Last weekend the Australian National SF Convention was held in Canberra, and sf fans, writers and publishers from all over the country gathered together for four days. I arrived mid-afternoon on the Thursday, but my official duties began the next day.
On Friday I started with a panel I’d suggested: “Where have all the Australian female fantasy writers gone?” Fellow panelists were Jane Routley, Karen Miller and Keri Arthur, and Glenda Larke filled in for Jane when she had to leave early. The answer to the above question seems to be that nearly all of us are still writing, just some have moved into other genres or subgenres, some are seizing self publishing opportunities, and that, while the the two main big publishers are taking on fewer new authors other companies, large and small, are now publishing fantasy. Women still outnumber men here, and there was a general ‘WTF?’ reaction to the lack of support for female fantasy writers overseas.
Speaking of wonderful Aussie fantasy writers, I was delighted to catch up with Anna Tambour:
I loved her first book, Spotted Lily, a tale of a woman who wants to be a famous writer but can’t be bothered putting in the work so she hires the devil to write one for her. I’m holding Crandolin, her new book, which I’m looking forward to delving into.
After lunch there was a Mass Book Signing during which I chatted to K J Parker and the lovely new editor at HarperCollins Voyager, Rochelle Fernandez. Then I caught the latter half of Marc Gascoigne’s Guest of Honour interview. I love that Australian cons invite editors and publishers as guests as well as authors, as they are always so passionate about publishing and books.
Next I did my first reading at a convention, and chose the chapter 1 of Thief’s Magic to test out on the audience. It turned out to be just a few minutes longer than the half an hour I had, and aside from a few typos I hadn’t caught it worked pretty well.
I then went to see the “Speculative Art” panel, containing Lewis Morley, Marilyn Pride, Kathleen Jennings, Shauna O’Meara and Les Peterson. (Les did the Australian covers of my first two trilogies.) During the discussion, which covered hand-made vs digital and reasonable payment for work, I sketched the panelists:
That evening’s event was a fabulous Regency Banquet, which I’m going to compose a separate post about.
Saturday began early with my second panel: “The Ethics of Immortality”. Chaired by Jenny Blackford, the other panelists were Jane Virgo, Duncan Lay, and Ian Nichols. What seemed to emerge from the discussion was that, people being very different, everyone would react to having a long or endless life in ways that reflected their mortal personality.
After lunch I caught most of Nalo Hopkinson’s Guest of Honour interview. A lovely guest with a great sense of humour, her description of her sources of inspiration and the US SF writing community were fascinating and illuminating.
Then it was time for my Kaffeklatch, a half hour of nattering to four fans that turned into a very pleasant chatty hour – especially I had met and hung out with most of the attendees by this point.
The next big event followed: the Ditmar Awards. I’m going to save that one for another post as well. (I have a lot of photos from this con.)
Afterwards I picked up two books by local fantasy writers I hadn’t got around to reading yet: his charmingness Duncan Lay and her coolness K J Taylor:
And then it was time to frock up for the last of the big events: the Masquerade Disco. Pics to come in – yes – another post.
Despite it following a very late night, I was up earlyish on Sunday to catch “Does a cover sell a book?”, discussed by Kathleen Jennings, Shauna O’Meara, Amanda Rainey, Cat Sparks, Mac Gascoigne and Rowena Cory Daniels. Lots of interesting anecdotes and examples. Marc told how one of his authors having a Pinterest board of inspirational images for her book made coming up with a cover so much easier – something I set up for Thief’s Magic as soon as I got home.
Straight after came the In Fabula-divino launch, an anthology supporting new writers that I have a small story in. (See previous post.)
And my last panel of the convention was “The Secret Lives of Authors”, about the hobbies and/or jobs authors have on the side and how they influence their writing. Elizabeth Fitzgerald chaired and Nalo Hopkinson, Glenda Larke and Dirk Flinthart joined me in showing pictures on our laptops or iPads – and Dirk even did a quick martial arts demo with an audience member. Nalo’s craft is artistic and wonderful and Glenda was the envy of many in the audience for a job that has taken her to many beautiful places.
Then that was it. The closing ceremony wound up the con and, with many new fond memories, ideas, friends, photos and books, the attendees slowly dispersed and the committee packed up everything and left. Locals and those staying another night gathered for a dead dog party at a local bar. It was a lovely end to a fabulous weekend.
Since our flight wasn’t until Monday night we were able to visit a few galleries, so by the time we headed home this was how good at keeping to my book buying ban:
But I don’t regret acquiring any of them!