Tuesday, September 7, 2010

AussieCon 4

Just back from AussieCon4, the world fantasy convention held in Melbourne and it was truly an amazing experience.
I found it a bit strange just because I am not a big fantasy reader! It is ironic that I enjoy writing fantasy but have not read the genre as widely as many people - and certainly not to the degree that many of the fans had.
It's almost embarrassing - and I certainly got some funny looks from volunteers at a book signing - when you admit you've never heard of another ``famous'' author in the genre you write in.
But there were so many wonderful people, both fellow panellists and particularly the other attendees.
I spent three days at AussieCon, which itself went for five. Sadly I couldn't get more time off from work, especially as I missed out on a Star Wars panel on the Monday that I really wanted to be part of!
It was also a bit of a sacrifice - the Sunday was Fathers' Day and I missed out on seeing my kids ... best I could do was get up early to Skype them and watch them open my presents for me!
Of course, me being me, I also arranged a bunch of bookstore appearances in Melbourne!
Friday began with me flying down to Melbourne, with a hectic schedule planned to the minute. of course JetStar was more than 30 minutes late, which had me chasing my tail all day.
I had arranged a stint at Borders in central Melbourne and planned to drop my bags at the hotel before catching a tram there. Running late, and not in the mood to decipher tram timetables, I decided to walk with a 6kg bag over the shoulder. It was a mere 1.7km (according to Google maps) and I was sweating lightly when I lobbed, late, at Borders.
They kept me in water and I sold a bunch of books (mainly Wounded Guardian) before racing off to Dymocks central Melbourne. There I discovered, to my horror, that I was only in for an hour before more fantasy authors were due to arrive - and I was 20 minutes late! Luckily Fiona McIntosh didn't want to do the hands-on selling that I specialise in (basically she doesn't need to!) and I could keep going until 3.30pm.
Then it was finally time to check in and change, to sign in for AussieCon and get ready for my panel on Lost, the television show.
Of course then I had to sprint over to the Crown, for the Voyager 15th birthday party!
That meant I had to leave Lost at 4.55pm, while it was still going.
It was an interesting panel, with me being the only Aussie on it! The audience was pretty strongly American as well ... in fact there were US accents everywhere at AussieCon - plenty made the trip across for this fantasy extravaganza.
I should have made a few more points, but got a little swamped by this UK TV critic!
One of the things that I wanted to say - and annoyed myself by not getting it across - was the death of Jin and Sun.
(Lost geek alert!)
Not only did it devalue Sayyid's self-sacrifice, but Sun would never have let Jin stay with her without telling him to save himself for their child. It should have at least made Jin choose between the woman he had sworn never to leave and the child he wanted but had never seen. Even better, they should have escaped, validating Sayyid, then been killed by Jack stupidly attacking Dead Locke in his hero complex, thus making him more interesting ... basically I like to put characters through the wringer and this didn't...
(Back to normal!)
The Voyager party was great, although I managed to walk right around and through Crown Towers before finding it! I met and chatted to Ian Irvine and a bunch of others ... unfortunately didn't catch up with as many as I'd hoped but I (foolishly as it happened) thought I'd have plenty of time...
Saturday began with a signing ... wasn't expecting many to turn up but I had five people come and chat, including Tarran Jones (A+R Edwardstown) and Lynette who I'd met at Infinitas.
Then I raced around trying to find people for a story for the Sunday Herald Sun (which didn't run that Sunday but is apparently due up on September 12) before racing off to Dymocks Southland and then back to Borders Central.
Those both went very well, with the Dymocks boss demanding my return and Borders offering me a job!
Sunday was my big day, beginning with a kaffeeklatch (coffee meeting) then a reading and then three panels, back to back.
I met and chatted with some great people - some of whom went out and bought my books! - and then kicked off with a great panel about Adams and Pratchett and comedy writing.
This was my best panel of the Con and a lot of fun.
With plenty of humour in my books, it was kind of a perfect fit for me.
Next was Crowns And Monarchy, which didn't go so well. I realised afterwards that I hadn't planned for it properly - and then let myself get intimidated a little by the glittering array of other panellists - Australian fantasy royalty!
They were talking about their Russian covers - I was tempted to remark that I didn't have Russian covers but I had once had a problem with Rushin' undies (you know, the ones that try to give you a wedgie whenever you sit down) but had fixed that by switching to boxers ...
Anyway, I did point out that I too have been published in wonderfully exotic places. Like Dubbo.
I wanted to talk about the way I treat royalty, with the succession, with a Queen in a country ruled by men ... but bottled it.
Still, all valuable knowledge and I'd have a much better idea for next time.
My last panel was about elves ... and I was the moderator! It was a case of the blind leading the blind there but we kept things going in the face of plenty of questions ... and decided that we'd rather read books about orcs, not elves!
It was amazing to see so many people so passionate about fantasy and sci-fi (and steampunk and others).
Perhaps the US and UK attendees will go home and want to read my work, after hearing me at a panel.
Perhaps not - but it was still a real experience!

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