Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Episode 036 - Writing Short Stories with Angela Slatter

Alan and David talk short stories and editing with award-winning author Angela Slatter.

Click here to download the episode.

We talk about stupid author tricks – Dumb tagging on Amazon.

We talk about writing short stories, the value of short stories to enhance craft and publication credits and to raise an author’s profile.

Then we have a great chat with Angela Slatter.

Angela Slatter is a Brisbane-based writer of speculative fiction (that’s in Australia, by the way). In 2010, she had two short story collections published, Sourdough & Other Stories with Tartarus Press (UK) (which was shortlisted for a World Fantasy Award) and The Girl with No Hands & Other Tales (Ticonderoga Publications) (which won an Aurealis Award). This makes her happy.

In 2012, she will have another collection of short stories, a collaboration with friend and writing-partner-in-crime, Lisa L Hannett. Midnight and Moonshine will be published by Ticonderoga Publications. Her short stories have appeared in anthologies such as Jack Dann’s Dreaming Again, Tartarus Press’ Strange Tales II, Twelfth Planet Press’ 2012, Dirk Flinthart’s Canterbury 2100, and in journals such as Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Shimmer, ONSPEC and Doorways Magazine. Her work has had several Honourable Mentions in the Datlow, Link, Grant Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror anthologies #20 and #21 and the Datlow Year’s Best Horror anthologies, and her stories have been shortlisted for the Aurealis Awards four years in a row.

She is working on various short stories and three novels at the moment.

Angela talks about her what she thinks makes for success in short fiction, and where the short story differs from the novella and the novel.

Angela goes on to suggest ways to trim your longer fiction down into a shorter story and how to get to the essence of what you’re trying to achieve.

We talk about the nature and benefits of the Clarion writers’ program.

Angela talks about her novel in progress.

We go on to talk about the process of collaborating with another writer on short fiction.

We talk briefly about Angela’s short-term stint as editor of the Weird Fiction Review.

We talk about how writers can benefit from editing.

Should we use smaller ideas for shorter stories?

We talk about the renaissance of short fiction and novellas and our hope that those things continue to see a rise in popularity. We also mention how mystifying it is to us that those things aren’t already more popular.

And here’s the list of "classics" everyone should read, that Angela has put together for us:

Shirley Jackson - We Have Always Lived in the Castle
Shirley Jackson - The Haunting of Hill House
Clive Barker’s - Cabal (or Nightbreed)
Henry James - The Turn of the Screw
H P Lovecraft - The Shadow Over Innsmouth and Other Stories
Bran Stoker’s - The Judge’s House
Marghanita Laski’s - The Tower
Edgar Allan Poe - The Fall of the House of Usher
Anything by M R James (*Stephen Jones is editing a HUGE collection of M R James’ work – out in 2012 via the lovely Jo Fletcher Books (there’s a series of readings of M R James stories on youtube by Robert Powell and a little teleplay with Christopher Lee (hallowed be his name!) here , which are made of awesome).

Find Angela online:

Angela’s site:

Ticonderoga Publications:

Tartarus Press:



  1. Dave, you mentioned Scrivener on my favorite podcast (yes ... ThrillerCast) and I believe that you have referenced it on your blog as well. Would love to hear more about how you use it as well as pros/cons of some of the other software tools that you use (or avoid) whether they are for writing, tracking productivity, scheduling, mood music, etc.

  2. Thanks Greg! I'll do that either on the show or my blog.

  3. Great podcast guys. I loved hearing about short stories, it's something I don't read or write (yet) But I was on a poetry workshop yesterday and the similarities struck me. The concentration on every word and getting rid of repetition is critical.
    It was also good to hear about Brisbane, although having lived there for 4 years I do still put it in the most boring city category :) (Sorry Brisbanians)

  4. Thanks Jo. And you really must read short fiction - I honestly believe that short fiction skills enhance a person's novel writing skills.

  5. Thanks for one of the BEST podcasts yet. Great content. Dave, you mentioned the use of Scrivener. I've been using it in my writing for a little under a year and its a great tool. But there is so much functionality crammed into it, I easily get lost. There is an e-book on Amazon( I plan to download shortly. One of my challenges when writing anything over 5,000 words is the accidental repetition of words, as I don't have Angela's "danger-sense" of word over-use described in the podcast. To locate the repeat words, I've started copying the plain text of my short stories, and pasting it into "Word Cloud" websites, like Wordle ( It transforms the raw text into a graphic of word frequency so I can SEE which words are popping up more often than others. One can even get a comprehensive list of which words are in the text and how many times each word is used. Not fool proof, but well worth the 2 minutes of time it takes to complete. Plus the price tag (FREE) is tough to beat. Thanks again for the podcast -- I get a burst of inspiration every time I listen to you guys.

  6. Thanks Chris! We've already got a couple episodes in the can but I plan to share your comment and discuss Scrivener a little more next time we record.