Sean McMullen

answers the Usual Questions

Australian author Sean McMullen; photograph from his website, by permission

Sean McMullen photograph from his website, by permission

Sean McMullen is the award winning Australian author of fifteen SF and fantasy books, and over sixty stories. His works have been translated and republished in over a dozen countries, and his most recent novels are Before the Storm (2007) and The Time Engine (2008). For light amusement he has also co-authored pioneering histories of Australian SF and fantasy, and completed a PhD in medieval literature. When not writing he works in scientific computing.

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

Yes and no. At signings I like to chat about what they like or dislike most about my books. On the other hand, I have learned from experience that fans like to be surprised by something new, so I am always on the lookout for the weird, peculiar or unusual.

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

I was at a convention in New Zealand when two librarians dressed as Dragon Librarians (black uniforms, long cloaks and flintlock pistols) got on stage during some ceremony, proceeded to have an argument about some point of book cataloguing, then settled the argument by having a duel at ten paces. That showed me how real one's creations can become for other people, and consequently how careful an author has to be in developing those creations.

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

My theoretical favourite author would be Neil Gaiman writing a Terry Pratchett plot. I really like anything that is funny, subtle and dark. I can't give specific examples, the list would be way too long.

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

Someone that I dislike intensely, and that I have real issues to settle with. We could have a really long and acrimonious chat, and they would have no way to escape.

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

Someone that I really like and get along well with. They would get a really close look at my lifestyle, and would probably not like me any more.

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

If it's low Earth orbit: mobile phone, laptop, broadband plug-in, Peruvian organic coffee, and 90% cocoa chocolate. If it's deep space: a high bandwidth radio link - and mobile phone, broadband plug-in, Peruvian organic coffee, and 90% cocoa chocolate.

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

Getting the stories out of my head. Scenarios, plots and characters are always in there, calling for attention, but when I get them into a file and off to a publisher they sort of ... leave home and lead lives of their own. Then new ones take their place. It's a bit like bringing up children.

What is the special satisfaction of your work?

The way my work affects other people. One serviceman in an LA signing told me that his wife sent him the Greatwinter trilogy during his tour of duty in Iraq, and that it was all that kept him sane. I found that really moving. Quite a lot of other people in pretty appalling circumstances say that my writing's dark humour about people in desperate situations has taught them to see the humour in their own lives, and to feel a lot happier as a result.

^? autograph / signature sean mcmullen

submitted by Sean McMullen

January, 2009

For other answers to The Usual Questions Click here

Just the facts:
Born: Sale, Victoria 21/22-Dec-1948 (midnight)
Resides: Melbourne
Bibliography/Awards:, and click on New Books, Other Books, and Short Stories

Web site:
Unofficial Site, but info provided by Sean:


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