The FableCroft Drive-by: Tehani Wessely

Tehani Wessely is the driving force behind new indie press, FableCroft. She has edited for Twelfth Planet Press and was a founding member of ASIM (Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine). She’s been an Aurealis Awards judge, writes reviews for ASif, Magpies and Fiction Focus. She won a Ditmar for Best New Talent in 2008, and she is collecting a series of Tin Ducks. In her day job, she’s a Teacher Librarian. Fablecroft has already produced two glorious anthologies in 2010, Worlds Next Door and Australis Imaginarium.

1. You get to be any fictional character you like for a day, without consequences – who do you choose, where do you go and what do you do?
Okay, don’t judge me, but the first thought that came into my head was Anita Blake. I need to clarify this – I mean Anita Blake of the first three or four books! When she was a zombie raising, vampire slaying awesome character, BEFORE she started getting laid by anyone and everyone! The early Anita Blake was tough and fit and powerful, surrounded by strange events that she could help solve with police and the supernatural around her by using her brains and brawn, NOT her body.

If I got to be (early) Anita Blake for a day, I’d want to go to the gym with Ronnie, go on a date with Richard (yum…), solve a crime with the police team and raise me some zombies!

2. As a teacher-librarian, what trends in YA and children’s lit make you despair? What makes your heart sing?
I get sad when realistic YA fiction goes for the happy ending over a “realistic” ending. I read a stack of Aussie YA last year where authors (or publishers) seemed to be afraid to go with the ending that made the most sense. Instead, the girl gets the guy, which is the only way to make her happy. Or the deadbeat dad turns himself around (despite years of abuse to the contrary). Teens aren’t dumb, and they’re going to get pissed off with books that treat them like idiots. Sure, we all WANT the happy ending, but most of us are savvy enough to know that sometimes it just doesn’t happen.

It makes me a bit sad when overzealous parents or teachers or schools ban some books because of content. We let kids watch all sorts of movies and tv and listen to all sorts of music – heck, even the news can scar a tender mind. But for some reason its books that get banned. Maybe it’s because reading is a more personalised experience, maybe because reading allows a person to become more immersed in the experience, but for my mind, books have so much more to offer, regardless of content, and I could wish that people would be more open minded about this sort of stuff. And be realistic – kids WILL get their hands on books if they are banned – it’s more fun that way! My mum took Forever, by Judy Blume, off me when I was about 13 because another parent told her it had sex in it. She hadn’t even read it herself before she took it away (which is one of my biggest bugbears!) and anyway, I still read it about 10 times borrowing it from friends! And every other book by Judy Blume because of it. Which is, really, the point – think about the great themes Blume wrote about and how much I learned because that one book hooked me into the author. Imagine what kids might miss out on if you don’t let them read crunchy books that challenge them and their ideas of the world, or, maybe, educate them in some way they might not otherwise experience.

I get super happy when something, ANYTHING (yes, even sparkly vampires) hooks kids into reading. If it was wizards ten years ago and it’s vampires today, I don’t care, because these kids are now doing something they weren’t doing before; learning that literature can be enormously fun, heart wrenching and awesome.

3. What was the driving goal behind FableCroft?
FableCroft was born out of ten years of working in Australian small press and finally coming to the conclusion that there were some things I wanted to do that didn’t match the goals of the others I’d worked with. I think providing opportunities for exposure for our local writers and artists, both new and established, is essential, and the more opportunities there are the better for everyone. I also want to prove that speculative fiction produced by independent presses can be a mainstream success (as Alisa is paving the way for over at Twelfth Planet Press). It’s a lot of work, but it has the potential to pay dividends for everyone involved.

4. What is the book that sticks in your mind to this day as the one you fell in love with?
My first Anne McCaffrey book was The White Dragon. I read them out of order, but on the recommendation of the guy who ran my corner shop, I started with that. I was about 20, in my final year of uni, and had fallen in love with and devoured Raymond Feist and David Eddings. I was complaining that I needed a new, awesome series, and the corner shop guy gave me McCaffrey. The White Dragon is still the Pern book I’ve reread the most and the one I’ll recommend to people. The FIRST book I ever fell in love with was Black Beauty, which started a love affair with horse books that lasted until my teens (I was about 7 at the time!). And I loved Flowers in the Attic (and all the original Virginia Andrews books) as a teen. And then I adored Stephen King and Dean Koontz for years (Lightning by Koontz is one of the best time travel books I’ve ever read). And Fire and Ice, by Catherine Hart, is still my most favourite historical romance ever (ahem, and it’s possibly the book I’ve read the most times ever – I actually had to buy a second copy because the first fell apart…). Favourite books and authors come and go as life experience changes I think (I went from horse books to romance – contemporary and historical, but historical outlasted contemporary as a reading habit – to horror/thriller to SF&F – where I’ve stayed…), but those early favourites and influences are always in my heart.

5. Donuts (or doughnuts) or danishes?
None! I’m a savoury person 🙂

Worlds Next Door lives here.

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