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Marta Salek

answers the Usual Questions

photograph, Marta Salek, courtesy of the author; 220x195

Marta Salek

Marta lives out in the hills of Australia with her partner and assorted fluffy roosters, chickens, sheep, alpacas and one dog (who may or may not have fleas). When not working or writing, she passes the time trying to grow vegetables and running over irrigation pipe with her ride-on mower. In a past life, she spent her days programming (or screaming at) computers and writing lengthy emails which were reported to give her managers headaches. (from her web site)

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

I've only been playing around with writing for 2.5 years; never been to a convention and have only had a handful of things published. My "readers" are, I'm afraid, small in number. Having said that, I can't imagine that my writing would change based on just having a chat to someone. I have a handful of friends who read my work and give me suggestions, and certainly my writing has adapted based on their excellent comments, but that's about as far as it goes.

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

One? Ah, I'm just going to pretend there was a plural to this question :). Of course there are - surely everyone that writes is influenced by someone; usually many someones! For me, the most inspirational authors are those whose stories have a very human perspective. I love speculative fiction, but I only love it if I can get into the heads of a couple of the characters that inhabit those beautiful worlds the authors create. Writers like:
- Isobel Carmody: Such lovely worlds; such very real and flawed characters.
- Dan Simmons: His vision - my god! Amazing! But also the relationships he create - his stories are, ultimately, all about love.
- Robin Hobb, particularly her Fitz and the Fool books: Complex, thought-provoking societies, as backdrops for equally complex and desperate relationships. Her stories are about loneliness. The need for acceptance.

There are others, but lets stick with those three; reading their work has made me strive to also write stories that make you care about the characters. That make you root for them, or long for them to die - either one :).

Those are the big names, but there are a couple of new authors that have also had an influence that I'd really like to mention. One is called Douglas F Warrick, with his antho Plow the Bones. His use of language is just spectacular. Weird, beautiful, terrifying situations; prose that dances and sticks through your mind. How I envy him! When I read that anthology, I found my work shifted more than a little to try to emulate him. The other writer I'd like to mention is fellow Melburnian Jason Franks. His writing is clean and slick, and his dialogue is flawless. Since reading his stories (and been lucky enough to have him edit a few of my pieces), I think my writing has dumped a lot of the superfluous descriptive crap that made it so pedestrian before. Not all of it, unfortunately. Get back to me in a few decades - if I'm still writing then, maybe I'll have finally worked out how Jason does it!

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

My partner, David, because he'd probably be able to analyse the problem, engineer a solution, and implement it with a few bits of duct tape and spare screw there's bound to be lying around on the floor somewhere.

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

Truthfully, probably ANY other person. I like to keep my people on the other end of an internet connection. (Yes, I'm a nurse. No, this is not at all weird :).)

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

My dog. And my chickens. All of them. I would buy them little chicken space suits and set up a tiny little chicken fields where I would grow all the grassy things that produce the seed they like to eat, and I would pack them carefully into little chicken cages so they didn't get spooked on the way up. It would be fine. Nothing could possibly go wrong. Oh, and some electronic device with every one of the hundreds of books I have on my bookshelves uploaded in Kindle format. Animals and reading matter - that's all anyone needs, right?

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

I want to strike that balance between plot and character that the writers I mentioned above have achieved. So, people find the stories interesting enough to read, but immediate enough that they can relate. If my characters are crying, I want my readers to cry, too. If my characters have finally found the love of their life, I want my readers to remember that moment when they found theirs. Oh, and while the readers are doing all this relating, I want them to be picturing themselves in the dark and dystopian societies and worlds where I like to set my stories. Cos, nothing makes love more exciting than having a bit of magic floating around in the background.

What is the special satisfaction of your work?

Sometimes, on rare occasions, I can make a really dark, depressing society or situation seem beautiful. That's what I love the most - thinking that yeah, maybe with this one I'll take someone out of their comfort zone. Introduce them to a perspective that they wouldn't otherwise have sanctioned and make them think, shit - that person's human. Crap, I can imagine myself doing/saying that.

submitted by Marta Salek

6 July 2014

For other answers to The Usual Questions Click here

Just the facts:
Born: Warsaw, Poland
Resides: Melbourne, Australia
Slight - a few stories published by Aurealis SF&F, Perihelion SF, Freeze Frame Fiction, Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing and Burnt Offerings Books; a novel coming out this year with The Zharmae Publishing Press.

Web site:
Twitter: @martasalek1


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