AJ Fitzwater is a meat-suit wearing dragon who lives between the cracks of Christchurch, New Zealand. A graduate of Clarion 2014, they were awarded the Sir Julius Vogel Award 2015 for Best New Talent. Their work has appeared in such venues of repute as Shimmer Magazine, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, Crossed Genres Magazine, Lethe Press’ “Heiresses of Russ 2014”, Twelfth Planet Press’ “Letters to Tiptree”, Random Static’s “Regeneration: New Zealand Speculative Fiction 2” and many others. Their ideal dinner party guests would include James Tiptree Jr, Joanna Russ, Anne McCaffrey, and Freddie Mercury. Twitter: @AJFitzwater
1. What inspired your story, “Splintr”?
I have notebooks and documents full of idea scraps – a line, phrase, character sketch, idea, images. One of these scraps was the first line, “It was the last sunset on Earth. Again”, which I’d been trying to make into a story for a couple of years but just wouldn’t gel. When the call for this anthology came up, I immediately knew it would be the perfect opener for an end of the world scenario set in New Zealand. I also played with the concept of the physical edges of New Zealand – shoreline, mountain tops – and the imagery of an eye closing on the world kept coming back to me. The movie version of “The Quiet Earth” also had an influence on the empty spaces and the concept of holding a psyche together (or not) and travel within those empty spaces.
2. What appealed to you about this project?
Since I joined the New Zealand speculative fiction writing community over 6 years ago, there have been some brilliant anthology projects showcasing our national talent. To be a part of these projects and being able to share our unique style of speculative fiction with the rest of the world is quite an honour. The creators, editors, and publishers of anthologies like “A Foreign Country”, “Tales for Canterbury”, “Regeneration II”, “Baby Teeth”, and now “At The Edge” are all dedicated to lifting up each other’s voices onto the world stage.
3. What do you love about short stories?
The ideas and possibilities of language. Doing strange and wonderful things with words tickles me purple. The short form gives me the opportunity to explore a single idea, try to contain it within a few thousand words, and yet let that idea live for the reader beyond the foundation of those words. I want my short stories to be conversations with the great short stories that came before mine, the politics of today and tomorrow, and reach out to the stories of the future.
4. Can you remember the first thing you ever read that made you want to write?
I cite Anne McCaffrey’s Pern as the books that made me fall in love with science fiction and fantasy, but it was Melanie Rawn’s Sunrunner books that made me think “Wow, I wish I could have written THAT!” The imagery of the colours, gemstones, and dragons, the politics, the magic, and the myriad of complex women Rawn created is a physical taste in my mouth to this day. It’s no coincidence that I have a tattoo of a dragon from one of those book covers.
5. What’s next for you?
My long term goal is to publish a collection of my short stories. In the short to medium term, I aim to be published in all the major SFF short fiction venues – I’ve always got a couple of stories on the go in between drafting and editing mode. In the next 12 months, I’m planning a trip to Worldcon in Helsinki.