Conflux is Canberra’s speculative fiction conference. It happens every year on the October long weekend (even when that means starting in September, like in 2016 and 2017).
Each year features guests of honour from around Australia and the world; panels on a variety of topics (including deliciously blatant fanfests); workshops; book launches; pitching sessions; a dealer room; and opportunities to hang out with like-minded people (some of whom happen to be authors with varying degrees of fame). A few people do cosplay, which is always fun.
The reason I’m able to handle conferences when I can barely handle dropping my kids at school is simple: adrenaline. I’m generally moderately with it as long as I feel like I’m performing.
In 2014 TJ was a teensy baby and I had a sudden thought: I hadn’t finished a full original novel since Louisette was born in 2012. Had I lost the knack?
At around the same time I noticed there were five possible pitching sessions at Conflux: A large publisher, three smaller publishers, and an agent. I decided to pitch to every single one with a different book. That meant writing a brand new book in a couple of months (which I pitched to the agent, so I had time to edit it before any publishers saw it). That book is “Flight of Fancy.”
Satalyte accepted my pirate young adult fantasy novel “Stormhunter”. For various reasons it hasn’t been published yet, but it’s going to be published eventually. I love doing pitching sessions with publishers, because they’re always nice people and they like meeting authors.
In 2015 I pitched “Flight of Fancy” and “Heart of Brass”. Odyssey Books ultimately accepted “Heart of Brass”, which meant that this year I FINALLY had a book to actually sell to people!
This year at Conflux I ran an interactive fiction workshop (lots of writers attend the conference every year), assisted with several panels (especially the steampunk ones), actually attended one session (very rare for me, since I get sore sitting in chairs without masses of adrenaline helping me out), and spent hours hanging out in the dealer room (mostly on the Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild (CSFG) table rather than the Odyssey table, because there were four other Odyssey people there and it was crowded). The familiar tension of, “Why am I talking on a panel when I don’t even have a novel published?” was gone (it’s worth pointing out that I haven’t gotten any smarter or more interesting than last year – panellists should be readers, but their writing life is almost always irrelevant), and I enjoyed the new tension of, “I’m absolutely trying to sell my book here”.
Our family car died suddenly the day before Conflux, so travel was complicated (especially with the uncharacteristically vicious weather), which complicated matters. My interview on interactive fiction at the local ABC 666 radio station was an unexpected bonus.
It was definitely fun chilling out with friends (Odyssey, Satalyte, CSFG, and others) and I think I recognised about 60% of the people. Conflux is my “home” conference, and the CSFG (which runs it) is a truly excellent group of people.
I enjoyed taking stupid pictures of my book, too.
This year people walked past the bar/restaurant on the way to the conference, so there was plenty of hanging out over food/drinks which was really excellent too.
This Saturday I’ll be at the Book Expo in Parramatta (Sydney), which I’ve never been to before. It’ll be interesting to see what it’s like!