Sydney Speculative Fiction Festival: a fine day out

writers gather at nsw writers centre's speculative fiction festival 2013

Coffee break under the jacarandas

Now that was fun! The NSW Writers Centre held its sold-out Speculative Fiction Festival on Saturday, and it was one of the most relaxing, enjoyable, informative literary events I’ve been to.

Kate Forsyth curated the event, gathering writers and publishers from as far away as Perth: Garth Nix, Juliet Marillier (launching a collection, Prickle Moon, which sounds fab and has — awesomely — a hedgehog on the cover), Ian Irvine, Richard Harland, Alison Croggon, Adelaideans Lisa Hannett and Ben Chandler, Angela Slatter, Rob Hood and Cat Sparks and Deb Biancotti and more and more.

Sadly, Kim Wilkins and Marianne de Pierres were unable to attend.

nsw speculative fiction festival

First panel of the day: international fantasy

The centre itself is housed in a gorgeous old building, two stories, a former asylum and, I’m told, the building in which shock therapy once occurred.

No such shocks at the fest, but plenty of stimulation: publishing insights from the likes of Joel Naoum (Momentum) and Zoe Walton (Random House) as well as conversation about writing fantasy and YA and using fairy tales and, of course, getting published.

Sydney turned on a warm day with a cool breeze, and lunch and coffee on the lawn under the shade of the jacarandas was a delight. Gotta love those crows, chiming in with their own comments from time to time.

prickle moon launch at NSW Writers Centre

Russell Farr with Sophie Masson and Juliet Marillier and Liz Grzyb launching Prickle Moon

Chrissi and Amber from Galaxy Bookshop kept an eye on the stock, and the centre’s Rose Powell was a butterfly of biz keeping everything in order — she certainly deserved a drink as the book launch got underway on the veranda at the end of the day.

Kirstyn and I sat on a panel with Rob Hood and Deb Biancotti about horror and the weird and had a jolly old time talking Gothic and psychology and chills to a room surprisingly full for a dark side discussion; the interest was heart warming and the audience engaged.

As always, half the fun is the chinwagging, and with the likes of Alan Baxter and Mark Webb and Zena Shapter and Rivqa Rafael and Angie Rega (who has a new website! and new stories coming out!) and oodles more, there was plenty of chinwagging to be had, both there and at the pub afterwards.

Addendum: Pix by Cat Sparks!

Throw in a Manly ferry trip the night before to attend the launch of Kate’s The Wild Girl (review here by Sean, my go-to blogger for all things spec fic)and dinner after, and fair to say the weekend away was a delight.

Next up: Newcastle Writers Festival and the ever-enjoyable Conflux.

See the calendar for more Aussie literary events

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