Archive for the ‘Cons’ Category

Quick and dirty visit to Melberlin (actually, not dirty at all, not even slightly soiled; very, very clean and pristine visit).

Arrived Thursday night, checked into hotel at 9.30pm, ordered room service, sat in front of tv for a few hours channel surfing as my brain wound down like the clockwork monkey it is … kept thinking how I should take the chance to transcribe the notes in my Moleskin for the final draft of Gallowberries … and yet could not get my ass out of the chair. This, I think, is the universe’s way of saying ‘Y’know, you’re tired. Why don’t you just rest, dumbass?’

Friday: woke up at 4am – so unfair. Went back to sleep until 9am. Had late breakfast, wandered down to Federation Square – which is a great space filled with some tremendously ugly buildings. Buildings so ugly it’s quite breathtaking and, in a way, admirable. Awesomely, defiantly ugly buildings. The BMW Edge lecture theatre is quite cool though, looking out over the river and this is where I went to the first of the two sessions I attended.

The Future of Fiction with authors Stephen Amsterdam (Things We Didn’t See Coming, winner of The Age Book o’the Year – http://www.stevenamsterdam.com/Things_We_Didnt_See_Coming_by_Steven_Amsterdam.html), China Miéville (Perdido Street Station, The Scar, The City & The City, etc) and the able and amusing Ronnie Scott (editor of The Lifted Brow http://www.theliftedbrow.com/?page_id=14) as the moderator. Some very interesting discussion about whether books will survive and in what form. I’m still reeling after hearing Dr Miéville had recently scanned in about 80% of his book collection and then recycled the bodies. The book-loving luddite in me screams ‘Vandal!’ and gets a nervous rash. I’m trying not to think about it.

It was the night of two dinners – first one was with my colleague, friend and all-round clever clogs Meg Vann, she of AWMonline, at The Quarter in Degraves Lane (which, for some reason, keeps coming up in my brain as ‘Gravesend’). Then there was a brief stop at the Sofitel 35 (fabulous bar on the 35th floor) and meeting Harvest editor and poet, Geoff Lemon and poet Josephine Rowe (http://harvestmagazine.wordpress.com/contributors/words-and-art-issue-three/). Next, dinner the second at the Melbourne Wine Bar with Ronnie and Pete. V nice!

Saturday: lunch with fellow Clarionite, Suze Willis, at Blue Train – much noise and laughter and very good food (bacon makes everything better). Then a wander across the bridge, back to Fed Square and into the line for the next session, Visions of the City, starring China Miéville (awesome), Margo Lanagan (awesomer) and Jack Dann (awesomest), and moderated by talented spec-fic writer Rjurick Davidson. Some interesting stuff, but a little meandering … and as usual, there are the members of the audience who ask questions that aren’t really questions, but incoherent burbles with a subtext of ‘This is actually about me, I really, really want to hold a microphone!’ A dead giveaway is when a question starts with ‘This is a two-part question’ … There was also the horror of the city councilor who had apparently not seen her speech before she read it out; did not seem to know the word ‘renaissance’ and, I’m pretty sure, pronounced ‘version’ as ‘virgin’ … it was a bit hard to swallow the trumpeting of Melbourne as a city of literature at that point. Maybe that’s just me being cruel and unreasonable (it happens), but I do think public officials should be better at speaking in public. Call me crazy …

Good to see some other fellow Clarionites, Amanda Le and Steve Mitchell; and then to go for a far-too-brief drink with Kirstyn McDermott (amazing writer, soon-to-be Picador author and general cool chick http://kirstynmcdermott.com/). And then to the MWF launch party with Meg V once again – met lots of people, drank passable wine, ate some great finger food … and then back to Sofitel 35 to discuss writing with the Steel Megnolia. Listened to outgoing festival director, Rosemary Cameron talk – and she’s wonderful. She used to direct the Brisbane Writers Festival and it’s great to see she brought the same energy and vibrant life to MWF that she did to BWF.

Sunday: off to the airport, arrived early in order to sit through a 2 hour delay. Huzzah. Back home about 5.30pm.

I’m not sure I had a real festival weekend … but I had a weekend and it involved a festival and there were writers …


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I arrived a day early, which was great because it meant I got to spend some time with the awesome La Belle Hannett, my fellow Clarionite and the other half of my brain. We found a cafe, Notcoffee (which provided much bacon) and talked; we talked a lot; then we talked a bit more. Her partner Dr Chad had cleverly acquired a set of earplugs to make sure his five days went smoothly.

So I guess if we just cover the highlights or Good Stuff that Happened:

The wonderful Sean Williams’ pirate party – an event filled with Haighs choclit frogs, munchies, drinkies, and much talk. It was also a great chance to catch up with Kirstyn McDermott, Jason Nahrung, Kate Eltham and Rob Hoge.

Notcoffee (for the second time) in Rundle St, where LBH and I met with the most excellent Peter Ball and Jason Fischer for a writing intensive. We wrote, ate more bacon and drank a lot of coffee and wrote a lot more. A major distraction – which I was lucky enough to have my back to – was a series of paintings on the wall. One of them the one we named ‘Baboon Goat Butts’ and I give it to you below:

A rocking dinner at Concubine in Gouger St, in the company of the superb Ron Serduik of Pulp Fiction Books (and Press), Sean Williams, Karen Miller, Jonathan Strahan and Dr Helen Merrick. It was noisy, it was fun and it was clever. And I had duck – duck for entree and duck for mains – had there been, as Sean suggested, duck ice cream, I would have had that. It was ducktacular.

Two hours spent with Karen Miller discussing novels – specifically my novels – she knows her stuff. Any time you hear the words ‘Don’t worry about making word count: you’ve got enough there for two books, maybe three’  is a good time.

Guest of Honour Julie Czerneda was superb. She totally rocked – she’s funny and smart and was, unfortunately, a bit underutilised.

Caught up with the inimitable Dirk Flinthart – this con was good coz this time he didn’t attempt to use me to demonstrate martial arts throwing techniques. And we scoped out a new novella (working title of Flying Willow) and generally did what writers do best: see who can tell the biggest porkies and exchange the most unusual and useless facts. [Ten points to Mac North, who managed to tell DF something he did not know … I don’t imagine it’s happened very often and has earned Dr North as much Jameson whisky as he can drink for the rest of his life.]

Jason Fischer provided the frog cake – which I must say was delicious. It was filled with cream and covered with icing is so thick and gooey it will stop your arteries.  And it inspired this t-shirt design by Jason’s mate Liam, and the Lovecraftian wordery by JJ Irwin:

Peter Ball’s launch of Horn – which both rocked and scared small children. It’s put out by super indie press Twelfth Planet Press. You should go and find it on the TTP website http://twelfthplanetpress.wordpress.com/.

Ditmary goodness went to Sean Williams, Dirk Flinthart, Alisa Krasnostein and Kirstyn McDermott amongst other legends.

Lowlights? All the goodwill in the world cannot make up for a lack of organisation. This con was almost completely uncontaminated by any kind of organisation. The program felt very much last minute and by-the-seat-o’the-pants. Panels had no designated moderator and not all of them had the ideal number of members (three panellists, one moderator – and ideally those people will have had a chat beforehand). For those of us who had people to catch up with, professional contacts and the ability to network, it was okay – we had the time and the place to catch up with folk. However, had I been a newbie, someone who didn’t know anyone and had paid my money for the con and the flight to Adelaide for an experience that included learning opportunities as well as the chance to discuss the state of the genre, I would have been a bit disappointed. This is to in no way denigrate the hard work put in by volunteers and the committee … a con is not an easy thing to do, it is time-consuming and can’t be done well at the last minute. Personally, I like organisation. I like certainty. I don’t necessarily cope with with a mid-range chaos factor, but I recognise that may just be me. But hey, everything happened that was supposed to happen; the launches were terrific, the dealers’ room was filled with books; the Maskobolo was superbly DJ’d by Sean Williams and some of the costumes were amazing. People were friendly and I guess it wasn’t intimidating – I was at the EasterCon Orbital last year in the UK and that was intimidating.

Ultimately, a good con had by most of my crowd; a chance to relax, chat, drink and eat too much, sit on our backsides and make up stories. And eat frog cakes. Huzzah.

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Results of the Ditmars are below … more comments will follow about NatCon, but that will be tomorrow when my brain is talking to me again … I only got off the plane an hour ago.

A. Bertram Chandler Award
Rosaleen Love

William Atheling Jr Award for Criticism and Review
Kim Wilkins, an article about Australian fantasy fiction in the Journal of Australian Studies

Best New Talent
Felicity Dowker

Best Professional Achievement
Angela Challis, for Black, the Australian Dark Culture Magazine

Best Fan Production
ASif!, edited by Alisa Krasnostein and Gene Melzack

Best Fan Artist
Cat Sparks for Scary Food, Paul Haines Cancer is a C*NT fundraiser!

Best Fan Writer
Rob Hood, for Undead Backbrain

Best Professional Artwork
Shaun Tan, for Tales from Outer Suburbia

Best Collected Work
Dreaming Again, edited by Jack Dann

Best Short Story
Tie between Margo Lanagan “The Goosle” and Dirk Flinthart “This is not my story” (ASIM #37)

Best Novella/Novelette
“Painlessness” by Kirstyn McDermott

Best Novel

“Tender Morsels” by Margo Lanagan

Peter McNamara Award
Sean Williams

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I am sitting in  a cafe in Adelaide’s Rundle Street, in excellent company: LL Hannett, Peter Ball and Jason Fischer. The company had better be excellet for it is freaking freezing here! We’re all writing, at different speeds, but we are writing (with intermittant yelling of ‘Why have you stopped writing???’). This works well. The second toe on my left foot is an astonishing shade of purple, but no longer hurts (possibly coz it has frozen) after falling victim to my natural clutziness and the 4.30am stumble around the house while getting ready to go to the airport. In my favour, I kept the profanity level to a minimum out of consideration for the neighbours.

Last night’s Sean Williams-sponsored pirate party was great (but has contributed to today’s headache somewhat, but we salved that with an application of bacon). Later today we head off to register. Dinner tonight with friends at the wonderfully named ‘Concubine’. Tomorrow night, the Masked Ball thingy – for which LL and I have lovely Venetian masks.

Got another new story at The Daily Cabal http://www.dailycabal.com/ – Part Four of Brisneyland by Night.

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Conjecture, aka the 48th Australian National SF Convention, will be occurring in Adelaide as of this Friday.  GoH is the award-winning, best-selling (two words it’s always nice to see together, just like ‘choclit’ and ‘cake’ … mmm, wait, do the hyphenated words count as four words?) Julie E. Czerneda. Getting there will involve me getting out of bed at 4am tomorrow in order to get out of the house by 5am in order to get to the Brisneyland airport by 6am in order to check in for a 7am flight. Note to self: cheapest flight not always best flight. *sigh* Looks like I will be viewing dawn again, something I live my life trying to avoid. Perhaps if I just close my eyes?

But to the Con – highlights include:

Book launch of Horn by Peter Ball, via the machinations of Twelfth Planet Press.

Sean Williams on DJ duty at the Maskobalo on Saturday night (right after the Ditmars).

A seminar about getting published by the good Kate Eltham and myself – well, it’s less a highlight than a reminder to myself to get out of bed early on Sunday and get to the venue and fill up on coffee in order to appear lucid.

A Haighs choclit factory tour.

Panel-y goodness such as Urban Fantasy, High Fantasy & Magical Realism; The Academic as Hero; Cities of the Future; The Women in Science Question; New Who; and other ‘stuff’.

Most imporantly there will be frog cakes, choclit snakes and choclit frogs, discussing a novella with Dirk Flinthart, my friends and the other half of my brain, LL Hannett.

So if you’re in Adelaide this long weekend, head on over – http://conjecture2009.org/

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… the frog cakes?

It’s a month only until I claim the 657 frog cakes in Adelaide that Jason Fischer has promised me.

There may also be some NatCon activity – a programme? Anyone? Oh, and Peter Ball’s novella Horn (Twelfth Planet Press) will be launched.

But mainly, there will be frog cakes. Spending a lot of time thinking about the frog cakes.

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by Peter M Ball

Book Launch – Sunday June 7th, Conjecture, Adelaide

There’s a dead girl in a dumpster and a unicorn on the loose – and no-one knows how bad that combination can get better than Miriam Aster. What starts as a consulting job for city homicide quickly becomes a tangled knot of unexpected questions, and working out the link between the dead girl and the unicorn will draw Aster back into the world of the exiled fey she thought she’d left behind ten years ago. All in all, Miriam Aster isn’t happy. The last time she worked a case like this it cost her a badge, a partner, and her life.

This time things are going to get much, much worse.

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