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!

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.