When did your interest in daikaiju and other giant monsters begin? What inspired it?
I've always had an interest in pulp SF, because I enjoy stories where the author doesn't feel hemmed in by convention, sanity, physical possibility or even logic. It's good to know people are out there prepared to throw a couple of kilometre-tall yabbies into the middle of a high-tech battle fleet and blame it all on sunspot activity. Just the sheer audacity of these guys putting these stories up for publication fills me with a kind of glee.
My inspiration hasn't really come from actual movies which, even though I understand intellectually the appeal, I can't really get into. The remake of Godzilla was okay, if only because every five minutes there was a good chance Matthew Broderick would get stepped on. Modern favourites include Futurama, which is Simpson's creator Matt Groening's OTHER creation. It's a weekly TV cartoon set in the 30th century, which means giant gargoyles can leap out of the offices of intergalactic delivery companies and still make sense.
Perhaps you can tell us something of your career to date.
I'm a freelance IT journalist with a regular gig at The Australian newspaper and a computer games mag called PC PowerPlay. I also write for Australian MacWorld.
So I'm a full-time "professional" writer, which impacts on my creative endeavours more than I'd like, but the lure of coin is just too strong.
I do a monthly fiction piece for the back page of PC PowerPlay, which involves the adventures of a guy who plays computer games and gets set fire to quite a lot by his crazy ex-third flatmate. It's called Yellow Boots.
I've also answered phones in a five-star hotel and tried to sell computers to people who didn't want to buy them.
How many giant monsters stories have you written/had published?
One for one! Answering the call for submissions to this anthology was very much a case of "hmn, I've actually got something that might fit here, even though I didn't realise it was a giant monster story at the time..."
What would you consider your major work to be?
The "world" of the "Aspect Hunter" is a snapshot of the world I've been toying around with for about five years now. I hope to complete a longer project soon (one resists using the word "novel" until it's more than 20,000 words long...) that more thoroughly explores this idea of an Earth under siege by self-aware malevolent Glaciers, and manipulated by a materteral cabal of women from the future. With a yak.
Where does your fascination for giant monsters come from (if you have one)?
Big is beautiful, right? Seriously though, I was always into dinosaurs as a little kid and ever since I've had this vague dissatisfaction that here on Earth we are among the largest of the creatures. Even things like elephants are only a few times bigger than us. Whales are pretty impressive, I guess, so maybe my tune will change if I ever actually meet one.
But I'd love a pet that's bigger than my house. That would be very cool.
Different people have different ideas as to why the giant monster genre holds such power? What is your take on it?
Can I say big is beautiful again? If not, there's something wickedly satisfying about smashing really big things, like aircraft carriers and cities. In a world where we're often powerless to resist what other people tell us to do, it's good to be able to kick back and watch something mash it all into goo. Consider that Godzilla is always sort of the "hero" of the movies, and ends up defending Japan from even bigger, more horrible monsters. We want to be Godzilla. We want the power to destroy or not, as our whims take us. My advice? Buy an antfarm. MWAHAHAHA!
What is your favourite giant monster film? Why that one?
Well, the best "giant monster" scene I've ever seen is in Disney's Lilo and Stitch, in which the eponymous Stitch comes to earth to wreak chaos and destruction. Unfortunately, he's a cute fuzzy alien about a foot tall. So he befriends a little girl, Lilo. She's trying to work out what he's all about, and gives him a baby bottle full of coffee. He drinks a bit and then proceeds to improvise the entire San Francisco skyline out of Lilo's toys and books. He looks proudly at his handiwork, towering over the city, then proceeds to smash it all down, Godzilla style.
"No more caffiene for you," Lilo says.
Are there any written stories or novels featuring giant monsters that you would particularly recommend?
Well can you go past Frank Herbert's Dune? Everyone's read it of course, but maybe it's worth reading again just for the Sandworms...
What lies ahead for you?
An endless sea of deadlines. Plus hopefully some time off in a year or so to really knuckle down and get this novel written. I also plan to start up a regular submission regime to periodicals both here and overseas. You know, the usual stuff.
Can you tell us how you came to write your story for the DAIKAIJU! anthology? What thoughts lay behind it?
As mentioned earlier, the Aspect Hunter's world is one I've worked on for a while. I don't recall precisely when I thought it would be cool to make glaciers actually alive and aware, but once that decision was made it all seemed to fall into place.
The yak was originally just a pack animal, because yaks are funny, but then I realised it was actually a kind of super-yak that could fight the glacial White-Demons and knew martial arts and stuff. Since it can't talk, it naturally falls into the position of slightly-disapproving-and-constantly-unimpressed sidekick.
I haven't read anything about Sydney being put under siege by a glacier before, so I decided to set it there, and then it was a matter of trying to put together a "cool" SF romp with plenty of action.
I am concerned that the Aspect Hunter is a bit too "super", in that he's a kick-arse fighter and knows everything about what's "really going on", but I'm hoping the fact that he's used pretty mercilessly by the USGS and the powers that be that readers will still feel some sympathy for him. I'll be interested to see the feedback.
The daikaiju genre (such as it is) has been very film-focussed to date. Did this prove a problem when you came to writing your story?
No, I think most good film scripts show you exactly how much "stuff" you can get away with putting into a short story. The two art forms have a very similar amount of narrative content, I think, although a film can rely heavily on its visuals to dump information on the audience.
One thing about the genre is that it does lend itself to longish stories, I think. You have to set up your monster, describe your monster, make your monster threaten something, come up with a cool way of defeating the monster, then go out and win the day. And you still have to find room for character conflict at a human level. Of course, if you're being more allegorical about your monster, well, it's a different story... er, I guess literally.
What would you say to those new to the idea of daikaiju films and stories?
Just go with it! The housefly is now as big as the moon? That's not dumb, that's COOL! Those sunspots can do all kinds of crazy things, you know. In any case, what if garden snails really were as big as the coliseum? They'd be pretty damn scary now, wouldn't they? It's all fun. Fun is good.