Aurealis Awards head to Canberra

aurealis awards logoThe organising committee of Canberra’s annual Conflux convention will be running the Aurealis Awards in 2014 and 2015. The awards have gained such stature as a standalone event on the Australian speculative fiction calendar, it’s great to see a group as proficient as Conflux taking up the reins.

This year’s awards are to be announced at a gala event in Sydney on May 18 — everyone’s welcome to join the celebration. Sydney’s SpecFaction have done a stirling job over the past three years; they’ve earned a rest.

The awards are also calling for judges for this year. It’s a great way to get a finger on the pulse of Aussie spec fic and be involved in the community.

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Canberra to Clunes: books,books,books

booktown in clunes 2013Clunes, a mere 20 minutes outside of Ballarat, has turned on its Booktown charm this weekend. Book shops and stalls are replete with all manner of reading material, from $2 paperbacks to rather more expensive collectibles. Newspapers of yore, magazines, a couple of volumes listing Irish coppers by name and year … all manner of quirk and taste was on offer.

It was elbow room only in some book shops when we visited yesterday. There were comments such as, ‘this one’s cheaper here’, or, ‘it’s rare, but it doesn’t have the slipcase’.

We didn’t catch any of the talks, but were content to browse and sup coffee and score tucker from the food vans.

What a cute town; what a lot of books!

Indeed, it has been a week of books, for only last weekend we were in Canberra for Conflux (various reports on the con are here), the national spec fic convention.

It was a hoot, with much catching up and some doozy panels too.

Angry Robot honcho Marc Gascoigne was a guest, and it was a little sad to hear him, and others, say that stories could be *too* Australian for the international market. Look forward to further US hegemony or more universal voices? Let’s hope not. Marc also painted a picture of Angry Robot that had many of us lining up with our CVs — their building has CAVES!

And how good was it to see the marvellous Nalo Hopkinson back in Australia? Very bloody good!

Great to see Russell B Farr land the A Bertram Chandler award for his career in publishing to date, awarded at one of the best Ditmar award presentations ever, overseen by Deborah Biancotti and ably supported by Lego and a cock-block clock (of which I am now the proud recipient due to lottery, and hope becomes an institution for future awards). Kirstyn won an award for her Writer and the Critic podcast with Ian Mond, which was a lovely nod, and as expected, Margo Lanagan’s wonderful Sea Hearts took out the best novel award. The full list of winners can be found here.

the bride price by cat sparksAnd there were book launches … so many book launches! One standout — and an alliterative one, too! — was that for Cat Sparks, rolling out her collection The Bride Price with Ticonderoga — it sold out! Before I got a copy! But there are many more, and you should check them out, too.

In between Canberra and Clunes, there was mileage: about 2500km worth, which included selling off a portion of my comic collection in Maitland, my first visit to Echuca and picking up some Campbells wines (home of Empire Port) in Rutherglen. Ah, road trips … gotta love’em. Especially when you get home with wine and books!

While I was offline… and OMG look at all the Conflux book launches!

  • Sean the Bookonaut has been blogging up a storm. Viz, an examination of Grimdark — a category of genre coding I hadn’t even heard of.
  • Angela Slatter is having a book, Narrow Daylight, published by my digital publisher Xoum — yay for being stablemates (and stable mates, though are we, as individuals, stable? argh!)
  • Lisa L Hannett has had a new essay published at This Is Horror, calling for a consideration of less used/abused things that go bump in the night, which in turn leads to an essay from James Bradley about the ever-evolving vampire metaphor.
  • Random House is taken to task for onerous conditions in its digital imprint Hydra, and makes amends, as reported by Locus.
  • A Brissie launch on April 9 for Charlotte Nash’s debut novel Ryders Ridge.
  • Dymocks ends its publishing effort, D Publishing, perhaps on the nose from the get-go due to a roundly criticised contract base.
  • Margo Lanagan makes the long list of the Stella Prize with Sea Hearts.
  • And I’ve sifted the program for Conflux next month to find the book launches — hold onto your hats!

    I’m not sure if it counts as a launch, but Angry Robot (whose supremo Marc Gascoigne is a guest of honour at the con) is having ‘an hour’ from 1.30pm on the Sunday. Angry Robot is chockers with Aussie writers (Kaaron Warren, Jo Anderton, Trent Jamieson, Lee Battersby …) so it’ll be bookish, whatever it is.

  • Oz Horror Con, Sydney Spec Fic Festival: here we come!

    So, another idea to make it an easy, homebody year, and look what’s happened: outings! adventures!

    Hehe.

    First up, I’ll be hanging out with the horror buffs at Oz Horror Con in Melbourne, which is on the full weekend but I’ll only be there on the 20th as part of a contingent from the Australian Horror Writers Association. The venue sounds very, um, underground, though sadly lacks full accessibility WHICH IS SOMETHING THAT SHOULD NOT HAPPEN cf this missive from Hogetown about a similar event TWO YEARS AGO, and the con itself is likely to cover a wide spectrum of the pop horror scene. I could be the gothic tragic hugging the shadows saying ‘who’s that’ at every second cosplayer, but it should be educational and quite fun. I should try to watch Patrick again, just to be schooled up.

    And now the wheels have turned far enough to say I should be catching up with a whole bunch of writers and readers at the NSW Writers’ Centre’s Speculative Fiction Festival on March 16. Kate Forsyth is directing again — last year’s was a hoot, I’m told.

    And down the track, over Anzac weekend in Canberra, there’s the national SF convention, Conflux, followed by Melbourne’s Continuum.

    Throw in the Aurealis Awards and a few other stray bits ‘n’ bobs — and the World Fantasy Convention in Brighton, UK — and 2013 is looking like a preeetty busy year…

    There are plenty more events on, of course; the wallet is already smouldering. Check out the calendar of Aussie literary events for an idea what’s available.

    Winds of Change is launched

    winds of change anthology

    Hurrah! The anthology Winds of Change, published by CSFG in Canberra, was launched at the weekend at Conflux. Sadly, I couldn’t be there to join in the drinking celebration, but Alan Baxter was, and his report is here. Sounds like a fab launch, and a fab con. My story, ‘Wraiths’, is in the anthology, rubbing shoulders with old pals and new. I’m looking forward to reading it.*

    Meanwhile, Conflux has opened memberships for 2013. Yes, it’s a ways off, but that’s because it will be the National Convention in that year, just after Anzac Day. Nalo Hopkinson, whose writing I adore and need to get more of, is one of the guest of honours, among others whose writing I also admire. Conflux always puts on a great con, so I’ve already bought my membership. At $140, they’re as cheap as they’re gonna be this month. Check it out.

    *I am a judge for the Aurealis Awards. This comment is the personal opinion of the writer, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of any judging panel, the judging coordinator or the Aurealis Awards management team.

    Booked in Bundaberg

    I’m excited to say that I’ll be joining some excellent writers at Bundaberg Library’s Booked program in May. Stephanie Laurens, Kirsty Brooks and Kim Michelle Toft will be sharing the love and angst at panels, chats and, I believe, over lunch. I grew up in the Wide Bay region and still have good friends in Bundy, so it’s a bit of a return to my old stomping grounds, bringing some Gothic vampire love with me 🙂
    Booked is on Sunday, May 17, conveniently dovetailing with Writefest the day before, run by Bundaberg Writers Club. So I’ll be popping in there for a look-see, too. Sue Abbey is among the professionals running workshops at Writefest: I can’t speak highly enough of her skills and friendly advice.
    Two other events worth noting: the mob organising the national science fiction convention, Conjecture, in Adelaide in June have extracted their digit and posted more information on the website, allaying mounting fears that the long period of silence heralded a fizzler. Mind you, with that many wineries within cork-popping distance, that was never really going to be an issue, was it?
    Another cool event that has got cooler is Continuum, in Melbourne in August, where Melbourne writer Narelle M Harris has been added as a guest of honour. Harris has had a vampire novel published by Brisbane’s Pulp Fiction Press; they make a commendable team 🙂
    The other key convention for spec fic writers and readers this year is Conflux, in Canberra in October, but unfortunately I won’t be making that. Rather I’ll be at my Edge writers group’s annual retreat, hoping to make something beautiful come of it.