Oz Horror Con: bloody good fun

oz horror convention 2013 posterMy Sunday was spent at Oz Horror Con, as a guest of the Australian Horror Writers Association, and it was fun, and I hope it happens again next year, bigger and better.

As one might expect from a first event, it had its share of squeaky hinges: a non-accessible venue, for instance, and a touch of confusion in the organisation, and from the outside, an ad hoc marketing campaign. We writer types were largely based in an upstairs room, echoing in its emptiness, a closed door making it even harder for those arriving to be aware of our existence. So that’s some of the negatives that can be easily addressed next time round. The big blow, in having marquee author Ramsey Campbell inability to attend, was unfortunate in the extreme.

The positives largely outweighed what amounted to teething troubles: the venue, the Donkey Wheelhouse, had wine cellars that would make a Hammer Horror stage designer drool. Not so easy if you’re mobility impaired even when the elevator works, but creating the right atmosphere, even if you need a lot of signage to help folks navigate (and find that upstairs room). It also had an excellent pub directly across the street and Spencer Street Station (oops: Southern Cross) nearby, too.

The variety of exhibitors was most excellent: make-up artists, funky sculptors and jewellers, talented graphic artists, purveyors of weird stuff. Throw in a bunch of wonderful cos players and you’ve got atmos coming out the wazoo.

More bodies would’ve added to that atmosphere, and one can only hope that word will spread, attractions will grow, and the audience will increase.

The panels, and they were many and varied, were well attended by an informed and interested audience; occasional zombie screams penetrating the bricks and steel door just added to the fun of it all.

As it was, Oz Horror Con was a very friendly event, a wonderful opportunity to meet other creatives and talk shop, in a relaxed environment. It has laid the foundation for a major cross-platform horror-themed gathering with numerous options for further synergies with filmmakers and other genre and literary events, a night program perhaps; indeed, the AHWA was a noticeable participant in the program this year, and it was pleasing to see its banner (or at least, some posters) flying.

Oz Horror 2014? Bring it on.

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!


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.