Since its inception in 2009 boutique publisher Twelfth Planet Press (TPP) has been a strong advocate for local writers working in the speculative fiction genre and of female writers in particular.
In addition to a number of full-length collections and novella projects from local women writers, TPP has also embarked upon a particularly ambitious project titled the “Twelve Planets”.
The project will comprise of a series of short story collections from twelve of the country’s strongest female genre writers, including Margo Lanagan, Lucy Sussex and Kaaron Warren. Each highly collectible volume will contain four short stories.
“I have a great love of short stories and am passionate about the quality and strength of voice in Australian work,” said Twelfth Planet press founder and publisher Alisa Krasnostein.
“I believe that Australian short stories have something very special and unique to offer the wider genre.”
The collections will run the gamut of speculative fiction, with everything from straight-up fantasy to visceral horror to magical realism represented, and its authors hope that the project will help bring speculative fiction to a wider audience.
“I hope that the series will break down some of the prejudice against genre out there in the reader-space,” says author and critic Lucy Sussex, whose contribution to the project, Thief of Lies, was released in July 2011.
The free rein given to the authors over their content has allowed them to showcase the variety of their work, and Krasnostein describes the result as “unique and diverse”.
Sussex’s collection, for example, includes “a realist tale about sex, a crime story, a fantasy-historical, and the title story, which can either be read as realist or fantastical.”
In contrast, Deborah Biancotti’s Bad Power, a series of linked stories that examine the consequences of superpowers gone wrong, falls firmly on the fantasy side of things.
“I guess it’s a reaction to the ‘be careful what you wish for’ mandate,” says Biancotti of her contribution to the series.
“Maybe having super powers would be pretty bad. I’ve always liked stories where the consequences of trying to do good or trying to do bad are all kind of unpredictable.”
Biancotti is not alone in creating a series of interlinked stories for her collection.
“Several of us are doing story suites, which is a format that’s usually hard to sell. How many publishing houses want to do small books of interlinked stories?”
Fantasy author Tansy Rayner Roberts’s collection Love and Romanpunk, for example, features a series of stories about the descendants of the Roman Caesars, while Sue Isle’s revolves around a Perth ravaged by global warming.
For all of the authors, it seems, the project has provided an opportunity for the authors to explore new ways of writing and unusual literary approaches.
“I think the series gives talented writers a chance to test themselves,” says Kaaron Warren, a dark fantasy and horror novelist whose Twelve Planets collection examines the experience of travelling Australia’s country roads.
Despite their differences of theme, genre and style, however, Krasnostein says that the volumes complement each other.
“It’s my intent for the final twelve volumes to speak loudly and clearly as one, a collective voice perhaps, of Australian fiction by women,” she says. “I look forward to others being able to read the volumes within the context of the full set, as I’ve done.”
Biancotti concurs, ascribing this partly to the “brilliant camaraderie between the authors” and the possibilities raised by the project for those involved.
“This opportunity is unique, a chance to bring together stories that might never have shared a cover before.”
To date, four volumes of the series have been published, with the remainder to follow over the next year or two. The books can be bought individually from the Twelfth Planet Press website, or purchased at a discount through a subscription model.
For more information visit the Twelfth Planet Press website: http://www.twelfthplanetpress.com/