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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Industry Peeps, Awesome Authors and a Steam Punk Top Hat! - The Speculative Fiction Festival 2013

Over the weekend I attended the Speculative Fiction Festival at the NSW Writers’ Centre. It was a fantastic day, and my very first opportunity to listen to some of Australia’s great industry people. I also got to meet two of my fellow Aussie Owned and Read bloggers, Stacey and Sharon, which was very exciting for me. We’ve become good cyber-space friends over the past few months, and it was great to finally get to speak in person.

We started off with a talk about the International Speculative Fiction Scene. The panel consisted of Dirk Strasser, Ian Irvine and Juliet Marillier. I came away from this opening talk with these quips of information:
  • The eBook has transformed the international publishing industry
  • Self-publishing is making it harder for authors to be seen and heard as there are now more writers in the market
  • Ian Irvine said: It’s hard to get sci-fi published in Australia, and fantasy is a safer bet
  • Juliet Marillier said: Write the book that you feel passionate about and write from the heart
  • Ian Irvine said: If you take time to learn the art of storytelling you will get published

Publishing into the Future was panelled by Russell Farr, Joel Naoum, Zoe Walton and Dionne Lister. The general consensus was: the future of publishing is… we don’t know! I especially enjoyed listening to Dionne and what she had to say about her self-publishing experience. She stated that traditional publishers set a good standard, and I absolutely agree. As an Indie author, I strive to make my work the best it can possibly be before sending it out into the world. These are some statements I enjoyed hearing from this panel:
  • Joel Naoum said: The important thing about writing is that you enjoy it
  • Dionne Lister said: Self-publishers - Don't do things on line you wouldn't do in person

Gothic Tales for Teens was an interesting discussion. There were a few statements I didn’t particularly agree with, but Richard Harland was wearing a steam punk top hat, so he had my attention. There was some discussion about atmosphere and censorship. It seems there is not much limit on darkness and violence, but there is on sex in YA. Some things I enjoyed hearing were:
  • Pretty much anything goes in YA, but it depends who you're writing for
  • Alison Croggon said: The YA category gives you a lot of freedom to cast a story. Richard Harland agreed, stating that YA is less formulaic
  • Don't chase the market because by the time you've finished your book it will be over
  • Write the book that's in you and hope the market comes around to what you want it to be

We broke for lunch and spent some time talking to Dionne Lister. She told us about her self-publishing journey, which I found both interesting and highly inspiring.

Stacey, Sharon and me!

It was then on to Oh the Horror! The Future of Weird Fiction. The speakers I enjoyed during this session were Kirstyn McDermott and Deborah Biancotti. I came away with a few pieces of information and these are the ones that have stayed with me:
  • Writing horror – you can do things that other genres frown upon
  • Horror and the weird lead into a lot of different genres
  • Literature will evolve all the time and nothing has evolved more than the vampire (yes!)
  • Using metaphors can make people face things they don't really want to face

The last session of the day, and the one I was really looking forward to, was Once Upon a Time: Retelling Fairy Tales. I really enjoyed this session as I got to listen to Kate Forsyth talk about her retelling of the traditional Rapunzel tale. The highlight of the day for me was getting to meet Kate, and have her sign my copy of Bitter Greens. Highlights from this session included:
  • Juliet Marillier said: The soup of your story has its own unique spices
  • Sophie Masson said: Being a writer is like having a magic wand
  • Kate Forsyth said: Fairy tales give us hope and a way to metaphorically understand our own life experiences
  • Sophie Masson said: The difficulty in retelling fairy tales is finding a new take on the story 

 My signed copy of Bitter Greens

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to hear Melina Marchetta speak as she was on the panel for the topics I didn’t attend. But I did come home with a signed copy of Finnikin of the Rock and I'm really looking forward to reading it. I also wasn’t able to stay for the Q&A and the launch of Juliet Marillier’s new book, Prickle Moon, due to other commitments, but I had an absolutely awesome day. I will certainly be attending the festival again next year.

K x


  1. It was fun chatting to you K.A. and I'm glad you left feeling inspired. Good luck with your self-publishing journey and I hope I'll see you at the next spec fic festival :).

    1. It certainly was a great day. Thanks for stopping by Dionne, and good luck to you, too.


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