“I did some teenage romances as a kind of apprenticeship in the early ’90s, then some junior fantasies and the mainstream YA novels. I was writing an enormous brick of a fantasy novel, very badly, for about three years, when I saw the ad for Clarion West and thought, ‘Short stories: I can do that!’ That was when the whole world of speculative fiction opened up for me. Short stories and collections are a really big thing in speculative fiction – the scale of it just blew my mind. It was a whole wonderful world out there. The story ideas I’d been having were getting stranger and stranger anyway, so it was really a natural move from the literary over into fantasy.”

“Writing a book and reading a book provide the same places to explore things. If you have the ability and the opportunity to dissolve yourself in a story, as a reader or as a writer, then you’re generally in a fairly safe position from which to view the awful aspects of the world. I don’t tend to feel as if I have to grit my teeth and forge ahead into this difficult territory, so much as deal with very interesting problems. They tend to start out as quite technical story problems – of course, once I start prodding, them all this other stuff comes out of my darkest subconscious.”

“I don’t think of Tender Morsels as horror. I don’t really know very much about horror, but I have the feeling that with a lot of horror fiction there’s a certain reveling in taking people to horrible places: Tender Morsels, I think, plays the violence very straight, doesn’t send it up or exaggerate. There’s a moment in the horror novel where you examine something awful for the sake of getting pleasure from the experience of examining it; I don’t think I’ve necessarily done that. I just sort of pause and get out of it a moment before a horror writer would. Adult readers have the imagination and the experience to supply all the awful details, whereas I was hoping at least that young-adult readers would realize something awful was going on but wouldn’t actually have to endure it themselves.”

“One of my current projects is a Selkie novel which will come out first in Australia and the UK, next February. It’s really about female passivity (very nice fairytale stuff), with fishermen who all take selkie wives, and their children. Though I belong to a writers’ group and we do novels as well as stories, none of our meetings really synched up with my writing this, so it’s been a fairly solitary journey up until recently. There have been three separate editors (Australian, US, and the UK) and it’s been structurally edited twice.

‘‘This last year, I was so stupid: I took on about 12 different short story deadlines. It’s been like a row of targets I had to shoot down. I did them, and they were publishable, but then I had to redo my novel – and a novel is so much bigger a thing to fix than a short story! After all that, I get to go back to the ideas pile and write something that I feel like writing. I haven’t had that option for quite a while. I’m loving it.”