Specul8: Michael Pryor

With: Michael Pryor, author of the CBCA Notables-listed ‘Gap Year in Ghost Town’ and Aurealis Award finalist for ‘Gap Year in Ghost Town’ and ‘First Casualty’.

By: Speculate volunteer Isabella Edwards


How would you describe speculative fiction to someone who’s new to the term?

The Literature of the Imagination, where non-naturalistic elements are welcome.

When you begin a series of books, how detailed is your plan and how much does it change during the writing process?

After quite a bit of thinking, I write a detailed point-by-point outline of the events of the story, plus point form character profiles – but all of this can change mid-stream if something rears up organically while I’m writing.

Would you say there are any major differences between Australian sci-fi fantasy novels and the rest of the world?

Yes, but the differences are many and hard to pinpoint. A skepticism of authority? Self-deprecation? A bit US and a bit UK and quite a few bits from elsewhere?

What attracted you to sci-fi and why do you think it’s important for people to read?

I’ve always loved it because it lets me step outside the here and now, the humdrum, the ordinary and go somewhere else.

What draws you to writing junior and teen fiction?

The enthusiasm of the readers, their willingness to be transported, their keenness to participate in the world of reading and writing.

What are the key things to think about when developing the story’s setting?

To be convincing. No matter how outlandish, how quirky or how outré your setting is, you must take your reader there; you must convince them that they’re somewhere real.

What is the strangest way an idea has come to you and do you have a process for recording and brainstorming initial thoughts?

I used to write on the back of my hand to preserve ideas, but now it’s phone time. Once, while driving and brooding over a character I knew needed an extra background element, I heard a radio announcer complaining that his kids behaved as if they were raised by wolves. Bang. My story already had a Kipling homage, and this offhand comment ended up with my main character being a Mowgli doppelganger.

What is the question you wish people would ask you but never do?

Would you like my major Hollywood studio to make all your books into movies?

Michael Pryor will be appearing at Speculate on the The Language of Imagination and Setting: Colouring the Pages panels. Tickets for the festival can be purchased here.