GUFF Interview: Donna Maree Hanson

GUFF interviews, kangaroo, Earl Grey Editing, Elizabeth Fitzgerald

The Get Up-and-over Fan Fund is designed to promote connections between fandoms in Australasia and Europe. This year GUFF will send one delegate from Australiasia to Worldcon in Helsinki in August. Voting is open to all interested fans, regardless of nationality. It closes 1 April.

Deciding how to rank the candidates can be a pretty daunting prospect, so over the next few weeks Earl Grey Editing will be featuring an interview with each candidate. The first interview was with Belle McQuattie. Joining me today is Donna Maree Hanson.

First and most vital: What’s your favourite beverage?

Besides tea? Because you know my brain floats in brown liquid constantly. On the alcoholic side it is either cider, bubbly, Sauvignon Blanc, Gin and Tonic or a Lychee Martini.

Our mutual addiction to tea has led to many lovely afternoons. But I must admit a Lychee Martini sounds very tasty!

You’ve been involved in Australian SFF fandom for over a decade. How did you get started?

Long story! Way back in my early days of starting to write, I joined the Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild and it was Maxine McArthur, science fiction author, who encouraged me to attend a convention and even to help out on one. So back in 2001 I helped out on a local convention in Canberra. It was great. I met people and authors and stuff. Then I went to Convergence in Melbourne. Had my mind absolutely blown. It was great. Then what do you know I end up running the 2003 Natcon in Canberra (Conflux). I ran another convention after that and introduced a lot of people to fandom. I went to worldcons in Glasgow, Denver, Montreal, and London. I helped out with the Aussiecon bid and helped out for a little while in communications for Aussiecon 4 until my mum got sick and it got too hard. I ran another natcon with Nicole Murphy (Conflux 9) in 2013. It has been a great experience. I’ve learned so much, learned about new writers, met people from all over the world, met authors and been to some fabulous parties.

You’re currently working on a PhD focused on feminism in romance. How have you found this has impacted on your SFF writing?

The PhD studies so far have benefited my writing. Part of the study involves reading widely–French philosophers, feminist theory, queer theory–and I find that all mind-expanding. I’m not free to write as much as I’d like but I find with a bit of discipline (say an hour a day, at least) I can do both the PhD and write. I take a writing day once a week too. I don’t think you can study romance without touching on feminism and gender, and that is interesting to say the least. As I’m undertaking a creative writing PhD, l will be writing a novel. That novel is going to be an SF novel, post-human, focussing on gender equality and romance too. To write that novel I have to read SF dealing with that topic as well as straight romance, which is part of my research. Lots of reading. I read Left Hand of Darkness aloud to myself so I could experience it at a deeper level. So it’s a journey that I can bend to include both sides of my interests in genre.

What Australian SFF have you recently loved?

This is a hard question. I have a big to read list, featuring Australian authors. I think the standout for me though was The Grief Hole by Kaaron Warren. This book is something else, a perfect blend of dark with hints of light and with Warren’s exclusive ingenuity and creativity that takes the everyday and makes it more. The Grief Hole explores grief and guilt and the darker side to humanity. I loved it. Not scary. Just dusting the cobwebs of the human dark side.

What’s coming up next for you?

Pretty much writing and the PhD studies for the foreseeable future. I have been working on a few books that are coming out this year.

What are you most looking forward to about Worldcon 75?

I really like the idea that the Worldcon is in Helsinki, Finland. It’s such a different place from here, from the US, from anywhere else. I hosted Jukka Halme, the Worldcon chair, when he visited Canberra, a lucky quirk of fate. He was funny, and interesting and a really good bloke. I’d love to see what he and his team have put together. I think worldcons celebrate community and being outside the USA, a worldcon gives smaller communities some airtime. I’d really like to experience the European SF community because I haven’t had the chance to do that before. If I had the time and the money I’d go to all the worldcons.

Donna Maree Hanson is a Canberra-based writer of fantasy, science fiction, horror, and under the pseudonym (Dani Kristoff) paranormal romance. Her dark fantasy series (which some reviewers have called grim dark), Dragon Wine, is published by Momentum Books (Pan Macmillan digital imprint). Book 1: Shatterwing and Book 2: Skywatcher are out now in digital and print on demand.

In April 2015, she was awarded the A. Bertram Chandler Award for Outstanding Achievement in Australian Science Fiction for her work in running science fiction conventions, publishing and broader SF community contribution.

Donna also writes young adult science fiction, with Rayessa and the Space Pirates and Rae and Essa’s Space Adventures out with Escape Publishing. (the Love and Space Pirates series). Opi Battles the Space Pirates is the third book in this series.

In 2016, Donna commenced her PhD candidature researching Feminism in Popular Romance. Her first Indie published book, Argenterra, was publishing in late April 2016. Argenterra is the first in an epic fantasy series (the Silverlands) suitable for adult and young adult readers. Oathbound and The Ungiven Land book two and three of the Silverlands are due out in 2017.

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