That word – ‘conference’ – conjures all different pictures for different people. And I’ve been to some shockers in my life, believe me. But last Saturday, I attended one of the best I have been to and I gained so much from it.
The Speculative Fiction Festival was held on Saturday 29th June, 2019, by Writing NSW (#specfic19) at their headquarters, located in beautiful and historic grounds that were once Callan Park Mental Hospital for the Insane.
While I don’t really consider myself a speculative fiction writer, the lecture/panel topics looked useful and interesting. So, I signed up.
The conference started with a panel discussion called That Was Then, This Is Now. It was chaired by Sam Hawke and the panellists, Shankari Chandran, Robert Hood and Kaaron Warren were asked to discuss their ‘gateway’ novels – the ones that ” … introduced …[them] to the worlds of fantasy, sci-fi or horror” (Speculative Fiction Festival pamphlet, 2019). What an open and fun panel! A great way to open the festival/conference (and I bought Tide Stone by Kaaron Warren – can’t wait to read it).
The next session I attended was World Building 101. Chaired by Keith Stevenson, the panel of Mitchell Hogan, Catherine McKinnon and Mykaela Saunders talked about their processes of building the worlds in their stories. All of their processes were interesting, but Catherine McKinnon resonated with me more: her latest novel, Storyland (which I also bought) is both historical and futuristic. It was good to hear about her processes that were the same as mine, as well as those that were different.
Session Three went by the title of Kaffeeklatsches. The discussion session I chose to attend was with Abigail Nathan from Bothersome Words and Editing Services. Lots of helpful advice about editing services, submitting work to publishers and agents – and the importance of professional editing if you are self-publishing!
The first session after lunch I chose was a panel on self-publishing. Again chaired by Keith Stevenson, the panel consisted of editor Abigail Nathan, and authors who have self-published in the form of Mitchell Hogan and Dionne Lister. The tips from this group were excellent and valuable (although I am hoping that I don’t need them).
The very last session I attended was called The Real and the Not Real. Chaired by Catherine McKinnon, authors Tiffany Tsao and Aaron Dries talked about “… transforming the real into the fantastical, speculative and horrific …” (Speculative Fiction Festival pamphlet, 2019). This highly-entertaining panel discussion was an interesting insight into how authors, even those who write speculative works, turn real-life experiences into the unreal. And their last pieces of advice? Write every day!
So – if you get the opportunity to attend a festival, workshop or conference, do it! It might just be what you need to keep you motivated.
Featured photo courtesy of Stephano Ferrario from Pixabay
Kerry A Waight - Author
A writer of historical fiction and paranormal stories.