Q&A Monday: Zoe Dattner 2 Comments

Q&A Monday: Zoe Dattner

Zoe Dattner. Female. Lives in central Victoria, Australia. Writer of fiction and nonfiction. Co-founder and Creative Director of Sleepers Publishing. General Manager of SPUNC (the Small Press Underground Networking Community), a peak organisation that represents, advocates, and promotes more than eighty small publishers around Australia. Is also a graphic designer, and has worked in pretty much all areas of publishing. Kicks arse about town.

Writing: necessity or luxury?

For me? It’s a luxury. For anyone who’s particularly good at it, it’s a necessity.

You are an ardent spruiker for small press publishing. Why?

It’s my job. No, seriously, the fact is that I feel passionate about all small, independent endeavors where business meets creativity. When these two basic human disciplines work together in harmony, they form the basis for Supreme Human Productivity, a wonderful symbiotic reaction very particular to our species whereby the flourishing of our intellect and our creative urges promotes and invites more of the same. We’re part of a wonderfully mad machine that sits up there with modern agricultural practices, as far as its significance to our civilisation goes.

SPUNC has about eighty member organisations now. Are you aiming for McDonald’s/Apple/Coca-Cola style domination? What is your plan of attack?

I like to think that some of the best operations ever carried out in history owe their success to a serendipitous turn of events. Look at the storming of Normandy for instance – sure, there was a lot of planning and a lot of smart people involved, but if the weather hadn’t suddenly turned bad, and then suddenly turned good again, providing a very small window of opportunity, the outcome of world war II would possibly have been very very different. The challenge to us is in taking risks and pursuing an opportunity and being clear on what our objectives are. That sounds like corporate motivational speak  – and I guess it is. It’s amazing how appropriate military analogies can be when answering these sorts of questions. The upshot of all that is that my plan of attack will always involve lots of smart people, then I can take credit for all their brilliant ideas when things go really well. Likewise, I can blame them when things go badly.

Sleepers Publishing is goin’ great guns/kickin’ goals/right on the money, mate. What’s next?

More novels, more new fiction, more exciting writers you never knew existed, and more innovative explorations into the realms of digital publishing. Well, perhaps not innovative (all the great ideas we come up with tend to happen about a fortnight before people with more money and resources have exactly the same idea – it’s so hard being original these days). What have we got to do? One of two things: either do something that no one else is doing and make waves that way, or do something that everyone else is doing, but do it better.

If you could read anyone’s journal or raid anyone’s hard drive, through whose would you rifle?

Charlie Chapman, Leni Riefenstahl, Edith Campbell Berry (fictional character from Frank Moorhouse’s novels), Steve Jobs.

The internet: friend or foe? Discuss.

Frenemy? I like the internet. I think it rocks. It’s just like real life, only you can turn it off.

You can punch one person in the schnoz and get away scot free. Who do you clobber?

I confess, I don’t really feel that way about anyone. But I do rather dislike Angelina Jolie. (Sorry Ange, I know we had that talk and you thought we’d sorted out all our differences, but I guess I wasn’t being completely honest with you. I just don’t like your face.)

You’re an exile, banished to a tiny island in the middle of the ocean. You are allowed one book and one album of music (in a solar powered iPod) to last the rest of your days. Any preferences?

Book: the collected works of every word anyone in my family has ever written about anything (they’re all big wordsmiths, each and every one of them, it would make for one hell of compendium. Not for anyone else, mind you, but a masterpiece for me.)

Album: Likewise, the greatest hits of every drunken singalong that’s happened around the dining table with my family. Anyone who’s been privy to one of these sessions would have to agree that we’re insanely talented.

Have you ever hit a cane toad with a golf club? Could you?

No. Absolutely.



  • Jodie

    This is the best desert island answer we’ve had yet.

    I can’t believe how many people have said a dictionary. Really? A dictionary? That would just make me lonelier. Words are great and all but we’re not actually best friends. Anyway, if there’s no one around to hear them doesn’t that make the whole signified/signifier relationship collapse?

    • http://www.expressmedia.org.au/voiceworks/ Johannes Jakob

      you are so zen, Jodie.

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