Conflux: Day One

It’s been a great year for me when it comes to conventions. It kicked off with Swancon, where I had the time of my life, and then there was Continuum, which was wonderful. I wasn’t sure what Conflux would be like, or what to expect, but the good people of Canberra ensured I got the trifecta of amazing conventions. I am in recovery mode, and adjusting to work has been unpleasant, but I am still buzzing from the past few days.

I flew into Canberra on Thursday, an hour later than expected. Despite the delay it was one of the most pleasant flights I have experienced, I am used to full domestic flights but I had a whole row to myself, which was lovely. I had a pretty quiet night, knowing that I would need all my energy if this Con was going to be like any of the others.

I hadn’t realised how far my hotel was from the con (well too far to walk anyway) but I managed, with the help of a very friendly and helpful bus driver, to make it there in time for a coffee and a chat with my friends Steve Cameron and Peter Marz (who had very generously brought my suitcase up with them from Melbourne) before heading into Jack Dann’s workshop

Writing Workshop with Jack Dann

“What writers *must* do to write professional fiction.” 

There were lots of pearls of wisdom that would benefit any writer, at any level, and I won’t list them all. But, I found a few ideas in particular really stood out for me, the idea of using a description of place to communicate things like time and situation and mood without the need for an info dump, and that if you get your ability to write the surface layer right then the deeper undercurrents will flow unconsciously. It was a great session, and I walked away with copious notes.

I had a little bit of time before my first panel of the Con which gave me a chance to chill out a bit. It also meant that I got to say hello to a lot of people I had been waiting to see since Swancon, which was a lovely feeling.

Unfortunately, the panel was scheduled for the same time as the Angry Robot launch, but I still managed to snag a cupcake on my way in (thanks Cat!).

Friday 5:30pm – Melrose Room
The Media “Franchise” and other tales of TV success Panel
Our panellists discuss SF television shows with successful runs and/or spin-off series.
Panellists: Conor Bendle (moderator), Mik Bennett, Duncan Lay, and David McDonald.

I knew it would be tough to compete with free wine and cupcakes, and we started out with only two audience members, but gradually people began to filter in (often carrying wine and cupcakes!). There was a lot of interesting discussion about the definition of a franchise, a franchise as a brand and the common elements of success. We talked about driving visionaries, and creators who let other people play in their sandbox, and it was a lot of fun.

Afterwards, we snuck into the opening ceremony, which was wonderfully MCed by Jack in his own inimitable style. We were a little late, so we stood up the back, lurking like naughty school children who had been tardy in getting to assembly. It also meant that we were nice and close to the delightful quiche and wine (well, the soda water in my case). Then we were treated to the opening ceremony of the CSFG’s anthology, Winds of Change.

As well as readings from the authors, there were presentations by guests, some from the CSIRO, who were sponsors of the anthology. Of those not featured in the anthology who spoke, Craig Cormic was easily the most accomplished public speaker, and vastly entertaining. It was a very different book launch than I had been to before, and well worth the time.

The natural progression seemed to be to move into the lounge area of the convention centre, conveniently close to the bar. This was really the thing that ensured the success of this convention, because it served as a social hub right through out (like the similar area at Swancon). It mean that between (or during the ones that didn’t interest you) panels and at the end of the day, people could gather in groups to have a drink and chat, making new friends and catching up with old ones. Don’t get me wrong, the program was exceptional from day one, but this is reason why I go to cons, the time I get to spend with other people passionate about books, whether it is reading, writing or editing.

Another strength that it had in common with Swancon was that the Guests were quite often to be found sitting in that area, mingling and mixing with the attendees (at Continuum the Guests were very accessible too, there just wasn’t that central gathering point – not to the same extent anyway). There was no sense of us and them, just everyone having a great time and enjoying one another’s company.

After much chatting, and enough coffee to kill an elk, it was time to head back to my motel. Rob Hood and Cat Sparks very generously offered me a ride, and along with Kaaron Warren and Alan Baxter, we set off on what was one of the more entertaining journeys I have experienced. Rob’s GPS featured a Dalek voice, and there was a surreal element to following its directions (funnily enough, my GPS manages to communicate the idea that I am an inferior being even in its dulcet British tones). Kaaron certainly was not a fan of its grating tone and its brusque orders, a fact she made abundantly clear! Haha

So, a great first day, but it was only the beginning!

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