Snapshots: Tony Ballantyne interviewed

What’s recently or soon out?
My short story “The War Artist” which originally appeared in Further Conflicts (ed Ian Whates) will soon be out in the Years Best SF 17 (ed Hartwell and Cramer). It’s a loose follow on from “Third Person” that appeared in YBSF 13. I do have an idea for some more shorts set in that world.

Describe your typical writing day.
I don’t really have one. I write whenever I get the opportunity, something that seems to happen less and less nowadays. I’ve long been in the habit of having things planned out in my mind so that I can just get on when I have the opportunity. One big change I’ve made in the past year or so is to switch to emacs for writing. It’s a text editor rather than a word processor, but I find it more useful for planning and keeping my ideas where I can find them.

What would you draw attention to from your back-list?
Blood and Iron, my last book. I think it was the best thing I’ve written.

Which other authors or books do you think deserve a plug?
I’ve been plugging Chris Beckett for years. His latest book, Dark Eden, is excellent.

If you were to offer one snippet of writing advice what would it be?
Practise, practise, practise.

So… the easy one: what’s the future of publishing? How will writers be making a living and publishing in five or ten years? What will readers be reading?
I think writers will be making a living doing other jobs. That’s already the reality today and has been for a long time. As for what form that work will take, well, electronic obviously. There will be self published work, but there will still be publishers. I suspect that in the long run the publishers will be the likes of Apple, Amazon and Facebook – or whoever comes to take their place.

Desert Island Books… Name ten books you’d want to have with you if you were marooned on a desert island.
I hate the thought of having to read the same ten books over and over! I’d probably take some textbooks so I could learn something new. Maybe some music if I was marooned with a piano. I’d try and master the 48 preludes and fugues.

In Strange Divisions and Alien Territories you write about posthumans. In a nutshell, what might come next for our kind?
War, famine, plague… a return to medieval times. That’s what you get when societies rate media studies higher than engineering.


Tony Ballantyne grew up in north-east England and now lives in Oldham with his wife and two children. His short fiction has appeared in magazines and anthologies worldwide. He has also written romantic fiction and satirical pieces for various non-SF magazines. His first novel, Recursion, was published by Tor UK in 2004 and, most recently, his fifth, Blood and Iron, appeared in 2010.

Tony wrote the chapter ‘Just passing through: journeys to the post-human’ in Strange Divisions and Alien Territories: the sub-genres of science fiction (edited by Keith Brooke, published by Palgrave Macmillan, February 2012).

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About Keith Brooke and infinity plus

Keith Brooke is a writer of crime fiction, science fiction, fantasy and other strange stuff, and editor and reviewer of same. He is also the publisher at infinity plus, an independent imprint publishing books by leading genre fiction authors. View all posts by Keith Brooke and infinity plus

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