I love Conflux, Canberra’s annual speculative fiction conference run by the Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild (CSFG). It’s the first writer’s con I went to for one thing. A lot of spec fic writer’s live in or near the ACT for another. They are my people. Still, 2016 and 2017 I didn’t make the conference and was very sad about that so it was awesome making it in 2018.
Signing my short story at the A Hand of Knaves book launch
So what did I get up to? I was on three panels; my usual Doctor Who one, though this time about our new female Doctor as played by Jodie Whittaker, another on fan fic and a third on the art of the short story (which I chaired not being an expert on this by any means). As usual, I found being on panels fun and rewarding and a great way to make new friends! The fan fic session was especially fun.
I went to other people’s sessions on topics such as new ways to fund writing careers (a super interesting session about author subscription options, patreon, kickstarter, and other rewards based platforms), what makes the perfect hero (hint: it depends on who you ask), a super interesting session on LGBTQI in pop culture mediums and how many ways there are for people to get it wrong and how important it is for people to get it right, a session on different story telling mediums and how they can work for audiences (eg. writing choose your own adventure style stories, stories that involve the physical, adventure game writing) and a session on the art of self-publishing and succeeding at self-publishing, which my friend, Dionne Lister, was on.
I also went to two stellar workshops about two totally different things. The first was on querying agents (thanks Sam, Freya and EJ – you guys taught me loads) and a second with Kaaron Warren on building character. Kaaron’s workshop was different from any other workshop I’ve done. We went to local Canberra secondhand shop, The Green Shed, and were told to find and dress in clothing that represented a character we wanted to write about. We had to inhabit the character and know the why of each of our clothing choices. The store owner event switched the lights off while we got under our character’s skins. Every single one of us came up with great stories after this exercise, yet I would never have guessed this strategy would be so effective. You’re a champion, Kaaron! Also, the bus trip back was hilarious thanks to the driver who kept getting us more and more lost till we started to wonder if we were all channeling a new horror story in real life, especially when the navman lost signal unexpectedly and told us so out loud.
Lastly, it wouldn’t have been a Conflux without oodles of books and book launches. Kaaron had a super classy bar launch complete with a cocktail she’d designed to fit her book theme. Back at the Conflux Hotel I accidentally did a Bella Swan and spilled my launch champagne on Rob Porteus’ new writer’s craft book, The Book of Lore (I’m still mortified about this, Rob). Donna Maree Hanson released the next book in her dark Dragon Wine series, and of course there was the book launch of the anthology I am in, A Hand of Knaves. It was awesome to meet people like David Versace and Claire McKenna properly and to make new friends like Louise Pieper. Also, the signing scrum was everything my primary school self had ever dreamed.
So after many catch-ups with friends, much knowledge gained and with 14 books heavier in my bag, it’s till next time Conflux. Sorry to the many panelists and book launchers I couldn’t fit into my whirlwind weekend. You all still rock!