Angela Slatter is the author of the novels Vigil, Corpselight and Restoration (Jo Fletcher Books), as well as eight short story collections including The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings, The Girl with No Hands and Other Tales, and A Feast of Sorrows: Stories. Her work has been translated into Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Bulgarian, Russian, and Polish. She has won a World Fantasy Award, a British Fantasy Award, an Australian Shadows Award and Six Aurealis Awards. She has an MA and a PhD in Creative Writing.
Angela takes a break from penning award-winning stories to talk to me about her latest novel Restoration.
It’s thrilling to be getting a new chapter in the Verity Fassbinder series complete with a psychotic angel and the foxy kitsune assassin. You draw your characters from a wide range of mythologies, and yet they all fit seamlessly into your stories. What attracts you to use a particular myth?
I guess they’re all just images/ideas I’ve had in my head for a long time. I’ve read mythology, fairy tales, folk tales, religion, legends, etc, all my life and anything I particularly like has just set up house in there! When I’m writing Verity stories I get a chance to let them into the light. I’m quite fascinated by different versions of angels as depicted across various religions, I am fascinated by the idea of them as being not what we’d like to think they are … I think John Connolly does an incredible job of his reworking of angelic mythology in the Charlie Parker series. I also love, love, love the various versions of fox spirits across Asian mythologies; there’s a description of Joyce, the kitsune, transforming as she runs and it’s basically an image that I just adore, the idea of fluid movement and change … I suppose I select something that’s been percolating for a long while and it feels like it’s time for it to go for a run …
Verity is an amazing character. I love the way she embodies strength and determination alongside all the petty irritations of life in a subtropical city. Where did you find the inspiration for her?
I guess she’s how I’d like to be in every aspect of my life! One reader made a comment that she loves these books because it’s like “Buffy and Veronica Mars grew up and went to live in Brisbane”, and I’d have to say that Buffy and Veronica Mars are two of my favourite characters! Add a touch of Ellen Ripley and you’ve pretty much got my main role models right there.
What attracted you to the world of mythology in the beginning?
They’re our oldest tales and I always loved stories of the impossible being possible. I love the thought of the unreal breaking through into the everyday and how people might find ways to deal with it. I preferred mythologies where the humans actually got a chance to win through – Greek mythology tends to be pretty much “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” and I think I found that a bit depressing when I was younger!
I do prefer fairy and folk tales – I don’t think that will surprise anyone – but I like to dip into mythology and pull out a god or two just to make things a bit more difficult for my characters.
What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your books?
A sense that they’ve had a damned good read and a wild ride? I want them to laugh and cry, get a bit tense and worried, and then come out at the end with a rush of satisfaction. And hopefully enjoying seeing Brisbane as a setting for an urban fantasy story instead of London, New York, etc. You know, just for a change.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Well, I’ve been lucky that I’ve been able to learn from Margo Lanagan and Jeff VanderMeer at Clarion South, and done a workshop with Kelly Link. They’re all influences and have encouraged me over the years. I was lucky enough to meet Tanith Lee in 2013 at World Fantasy in Brighton, which was a huge highlight given how influential her Flat Earth series had been on me in my teenage years; and Kim Newman’s Anno Dracula books remain firm favourites and I learned a lot about storytelling from reading his work as a teenager.
What are you reading right now?
At the moment I am re-reading John Connolly’s The Black Angel, I’m about to start Infinite Jest, I’ve just finished Ellen Datlow’s Hauntings anthology as well as Caleb Carr’s Angel of Darkness, and I’ve just re-read Emily Carroll’s Through the Woods.
What’s next? Will there be another Verity Fassbinder novel?
Ah, who knows? I have one plotted, called Bastion, but it will depend on whether or not the publisher wants to do another one, and that will depend on sales. Or whether Netflix or Stan, or some other network picks her up for a TV series!