Brewing Community with Kat Clay

Brewing Community is a series of guest posts in which readers, writers, artists and fans are invited to share their experiences of community. Whether online or in person, these groups bring a great deal of support and sometimes stress to their members. The aim of Brewing Community is to share the joy and find ways to brew stronger communities.

The series first ran in 2015. In returning to it after several years, I wanted to focus on how these experiences of community may have changed in recent years, and how people would like to see them change, as well as delving into what books and media have brought comfort in difficult times.

Today’s guest is Kat Clay. She is one of the organising forces behind the Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Association, a talented writer, charming host of award ceremonies, snappy dresser and a partner in adventures involving tea and cake.

Since you’ve never been interviewed on Earl Grey Editing before, there’s one important question I must ask first: what’s your favourite beverage?

Tea, of course!

Branching out from that, as I’m sure you’ll appreciate, is a complex web of teas — Earl Grey in the morning or T2’s French Earl Grey or Singapore Breakfast if I have the leisure of a proper cup of loose leaf tea. In the afternoon I’ll do Australian Afternoon, a green tea, genmaicha, or chai depending on the weather. I like Love Tea’s Rooibos Caffeine Free Chai for cold Melbourne evenings. And for the really good stuff, a pure cup of Perfect South‘s Australian grown green tea is perfection.

*Barely resists the urge to chase down tea recommendations instead of conducting an interview*

*ahem*

Has your experience of community in speculative fiction and fandom changed in recent years?

It’s hard not to answer in the affirmative, when so much of our world has changed over the past two years. Barring the pandemic, my general experience of fandom has been a positive one. I’ve been missing attending conventions and seeing my friends with everything shut down or cancelled. I draw a lot of energy from other writers, so I’ve felt like I’ve had less capacity to create (although the output would say otherwise). I also just miss parading around in outrageous outfits at conventions. Sadly my tracksuit pants have been getting more of a workout than my 1970s vintage jumpsuit. 

I must admit I’ve missed seeing your fantastic cosplays.

What would you like to see changed?

My experience of international fandom has always been a little different to Australian fandom itself. I’d like to see a greater appreciation for works outside the US in the States, especially around the major award nominations periods. Authors from the Asia Pacific region have been producing work at such a high level over the past few years. I think of books like Laura Jean McKay’s The Animals in that Country, The Last Migration by Charlotte McConaghy, and Black Cranes from Gene Flynn and Lee Murray. 

What books or media have you found yourself turning to for comfort?

People who know my work are often surprised┬áto hear that I’m a romantic at heart. So I’ve been enjoying a few romance novels, including doing a re-read of the delightful Red, White & Royal Blue. Trying to buy a house in the pandemic and then moving in lockdowns took a toll on my reading – most of my books had been in storage for half a year. I’m reading more now than I was previously but I feel like I need a fresh slate to attack the TBR in 2022.

As for media, I’ve been loving the glut of epic fantasy TV of late, including what I’ve dubbed Wheelie Bin of Time, and The Witcher. If things are particularly bad, you’ll find me rewatching the BBC Pride & Prejudice for the millionth time. Apart from that, Succession has some of the best writing I’ve ever seen on TV. Also I’m not ashamed to admit I read some Greg and Tom fan fiction…

Photo credit: Justin Bennett

Kat Clay is a writer, critic, and content producer from Melbourne, Australia. Her short story ‘Lady Loveday Investigates’ won three prizes at the 2018 Scarlet Stiletto Awards, including the Kerry Greenwood Prize for Best Malice Domestic. Kat’s short stories have been published in Aurealis, SQ Mag, and Crimson Streets. Her non-fiction and criticism has been published in The Guardian, The Victorian Writer, Weird Fiction Review, and on her YouTube channel.

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