Saturday, June 23, 2012

Continuum – Melbourne’s Science Fiction Convention

I was lucky enough to be able to participate in Continuum 8 – Melbourne’s science fiction convention. I was at Continuum as a panellist, a reader, a fan and a learner.

Learning

I loved being in the audience for ‘The Crafty Middle Ages’. I got to listen to Canberra-based writer and academic Gillian Polack talking about day-to-day and special occasion crafts in France and England. I especially loved her show and tell items. My favourite was the pilgrimage badge (a kind of souvenir for pilgrims) that depicted a vulva riding a horse – yes, I did write the world ‘vulva’ and it was silver and it was riding a horse.

I also learned a great deal from ‘Book Blogs & Reviewing’, which featured Sue Bursztynski, George Ivanoff, Alexandra Pierce, Gillian Polack and Sean Wright.

My Inner Fan

I love space opera so I dropped in to listen to ‘The Forgotten Frontier?’ where m1k3y, Jonathan Strahan and Alexander Pierce talked about that genre. I came away with a reading list that now includes ‘The Mote in God’s Eye’ by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle and ‘Leviathan Wakes’ by James Corey.

I also sat in the audience for ‘Relative Dimensions: The Limits of Doctor Who’. Who knew that anyone could know so much about the good Doctor? Amazing.

Good Reading

My two favourite authors Margo Lanagan and Kelly Link were at Continuum this year and I really enjoyed seeing the people behind the stories and (in Margo’s case) the person behind the novels. I also enjoyed listening to Alison Goodman being interviewed by Jason Nahrung. I didn’t make it to many of the readings, but I did get to hear the beginning of Jack Dann’s latest story (and it was great) and also got to listen to a snapshot from Gillian Polack’s time travel novel (which I can’t wait to read – if only I could remember the title).


Being a Panellist

Continuum 8 was my first gig as a panellist. I was nervous and overawed by my fellow and sister panellists’ depth and breadth of knowledge.

I felt I was on familiar ground with the panel on independent publishing and on the panel on crossing literary genres. Both situations are current for me as I’ve crossed from writing teen romance to writing speculative fiction and I’ve self-published a fantasy novel this year.

I really enjoyed being a panellist on ‘Backyard Speculation’ but realised there is a lot of Australian speculative fiction reading that I need to catch up on.

Being on the ‘Everyone Loves a Good Murder’ panel was a humbling and rewarding experience. I realised that being a murder mystery reader and writing novels with murders and mysteries is not the same thing as knowing the genre through and through.

I came away from the panel with new thoughts about the novel that I am currently writing, which is a young adult, science fiction murder mystery set in Ballarat. Is my murder compelling and tangible? Does my mystery reward the clever reader? Is my resolution going to be just or unjust, tragic or warm?

And then…

I’m reuniting with a couple of Continuum 8 panellists and meeting up with a few new writers at ‘The Art of Words’, the 2012 Bayside Literary Festival. I'm on the Creating Worlds: Real and Imagined panel - and looking forward to it.
The Art of Words needed a new profile photo - a new unfinished painting in the background

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Page Parlour & The Light Heart of Stone's Melbourne Launch

Page Parlour

The Emerging Writers’ Festival hosts an event called Page Parlour, which is a market place for small independent press and self-publishers. I wandered through Page Parlour in 2011 and this year I had a stall. It was a really fascinating experience and I went home with a hot-off-the-press comic by Matt Nicholls and Lee Taylor, a book of poems by Claire Jansen who has established the Tasmanian publishing house Fire Door Press, some quirky zines, a mook (which is a cross between a book and a magazine) and some other small, non-mainstream publications.

Last night I sat in bed and read a zine – a letter from someone called Luke about his experience of drawing a female model in a life drawing class. The letter was addressed to me as ‘Dear You’. It was quite intimate and I felt oddly connected to Luke even though I’d never met him and had instead found his letter inside a stapled paper bag labelled ‘You’, which was being given away by Sticky Institute, a Melbourne zine shop.

As for me, I sold quite a few books and had some great conversations with readers. Mostly we talked about libraries. I was encouraging those who seemed genuinely interested in reading The Light Heart of Stone, but weren’t able to buy it on the day, to ask their library to buy it for them. What could be better, really? Readers reading for free; me getting paid and benefitting annually from Australia’s public lending right scheme.

Launch Night

The Melbourne launch of The Light Heart of Stone is on tomorrow at The Wilde at 153 Gertrude Street in Fitzroy. Come along at 6:30 if you’re in the area. It’s free, we’re exhibiting some great art, poets Josh Buckle and Tory Wardlaw are performing and The Bon Scotts are playing live. Better still, you can sit down for a meal afterwards as The Wilde serves some great food.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Continuum

The Panellist's Life
Continuum 8, Australia’s National science fiction and fantasy convention commences on 8 June in Melbourne. I’m participating in these panels:
  • Backyard Speculation - Saturday 10:00
  • Independent Publishing And Speculative Fiction - Monday 11:00
  • Everyone Loves A Good Murder - Sunday 10:00
  • Crossing The Divide: Writing In Different Genres - Monday 14:00
  • Beyond Paranormal Romance In YA Speculative Fiction - Monday 15
and I’m doing a reading on Sunday at 5pm.

I wanted the preparation for the panels to be enjoyable so I set myself a task of reading as much of the other panellists’ writing as I could. I began with books and stories by my fellow panellists on “Independent Publishing and Speculative Fiction”. I read The Obituarist, which is a short novel by Patrick O’Duffy, Elemental, a story for young adults by Steven O’Connor and Jubilee, which is a story by Jack Dann.

Next I read for “Beyond Paranormal Romance in Young Adult Speculative Fiction”. Kelly Link is one of Continuum’s special guests and she is on this YA panel. I have already ready quite a bit of her amazing short fiction so instead I’ve focused on the other panellists’ writing. I’ve now read 10 Futures by Michael Pryor and Wolfborn by Sue Bursztynski.

Next on the list is When We Have Wings by Claire Corbett as I begin reading for "Backyard Speculation".

I’ve got to say, this is the sort of preparation I really enjoy. Can’t complain about reading lots of speculative fiction!