I am so completely knackered.
This was, quite possibly, the most fun Aurealis Awards yet. The results I blogged earlier, but here’s a bit of the social stuff:
The Judith Wright Centre was packed — I heard talk of there being only two spare tickets left on the morning of, and the auditorium certainly seemed to support that. When all those folks, dressed in everything from gowns to suits to t-shirts, milled around in the foyer, it was a real feat crossing the room, let alone getting to the bar.
They came from as far away as Perth and Tasmania, and if we include the Clarion South students in there, from overseas as well — the US that I know of for sure.
What a great crowd. What a great mingle. Unfortunately, I had a wee blowout in my schmoozing plans, on account of having left tickets at home. So instead of attending Trudi Canavan’s pre-awards book launch, I was dashing home and getting back just in time for the awards ceremony.
To compound my errors, I managed to leave my camera in the car. The bad news — no photos. The good news — the camera was still in the car when we got back.
So why am I knackered? All of this running around meant I had only a single Carona before the ceremony, and that was at an early dinner with friends. So naturally, all this catching up is thirsty work, and I had lost time to be made up. So from the foyer we moved to the bar to a room party to … and so on, and got home around 930 this morning, in time for a shower and a change of clothes before heading out to brunch. Thank goodness I’ve got tomorrow off!
Anyhoo, the ceremony was a blast with Alison Goodman and Simon Higgins co-hosting with their repartee — Simon, I believe, gave Alison sword lessons as part of her preparation for writing Two Pearls of Wisdom (which won the award for best fantasy novel, pipping my other favourite Aussie fantasy of 2008, Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan). There was no swordplay on the night, but an efficient and enjoyable audio-visual display — Damon owes me bigtime for including the video footage of me talking about my high school musical in which I played Dracula, and no, I cannot sing the songs (I couldn’t then, nothing’s changed!) — and some wonderful speeches and a few surprises as well.
A standout for me was Sean Williams’s acceptance of the inaugural award for best collection. The only competition his collection, Magic Dirt, had in the finalists was Robert Hood’s Creeping in Reptile Flesh. Sean gave a lovely kudos to Rob, as both friend and mentor, that really demonstrated the sense of community in the Aussie spec fic world.
There some lovely expressions of surprise from winners Alison, who hadn’t had time to consider winning let alone a speech during her hosting preparations, and Melina Marchetta, who won the award for best young adult novel for Finnikin of the Rock.
And possibly the loveliest was to see Jack Dann collect the Peter McNamara award for his superb career. Jack has acted as mentor for my Edge writing group, as has Sean and Rob, and Jack also saw some ‘juice’ in my short story, Smoking, Waiting for the Dawn, for his grand Dreaming Again anthology, so I had a very personal delight in seeing him slightly flabbergasted at the announcement. He was sitting behind me, so I heard his expression of surprise.
Another expression of surprise I took devilish delight in was from Kirstyn McDermott, nominated in the horror short story category for her gorgeous and brutal Painlessness. I by chance ended up sitting next to Kirstyn during the dash to find a seat, and having her lean over to me and whisper who she thought was winning was priceless. I earned an elbow in the ribs for my poker face. I had helped judge the category
Anyway, last year could be the last year the awards are held in Brisbane. The Fantastic Queensland team who have advanced the awards to being a standalone highlight of the calendar have almost used up their contract with the awards founders, Chimaera Publications, and a new team is being sought to take over the running from 2011. We’re promised something special for next year’s ceremony. I have no doubt it will be.