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Guest Interview - Eugen Bacon (1 Viewer)


Retired Chief Media Manager

We were excited to interview Eugen Bacon, an Australian-African writer who has just released her debut novel, CLAIMING T-MO (Meerkat Press 2019) a lush literary speculative fiction novel. We hope you enjoy learning a bit more about Eugen and her enthralling book!

Says NPR: Bacon's whole book feels itself like a fairytale, albeit one where mystical planets and traveling between stars take the place of castles and sorcery. That said, there is a peculiar witchcraft at work in Claiming T-Mo. It resembles the writing of N.K. Jemisin, particularly in the way it nests the human in the fantastic, and it incorporates the kind of galaxy-spanning scope of generations once used by Octavia E. Butler.

What makes speculative fiction special to you?

Speculative fiction is experimental, adventurous fiction that blends genres. It is creative, liberating and abounds in the works of my favourite authors: Ray Bradbury. Toni Morrison.

What inspires you to write?

Dominique Hecq, a wonderful friend and mentor (she was my doctorate supervisor), articulates it best. She says that she writes to answer incipient questions troubling her mind, or to relieve some form of anxiety where cause may not yet be symbolised. She states, ‘I write because I must do so, exhilarating, detestable or painful though this might be.’ Like Hecq, I write to find. It begins with a question, a niggling, a curiosity.

What is your writing process?

When I write short stories, my writing is a search, a journey, a coming through… I often start with a skeleton, a general idea, and the writing shapes itself. Characters tell their story and the story’s ending astonishes me.

Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you?

Longer works force me to structure, else I’d wind up with a runaway story. But the short story is the backbone of everything I write, so I embed vignette, hide stories within stories, each story part a concealed self-sufficiency interlinked and layered into a composite.

What is your take on the importance of a good cover and title?

I was impressed by the Meerkat process of title and cover selection. The original title for the novel was Outbreeds, a breed of others. But careful market research unveiled Claiming T-Mo as an engaging title. As for the cover… just look at it. Need I say more?

Any advice you would like to give to aspiring writers?

Edit. Edit. Edit. Editing is as much about enhancing as it is about fixing. Sometimes you have only one shot to get it right with a publisher, an editor… Think of what is at stake. Never ever, ever send out first drafts. And don’t keep a shrine of rejection slips. Work at quality. Read the authors who inspire you, and keep submitting until your work finds a good home.

What inspired your novel Claiming T-Mo?

I wrote Claiming T-Mo as part of my creative PhD. I was mesmerised with crossing genre and integrating the literary into my speculative fiction. Claiming T-Mo is a story about engaging with difference where—despite its name—the women are the true heart of the story.

Does your novel, Claiming T-Mo, carry a message?

Claiming T-Mo is always about engaging with difference. Exploring the challenges and possibilities of being different. Scrutinising embodiment. The nature of being, the ‘self’ and ‘other’. Being between worlds/in two worlds, dichotomy.

What cultures do you like to write about? And are any of these represented in Claiming T-Mo?

I don’t particularly seek out to write cultures, and I didn’t particularly look to integrate them in Claiming T-Mo. But my artistic formations are invariably influenced by the zones of difference within and between cultures I have experienced, been exposed to or speculated about.

If given the opportunity to do it all over again, would you change anything in the book?

I was very astonished when proofing the final version for Meerkat Press I felt no compulsion to shift anything. This tells me the text renders my vision. It is the story I meant to write.

Can you tell us about your current projects?

A few projects I’m excited about—a cultural novella currently called Inside the Dreaming set in Australia; a graphic collection of speculative flash fiction; a prose poetry collaboration... I also have a collection of speculative fiction, A Pining, out with Meerkat Press in 2020. Black Moon – literary speculative flash fiction by IFWG also in 2020.


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CLAIMING T-MO by Eugen Bacon


GENRE: Science Fiction / Fantasy

BOOK PAGE: https://www.meerkatpress.com/books/claiming_t-mo/

SUMMARY: In this lush interplanetary tale, an immortal priest flouts the conventions of a matriarchal society by choosing a name for his child. The act initiates chaos that splits the boy in two, unleashing a Jekyll-and-Hyde child upon the universe: named T-Mo by his mother and Odysseus by his father. The story unfolds through the eyes of these three distinctive women: Silhouette, Salem and Myra - mother, wife, and daughter. As they struggle to confront their fears and navigate the treacherous paths to love and accept T-Mo/Odysseus and themselves, the darkness in Odysseus urges them to unbearable choices that threaten their very existence.

BUY LINKS: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Eugen Bacon is a computer scientist mentally re-engineered into creative writing. She has published over one hundred short stories and articles, together with anthologies. Her stories have won, been shortlisted and commended in international awards, including the Bridport Prize, L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest, Copyright Agency Prize and Fellowship of Australian Writers National Literary Awards. Her creative work has appeared in literary and speculative fiction publications worldwide, including Award Winning Australian Writing, AntipodeanSF, Andromeda, Aurealis, Bards and Sages Quarterly, and New Writing (Routledge). Eugen’s latest books: Writing Speculative Fiction: Creative and Critical Approaches from Macmillan International, May 2019, and her debut novel, Claiming T-Mo, from Meerkat Press, August 2019

AUTHOR LINKS: Website | Twitter | Goodreads



Staff member
She says that she writes to answer incipient questions troubling her mind, or to relieve some form of anxiety where cause may not yet be symbolised. She states, ‘I write because I must do so, exhilarating, detestable or painful though this might be.’ Like Hecq, I write to find. It begins with a question, a niggling, a curiosity.

What a great way to express it!

I enjoyed the interview, thank you both, TK and Eugen!