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, editor, publisher and reviewer. Her work appears regularly in the Age, the Australian and the Sydney Morning Herald.
Louise was one of the founders of Sleepers Publishing, the Small Press Network, and the Stella Prize.
Lili Wilkinson is a reader and writer of Young Adult fiction. She was first published at age twelve in Voiceworks magazine. Her titles include Scatterheart, Pink and most recently Love-Shy and The Zigzag Effect.
Myke Bartlett is a freelance journalist, emerging novelist and veteran podcaster.
Jacinda Woodhead is Overland’s deputy editor.