Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Who Reads my Books: Joanne Simpson

My name is Joanne. I live in Western Australia. Well, large parts of my life are there. Lately, I make it home about one week in three. I travel a lot so I read a lot.

I have been a die-hard SF&F fan since I learnt the word “genre”.  My tastes were established early - the staff at the local library gave up when I was about nine and gave me early access to the adult shelves. So as a child and teenager I immersed myself in the greats of the 1950s - 70s  - Brunner, Delaney, Spinrad, Ellison, Dick, Anderson, Niven, Blish, Zelazny, Silverberg, Norton, LeGuin, Lee, Butler et al. Of course I never stopped reading, but they were formative.

I impressively failed 1st year science (an application problem, not an interest problem). After a hiatus working as a lab tech I read English and Philosophy. My Honours dissertation was on the treatment of death and need in “Naked Lunch” (by the genre-breaking and under-appreciated William S. Burroughs). This was a topic my wonderful, brilliant modernist painter and much missed supervisor Tom Gibbons described as “brave”. But it went fine.  
Needless to say work was hard to find on graduation. I spent four years as a 2ndhand bookdealer and scrimped my way through a masters in business before finally landing a job that paid the average wage.

I worked for a big mining company more or less from graduation until laid off a bit over two years ago. Now I am a freelance project management consultant. I help companies navigate their way through building frighteningly large things for terrifying amounts of money. Such fun.

I’m a tragic road warrior. I take lots of pictures on the road, many of which make it to Instagram  https://www.instagram.com/josim1100/. Because I spend so much time in anonymous serviced apartments, I have become a connoisseur of disappointing public art https://www.tumblr.com/blog/badabstracts. But for a quite competent photographer of things not me, I’m rubbish at selfies. Hence a typical self-portrait - tired, bored and cranky in Canberra airport after a long week, waiting to go home.

My main hobbies apart from photography are ineptly playing annoying stringed instruments (ukulele and banjo), and strategic crochet. And, of course, reading. Though I can’t really describe a thing as essential as breathing as a hobby. I must read at least an hour a day (double on weekends).

I love your books (especially the Spatterjay series) because they seem to fit into my happy place of complex characterisation, tech-savvy humour, darkness and weirdness. I have though immensely enjoyed the Weaver’s development from loveably incomprehensible buffoon to ancient, wise and utterly arbitrary  super-being. And equally how adeptly you have made the Prador well, not likeable, but at least comprehensible and credible as an alien species. 
I recently enjoyed the slightly surreal experience of being part-way through the latest book (Infinity Engine) while having an active conversation with you on Facebook about an almost entirely unrelated topic. Worlds colliding…

We definitely hold divergent views on many things (especially climate change). But I am not a reader who needs to accept a writer’s worldview to also appreciate their writing (thank my Eng Lit training for that). I enjoy your books for themselves, and your posts as both an insight into your writing and an opportunity to gently poke fun ;-). Wouldn’t life be dull if everybody agreed about everything... And I love the weird science and insect posts! It’s fun to see where you find your ideas.

Very much looking forward to the Rise of the Jain. 

But I have to close with one annoying nerd question. On the very first page of Infinity Engine, you reference Buzzard magnetic fields. Did you mean Bussard, and did your editor waylay you? [Feel free to delete this last paragraph if unbearably annoying…] 


1 comment:

Mark O'Neil said...

Great to see another Aussie who loves SciFi.

The Splatterjay series is the best!

Neal is a fantastic writer.

Hey - Your photo's are great.

Keep up the good work.