Snapshot 2014: Michael Pryor

Pryor1cropped lo resMichael Pryor writes fantasy and science fiction for teenagers. He has published over thirty novels and more than 50 short stories. He has been shortlisted for the Aurealis Award six times, and seven of his books have been CBCA Notable books. His latest book is Machine Wars for middle grades readers, and his website is

1. Your latest book is Machine Wars, a science fiction novel, but most of your books in recent years have been fantasy (particularly steampunk) – how do you have to adjust your headspace for these different types of storytelling? 

The aspect I notice most of all, moving from Fantasy to SF, is the language I use. I’ve been using deliberately formal, slightly old-fashioned language in my Steampunk Fantasies to help scene setting, but ‘Machine Wars’ is a near future story so I had to re-set my language use for a more contemporary feel. It took a little while!

2. All of your work to date has been for young people (I think!), although I can attest to the appeal for adults as well. Do you have any inclination to write for an adult audience? 

I have written short stories for adults, but not for some time, and I would like to take up writing for that audience again, and in a longer format. In fact, the Work in Progress is just that. To tell more would be premature, I’m afraid, since I’m at the very tentative first steps in my first draft. Stay tuned.

3. What can we look forward to from Michael Pryor in the near future? 

As mentioned, I hope this adult novel will come to fruition, but I’m also working on a piece of madcap silliness for younger readers, plus a fantasy romance for older readers. This latter is something close to my heart, and it’s in a space where I feel not enough male writers are writing. We’ll see how this one goes.

4. What Australian works have you loved recently?

I’m really impressed by the quality of the stories that are coming through Aurealis this year. For a hit pick, keep an eye on a story from a new writer, Steven Ma: ‘Ballard and Ballard: A Biopunk Detective Tale of 2080 AD’. Its setting is urban Australia and it’s gritty, wry and stylish.

5. Have recent changes in the publishing industry influenced the way you work? What do you think you will be publishing in five years from now?

The changes in the publishing industry keep coming, and they’re hard to ignore. I like to think that I’m still writing in the same way, doing my best to tell engaging stories with characters to care about, but the takeovers, mergers and re-alignments in the industry can be nervous-making – and I probably write best when I’m confident and assured that the business side of writing is stable. Five years from now? That’s a long time in publishing! I’d like to think that I’ll still be writing a couple of books a year, maybe one for adults and one for teen/YA readers. I wouldn’t like that to be written in stone, though. One of the delightful things about my life at the moment is the flexibility. I’m able to take up challenges and opportunities that present themselves unbidden, and that’s invigorating.

SnaphotLogo2014This interview was conducted as part of the 2014 Snapshot of Australian Speculative Fiction. We’ll be blogging interviews from 28 July to 10 August and archiving them at SF Signal. You can read interviews at:



On indie press: Michael Pryor

I’ve invited a number of people who have published in indie press and gone on to become professionals in the field to write about their experiences. Today, Michael Pryor shares his experience.

Very early on in my writing career, indie press was vital to me. One of my first short story sales featured in the first issue of Aurealis, which kicked off a long association with that publication. I’ve had nine stories published in Aurealis, two of which picked up Aurealis Award shortlisting. I’ve also done a fair bit of behind the scenes work with Aurealis, working on submissions and story selection, writing articles, carrying boxes and generally helping out. I’ve been an Associate Editor and now I’m one of the three publishers behind the scenes.

This experience has been crucial to my writing career. For a start, it’s let me see behind the scenes of magazine publishing and how it works. I’ve seen the passion and the enthusiasm of all those who work on a small press publication. I’ve seen the hours put in. I’ve seen the keenness of the writers out there, published and unpublished. I’ve seen the joys, the disappointments and the misunderstandings.

All this means that I approach my own writing career with a level of insight. I understand the rejection process and how it works. I know how much time it takes to work through submissions. I jump to it when an editor asks for a rewrite. I adhere to deadlines, because I know of all the concomitant arrangements that are dependent on that story coming in on THAT date and no later. Coming to terms with the concrete demands of publishing emphasised to me that small doesn’t have to mean amateurish. A professional outlook and approach is something that most indie press strive for, so I was determined that as a writer I could do no less.

As genre publishing began to boom, I also had stories published by Wakefield Press, Ford Street Publishing and FableCroft Publishing. Behind each one I saw the people involved and their dedication. It’s both affirming and inspirational to see how they appreciate a good story, and I admire the way they put a collection together.

I firmly believe that it was my track record as a successful writer of short stories that helped my first novel get published. Partly it was the contacts I’d made after breaking out of the ‘unpublished writer’ rank and into the ‘published writer’ rank, but also it was the contacts I’d made once I’d made this step. The people looking at my first novel submission knew who I was, and that never hurts.

Now, twenty-eight novels later, I work with Random House, a major international publisher, but I maintain my contact with the world of indie publishing. Why, just a few weekends ago I was with the other Aurealis people, stuffing envelopes, making sure the mail went out on time…

Michael Pryor is a best-selling author of fantasy for teenagers. He has published over twenty-five novels and more than 40 short stories. He has been shortlisted for the Aurealis Award six times, and five of his books have been CBCA Notable books. His current and new releases include Hour of Need (Laws of Magic 6), published in May this year from Random House, and the first book of his new series, The Extraordinaires, is called The Extinction Gambit and will be released in December, again from Random House.

Find out more about Michael and his works at his website.