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Andrew J McKiernan

answers the Usual Questions

photograph, Andrew J McKiernan, courtesy of the author; 220x293

Andrew J McKiernan

Andrew J McKiernan is an Australian author and illustrator from Narara, on the Central Coast of New South Wales. First published in 2007, his stories have since been short-listed for multiple Aurealis, Ditmar and Australian Shadows awards and reprinted in a number of Year's Best anthologies.

He was Art Director for Aurealis magazine for 8 years and his illustrations have graced the covers and internals of a number of books and magazines.

Has your interaction with fans, for example, at conventions, affected your work?

At most Conventions I've attended, I've always seen myself first and foremost as a fan. Even if I'm on panels or doing a signing, there's always someone sitting next to me who I admire, so it's a strange thing when someone comes up to me and says they like something I've written or illustrated. I'm not sure if that's actually affected my work, but it is certainly a buzz and makes everything you've put into a story feel even more worthwhile than just the achievement of being published.

Is there any particular incident (a letter, a meeting, a comment that stands out?

As a fan, an unpublished writer who was really just a reader, my first convention (Conflux, in Canberra, 2006) was a great experience. Australia has this really great, tight-knit, writer/reader Spec-fic community, but I knew nobody. Almost immediately upon arrival I was introduced to author Kaaron Warren, who was just launching her first collection of short stories. She was so nice to me, and introduced me to other writers, and that really made me feel part of the community. Inspired me to really get stuck into this writing gig and see what I could produce. Maybe I would never have knuckled down and committed myself to writing if it hadn't been for that moment.

Do you have a favourite author or book (or writer or film or series) that has influenced you or that you return to?

An ever growing parade of them! Authors, books, film, tv series, music: they're all reflections of culture and they probably influence my work more than current events do. I first read Stephen King's Carrie when I was 9 or 10 years old and he was definitely the first big influence and a jumping off point to discovering authors like Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith, Robert McCammon, Clive Barker and Iain (M) Banks. I love film and music too, and have huge collections of both. I try to soak up cinematic techniques and use them in my writing, and I can't write without music; every story has a soundtrack.

The one author I always return to is Cormac McCarthy, most specifically his dark and epic Western Blood Meridian. The prose is just mesmerising, beautiful and horrifying, but nothing I'd ever try to imitate. I'd be happy if I thought I could write even half as well as Cormac McCarthy.

Who is the person you would most like to be trapped in a lift with? or a spaceship?

My wife, of course.

Who is the person you would most DISlike to be trapped in a lift with? Or a spaceship?

If it is just trapped in a lift, it wouldn't matter too much. I can put up with anyone for a short amount of time, no matter how horrible they might be. In a spaceship though, anyone would drive me mad eventually. Probably safer if I go alone.

What would you pack for space? (Is there a food, beverage, book, teddy bear, etc that you couldn't do without?)

My family, if they could put up with me for such a long voyage and agreed to go. I'd need red wine and cheese, my tablet full of ebooks and my ipod full of music. I'd need something to write on too; notebooks and pencils would be fine, that way I could write or draw as the mood took me.

book cover Last Year by Andrew J Mckiernan; 220x330

What is the most important thing you would like to get/achieve from your work?

I don't know if I want to 'achieve' anything. Writing has become much more of an outlet for me than a goal, I'm just lucky that there are others who see some value in publishing and/or reading what I produce.

What is the special satisfaction of your work?

That moment when everything comes together. I don't plot my stories, I just start with a title or a first sentence, and take it from there. I never know in advance where things are going, or what the characters are going to do. I like that aspect of discovery when writing, letting the story grow organically from a seed and watching how it plays out.

It's a great feeling when, despite the lack of planning, everything still comes together neatly at the end.

submitted by Andrew J McKiernan

8 July 2014

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Just the facts:
Born: Sydney, Australia
Resides: Central Coast, NSW, Australia
Bibliography/Awards: (see introduction)

Web site:


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