Risingshadow has had the honour of interviewing Jonathan Strahan.
Jonathan Strahan is an Australian editor of science fiction and fantasy. He has edited several anthologies.
Jonathan Strahan recently edited an anthology called Fearsome Journeys: The New Solaris Book of Fantasy. It was published by Solaris Books in June 2013.
Click here to visit Jonathan Strahan's official website.
AN INTERVIEW WITH JONATHAN STRAHAN
Could you tell us something about yourself in your own words?
I never know what to say to this, but here goes! I'm an Australian editor of science fiction and fantasy. I've been working in the field since 1990. Over the past 20 years or so I've edited anthologies, collections, a semiprozine, a review journal and all sorts of other bits and pieces. I've been working with Locus since 1997 and have been Reviews Editor there since 2002. The first science fiction book I remember reading is Robert Heinlein's Citizen of the Galaxy and the first fantasy book is C.S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I don't remember when I started reading short stories, but the first book of them I remember is Robert Silverberg's great The SF Hall of Fame. I live in Perth, Western Australia which I've been told, correctly or not, is both the windiest and most isolated capital city on the planet. In a sense, I've always been working from the edge of the world, and I sort of like that.
You've been editing anthologies for several years. How did you become interested in anthologies and what inspired you to edit anthologies?
I edited my first anthology in 1996, almost seventeen years ago. I became actively interested in anthologies during the mid 1980s. I'd been reading science fiction and fantasy since I was a small boy, but I really only became aware of it as a field on a broader scale when I discovered my local SF specialty bookstore in December 1984. Through endless conversation about books, and through pouring over the pages of each issue of Locus (which the bookshop owner generously let me read), I gradually built up this picture of SF and SF publishing that forms the basis of my views today. During that time I stumbled across both Terry Carr's and Gardner Dozois's 'best of the year' series of anthologies and Michael Bishop's astounding Light Years and Dark (which was incredibly influential on me). The Carr and Dozois books were maps to the modern field and the Bishop introduced me to more new writers than I'd encountered in one go before. I was knocked out by the books, and became fascinated by how they were put together. I began collecting anthologies, and particularly hunting down Carr's books and the great anthologies series of Damon Knight and Robert Silverberg.
Making the transition to editing anthologies myself seemed a very natual thing to do. I'd been reading them voraciously for a decade or more, and had been co-editing a semiprozine, Eidolon, for about five years, when HarperCollins Australia started up their Voyager imprint. With my friend and co-editor Jeremy Byrne, I approached editor Louise Thurtell about the idea of doing an Australian 'best of the year'. She loved the idea, and with the incredible advice and support of my dear friend and longtime mentor, Jack Dann, it all went very smoothly. We did a second volume, but Harper opted not to continue after that. It was another five years before I returned to anthologies, and I've done another 30 or so since then.
What has been the most memorable moment of your career?
That's a tough one. There are several. The day Karen Haber asked me if I'd like to edit the Best SF of the Year with her is pretty memorable. So is the day I got my agent, and the day I was lucky enough to be awarded the World Fantasy Award. But probably the best career day was when, sitting on the back deck at Locus publisher Charles Brown's house I sold four books over a beer. That was pretty memorable.
Your latest anthology, Fearsome Journeys, was published a few days ago. What inspired you to collect epic fantasy stories to this anthology?
I've always loved fantasy, and I've been reading epic fantasy since I was young. Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings never really appealed, but I read Donaldson, Eddings, and Feist et al in my teens and early 20s. When my editor, Jonathan Oliver, suggested we do a military/epic fantasy volume of The New Solaris Book of Fantasy I knew exactly what I wanted and Fearsome Journeys is very close to what I had in mind.
Could you tell us something about the contents of Fearsome Journeys? Did the authors have freedom to write about anything they wanted or were they guidelines?
There are twelve stories in Fearsome Journeys and they range from bashing around action adventure to grimdark fantasy to gentle satire. I wanted the book to have a real range of approaches, and I think it really does.
My approach to a book like this is to explain to the authors what I have in mind and then let them give me their take on it. In this case, I just told everyone I wanted an epic/military fantasy story and let them surprise me. I've always found you get the best results if you find great creative people, and then let them do their own thing.
Because you've edited several anthologies, do you have time to read novels?
Nowhere near the amount of time I'd like, to be honest. Before I started editing the best of the year series I would reliably read over a hundred or so new SF/F novels a year. These days I'd be lucky to read a dozen. I'm mostly happy with this arrangement, but every now and then it really chafes.
What will you be editing next?
I'm caught up in a number of projects. First up will be a guest-edited issue of Subterranean Magazine. Stories are just trickling in for that, but it should be out before the end of the year. After that I'm working on The New Solaris Book of Fantasy: Volume Two and Reach for Infinity, an SF anthology that follows on from Engineering Infinity and Edge of Infinity. Oh, and as always, I'm reading for my best of the year series.
Is there anything you'd like to add?
I'd just like to thank you for the chance to talk about Fearsome Journeys, and to thank everyone for supporting the book.
Thank you for the interview!