000 words) following in the footsteps of Greg McQueen’s 50 Stories for Pakistan (Oct 2010) and 100 Stories for Haiti (Jan 2010).
Where did it come from? Like its sister anthologies, 100 Stories… was conceived, gestated and born via social media.
I sat down at the computer on the night after the horrific flash flooding through the Lockyer Valley and read my friend and fellow author Trevor Belshaw’s Facebook status: 100 Stories for Queensland? I had worked on the periphery of a 50 Stories for Pakistan with Trevor and knew exactly what his status meant. It took me longer to type “yes” than it did for me to decide I was in.
Several hours later, Trevor organised for a group of us (including previous charity antho editors) to skype, and over the space of an hour or so we hammered out the broadest details of 100 Stories for Queensland. I offered to publish the anthology through eMergent Publishing (where I’m a founding partner) and administrate the project and suggested we utilised Submishmash a free online submissions.
We didn’t specify any particular genre just that stories were ‘uplifting’ and under 1000 words. Consequently the anthology has everything from romance to crime, paranormal to lit-fic and everything in between. Most exciting for me is the number of spec-fic stories in this collection (something noticeably absent from the earlier anthologies), the number of Aussie writers in the ToC and the fact that almost 20% of the stories are debut publications.
The project took four months and included almost forty people representing the writing, editing and publishing communities here and abroad, in teams reading and voting, editing and proof reading. It was an absolute honour to work with so many generous and talented writers who donated stories, as well as an entire tribe of enthusiastic individuals working behind the scenes. The project is testament to the power of social media.
We launched in May, in a joint Amazon chart rush with Nothing But Flowers (the charity anthology, I simultaneously produced with 100 Stories). 100 Stories… was the fastest moving title for more than half a day on the UK Amazon charts and nestled in at #3 in the UK general anthology charts, making it to #13 in the USA and the top 10 in Canada. In its first month of online sales, the anthology raised over $4000.
The success of the anthology lies in the fact there is something in there for everyone. It is also a way for people to support the flood survivors who are still doing it tough across Queensland.
We’re now working to get the anthology into bookstores across Australia. For anyone interested in getting a copy they can buy direct through our online bookstore (for a signed paperback or an eBook), online at their favourite location, or by encouraging their local bricks and mortar bookstore to order it in. Book stores can contact me direct jodi.cleghorn[at]emergent-publishing[dot]com.
Congratulations on winning the Aurealis Award. Can you tell us about your work in speculative fiction?
Oh dear, for someone who literally lives and works under a rock, winning the Kris Hembury Encouragement Award in May was a shock, and it wasn’t just because I was away and out of internet contact and arrived home on the Sunday to find my Facebook and Twitter jammed with messages of congratulations and being totally confused as to what was going on. It’s like misplacing the invite to the greatest night of your life.
The real shock was the realisation someone was watching what I was doing, and the folk at Fantastic Queensland who sponsor the prize, thought my work worthy of recognition. I’d like to thank whoever nominated me (I have a sneaky suspicion who that may be!) for seeing something in my work (that I still struggle to see) and putting my name forward.
“The Hembury” recognises community involvement as well as emerging talent. While I’m still working at carving out my place as a writer, the publishing house I co-founded with Paul Anderson in 2008 continues to grow. We started eP with the simple premise of wanting to create unique publishing opportunities for new writers. We also set eP up so money would always flow to authors, so our base royalty split is a 60/40 division, where the larger part goes to the author.
Paul and I both have a bent toward dark spec-fi in our writing lives and through our involvement with other writers on the web and social media, our business has been shaped to be a publisher of speculative fiction. By the end of 2011 we will have published nine anthologies (two under the Chinese Whisperings imprint, two under eMergent’s home imprint and five under Literary Mix Tapes). We’ll also have published our first novel, Graham Storrs’ TimeSplash.
We’re currently in discussions with American Indie script writer and film producer Devin Watson about applying the eP principles of supporting emerging writers, to emerging film makers, to bring 10 stories from the first three LMT anthologies to the screen and to give ten LMT writers a chance to branch out into script writing… baby steps towards our bigger dream of eP becoming a collaborative hub for all types of creatives; where writers of all creeds, film makers, musicians, photographers can meet and work together.
What do you write and where have you published?
I write what my partner calls “dark weird shit” – a dark mix of space opera, sci-fi, horror and urban fantasy. I’m really interested in the intersection of humanity and technology; with a particular focus on how medical advances might influence what it means to be human. The themes of love, loss, free will, power imbalances and time travel are all major influences. And I’m always chasing the internal questions what if?
Outside of the five stories I’ve penned for eMergent based projects, my stories have been published in 50 Stories for Pakistan (The Man Who Would), Best of Friday Flash V1 (Taping Lydia), 12 Days (Bondi), Thieves and Scoundrels (The Chameleon) and most recently in the Aussie vampire anthology from Ticonderoga Publications, Dead Red Heart (Kissed by the Sun). Coming soon are stories in Hope along (with Aussie authors such as Sean Williams, Alan Baxter and Felicity Dowker) and an erotic/horror piece in UK charity anthology Sunday Snaps: The Shorts.
As the editing and publishing side of my professional explodes, it becomes harder and harder to find time to write, but I am committed to keep putting pen to paper as a writer, with my sights set on markets here and abroad in the next six months.
Anything you’d like to pimp? Your fiction, your blog and website, whatever?
Coming up in the next three months are Eighty Nine – a speculative re-imaging of political, social, cultural and personal events from the year 1989, based on a play list of 26 songs released that year, as well as Tiny Dancer, stories of the darker side of the entertainment industry. Interested readers and writers can follow the progress from the LMT home base or via Facebook. The next three months will also see the long-awaited paperback releases of The Red Book and The Yin and Yang Book.