Crazy times at Conflux 13

Well, wow. That was intense.

Conflux 13 is over & it was amazing. I feel like I’ve been operating on overdrive for a week now. Where should I start? OK, highlights.

1. Meeting Ellen Datlow. Idol from my youth. Giant of the fantasy & horror genres. Hard not to spend the weekend in a total fangirl tailspin.

2. The panels. What’s not to like about spending the weekend talking with like-minded and fascinating people like Angela Slatter, Kirstyn McDermott and Aiki Flintheart about things like Fairy Tales With Teeth and ClawsBeastly TransformationsMagic Schools and Deadly Dance?

3. Winning second prize in the CSFG/Conflux short story comp for my story Flawless! (Which I’ve now been invited to read at the next meeting of the Canberra Fairy Tale Ring. as it fits neatly with the AFTS November theme of Snow White.)

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4. Interviewing Zena Shapter for the launch of her new novel, Towards White, out from IFWG Publishing.

Zena Towards White
Photo courtesy of Cat Sparks

5. Drinking creme de violette bellinis and planning a live-tweeted rewatch of The Lady and the Highwayman and perhaps also A Hazard of Hearts (both movies based on Barbara Cartland novels made in the 1980s).

6. Discovering who was the mysterious origami master leaving perfect tiny dragons and unicorns all over the con.

7. Watching our guests of honour Ellen & Angela, & MC Kaaron opening their thank you goody bags to reveal a beautiful cast glass key by Canberra Fairy Tale Glass artist Spike Deane. I’m given to understand they were well received.

keys

8. And last, but definitely not least – because this is what it’s all about when it comes down to it – is spending time with beloved friends and kindred spirits, both new and old, talking about writing, publishing, reading, movies, games, art, history, research, language and anything else that moves us and connects us and makes us part of the same tribe.

(All photos, except the first four, by Cat Sparks.)

 

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Conflux 13: Grimm Tales

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Conflux 13 is almost upon us! I have been a bit swamped the last few days putting the final touches on the program and scheduling all our wonderful panellists, but it’s almost there! And I am SUPER excited for this year’s con.

Firstly, what’s not to love about a dark fairy tale-themed SF con? *Swoon*

Secondly, the Guests of Honour this year…

Ellen Datlow and Angela Slatter! Hell, if I swoon any harder I’m gonna give myself consussion.

It was reading Ellen Datlow’s fairy tale anthologies in my early twenties that basically showed me that fairy tales were not just dragonflies locked in amber for all eternity, and that writers were still using all my favourite tales as inspiration for new stories. Which kinda inspired me to start writing my own stories…

And I will let you in on a secret and tell you Angela has been one of my author crushes for a while now. If you are into stories that draw on fairy tales and folklore all twisted up with a large pinch of darkness and more than a few shreds of cobweb, Angela is your gal.

So. Conflux! When I’m not running around troubleshooting or recovering from all of that in the con bar, here is where you’ll be able to find me:

Friday

10am – Con 101 with my good friend Elizabeth Fitzgerald. New to cons? A bit shy? We’ll have tim tams.

11am – Magic school. I’ll be talking magical education both real and imagined with Angela, Lyss Wickramasinghe and Dion Perry.

2pm – Fairy tales with teeth and claws. I’ll be moderating this conversation between Ellen, Angela, Kirstyn McDermott and Jason Nahrung.

4pm – Beastly transformations. A subject dear to my heart, you might say (boom-tish!)

Saturday

11am – Not for children. I’ll be talking about the dark roots of classic tales with Ellen, Angela and Kirstyn.

Sunday

9am – It’s early for a Sunday, but I’ll be soaking up the company at the Conflux 13 Guest of Honour Breakfast.

11am – Anthology makers. I’ll be honest, I put my hand up to mod this discussion between Ellen, Cat Sparks (who is launching her anthology with Liz Grzyb, Ecopunk, at Conflux) and Michelle Lovi of Odyssey Press hoping to get some hot tips for editing A Hand Of Knaves at the end of the year.

1.00pm – Deadly dance. I am really looking forward to this one. Dance & death in SFF fiction with Angela and Aiki Flintheart.

3.30pm – The Canberra Fairy Tale Ring agreed to let Conflux  host it’s September meeting (just a teeny bit later than usual). Conveniently this month’s tale is The Girl With No Hands, as that was the title story in one of Angela’s earlier collections of twisted fairy tales. So she’s going to come along to that too.

If you’re in Canberra over that weekend, come along to the Vibe Hotel & say hi. It’s going to be spectacular. (Ticket info on the Conflux website here.)

 

 

Aurealis and Swancon revisited

Just in case anyone thought I wasn’t still wallowing in the pleasure of my first ever award…

Aurealis 2016 PJG

Here’s a few of my fave pics from that evening.

The OMG moment… And celebrating with my gorgeous family afterwards.

And here’s a few other snaps from the evening (courtesy of Cat Sparks, whose full album of Swancon & the Aurealis Awards is on Flickr).

Other fave moments from the evening included getting to see Sam Murray pick up her Aurealis for Best Science Fiction Short Story; watching Sam deliver Tim Napper’s speech for his win for Best Horror Short Story; and having the honour of accepting Kaaron Warren’s award on her behalf for Best Horror Novel. (If you’re interested, the #fauxcon hashtag chronicles my Canberra crowd’s celebration of the evening from back home. Made me wish I could be in two places at once.) All the winners are up on the Aurealis website.

And here’s a few pics from the day I spent at Swancon in Perth (again, thank you Cat Sparks!). I caught a GOH talk with Traci Harding, attended *two* book launches, a panel debating various thorny issues that arise in SFF fandom and I got a short excursion to a local bookstore to catch sight of Cat’s new novel Lotus Blue in the wild. Plus I spent some serious quality time with my tribe in the restaurant and the bar.

I rounded it all out with a delicious dinner with friends under a spectacular, purple, fairy-lit tree. As always, the very best thing about going to a con was the people. *sniff* I love youse all.

Conflux 12 wrap up – Part I

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Conflux is over for another year, and once again I’m looking back on it through the golden glow of a post-con high. We were incredibly lucky in our Guest of Honour and MC lineup this year, being David Farland, Alan Baxter and Sean Williams respectively.

Sean came along to Conflux 11 last year and his frank discussion about how he manages his RSI made the Paying For Our Passion panel (inspired by David McDonald’s blog series of the same name) one of the standout sessions of the con. He spent September 2016 as the eminent writer in residence at the ACT Writers Centre, so us Canberra folk have been lucky to see a lot of him recently, including a Guest Author session for the CSFG and a session on his 10 1/2 commandments of writing at Old Parliament House last week. We jumped at the opportunity to have him on board for Conflux 12 and he didn’t disappoint. In his typically warm, funny and approachable style, he set the tone for an exceptionally convivial con.

We had the privilege of featuring David Farland in his first trip out to Australia in something like 15 years. He was really something special, providing a feast of stories, knowledge and industry insight. His contribution to our Breaking the US & UK markets panel was a particular highlight of the convention. And getting to hear more stories and ask him questions at his kaffeeklatsch session on Monday afternoon was a personal highlight for me.

Alan Baxter was our Australian Guest of Honour this year. He ran a condensed version of his Write the Fight Right workshop for us, in which he draws on his background as a Kung Fu instructor, and provided a fascinating running commentary on the Lion Dancers that came along on Friday night to open the con. Alan launched his new collection of short stories, Crow Shine, from Ticonderoga, on Saturday evening, complete with Crow Shine moonshine (not for the kiddies, but then neither is his book).

 

Being on the con organising committee I don’t get to go to as many panels and sessions as I’d like to. But those I did get to were great and I heard good things about the others. What stands out for me, though, at each and every Conflux I go to, is the people. Each year I hook up with old friends and make new connections and it’s these relationships that are really the root cause of that lovely golden post-con glow. I just meet such great people at Conflux. Lucky for me and my dodgy phone camera, Cat Sparks takes great photos of people. Here are a small selection of her pics that make me happy.

Whilst I didn’t manage to attend many panels, I did manage to get to a few workshops, so I’ll cover those in my next post. But to finish off, here’s a pic of the gorgeous cover art Shauna O’Meara did for the con magazine (she did the Red Fire Monkey logo at the top of the page, too!)

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The Never Never Land is out!

The Never Never Land
The Never Never Land

Hooray! On Sunday evening we launched The Never Never Land, containing my new story “Adventure Socks”, at Conflux 11. Nicole Murphy did the honours, noting that “Everything is better with dinosaurs”,  and that happily Never Never Land does not disappoint on this score. We had readings by Cat Sparks, from her story “Dragon Girl”, and Shauna O’Meara (who also did the amazing cover and interior artwork) from her story “To Look Upon A Dream Tiger”.

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Nicole Murphy – “Everything is better with dinosaurs”
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Editors Ian McHugh, Mitchell Akhurst and Phill Berrie
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Elizabeth Fitzgerald and Shauna O’Meara

I am really proud of my story in this anthology – and I’m thrilled to be sharing a table of contents with such a talented bunch. There are a swag of authors in Never Never Land with established and even award-winning careers, along with a handful of new authors for whom this is their first publication. Congratulations CSFG and everyone involved for putting out another fantastic anthology.

*All photos by Cat Sparks, used with permission.

Conflux approacheth

Conflux-11

Conflux 11 is almost upon us! I’m especially excited about it this year, as I’ve been part of the organising committee and had particular responsibility for pulling the program together. There are still a few bits and bobs to sort out, but we are almost there.

Unfortunately I’ll be travelling for work on the Friday and Saturday, so despite it having completely taken over my spare time in the last few weeks I’ll miss those days. But I will be at the banquet on Saturday night, and there all day Sunday and Monday. Here are  the panels you’ll be able to find me on:

2.30pm Sunday – I felt that – vivid prose, with Shauna O’Meara, DL Richardson and Alan Baxter.

4.30pm Sunday – Messing with mythology, with Amanda Pillar, Rob Porteous, Jane Virgo and Alis Franklin

10am Monday – Food in fiction, with Alis Franklin, Gillian Polack and Garry Dalrymple

4.30pm Monday – Fairy tales: princess complex, with Val Toh and KT Taylor

Plus…!

On Sunday at 5.30pm, the CSFG will be launching their latest anthology, The Never Never Land, containing my latest story “Adventure Socks”!  Hope to see you there!

The Never Never Land
The Never Never Land

Conflux 10

Spectacular artwork for Conflux 10 by Shauna O'Meara
Spectacular artwork for Conflux 10 by Shauna O’Meara

As usual, Conflux was a whirlwind of delights. I caught up with writer friends from all over the country, and even other bits of the world. I attended a bunch of book launches, bought a bunch of books, went to some fascinating panels, and sat around eating pizza & drinking cider & chewing the fat with some fantastically interesting people. Highlights?

The guests of honour were great. Hearing Margo Lanagan talk about her early career, and how she wrote Tender Morsels was a definite highlight and I came away from that one with inspiration tickling away in the back of my brain. Alisa Krasnostein also gave an interview on some of the remarkable things her small press has done, particularly in promoting spec fiction written by women. I found her deeply inspirational as well.

I can’t think of a panel I didn’t enjoy, but the standouts for me were:

  • editing anthologies (one day, maybe!)
  • grief, loss and trauma with Margo Lanagan, Richard Harland, Kaaron Warren and Isobel Carmody (who wasn’t on the panel, but was in the audience and commented on a piece of her work that was read out)
  • describing the journey (a panel on how you describe the world of your story through your character’s eyes), with Kaaron Warren, Russell Kirkpatrick, Simon Petrie and Isobel Carmody.

Even spending time staffing the CSFG dealer’s table was extremely pleasant, as it meant I got to sit and chat with the likes of Kaaron Warren and Rob Porteous.

The convention was a little smaller this year than it has been in previous years, I understand. But everyone seemed to think this was not such a bad thing, as it meant more opportunity to actually connect with the other attendees. Kudos must go to the hero of this year’s Conflux, Karen Herkes Ott, and her small but mighty Conflux 10 team.

I was so inspired by their incredible efforts that I  have ended up as the Vice-President of the Conflux Committee, and will be involved in organising next year’s convention! I have a feeling that’s going to be a heap of work, but I’m kinda excited, because based on the brainstorming the new committee has done already, it’s going to be awesome.

Coming up: reading & panel discussion at Conflux 10

Spectacular artwork for Conflux 10 by Shauna O'Meara
Spectacular artwork for Conflux 10 by Shauna O’Meara

Conflux is on this weekend!! This is the annual Canberra spec fic convention, and lucky for me it has a very strong focus on writing.

I’m participating in a couple of events:

  • On Saturday, 4 October at 12.0o, Simon Petrie will be launching his new collection of short fiction, Difficult Second Album, by Peggy Bright Books. At the launch, some of the other recent titles from PBB will be showcased, including Use Only As Directed. So I shall be doing a reading from “The Blue Djinn’s Wish”!
  • On Monday, 6 October at 4pm, I will be part of the Denouement – the Journey’s End panel with Richard Harland and Daniel O’Malley!

I’ll also be doing my bit to staff the CSFG table in the dealer’s room around lunchtime on Saturday & Sunday, so please come along & say hi!