Interview: Three Quick Questions with Terry Dowling
CF: What are some visual artistic influences on your work?
TD: “One of the largest would be the surrealist painters.
Paul Delvaux. Max Ernst. Salvador Dalí. René Magritte. Yves Tanguy. Giorgio de Chirico.
It was the whole mindset. The art was wild.
It was fresh
the world changed.
The other art influences would be artists like Joe Mugnaini, illustrating for Ray Bradbury and the artists I saw when I was a teenager. I saw the work of Emsh and Jack Gaughan.
There was a really strong visual horizon.
I also draw. I have lots of books of artwork from when I was in Teacher’s College and in the Army. Anything I did had accompanying illustration.
Van Ikin is going to be doing a feature soon, an issue of Science Fiction Magazine showing some of my artwork and my very first poem that I published in high school.
I was a song writer, artist and musician before I was a storyteller.”
CF: Has your approach to work (in terms of process) changed over the years?
TD: “Yes it has. It used to be in long hand all the time. While it was in long hand it was fluid, once I keyed it in [to a typewriter], it was locked in.
Now I tend to write in long hand, key in and print off. I then continue writing on the print out. So it has become a mixture of computer and long hand.
What I don’t tend to do is write directly onto computer because I feel that generates wordage without accountability. I find it’s easy to put words down, hard to pull them out. A lot of us lose our editing ability.
It’s a slower process – I end up with a lot of manuscript versions – but I think it’s a good one.”
CF: Many of your books feature artwork by Nick Stathopoulos. How did that relationship emerge and has his art had any impact on your writing?
TD: “I met Nick at university in the 70s when I was working with Van Ikin on Enigma for the Sydney University Science Fiction Society. Then on the magazine Science Fiction that Van set up in 1976.
Nick was producing really good technical art work at the time. We became friendly and he started illustrating my stories in Omega Science Digest in the 80s.
Sometimes his interpretations are not my interpretations. The Tom Rynosseros art work – which I love – the charvolants aren’t like my charvolants. But I find that there’s a sensitivity [in Stathopoulos’s work] and it’s a blessing and he’s a very dear friend.
When Clowns at Midnight was coming out, I said ‘Nick, I need something like Tom Adam’s cover for John Fowles novel The Magus’. What he ended up doing wasn’t like that cover.
It was completely, unexpectedly wonderful.
People think we’ve collaborated and that he’s illustrated my concepts and that’s not true. People will say ‘Is that what it looks like?’ and I’ll say ‘No, that’s what Nick thinks it looks like.’
Clowns at Midnight is my pride and joy as a cover from him.”