Rachel's Blog: Snapshot 2010: Lucy Sussex

Thu, 18 Feb 2010
A Tour Guide in Utopia cover

Lucy Sussex was born in New Zealand, and is a Senior Research Fellow at Melbourne University. She has published editions of crime writers Mary Fortune and Ellen Davitt; and edited four anthologies, including She’s Fantastical (1995), shortlisted for the World Fantasy Award. Her award-winning fiction includes five books for younger readers and the Ditmar-winning adult novel, The Scarlet Rider (1996). She has written three short story collections, My Lady Tongue, A Tour Guide in Utopia (Mirrordanse, 2005) and Absolute Uncertainty, from Aqueduct Press (Seattle, USA, 2006). Currently she reviews weekly for the Sunday Age newspaper.

1) Your 2009 story 'Something Better Than Death' was nominated for an Aurealis Award and is appearing in Ellen Datlow's forthcoming Tails of Wonder and Imagination. Congratulations! Do accolades like these affect your creative writing at all? Do you think much on how a work might be recieved before it's fully realised?

Recognition is always nice (grin).
I think if you bothered about reception you'd never get anything done. The writing, that's the fun, what happens after is incidental.

2) You have done a significant amount of literary archaeology in 19th Century Australian Women's Crime Fiction. Are you still haunted by Mary Fortune?

Haunted? Not literally, although I have dreamt about her (which I hear is an occasional hazard of biographical research. Michael Holroyd, though, says his wife Margaret Drabble dreams about his biographical subjects). In some respects I'll never get her out of my hair, as new information keeps emerging, which makes her all the more interesting. Some day her gravesite may be revealed, and if so I'll organise a plaque, as I did with Ellen Davitt.

Is there someone else you would particularly like to exhume?

Not literally again (bodies smell, for one thing). I'd like to do a biography of Catherine Crowe, who published a bestselling murder mystery novel with three female detectives, predating Edgar Allan Poe. She was also a Spiritualist, feminist, and ran away from her husband (as did Fortune).

3) What are you looking forward to working on next? More short stories or a longer work?

At present I've returned to a novel, which began with an accidental conjunction between Victorian crime and quantum physics. Greg Egan told me not to do it...

4) Which Australian writers or work would you like to see on the Hugo shortlists this year?

I'm in several minds about this. Firstly, stacking award ballots never works, because other parties hear about it and stack better... Secondly I'd rather something was on the ballot because it's good, rather than being oz. That said all we oz writers would really love to be on the ballot!

Will you be at Aussiecon in September? If so, what are you most looking forward to about it?

Yes. Causing trouble?

This interview was conducted as part of the 2010 Snapshot of Australian Speculative Fiction. We'll be blogging interviews from Monday 15 February to Sunday 22 February and archiving them at ASif!: Australian SpecFic in Focus.

You can read interviews at:

If you're involved in the scene and have something to plug, then send us an email at snapshot2010@gmail.com and we'll see what we can do!