We discuss The Best Australian Stories 2012 with new editor Sonya Hartnett.
What do you look for in a story?
I looked for a short story with teeth. There were a lot of beautiful pieces of writing submitted for the collection, and many of them had fine gentle plots, but I favoured stories that had a sharp and powerful punch, a real bite to them. There were a few exceptions, however: some pieces I included because they were particularly clever or wry or in some other way caught my fancy.
What are some of your favourite or noteworthy pieces in the collection?
It seems unfair to single anyone out - I'm fond of them all. David Astle's 'Oxtales' is strikingly original. Emma Schwarz's 'Sidney' made me cringe, as the author intended. Sean Rabin's 'I Can Hear the Ice Singing' is compellingly weird. But all of them are great - they had to be. Over 800 stories were submitted - only the best made the cut.
What do you hope people take away with them after reading the stories?
I hope the collection is a strange and savage ride, and that readers feel they've been challenged and confronted.
Who are your favourite writers, and why do you like their writing?
That's a hard question to answer in a few words. When I was a kid, I loved Enid Blyton. She's the writer who made me want to see my name on a book. Mostly, I think the idea of having favourites is a bit nonsensical. If a writer isn't completely awful, then I like them. Ones looks, as they say, should go everywhere.
Top five tips for aspiring writers?
1. Read often.
2. Read widely.
3. Practice determination.
4. Learn from your mistakes.
5. Forgive your failures.
The Best Australian Stories 2012 edited by Sonya Hartnett is out now in print and ebook.