Meanland: Literature, Genre and the Digital Age
In the online world, science fiction and fantasy, thrillers and romance rule supreme. Much-maligned genre fiction is seemingly better placed to survive in the new world order than prestigious literary offerings. Why is it that writing as ‘art’ is struggling to make the transition. What does this mean for writers working in the field? Will the digital see the death of the literary? Will all writers eventually turn to genre for survival?
In this final Meanland event for 2011, Jacinda Woodhead guides Myke Bartlett, Louise Swinn and Lili Wilkinson through a discussion which covers their distaste for the term ‘literary’, the alternatives that may exist, and how the digital era has affected the relationship between genre and literature.
They talk about authors online and whether they’re now obliged by publishers to create audiences, with Sleepers Publishing’s Swinn admitting that some authors are not well-suited to those expectations and that Sleepers does not have a policy of asking writers to engage online by default. Wilkinson, who was charged with managing the Inside a Dog site for teen readers, explains the differences between creating an audience as an organisation rather than as a writer.
Finally, Woodhead asks: will the genre of today be the literature of tomorrow?
Louise Swinn is a writer, publisher, critic, literary event chair and the editor of Choice Words: A Collection of Writing About Abortion (Allen and Unwin, 2019). Her work appears regularly in the Age, the Australian and the Sydney Morning Herald. She was one of the founders of Sleepers Publishing, the Small Press Network and the Stella Prize.
Lili Wilkinson is the award-winning author of twelve YA novels, including Pink, Green Valentine and The Boundless Sublime. She established the insideadog website, the Inky Awards and the Inkys Creative Reading Prize at the Centre for Youth Literature, State Library of Victoria. She has a PhD in Creative Writing, and lives in Melbourne with her husband, son, dog and three chickens. Her latest book is After the Lights Go Out.
Myke Bartlett is a freelance journalist, emerging novelist and veteran podcaster.
Jacinda Woodhead is Overland’s deputy editor.